The concept for Thomas Paul Althaus’s business “Canned Goods” began in June of 2013 when he and his wife, Emily Althaus — who co-founded the company —were celebrating their 10-year anniversary and agreed on a “no gift” rule. However, Thomas Paul recently had discovered that the traditional gift to celebrate 10 years of marriage is tin. Disregarding the couple’s new rule, with the desire to still give Emily something to celebrate the milestone, Thomas Paul had difficulty finding a tin-based gift. This is where the idea to make something on his own struck him.
Althaus was preparing dinner one night, emptied a can of food, and found that he had the tools to create a handmade, thoughtful gift. After cutting, hammering, bending and sanding, a pair of earrings and a bracelet, the perfect 10-year celebratory gift was created at an affordable price and better for the environment. As a result, creating jewelry out of repurposed cans became a business for the couple, allowing them to stand by their values of sustainability and make a living at the same time.
Now, more than ever, consumers want to buy sustainably, but when it comes to jewelry, fashionable, yet eco-friendly items can be hard to come by. Having grown up on an innovative farm, where new ideas of soil, water, and resource conservation were embraced, Althaus was raised with the notion that all resources were valuable and beautiful. With a mother who was always interested in fashion and a family who instilled the value and importance of all resources, a fashion and accessory brand was not so far-fetched for Althaus. “She’d walk into my room wearing two different earrings,” Althaus says about his mother. “She would say, “Tommy, left or right?” I learned to accessorize at an early age. Farm and Fashion.” Althaus learned to appreciate the process of creation, which he says translates very well into the current slow, circular, conscious fashion movement.
Both Thomas Paul and Emily have been equally involved in the business’s development, mission, story and approach from the start. Having a career as a psychologist, Emily brings the “wellness” and “feel good” element to the company. “Canned Goods concentrates on its image, presenting Tin Can Glam as an option for everyone, for every situation. We are aggressively scaling our local production to keep up with demand which is super exciting. We are doing good, one can at a time,” says Althaus. The two still work together today to create earrings, bracelets, necklaces, cuff links, money clips, bookmarks and even air plant vessels. They also create custom pieces for individuals, runways, photoshoots, anniversaries and businesses.
“We are unapologetically glamourous, glam you can feel good about,” says Althaus. He continues, “Sustainability is a broad term that has many segments of importance. For us that includes, but is not limited to, image/design, dialogue, business and of course, environment.” Canned Goods jewelry is considered bold but wearable. Understated but captivating, with a geometric flow. Metallic colors that go with almost anything. And, unbelievably lightweight. Althaus explains, “most of our jewelry designs come in multiple sizes in order to most appropriately complement an individual’s lifestyle, body type, and glam-factor.” Althaus broke down the segments of sustainability that play an important role in the business:
Image/Design: Glamorous enough to keep it interesting, accessible enough to attract a wide population.
Dialogue: Compelling and timeless stories that create a connection and don’t distract from our wearable designs.
Business: Small enough to keep track of everything in order to keep it and our people healthy, but also large enough to stay profitable to ensure longevity.
Environment: Doing good for the earth and the environment by rescuing used tin food cans from the landfill/recycling process and then creating new products by embracing their inherent beauty and value.
Thomas Paul and Emily are not only “doing good” for the environment with their sustainable brand featuring upcycled fashion, but they are also “doing good” for humanity. For each item purchased, a can of food is donated to charity as a part of the company’s CAN DO GOOD program. The two have proven that sustainable jewelry and fashion can easily be implemented in one’s day-to-day life and “doing good” can be as simple as repurposing everyday items. As for the future of Canned Goods and the Althaus couple, the two are now poised and ready to do even more good in 2020 — in Denver and beyond. Since the inception of Canned Goods, Denver has been their test market and incubator, which has prepared them for even more growth in the future.
All photography by Marla Keown