Shooting for the Moon
How I learned to think bigger and realize that even if I’m not the CEO of a billion-dollar company, I can still have good ideas and change the world.
When I joined TKS, I never thought I would accomplish something like this I didn’t even think it would be possible for someone my age to come close to accomplishing something like this, but with my amazing team, we did. We ended up creating a sustainable textile company with the potential to change the future.
A couple of months ago, at TKS, we were told that we would be creating so-called “moonshot companies”, “okay, cool” I thought to myself, but I had no idea what I was in for. Creating Aurae Textiles was the most life-changing, self altering thing I’ve ever done. I learned to let go of my preconceived notions about myself and my limitations and to think astronomically bigger than I had ever thought before.
Before I get into all of that and my personal growth, let me explain a bit about what Aurae Textiles does, and how we do it.
Clothing is one of the most fundamental human necessities, it protects us from the weather, gives us a way to express ourselves, and is something that every human being is entitled to. At Aurae, we had a vision that the whole world would be wearing sustainable clothing, clothing that didn’t hurt the planet nearly as much as the clothes we wear today. We set out to create the most sustainable cotton ever seen and set a new industry standard. Fun fact, or not-so-fun facts: to produce only one kilogram of cotton, we need 1000 liters of water, and cotton production takes up 2.5% of earth’s arable land. For humanity to be able to stay on this earth and call it our home, we need to treat it well and part of that is in the clothes we wear.
Aurae takes a unique approach to sustainability, using tech that has never been used on a large scale in the textile industry. Through gene editing and DNA cloning, Aurae will create the most sustainable textile that the world has ever seen. Our cotton will require much less water and much less land. One day, using genes found in plants all over the world, Aurae aims to create the perfect DNA sequence for cotton, one that can survive on minimal water (like a cactus), grow vertically (like tomatoes), and grow fast (like mint). Read on for a more in-depth explanation about how we plan on accomplishing our mission.
Here’s a rundown on the process we will use to produce our sustainable cotton:
Copying the Gene
The first thing that we need to do is identify the gene we want in our cotton DNA in another plant, then a process called Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) creates several copies of the target genome in a solution of water, primers (designed specifically for the DNA region of interest), Taq polymerase, nucleotides (ACTG) and salts to help the reaction. PCR separates the two strands of the genome and then when the solution is cooled down, single-stranded primers attach to their complementary sequences on the separated strands of the target genome. Taq polymerase synthesizes the target genome by “elongating” the primers when it is heated again. Essentially, we can double the number of the target genome every time we do this.
Transferring the Gene
Now that there are several copies of the target genome, DNA cloning is used to transfer the genome into the plants. The process requires a restriction enzyme, DNA ligase, plasmids, and bacteria. Using restriction enzymes, the located section of the gene is “cut off”. A restriction enzyme is a DNA-cutting enzyme that recognizes specific sites in DNA, making staggered cuts at or near their recognition sites which are 4–8 base pairs in length. The most common restriction enzyme is EcoRI; after cutting, it produces ends with a single-stranded overhang so that DNA ligase can reattach them in a later step. The cut section of the gene is inserted into a plasmid (discs of double-stranded DNA). The plasmid is cut open, then the section of the previously obtained gene is inserted and reattached to the plasmid using a DNA ligase. The plasmid is then put into a bacterium on a petri dish. Plasmids used in cloning contain an antibiotic resistance gene so the bacteria are placed on an antibiotic petri dish and those without the plasmid will die, leaving only the successful ones. The bacteria is then inserted into plant stem cells and they will produce cotton.
Dyeing and Weaving
Through conventional and sustainable methods, the cotton is weaved using an industrial loom and the traditional fabric is created, however, with Aurae, it uses exponentially less water and less land.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “This sounds great and all, but is there money to be made? Is this a worthwhile industry?” Well, let me tell you, there is. The cotton industry is HUGE. The textile industry is predicted to be worth $1.2 trillion by 2025, at a CAGR of 5% between 2019 and 2025. It is also labeled as profitable for new entrepreneurs and businesses. Aurae’s unique approach to cotton will make us stand out and shine among the rest of the conventional cotton textile producers. Clothing is in dire need of innovation, we’ve been wearing the same cotton for hundreds of years, and it’s time someone changed the game.
Who We Are
Now let’s shift gears a bit, and let’s talk about what Aurae is as a company. We’re a team of like-minded, honest, respectful, and community-driven people. But that’s too surface level, what does it mean to us to be like-minded, or honest, or respectful, or community-minded. Let me tell you.
At Aurae, we’re passionate about changing things, changing the world, the status quo, and developing ourselves. We strive to make the future for humanity a good one, one where children can go outside and enjoy the fresh air, one where you can turn on your tap and get a glass of free drinking water, not having to worry about surpassing your water ration for the day. If you’re driven to change the world and think differently from the current leaders, you’d fit right in.
Aurae is an honest company, we have nothing to hide from the consumer. Our process is completely transparent, something that virtually no one in the textile industry can say. It is an industry plagued by human rights violations, destruction to the planet, and facades. The goliaths hide their supply chains, their manufacturing processes because they’re cruel and inhumane. Aurae will never hide that, we believe that being honest is what makes a good person and a good company.
At Aurae, we’re committed to an atmosphere of mutual respect. Respect for oneself, the earth, and their peers. Kindness, generosity, and openness are all major components of this. We believe that for a company to run smoothly, everyone must be respectful, it’s as simple as that!
I believe that for a company to function well, it should feel like a community, This ties in all the values mentioned above. For a community to run smoothly, it must embody the values that we value at Aurae, thus, Aurae is a community.
Creating a company was nothing like I thought it would be, I was forced to completely abandon my old mindsets and become a better version of myself. Before the moonshot company idea, I was a negative, pessimistic, small thinking person. That kind of attitude just won’t fly when you're building a company to change the future. You have to completely believe in what you’re doing, and take leaps of faith. Aurae is built upon the ideas of the future, ideas that gene editing will progress hugely in the coming years. I have to be hopeful, we have to be hopeful for the future.
This issue is so important to me because I’ve always been a family person, I’ve always wanted to get married, have kids, have grandkids and so on, but it doesn't look that great for humanity right now, we’re shooting full steam toward a future where that might not be a reality. I never thought I could change that, but this process made me realize I can. Anyone can, if you see a problem in the world, and you can find a unique way to solve it, DO IT! What are you waiting for, we need more innovation, more change, more progress. You can do it, I didn’t think I could but look at me now. My team and I are pioneering gene-editing in textiles, and we’re only in high school! So take that leap of faith, believe in yourself, change the status quo.