We’re proud to present the amazing story of Brianna Kilcullen, the founder of Anact in her own words. Anact is a sustainable towel line made out of hemp and organic cotton.
In 2015, the United Nations published the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
I didn’t come across these goals until a year later while I was a sustainability manager at prAna, a subsidiary of Columbia Sportswear. I was working on creating an annual impact report to show our internal employees and customers how their purchase made a difference for people and the planet and the 17 SDGs. The only problem was that I was manually having to create custom calculators to measure the impact.
You can imagine how excited I was when prAna’s VP of Marketing sent me an email one day that there was a company called Green Story that generated product impact scores for you! I was ecstatic. While a collab with Green Story wasn’t in the stars while I was at prAna, I always felt like I would be working with Green Story in some way in the future.
That day came when I made the decision to leave my job at prAna to pursue developing a custom hemp-organic cotton bath towel. One of the first things I did before even developing a sample was to do a pilot test and run numbers with Green Story to ensure that the towel I was building was truly better for people and the planet. Don’t worry. It passed the test. By choosing the Anact bath towel you’ll save 526 days of drinking water!
I was inspired to create the Anact towel because ever since I was a kid, I have absolutely despised the smell of mildewy towels. Once an odor picked up in one of my towels, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would have to retire that towel. While working in China in 2017, I discovered that hemp was naturally biostatic, which means that it prevents the development of microorganisms because of its hollow structure. It made total sense to make my next purchase be a hemp towel. The only problem was that there was not a hemp-based towel on the market that fit my needs. I had two options. Wait for someone to solve my personal problem or solve it myself. I chose the latter, which is what has led me to the point that I am now able to share this custom hemp-organic cotton blended towel with others.
It hasn’t been easy. It took two plus years to find the right factory partners. It took at least a year to build the confidence that I could convert my idea into reality. A pivotal moment for me was when I participated in a pitchfest for cannibas focused companies (and with the help of Green Story) I came in 2nd. After that, I created a family and friend raise as a prelude to Kickstarter. Throughout it all, I have maintained being female owned, led and operated. I have accepted no outside investment and remain self-funded. Recently I visited the entire supply chain for the Anact towel in China and documented my experience through photos and videos.
We officially launched the Anact towel on Kickstarter on Tues, Sept 3rd. All of our impact is linked to the 17 UN SDGs. In partnership with Green Story, we give each customer an impact score to show how their impact is making a difference and we have built a movement within our name (which is short for “an act”) to inspire others to take simple acts to create impact each day.
Whenever I feel like I can finally catch my breath in start-up life, I treasure it because I know that another curveball is waiting around the corner. Even so, I wouldn’t have it any other way. When you take away the fear of failure and replace it with failure as just not doing it – your whole perspective will change. Whether it be big or small, I encourage to take a simple act to create impact today.
Brianna has traveled to over 40+ countries and has worked in factories on almost every continent. She was Under Armour’s first ever full-time sustainability employee based out of Baltimore, MD. Prior to working in the apparel industry, she lived in Uganda post-civil war and traveled and worked on agribusiness initiatives on the northern Ugandan and South Sudanese border. She has also lived in South Africa where she studied human rights and race relations. She graduated from The George Washington University International Business program and is an avid traveler and dual citizen in Ireland and the United States that welcomes conversations around the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, Africa and her favorite Chance the Rapper song (it’s ever evolving).