Army Officer Creates Clothing Line Out of Surplus Tents


By Ann Rowland

Emily Nunez grew up in a military family and joined the ROTC as a college student at Middlebury College, commuting to the University of Vermont for her training.  As one of only 3 ROTC students at her college, Emily found it difficult to convey her military commitment to her classmates.   Emily, 24, is now U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Emily Nunez Cavness, and serves as an Intelligence Officer with the Group Support Battalion in the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Carson, Colorado.  She is also CEO and co-founder, with her sister Betsy, 26, of The Sword and Plough a company that makes bags and accessories out of military surplus.

After attending a social entrepreneurship symposium as a senior in college, Emily realized that there was a surplus of military gear that was routinely wasted that could be recycled into something reusable.  She came up with the idea to turn military shelter halves into tote bags and presented it to her sister.  “I wanted to create something that would emotionally and physically touch civilians in their everyday lives and remind them, in a beautiful way, of the challenges our country and servicemen face,” Emily writes on The Sword and Plough website.

Emily and Betsy did not attend business school; however, with the help of the Middlebury School for Social Entrepreneurship and the Dell Summer Social Innovation Lab, they were able to come up with a business plan, supply chain, brand name and a prototype bag. Their Kickstarter campaign reached its goal of $20,000 in 2 hours, eventually raising $312,000.

They took the name The Sword and Plough from the biblical passage to turn swords into plough shares.  Their mission is to take military technology and apply it to a civilian purpose.  All of their products are made in the USA and they use 3 veteran run and operated manufacturers to make their products. They employ 35 veterans and have recycled 15,000 pounds of military surplus to date.

“I want Sword & Plough to be a leader in the field of social entrepreneurship that is able to communicate effectively the awesome skill that veterans bring to communities. As a fashion brand over the course of the next five to 10 years we want Sword & Plough to be known as a strong American heritage brand,” Emily told ABC News.

To view or purchase any of the products made by The Sword and Plough please visit their website.  They are also available at Toms Marketplace.

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