Q: What is Atayne (pronounced attain)?

Jeremy Litchfield, founder/owner of Atayne: Atayne makes high performing outdoor and athletic apparel that is safe for people and the planet. Most people do not realize how harmful the apparel industry is on the environment. The industry is based on disposability and planned obsolescence. This creates a tremendous amount of waste and most of it typically ends up in landfills. 

Q: How did you get into this business?

A: The decision to start Atayne came in May 2007 after a bad experience with a running top. I had gone out for a run (it was a humid day) in a brand new red performance top. By the time I had finished my run, my body was covered in red dye from the shirt. It left me with a pretty uneasy feeling, wondering what chemicals were being absorbed into my body as I was trying to make myself healthier. 

Q: When did you start Atayne?

A: I quit my job within two days of the red shirt experience and started the journey of building Atayne. We launched sales in August 2008. 

Q: Is is true that all of your products are made from recycled materials?

A: All of our products are made from recycled materials. As we like to say, one person’s trash is Atayne’s treasure. 

Q: What types of materials do you use?

A: The primary material we use is recycled polyester, which is derived from plastic bottles. Just think, your Atayne top could have been Patrick Dempsey’s or Liv Tyler’s Coke bottle in a previous life. 

Q: Where are the fabrics knitted?

A: We work with mills in Tennessee and North Carolina to develop our fabrics. The cutting and sewing is done at a variety of facilities throughout the United States and Canada. We are currently working on bringing cutting and sewing to Maine. There is a rich history of textiles in this state, and we want to help revive it. 

Q: Is anyone else making clothing from eco-friendly products?

A: Absolutely, but as far I know, we are the only company using exclusively 100 percent recycled materials and doing all of our production in North America. 

Q: Where is Atayne located?

A: I originally launched the company out of Arlington, Va., but about a year ago we relocated to Maine. We are now based in Brunswick. We sell primarily online at our Web site: www.atayne.com. We have shipped products to 46 states and 12 countries. 

Q: How can consumers order your products?

A: We sell all of our products through our online store at www.atayne.com. You can also get some great Bowdoin College-branded apparel at the Bowdoin Bookstore and the new college store on Maine Street in Brunswick. Maine Running Company in Portland also carries some of our line. 

Q: Are you concerned that a company like Nike or Reebok might try to squash you?

A: There is no doubt that companies like Nike and Reebok have tremendous resources to make a splash in this market. However, it will be very difficult for the likes of Nike or Reebok to define the market for high-performing athletic apparel that is safe for people and the planet. This is not to say they do not want a piece of the action, but they do not get it by squashing us, they get it by partnering with us.

Q: You recently were awarded a $12,500 seed grant from Maine Technology Institute. What are you planning to do with the money?

A: The money will allow us to design an athletic short (until now Atayne has made only tops) that can be used across a wide variety of activities. We hope to have our shorts ready to go to market by next spring. In our opinion, this product could really put us on the map. 

Q: Are you having fun with this venture?

A: Atayne is the most challenging, rewarding and fun professional endeavor I have ever been involved in. It makes running a marathon (Litchfield is training for the upcoming Boston Marathon) seem like a walk in the park. After nearly three years, I have still not taken a paycheck. But, with Atayne, I am not motivated by money. I wake up energized every day because I love what I am doing. 

Q: Sum up your philosophy.

A: Put people and the planet first and profits will follow. I also have to quote my favorite author, Dr. Seuss: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.”

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com