The Parative Project

this flag won't change your life, but it will change someone else's

2019 Spring/Summer Ethical Shopping Guide

Drew Oxley


Here is a round up of some of our fav brands this spring! I’m actually really excited about this batch and its got me wanting to shop a little but also dust off some of my spring/summer clothes from last seasons. Who is ready to not be stuck inside for days on end? This shopping guide has some really good basics that could build a perfect summer wardrobe. Also, some of it i didn’t want to share like those jean shorts from AGOLDE (if you are a size 25 do not buy my dreamiest pair of jean shorts so they sell out and i can’t buy them). also that jumpsuit from yireh has my name on it. gotta save up my pennies though, shopping ethically costs money but is totally worth it. buying 1 or 2 things each season that you will wear for years pays off and somewhere i bet there is scientific research that shows shopping ethically and buying less makes you happier. speaking of money PARATIVE tees are all on sale for $12 so there is some ethical shopping that won’t make your spouse or wallet cry. also, for the underwear portion. we didn’t do pictures because it was just pictures of underwear and butts, which is what underwear is. but we figured you could use the links and help yourself to what you need to find. happy spring people. xo, carolyn



Albion Fit

A fun variety of mix and match tops and bottoms!


A huge variety and is sure not to disappoint.

Beth Richards

This swimsuit pictured here is prob my fav thing I’ve ever seen... or maybe since I had a newborn baby.

Koru Swimwear

Koru is size inclusive which is super bad ass.


Native Shoes

Natives are fun for kicking around and hold up really well at the beach or in the city. Also this pair is only 50 bones.


These Nisolo’s huaraches I prob wouldn’t wear jumping into a pool but would wear them pretty much everywhere else.



Freshly Picked

Freshly Picked sneaks are waterproof and seem fun to wear to the park or running from the cops. (hahaha jk only to the park)


A Golde

These Agolde jean shorts are a summer everyday go to. Pair it w an alternative apparel tank and ur set til the first frost.


Ya favorite girl’s favorite shirt.

All Parative tees currently on sale for $12!!


This Yireh top and bottom set is the one I mentioned earlier. Going to work really hard to save for it even though Drew asked, “would it look as good on a really really pale white girl?” Well Drew... we will find out.


All of Doen’s goodies make me want to dance. Their stuff is just amazing.

Alternative Apparel

Alternative Apparel is amazing for basics. If you didn’t know, now u do... go check them out!! Also, this tank if u tucked it all the way into high rise jeans would be sooooo good. They should’ve done that for the stock photo...


Yay for Earth

yayforearth is just one product but if you are only going to have one product this is the one you want.


If packaging could talk Herbivore’s would say I’m the coolest. Also amazing quality and products you’ll buy over and over again.


Origins has great products and they have been doing what they do for a long time.


All these options are unisex. Not unisex, but have men’s and women’s options.

Everlane. I have some of their underwear and it has held up really well and is so comfortable. No fun prints or super sexy styles but good plain underwear. 

Meundies is the softest thing that will ever touch your behind. SO SO SOFT. And fun prints. 

Organic basics. Seems nice and a great large selection. Can’t speak from experience but seems like some good underpants to me. 

Pact. I also have some of their underwear and was a little underwhelmed at quality but they are a lower price point so I wanted to include them. I also have friends who swear by pact so maybe it’s just me. 


West Elm

West Elm is fair trade certified which is awesome because they are huge and offer discounts frequently.


Super cozy basic and bedding that you won’t need to replace for a long long time

Proud Mary

Proud mary has super cool Moroccan inspired stuff. Take urself a looky.


A bit expensive but super dreamy stuff!!



They’ve been doing amazing work for their employees and the environment longer than any frat boy has been around.


They have a knack for making you wear a hat for a team you’ve never heard of.


You could go golfing in this. But I definitely won’t be golfing this summer.

Outdoor Voices

Wear these everywhere and anywhere all summer long.


Peek-a-boo. All of our tees are currently on sale for $12!

2018 Ethical and Sustainable Holiday Gift Guide

Drew Oxley

As we phase out of election season and into the holiday shopping season, Parative believes your votes this holiday season are just as important. We can stand behind our values with our purchases. Carolyn and I wanted to share a few of our favorite everyday items, as well as a few products that are on our own Christmas list. (Hint hint, Carolyn) Knowing this list is limited, if you’re struggling to find an ethical or sustainable option for a gift idea please reach out to us! We’ll help you find the gift you’re excited to give this season.


Allbirds- have you ever put a cloud on your feet and walked around? well now you can.

Parative- we dare you to find something this tee doesn’t pair well with/under.

Flint & Tender- if denim, chino, and a pant with stretch had a baby this would be it. and it would be the type of baby that looks cool and you want to wear everyday.

Everlane- if its going to be cold out you might as well look cool AND keep your head warm.

Pact- do you undershirts have holes in the armpits or is that just me? these can change that.


Kin- the coolest hats can turn any day from bleh to hooray!

Imogene and Willie- lets cover our ankles in something worthwhile, shall we??

Parative- parties well under sweaters and in the spring you won’t regret wearing it alone.

Rudy Jude- the perfect basic thermal, need we say more?

Baqette- you won’t need a purse and i promise you won’t miss the extra baggage.


Library- you and your child will finally agree on their favorite thing to wear.

Finn and Emma- perfect basics made for the happiest babies

Mini Moiche- the perfect kid hoodies in the best colors

Nugget- your kids won’t want to play with their other toys because they’ll be too busy using their imaginations on these amazing transformable cushions.


Gathre- no one will care what you serve them while they are sitting by this tablecloth

Anchal- these quilts are dyed by plants and provide employment in india like someone we know (hehe) which makes me die for them even more.

Olli Ella- a fair trade basket with a cool pattern woven in… give me 10

Parative- its better to give than receive but i promise you no one would mind receiving one of these flags.


Drew Oxley

I love hearing how people celebrate their anniversaries. Some are the go all out type. Some do what I like to call the pick-and-roll, where you pick up your food and roll it back home in your car. Some people do big gifts. Little gifts. Diamonds. Some couples have to celebrate it on the day and some can't even remember until they are reminded. MY FAVORITE though, the couples that do that weird traditional themed gifts each year. Where every year its a different theme from the list that someone (who knows who) made up. Anyways, I think its so cute when couples do that.

This time of year marks our TWO year anniversary of moving Parative production to India. And the two year anniversary gift happens to be... you guessed it, COTTON! What? What a funny theme for a gift. I just picture cotton balls. Parative already gifted itself something cotton though, the perfect organic cotton tees. We gifted those to ourselves about 6 months ago, but they were a long time in the making.

What else have we done in those two years?


Not long into the process of learning how our goods would be made and who they would be made by in India, Drew felt a no-brainer conviction that our family should start being smart about how we use our money. That we should only give business to the companies that took pride in their sourcing. As you may have tracked with previous posts, this was a tricky one for me (tricky meaning crying at the mall). Our family is still trying to do this as well as we can. It has been so rewarding and worthwhile we would recommend it to anyone, and we do.


I touched on this earlier in my weird anniversary gift intro but WE DESIGNED OUR FAVORITE T-SHIRTS. With the help of some talented people (cough cough, Joanna and Jennifer and THE WOMEN OF FREESET) we were able to create a men's, women's, and unisex tee that fits and wears so well we don't take them off. And what is even cooler... we noticed other people love the tees just as much as we do. They fit well, they are made well, they wear well with time, and they are priced well. What is even better to me is that this was a pinnacle for us, but we aren't stopping there. We are going to keep designing and making goods that are our favorites and yours (when Drew put our final sample men's tee on he danced and sang, "I am wearing my favorite tee shirt", just to give an idea of how pinnacle this was).



Ok, maybe not doubled because Niles was alive when we did our Kickstarter 2 years ago, but he was just 3 months old, so he was more a cute sleeping blob than he was a family member. But now we just added Ellen to the craziness and it keeps getting better and better. Wonder how many psychos we will have in this bunch in two more years. Something that having kids has made us think about is how and what we will teach them about shopping ethically and consuming. If you have any pointers about teaching your kids things like this, send em our way.



When it comes down to it, what's the purpose of Parative? The truth is that it's not just about flags and shirts. It's the impact we are collectively making in India. If it came down to it, I would sell small musical (annoying) children's toys if we needed to.

In the last two years, our purchases have helped provide an extra 44 months of employment with our non profit partners. This is able to cover a year's salary for 3 women, and some change.

That leads you to two possible reactions. 

1. Wow, 3 women?! That's great, keep up the great work! 

Or 2. Wow, 3 women?! What's the point? Why waste your evenings and weekends on this project?

To be honest, we would do it all over again, 100 times over.



WELL, THERE YOU HAVE IT, our past two years in a nutshell. Can't wait to see what happens to Parative in the next two or ten. And in case you were wondering, Drew and I are totally the pick-and-roll anniversary type. 

Dream To Do: Mark Ventura

Drew Oxley

We first crossed paths with Mark when his band played in the backyard at one of my college houses. Little did I know that 7 years later we would both have a passion for shopping ethically. About a year ago, we reconnected and I got to hear about his dream. You will get to read more about Adoshi in this interview but it really is a unique platform for both shopping ethically and for the businesses selling through Adoshi. Plus, if Adoshi turns out half as cool as the music he played, it'll definitely be worth checking out. 


PARATIVE: So let's dive right in. What is your dream?

MV: A world where online commerce is completely transparent. Your average person will write it off, but supply chain is more important than a lot of people realize. Everything we purchase has a story. Where were the very bare ingredients sourced from? Where were the ingredients put together to make the final product? How were the ingredients and final product transported from step one to final product and ultimately to your doorstep? Every process along the way has an impact on people, planet, and animals. My dream is a world where we can shop in a way that benefits people, planet, and animals.

I dream to change the way humans shop online.

PARATIVE: That is a dream we can get behind! Super cool. We've found that people who consume with a purpose had some tipping point towards making the decision to shop ethically. What did this look like for you?

MV: This started when I was very young. I must have been 12 or 13 when I first asked my mom to avoid big box stores. As I got older and somehow had more money, my buying behavior began to more closely reflect my values. I wouldn't say there was ever a clear "tipping point," but that I always knew (and we all know) that taking more resources than the earth can replenish, is a bad idea. Anybody who reads that "by 2050, plastic in the oceans will outweigh fish," and doesn't at least begin having their tipping point - is adding to the problem.

PARATIVE: What action steps have you taken towards your dream?

MV: Phase 1 of Adoshi is live now. You can go to right now and see where the future of online shopping is heading. At this very moment we only sell eco-friendly, ethically sourced, and socially conscious products -- and are even adding a small handful more this coming week.

We've even opened a door of communication with the general public to illicit feedback, spark conversation, and discuss this idea. If we're going to turn commerce on its head, it requires a constant and evolving conversation.

PARATIVE: What does your dream look like in 5/10 years?

MV: Ha. What am I going to have for breakfast tomorrow? Life has a funny way with plans, but If I have my way -- Adoshi will have software that measures every one of our users' carbon footprint. In 5 years Adoshi will be a very effective consumer tool. It'll be the best friend of conscious shoppers.

Now again, this is all hypothetical, but in 10 years Adoshi will have been an effective consumer tool for 5 years. It wouldn't be unfathomable to think we would have done some serious marketing during those 5 years, so in 10 years Adoshi is deemed a "success," and has planted at least 10,000 trees.

But this will all have to happen much, much, much sooner if climate change consists the way it does.

PARATIVE: Love those long term goals! How can people help you?
MV: We always need help. We always need feedback. First way anybody in the universe can contribute or help is to write us at --- this includes funny jokes, constructive feedback, complaints, or even kind words of encouragement. It can be hard trying to start something so big, so the words of encouragement are definitely appreciated, haha.

PARATIVE: At the very least I am sure people will want to follow along with what you are doing. What social media channel do you prefer we follow you on?
MV: I'd say Instagram. We are  We're a very visual brand, so that's a fun channel to follow us on. If you like fonts or interesting design, I promise this will be a good account to follow (and get even better).

Dream To Do: Brent Kruithof

Drew Oxley

If you want to see a family that is also going after their dreams follow Brent or his wife, Katie on Instagram. I used to think Drew was a visionary... These people have 3 small businesses that they run together. It is fun running into them and seeing them around Cincinnati. When you talk to other entrepreneurs it comes with such a comfort because you realize you aren't alone and you remember why it is you are hustling. I can easily say their dream is so unique and has changed their personal life more than anyone we have interviewed.


PARATIVE: What's your dream?

BK: My dream has evolved a lot over the last five years. Originally, my dream was to launch my own business, have a glamorous startup, and make a lot of money. Then, I had kids and everything changed. Now, my career goal is to have a flexible work-life where I can spend more time with my wife and three kids. I'd happily trade any amount of glamour, success, or money for more time with my family. Which gets me to my current dream - to lead an "integrated family." By that, I mean, that our family, our businesses, our passions, our education, our desires, and our mission in life would all be tangled together and overlap as much as possible. For instance, when I go to meetings I want to bring my kids along to give them experience, when we volunteer we want to do it with the whole family, we want to endeavor to learn new things at the same time, we want to have hobbies that bring us closer.  I'd like to run multiple family businesses, have hands on teaching for my kids, work alongside my wife, have the flexibility to travel together, and do big stuff that really matters as a family.

PARATIVE: So cool, the concept that the businesses you have aren't the destination, they are a tool for your goal of dreaming to do with your family. What action steps have you taken to make this happen recently?

BK: In order to pursue our dream, we had to change the way we were living.  That meant selling our large, dream home to downsize to a little fixer upper. We also sold one of our cars, and we are now a one car family.  Basically, we had to change our spending habits to cut back on unnecessary things. Describing our action steps to "live the dream" sounds a little un-American and backwards, but once we experience the fruit of integrating our family into everything we do, we didn't want to go back, and we were willing to make any sacrifice necessary.

PARATIVE: Love the idea of the integrated family! Can you give us a deeper look into what this looks like or what it means in your everyday life?

BK: Yeah, so I think the picture of the American family that I see portrayed through TV and other entertainment in culture is a father who spends most of the week at work, plays golf on Saturday, watches football on Sunday, and squeezes family time in between his work and social commitments.  My desire is to include my family in work, in hobbies, and in social commitments.  For instance, I recently met someone who was thinking about quitting his job and launching a startup, and he wanted to take me out for lunch to learn from my experience.  Since I work from home, I get to eat lunch with my wife and kids everyday, so instead of leaving my family, I invited my new friend and his family over for dinner at our house instead.  It was a great way to create relationships and share my experience while teaching my kids more about business, hospitality, and meeting new people.

PARATIVE: Are there any rhythms in your week that your kids get really excited about?

BK: The area of our family that has been the most fruitful lately is our family Bible study.  I have a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 1 month old, and every Tuesday night we all (except the 1 month old) sing worship songs on YouTube, read a few verses from the Bible, and pray through a list of prayer requests.  Obviously the attention span of a 4 year old and a 2 year old are quite short, but they love our family Bible study nights and enjoy getting treats for answering questions correctly from our Bible reading.  Family Bible study nights are one of the ways we integrate family and faith.

PARATIVE: That is awesome! The treats sound exciting to a 28 year old, too. What has been a hurdle in integrating your family in things?

BK: The biggest challenge of family integration is always starting.  Whenever my wife and I get an idea to do something like launch a family business, homeschool, or create a new family holiday celebration, we always think that it would be too hard/ awkward/ inconvenient/ exhausting/ whatever, to start with young kids.  But, we've learned that the earlier you start something the better, and the easier it is to make a habit.  I think having kids 4 and younger is the sweet spot for just "trying" stuff because your kids won't remember your failures, and they won't remember a time when you didn't do weird stuff together.

PARATIVE: What does your dream look like in 5/10 years?

BK: I don't expect that our life will always be the "down-sized-home, one-car-family, cut-every-coupon, save-every-penny" lifestyle that we are living now.  In 5 to 10 years, I think my dream will look a little different.  From a business standpoint, my wife and I currently own three small businesses, we are working on real estate investments, and we have written a book that we are self-publishing. We have many "sticks in the fire" to see what is going to create the biggest flame.  Our current business ventures range from breaking even to moderate success which affords us the opportunity to have the integrated family and pay our bills. In 5-10 years, I expect that we will become a little more singularly focused, working on that one or two things that are the most successful.  However, from a family standpoint, I don't think my dream will look that different.  Sure, my kids will be older, we will be a little wiser, and we will all be getting more sleep at night (God-willing!), but I think we will be still be the same fun-loving, God-fearing, hard-working, adventure-seeking, goofy family pursuing a life of togetherness at all cost.


PARATIVE: What advice would you give someone who is tempted to detox themselves from the "American Lifestyle"; big house, cars, big spending, etc...

BK: First of all, I think the lifestyle that our family lives is NOT for everyone, and it is a specific "calling" for our family.  However, with that said, I have spoken with several business people who were the corporate-ladder-climbing-type, and I ask them if they would ever consider trading it all in and do things different to spend more time with family.  I've found that almost unanimously, the answer is "I think about it ALL the time!"  When the corporate-ladder-climbing-type asks me if I ever want to go back to my corporate job, my answer is "never."  I would make any sacrifice to have an integrated family lifestyle.  

With that being said, the advice that I would give to someone who is looking to buck the system and do something different is think about it, pray about it, and really consider it.  You probably DON'T want to quit your job tomorrow, but DO know that there is other options.  The biggest obstacle will be getting over the idea of not doing what is normal.  There is a lot of work that is involved with creating your own source of income and integrating family and business, but the hardest part for most people is just getting comfortable with doing something that most people think is crazy.  Who cares what other people think, right?  You only get one life, so follow your own adventure, not someone else's.  Once you start, you'll find out it's incredibly freeing and easier than you ever imagined.



Dream To Do: The Sunroom

Drew Oxley

Some people want to see the Seven Wonders of the world, some want to jump out of a plane, some may want to climb a really big mountain or eat 100 hotdogs in a half hour. Me, I just want to visit The Sunroom. You might be like well Carolyn, its in Columbus why don't you just go, and it's in that moment that I will go on for 12 minutes about how I will get around to it but I just have these kids, and am starting work next week, and I am tired, and I am trying to pump all this milk, I also recently became a plant mom, and blah blah blah. But more importantly, why is that my bucket list item? This store seems amazing you guys. REALLY A DREAM FOR ME. It is a shop that specializes in ethically made goods. AND THE CLOTHES ARE AMAZING. Finally, a shop where I can actually walk in and buy things instead of see things I love but have to pass up because of unfair labor practices. BEST OF ALL! They have the best taste, its not weird hippy clothes or beaded jewelry. It is ethically made clothes that look cool as hell! Anyways, meet my friends that I haven't even met yet. 


PARATIVE: Suzanne and Chloe, from The Sunroom. Thanks for answering some questions for us, could you tell us a little about The Sunroom and your dream for it?

SR: Our dream for The Sunroom has truly evolved overtime. From the beginning it has been to bring inclusive and ethically made clothing to our city, and this is still a huge focus. We are always searching for great brands to bring into the shop (like the Parative Project!) and have made so many wonderful discoveries. We have also met so many amazing people; all of our designers, the small business owners we have worked with, and even our shoppers have been so kind and inspiring. Since we have opened our doors the dream has grown into bringing people together. We strive to be more than a retail shop, but also double as a space that hosts workshops with local artists and makers, and collaborates with other local businesses and organizations. When we are able to connect with the people who visit our shop it makes us so happy! We hope we can do more to serve the community.

PARATIVE: Wow, that's really cool. Love the idea of providing your city with ethically made goods. What action steps have you taken towards your dream?

SR: It's been six weeks since opening day and we already have so much planned! Last week we hosted our first workshop with local maker Sarah Harste. Sarah is a business owner who makes incredible weavings and she taught a macrame class in the shop; it was seriously so much fun! We're starting to put more workshops on the books and have more ideas than we know what to do with.  We are also trying to find ways to introduce ourselves to the community while also giving something back. We have donated gift cards to a local volleyball tournament that benefits an animal shelter, we screen-printed canvas totes for Creative Babes (a local women's organization), and are looking into planning events with Make a Wish Foundation and Cause for Paws. We even have a baby shower happening in the shop this Sunday! Our doors are open for all to come in and enjoy our space.

PARATIVE: That class looked awesome. I saw the weavings on Insta and was drooling. What does your dream look like in 5/10 years?

SR: We have our sights set on expansion! We would love to be able to open a second location that is a little bit bigger than our current space to accommodate more merchandise and larger events. We also think so often about diving into menswear and children's clothing. With all of the wonderful new businesses continuing to pop up in the neighborhood we think there will so many great opportunities to form partnerships; we would love to help the community grow in any way we can. 

PARATIVE: We've found that most everyone that takes an interest to ethical fashion has had some pinnacle moment on the topic. Was there a moment in time where you decided to shop/buy ethical?

SR: For both of us it was working for a large retailer and seeing how mass production affects the quality of the goods. Also, we felt there was a lack of transparency as to where the merchandise was made and who was making it. As we learned more about ethical fashion we both realized that there were not that many shopping options in Columbus. At the same time, we started finding so many amazing, small brands that didn't yet have a presence here. So we decided to scale down and came up with the idea for The Sunroom.



PARATIVE: That is such interesting perspective, being on the other side of retail. Is there a story behind the name The Sunroom?

SR: We were looking for a name that properly represents the nature of the shop: welcoming, warm, and cheerful. We came to The Sunroom pretty quickly; while we were in the brainstorming process Chloe was out walking with a good friend of ours and they started naming things they saw just to get inspiration. Our friend said "sunroom," and it just felt right. The rest is history. :)

PARATIVE: I love how the theme of your answers is thinking of others; sharing skills, giving back, helping the community grow. As The Sunroom becomes a Clintonville staple, I can see other businesses wanting to be close to you all. Is there something that you think Clintoville is missing? If you could recruit one type of business, shop, or restaurant, who/what would that look like?

SR: We would love to see a shared, rentable studio or workspace for all the amazing creatives in this neighborhood; that is something that Clintonville is definitely missing! We would also love to see more retail shops, of all kinds! Along with the businesses that have been here for awhile, there have been many great additions popping up that have brought so much to the neighborhood. Having some more shopping options like menswear, a children's store, and a few more boutique-like shops would make our stretch even more of a shopping destination. All of us in this neighborhood have embraced the idea of community over competition and and it has been really wonderful to have and give that support. We have so many people stop in after hearing about us from the other businesses and we have sent shoppers their way as well. Maybe it's cheesy, but when we succeed, we do it together.

DON'T YOU GUYS JUST LOVE THEM AND WHAT THEY ARE ABOUT? I WILL BE SURE TO DOCUMENT MY VISIT TO THEIR SHOP. If any of you beat me there please report back about how cool it is. 

Dream To Do: HB Mertz

Drew Oxley

Do you ever have a feeling after you read a blog or an article online? I am talking about a kind of resonation with the writer that makes you say "YES!" outloud. You are nodding in agreement with each word they've written. It feels like the writer knows your story or has had a glimpse into your situation. That they could've been a long time friend. The last blog to do that for me was written by HB Mertz. (you can read the blog here).

It seems like everyone right now is either jumping into an entrepreneurial venture or aspires to. The common phrase is "taking the leap". We love the grounded approach HB took towards his "leap" and we were curious to hear more.  If you're in a place where you're working towards taking a "leap" or maybe you already have, I would suggest reading his blog linked above. Then circle back around and read HB's responses at how he's been working towards his dream.


PARATIVE: Hey HB! Can you tell us about your dream?

HB: You know those people who go through extremely different stages of life? That’s been my story, so my dream has changed a lot over the years. When I was younger, it was all about baseball and I wanted to play in the MLB someday. Then in college, I went through a major streetwear phase and thought I wanted to someday have my own store or clothing line. Now, it’s been about travel photography and using that to make an impact for the Kingdom of God. I don’t know how it’s all going to play out, but I love creating. At it’s core, that’s my dream. To use my talents to make an impact and show the love of Christ to those around me.

PARATIVE: People talk about how they connect with God through nature. Is this true for you? What does that look like in everyday life?

HB: Oh it’s absolutely true. You read so much in the Psalms using the metaphors of mountains or stars to convey who God is. Just seeing the different parts of the Earth brings His presence to life for me, and it’s one of those things you just don’t get until you’re in the midst of it. I mean, take last winter for example. I finally got to see the Northern Lights in Alaska, and I just remember standing there with goosebumps, not really being able to comprehend what was going on. There’s this nudging in your heart and mind that goes, “See? This is who I am. All those promises I’ve ever made to you through scripture? They’re real, and I’m a living, breathing God.” It’s so crazy man, it honestly is one of the things that keeps me going the most. Just chasing that feeling of being truly alive. 


PARATIVE: So cool! The northern lights has always been on our bucket list of places to see. What action steps have you taken towards your dream?

HB: Right now, I’m doing the full-time freelance thing. I made the decision to quit my agency job here in Pittsburgh about two months ago and haven’t looked back since. I know to do the work I want, whether that’s on my own or with a team of people, I’ll need to move somewhere out West. So a move is on the horizon for this fall or winter.

PARATIVE: After reading the blog on your website, you have a strategic approach to leaping into full time freelance work. With two months under your belt, what's your biggest piece of advice for someone that is looking to follow suit? Have you had any new thoughts since writing the blog?

HB: Yeah, I really had thought out my steps before jumping into freelance work. It was a combination of knowing that I was ready for it with my professional experience and mentoring from my bosses, but also that the work had just gotten to a point where I was turning down opportunities to pursue what I loved so that I could do the 9-5. I knew it was time, but I also wouldn’t have done it without having work lined up a few months before doing so. I think right now, so many kids are deciding to chase that life because their Instagram is doing well, when in the long run that’s going to have some really negative consequences when they have to find full-time work to support a wife and kids. I highly advise two things: First, a degree to fall back on, and second, to consider going part-time freelance while doing a job that will give you relevant experience. There’s so many opportunities right now for you to get plugged in with brands and companies hiring in creative fields - even if it’s something unpaid for the time being. You never know, you may find out that you love that stability and that you also live in a location that allows you to get out and shoot on weekends and evenings to keep those passions going.

PARATIVE: That's awesome advice. What does your dream look like in 5/10 years?

HB: Honesty, your guess is as good as mine. I’m one of those people that really lets things develop in front of me without trying too much to guide the future. Two years ago, I hadn’t even picked up a camera and I would have laughed if you told me this was what I’d be doing with my life. I’m big on letting God open up doors when it’s time, and following accordingly - putting my whole heart and self into the work placed before me. I hope I’m still able to be doing travel photography, but ultimately, I hope to be creating and making an impact on the world and the people around me, whatever that looks like. Let’s catch up in a few years and see what’s happening!


Dream To Do: Austin Dunbar

Drew Oxley

Austin is one of those guys you really want to be around. He is a good ol boy with the right sense of humor. He is humble, yet so talented. You sit down with him and you feel like you have known him since you were kids. The other thing about him is he is hungry. He works harder than anyone I know. He is driven and him designing the All or Nothing flag for us couldn't have been more fitting. He really is about the All or Nothing. Maybe thats why the flag hung so perfectly in his studio. We think you'll love hearing his dream and the story of how it all unfolded. 

PARATIVE: What is your dream?

AUSTIN: It sounds silly, but I always dreamed about owning a design studio ever since I realized that's what I wanted to do when I was 17. Before that, I wanted to be an NBA player, play in a big touring band. Normal growing up boy stuff.

PARATIVE: Surprised that NBA thing didn't work out for either of us. That's really cool about the design studio. You really can say you are living the dream. What action steps had you taken to make your dream happen?

AUSTIN: Trusted in myself. That sounds self-fulfilling but it's the opposite. If you don't believe in you and dreams who else will? You need to invest in your interests as much as possible and then talent starts to buff out of the cloudy parts. Also, listening to others who had more faith in me and could see things I couldn't. That's a big one. Having a support system that trusts and empowers you is huge. It gives you higher blocks to stand on when you're thinking about throwing the towel down. 

PARATIVE: That seems like great advice for those figuring out their dreams. What does your dream look like in 5/10 years?

AUSTIN: That's the hardest question that I constantly wrestle with. I'll be 35/40...geeze. I'm in the studio working day in and night out and it's sometimes hard to look up and think that far away. In 5/10 years, I hope the studio is not where it is now as a business and the same goes for me as a person. I want to grow Durham Brand & Co. into a place that invests into people, not just clients/work, that love to work and hone their craft at the studio. And by investing in others, it naturally exposes and reinvest new interests, ideas and dreams in yourself. That's kinda how it works right?!

PARATIVE: You also have the Durham Dept. (you're storefront in Covington), Are there any projects stewing in your head, that would also fit under the Durham Brand & Co. umbrella?

AUSTIN: There's always a lot of ideas I have for The Dept., it really always comes down to time for me. With it being a separate business and extension of the studio, I find myself designing for myself when client work isn't as slammed. That said, this spring and summer we released a new line along with a bunch of other goods that the studio has crafted with clients of the studio and people I'm generally a fan of. I want to move The Dept. more into a place of inspiration of urban living rather than a self-designed and prescribed extension of the studio. Less me, more we kind of stuff...if that makes any sense.

PARATIVE: Is there a certain piece of encouragement that has really stuck out to you over the years that you keep coming back to?

AUSTIN: Man, that's a good question. I love words of advice and the timing when it's received. Advice doesn't mean trash if it's not timely and impactful. Throughout my time exploring the idea to open a design studio 4-5 years ago, there was tons of truth I received but didn't believe from a couple of close friends and family members. One that's always apparent is, 'Faith is spelled R I S K'. I was given the opportunity to talk on risk last year and this was the theme. If you want anything in life, there's a risk involved – cliché as it is, it only touches the surface. The payoff of risk is reward, but the partner of risk is fear. Getting over that 2nd part is where the faith part lives. Faith in yourself, in your abilities, in your clients (for my career), faith in knowing that the future is unknown but being a good steward of the present will shine a short beam of light in front of you. Cause all you need is that next step to move forward.

PARATIVE: Ok Austin, last question, Covington gets a new NBA expansion team. You're in charge of the branding. What's the mascot?

AUSTIN: Already designed and named. It's called Covington City Cats. It's on a shirt from our first launch at The Dept.. They are the top recruiter of most Kentucky one-and-dones and they win about every damn game they've played.

All or Nothing: Garrett King Collab

Drew Oxley

Our All or Nothing flag is a collaboration with Garrett King.

Garrett is an all or nothing kind of guy. If he is going to go after something, every bone is his body is going for it. The Parative Project beats to the same drum. They want to see human trafficking eradicated and they are employing women out of brothels in India. Garrett and Parative came together to create this flag to remind you to persist, move forward, and give all you have. 

These flags are hand sewn by women in Mumbai, India who have been freed from the sex slave industry... talk about All or Nothing. We believe we can make a difference and that giving it all you have is enough. This first run of flags was able to cover one woman's wages for one year. 

This isn't the beginning. This isn't the end. We're not stopping here. All or Nothing.

Grab your flag in today in our online shop.

Dream To Do: Kendrick Jones

Drew Oxley

We connected with Kendrick a few months back and it was obvious right away that he was a fellow dreamer. He is passionate about creating a platform for others to share their dream. He created The Dream Again Campaign for this purpose and it felt natural that we should do a blog interview with the man behind this campaign.

PARATIVE: Thanks for chatting with us Kendrick, tell us about a dream you have.

KENDRICK: My dream is to see the world on fire for the cause of awakening passion and purpose in the hearts of every individual. My dream is to take the idea of dreaming bigger and sharing our stories with one another for the cause of Christ across the globe.

PARATIVE: That is awesome. Parative loves the idea of dreaming bigger. What a cool mission. What action steps have you taken recently to achieve your dream?

KENDRICK: The Dream Again Campaign has given me all the more motivation and opportunity to take the necessary steps toward making my own dream a reality. Seeking to advocate for the cause to reach beyond the mundane, this mission has been amazing to witness as it impacts community after community of dreamers, creatives, and visionaries all over the U.S. and beyond. For the past four months, this campaign has challenged me greatly. The Dream Again Campaign continuously opens my eyes to the value, purpose, and authenticity each and every one of us withhold.  

PARATIVE: What does The Dream Again Campaign look like in 5-10 years?

KENDRICK: In 5-10 years, I believe my dream will look like an even greater version of the characteristics it embodies in the here and now. My vision for the future, is to see this campaign taken across the globe; reaching subgroups of individuals who have given up, lost hope, and rejected the story that marks their lives. I want to see a greater continuation of what I do now: inspiring others to dream again.

PARATIVE: How has The Dream Again Campaign effected other areas of your life? (other endeavors, work/school, relationships, etc)

KENDRICK: The Dream Again Campaign has effected all aspects of my life, but, mainly, my relationships with others. Since it's creation, I've come to realize that it's almost like I've set myself up to discover the gold in others. Seeing people in the midst of my community here in Northeast Louisiana and beyond is to see a land of diversity marked by the stories on people's lives. This campaign has given me new eyes.

PARATIVE: As a company who loves seeing people dream big and push themselves we are so curious, have you noticed a trend when people share their dreams with you?

KENDRICK: There is definitely a common trend that occurs when people share their dreams with me. An awe-struck undeniable's all present every time in every context of conversation. Encountering the dreams of others is always such an honor because it reminds me that we all have a seed of purpose nestled within us that is simply waiting  to erupt for all the world to see.

PARATIVE: Which do you feel is more powerful, someone sharing their dream or the possibility of the dream inspiring others?

KENDRICK: I believe what's most powerful, is witnessing someone's dream inspire others. "Dream Dreamer," is a motto designed to encourage, empower, and awaken the dreamer inside each and everyone of us. Reminding our world of an aspect of calling that's already in our nature to embrace is so powerful. Reminding our world of an aspect of calling that's already in our nature to embrace is what ignites us all with passion and purpose.

Count how many times I used the word true in this blog post...

Drew Oxley

I have very few pet peeves. One might be when people ask what kind of music I like. I am forced to sound like the most boring person who ever existed when I respond "oh I don't know, all kinds of music". Another pet peeve would be Pinterest quotes. They are so bad. If I was ever really talking to someone about trying hard at something and they told me that land among the stars if you miss the moon line I think I would go ballistic. So when Drew and I get talking about flag designs and ways that our flags can inspire people I am so so picky. It can't ever be cheesy, Pinteresty, or cliche. 

I remember the day he came to me with the "nothing changes if nothing changes" idea. I kept saying it over and over. It is brutally honest and when you look introspectively it is freaky to think about. I don't want to be a wife and mom who is always looking at her phone but instead one who is constantly engaging with the people around her. Well, NOTHING CHANGES IF NOTHING CHANGES, you freak. Or, I want to get in shape (this is obviously someone else's hypothetical situation because I am 8.5 months pregnant eating animal crackers while I write this post). Well, NOTHING CHANGES IF NOTHING CHANGES.

You guys get the point. It is so self explanatory because it is such truth. Nothing will change unless we make changes.

This is the heartbeat of The Parative Project. It is true with human trafficking. It is true with fast fashion. It is true of how we treat people and how we follow our dreams. If we don't make changes NOTHING WILL CHANGE. Chew on it. Sit on it. Look at how good the flag design is and then buy one and start ch-ch-ch-changing (no matter how baby the steps are at first).

*Can you tell this is my favorite flag yet?

Flags available in the shop!



Drew Oxley

Have you been following our families journey through ethical shopping? Oh ya, thats the one... where I cry because when I go to the mall I can't buy anything, where our toddlers norm is either hand-me-downs or super expensive rompers that are made in the US, where I pee my pants every time I sneeze (has nothing to do with ethical shopping but a big part of my life journey), and where we put in a lot of research before every purchase. 

I am learning a lot. Just because something is hard and inconvenient doesn't mean it isn't worth it. This could be one of the more challenging, but most rewarding decisions we have made as a family. I am excited to teach our kids about where the things we consume come from and why we make the choices we do as consumers. I am excited to support businesses that are doing things right and working hard to change the direction fast fashion is headed. I am excited to use our hard earned dollar to do good. I am excited to see the impact that our purchases have and the affect it will have on how businesses choose to run. It has been super rewarding but THIS JOURNEY THROUGH ETHICAL SHOPPING HAS DONE ONE THING FOR US THAT IS VERY EXCITING...

It made us create the perfect tee.

If you couldn't tell from my first paragraph rant, we had a hard time finding clothes that we could wear everyday, that were ethically made, and that were reasonable and competitive in price. So when your husband is a visionary and you can't find a solution to a problem, he suggests you create it yourself. We researched shirts we liked, we made patterns, we had the girls we work with in India mock them up and send them back, we tweaked them. and tweaked them again. and tweaked them some more. We then, you guessed it, tweaked them more until we came out with a design that made us proud, proud like it's our favorite t-shirt we have. We wanted a tee that people wouldn't buy because it was affiliated with a "cause". We wanted people to buy it because it was the best damn shirt they ever put on. 

And it just so happens that the shirts are changing lives, reasonably priced, and sourced with organic cotton. Trust me, you're going to feel good wearing this.

Dream To Do: Stevie Van Horn

Drew Oxley

CAN'T EXPRESS OUR EXCITEMENT TO HAVE BEEN ABLE TO TALK TO STEVIE ABOUT HER DREAM TO DO. We were introduced to Stevie through Instagram and have been huge fans since. Stevie's name has become a household name in our house for her creativity and sustainable no waste lifestyle. When someone (usually me...) wastes or throws away something that can be repurposed, the other person (Drew) will be like what would Stevie say about this? It has been so fun and eye opening following her through social media and seeing how she creatively is working to solve our cultures waste problem. It's interesting and different than anything we know anyone doing, so we can't wait for you to hear from her! 

PARATIVE: Thanks Stevie! We are so happy to be able to hear from you. Tell us about your dream.

STEVIE: A dream of mine is to further raise awareness of how we impact whats around us and to help people to understand their individual power in the grand scheme of preserving and sustaining our earth.  To re-establish the connection between humans and nature.

PARATIVE: From following your social media, you have definitely made this into a lifestyle. What sparked your passion for your lifestyle? Was it after a specific trip, event, or experience? Was is gradual or a 180 overnight?

STEVIE: I remember this amazing conversation I had with one of my good friends followed by him letting be borrow a book called "Mycelium Running" by Paul Stamets. Mycelium is known as the neurological network of the forest and its a thin layer of thread like fibers that run underneath the forest floor, and they bud fungi. Fungi are profound recyclers and without them we would be knee deep in dead matter and animal carcasses. They also play an important role in allowing non relational species to communicate with one another. For example mycelium can transfer vitamin D from one tree to another that isn't getting enough sunlight. Anyhow, so the idea that this incredible of things exists that plays such a role in our ecosystem got me in a vast wormhole of what our role as humans are to the environment. Thinking of how destructive we are and the creation of nonrenewable materials that are ruining us and all other species got me in an obsession that we must do something about it, and fast. It took me 2 months to prep for being zero waste, and figuring out how I want my passion to be executed is still something that manifest differently everyday.

PARATIVE: That is crazy. We have never heard about mycelium. Thats amazing. What are some action steps that you've taken towards your dream recently?

STEVIE: Well I've created an instagram, youtube, blog/website that touches base on how I live a minimal, light footprint and hopefully motivates people to find their own passion for this sustainable change. I am currently repurposing white vintage 1970's tees and embroidering endangered species on them and they are up for sale. The idea behind it is to merge fashion with the condition of our world and how our actions affect different species-and creating change through visual awareness and an everyday item such as a white classic tee. I also do beach clean ups in the summer and hopefully can expand with getting groups of children to help out! We gotta start engraining behavioral consciousness at a young age!

PARATIVE: How does this dream play out in 5 to 10 years?

STEVIE:  Gosh, in 5/10 years I just hope to continue raising awareness through different avenues that speak to different people. I would love to do bigger embroidered pieces such as denim jackets, hand sewn repurposed linen tops etc...I would also love to start an organization dedicated to keeping beaches clean with a focus on teaching individuals how to avoid materials and that hurt eco systems and fragile biomes.  My secret dream is to open up a wildlife/dog rehabilitation center but I can't tell if that is something I want to do in 10 years or in 30 years haha.

PARATIVE: And for all of us who are just learning and want to start living more sustainably, what are a few "entry level" practices that people can incorporate in their daily routine to leave a lighter footstep, do you have any suggestions?

STEVIE: Entry level ways of making a lighter footprint is refusing plastic bags, opting for a tote. Bring a mason jar with you for outside the house; coffee, smoothie, bulk items. Buy vintage or second hand and avoid fast fashion at all costs. Another thing is just asking yourself if you really need what you want to buy. Everything made came from a natural resource. Supply and Demand is very real and so the more we demand from the earth, the more it gets decimated. Considering purchases is huge. Striving for a minimal life is fulfilling inward and helps out the planet!

NOW THAT'S A GIRL WHO IS DREAMING TO DO! So cool. We love it. And love those suggestions, so practical and doable. When you see me out with my mason jar give me a pat on the back and I'll cheers your mason jar with mine!

Dream To Do: Sam Stucky

Drew Oxley

Sam is so funny, you guys, and he is a crazy good animator. We are so thankful to have met him through Taylor and had the opportunity to have him design our most recent release, the shake it tote. After you finish reading our interview with him about his dream (which is super genuine but also has the funniest touch of his personality) you should follow him on Instagram... he says funny stuff on there too. 

PARATIVE: Sam, tell us about your dream?

SAM: I’m always scheming and dreaming. Some days it’s all I do. Honing in on one specific goal is hard for me because I have so many of them.

I’d love to be a dad. I want to raise up a fleet of little Stucky’s who can be better than me at anything they choose to do. I’m also pursuing music. I’ve been writing an EP, playing intimate house shows here and there. But I also play the drums in a pop rock band that I promise you can’t not dance to. I’d like to have a farm on some rolling hills. Create a self-sustaining lifestyle for my family where my kids can milk cows instead of take selfies (or at least take selfies while riding like a goat or something). I’m an animator by trade. It’s what I went to school for and it’s what I do full time now on a freelance basis. I love telling stories through motion. Drawing little characters and making them wiggle and jiggle is my jam, and seeing people respond with joy makes me feel all warm inside.

All of these dreams are cooking. Some are on the back burner, and some have been slow roasting for the past few years. **Cooking up dreams in the crock pot. But I guess what I’m really after is freedom. I want to be free enough to explore new avenues. C.S. Lewis said you are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. Each of my steps are to create a lifestyle where that rings true.

PARATIVE: Having a dream to run a farm isn't a typical dream you often hear from a Chicagoan. Do you have any past ties or trips that draw you to country living?

SAM: I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, land of the rolling Bluegrass. I didn't grow up on a large plot of land, but something about that lifestyle attracts me. My dad spent his childhood working on a Christmas tree farm and has always been an avid outdoorsman. My mom grew up on a farm riding horses and being chased by chickens. After living in Chicago for four years I've realized how dependent we are on others to provide our daily needs. I wonder what it would be like to live almost fully self-sustainably.

PARATIVE: What action steps have you taken to achieve your dream?

SAM: Freelancing helps me pursue my dreams BIG TIME. It’s the biggest blessing. Even the word ‘freelance’ has the word ‘free’ in it. As a contractor I have more say in when and what I work on. Being able to choose the work I do now helps me choose the future I’ll do later. When it comes to music, my EP is a big step for me. I’m working with my good producer friend, Caleb Harris, here in Chicago. His studio is a breeding ground for good ideas and he’s helping me find my sound as a solo artist.

Also, I fell in love with a girl. Her name is Taybaybay but you can just call her Taybaybay. Her dream is to run a bed and breakfast so I keep telling her to run it out of my farmhouse. She said she’d get back to me on that so I’ll keep you updated. In all seriousness, it’s amazing how quickly you can run when the person you’re running with has the same destination.

PARATIVE: What does your dream look like in 5-10 years?

SAM: In 10 years I’d love to spend my time evenly between creating music and animation. My goal is to continue to create story driven animations but on a larger scale. Animation is such a powerful medium and I’d love to use it to support organizations who are moving the world forward. With music I imagine myself having a personal studio in the barn above the cows. Makin dank beats over that dank manure.

PARATIVE: What are some of your favorite organizations that you would like to support in the future? We love hearing what others are passionate about.

SAM: There are a few organizations I'm drawn to, especially in my hometown. There is a non-profit called Seedleaf that works to make growing local food easy and accessible. Any sort of inner city farming initiatives interest me. But much like everyone else I'm also inspired by people like Elon Musk who are breaking ground in sustainability.

PARATIVE: Thanks so much, Sam! We will be on the lookout for some of your farmhouse selfies on goats.

Dream To Do: Anne and Andrew Decker

Drew Oxley

You guys, going for your dreams and making them a reality is HARD WORK! From all these interviews with people busting their asses to make stuff happen I am learning and admiring. Dream doing isn't for the faint of heart. It's not a jog in the park in a polyester jumpsuit. It is a marathon in a really hilly city with weights on your back and feet and maybe even you are barefoot?? It is a roller coaster. It is thinking about your goals around the clock. It is being creative with ways to get started and moving. It is trying to get people to rally behind you when maybe you aren't even sure if its going to work out. It takes a certain bravery and determination that I think all people have but may have just not uncovered yet. I could go on but nothing will make you understand that running analogy like reading Anne and Andrew's story. 

We love what Anne and Andrew are doing to fulfill a dream of opening Landlocked Social House. Not to mention we love that its right here in Cincinnati! They are finishing up a Kickstarter and they are so close to their goal! We are so inspired by their hard work that we are going to give our profits from any sales from tonight until Saturday (**except the wildflower flag. I know, I know, but we can hardly keep them in stock to begin with..) from our online store to the Landlocked kickstarter campaign. Their campaign ends in one week, so make sure to check it out before you miss out.


But read about Anne and Andrew's dream below and check out their campaign or pick something up in the Parative shop to support them!

PARATIVE: What is your dream? 

ANNE: For the past 8 years I have been working in coffee growing my passion and knowledge and skill. Andrew started brewing beer with his friends 10 years ago and always was the go to guy on beer information and could tell you all about various taste profiles or bitterness contents etc. We met working at Starbucks which has always been something we explain to people when they warn us of working together as husband and wife. We work well together and through the years Andrew has taught me and shown me so much in the beer world and I have done the same with coffee. We realized very early into our relationship that we wanted to own a business together that offered the things we loved and served them in a way that showcased the product in the best light. To us supporting quality roasted coffee and craft beer is not just about taste, but it's also about supporting and working with people just like us, trying to make their dreams come true. These smaller producers are employing people and they know their names and faces and they care about their employees. This is how we want our business to be so to us it's a no brainer to support others that are doing the same thing. Through our years working various service industry jobs we realized what we most enjoyed about the worlds we worked in was all the people we got to know. We wanted to own a spot that served the neighborhood with quality coffee and beer and to be able to hire employees and treat them well and help them grow and learn more about coffee and beer. For us the employee aspect is a heavy one because we have been in that role for so long and we are so excited to create an environment where our staff feels they have a place where they can grow and learn but also know that we are excited about helping them in whatever way fulfill their passions. 

PARATIVE: Love that you guys work together as husband and wife. I don't know if its because we are a family business ourselves, but I have always been drawn to families working together. What are some actions you've taken recently to fulfill your dream? 

ANDREW: We jumped into jobs that we knew would help us learn and grow. Anne knew that Press Coffee Bar in Dayton was one of the best around and that learning and working there would benefit her in the long run. She stayed for 4 years and became the manager. So through her time there she not only learned about coffee but also learned what makes a shop run smoothly. I worked at Eudora Brewing Company where I taught people how to brew small batch beer and also working behind the bar as well. I learned how to talk to people on the full spectrum of beer knowledge and make them feel comfortable and at home at Eudora. Both of these experiences lead to us feeling more and more confident about our dream of running our own operation. One fateful day our friends Becki and Jeremiah Griswold aka owners of White Whale came up to Dayton to spend time with us. It's impossible to hang out with Jeremiah and not talk about your dreams so of course that's what happened. In the building they own and operate White whale out of they had a second storefront available and asked, what's stopping us. We had been asked that a couple times and every time learned a little more about what it takes to open a business. This time though we felt a burst of confidence and felt it was the right time to jump in all the way. The neighborhood the space was located in was exactly what we were looking for and we felt confident that this was the spot. So we did it, being the kind of people we are we put in a 3 month notice to our employers. They had helped us so much and we thought it to be fair. The reactions were just another step of reassurance, they were not surprised and were rather excited for us. It was the first time that we felt it was a gentle closing of a screen door rather then the slamming of a giant wooden door. They believed in us and wanted to help however they could. Quitting our jobs and being "unemployed" was a very new thing to us, scary at times but the idea that we were working towards our dream made it worth every minute of it. 

Now here we are almost a year from the day we quit our jobs and moved to Cincinnati. We have hit so many hurdles as you do when opening a business and being completely new to the scene, but with every hurdle, one of us would look at the other and say, we have got to keep moving forward and we have. Some of the roadblocks were more expensive then the other or more exhausting then the other but the need to run our own place and meet new people and serve the neighborhood has grown more intense. Sitting at a bar down the street and hearing someone ask the bartender "when is Landlocked going to open" gets us fired up! The last hurdle we have left is of course money due to all those hurdles. We have decided on going the Kickstarter route because it's a great way to find out who is excited and get people excited about our dream while inviting them to be a part of It. 

PARATIVE: Sounds like a wild ride and so exciting when you invite people into it with you! Love that you are pushing through and your Kickstarter is so close! What does your dream look like in 5-10 years? 

ANNE and ANDREW: Well going off of what we said earlier about being a great employer and having growth in mind for our employees in 5 years we would like Landlocked to be able to function with us being more behind the scenes. We envision a staff that has from day one understood that if they want to be more involved they can and we will make that a reality. The best functioning shops and bars we know are the ones that the owners have allowed someone else to take the reigns after quality training and time so that the owners can begin to grow and work on more projects that either enhance the business or something completely new. We hope that by the time we hit 5 years of being open we have a few members on our staff that take pride and ownership in our business as much as we do. 

Now the specific projects that we would like to work towards range. We would like to have a small batch brewing operation and we already have the brewer in mind. Our idea is to brew small batches and do limited releases at Landlocked exclusively. 

Another dream is to open a sister shop in a far off place. This would be a 10 year dream for sure but Anne being from Germany and us spending our honeymoon there for 3 weeks we really fell in love with the various cities we visited but also the coffee scene was incredible and the craft beer scene although just starting out has become amazing in a very short period of time. The dream of opening a sister shop is definitely in our minds, we are just not certain where and when. We have to see first where Landlocked Social House 1.0 takes us and then grow from there. We have definitely learned from chasing our current dream that things happen and we must be willing to be flexible with the events life throws in our way.

Erin's First Three Months of Ethical Shopping (and a list of other (some hilarious) experiments you may or may not want to try)

Drew Oxley

Ethical Shopping Experiment:  The First Three Months.

Our family’s foray into ethical shopping came about as most things do: through friends of friends who gave us just enough spark to dive in the deep end. Ben and I were part of a team launching a new nonprofit, which is how we were introduced to the names behind Parative. (I had met Carolyn once before when she expertly cut my hair a year or so before.) We were immediately intrigued. Per usual when I meet someone with a mutual interest, I monopolized their time at the launch party, asking them all sorts of questions about ethical shopping and how it was working out for them. I am impulsive and spontaneous, which, depending on the circumstance, can be both a blessing and a curse. I’ve done (and written about) lots of other experiments: multiple Whole30s. An ill-advised colon cleanse. Two bouts of vegetarianism. Slowly chipping away at one more item that we only buy organic after watching those horrific food documentaries. So, mostly experiments dealing with food. And mostly ones that, I hope, make me feel good or benefit my health. We want to know what’s in the meat. As much as we can, we want to eat our food with a clean conscience.  

Deciding to purchase only clothing that is ethically sourced or secondhand was both exciting (another challenge! And one I can impose upon my whole family!) and daunting (what about when I feel the need??). The Need is what I refer to whenever I enter an Anthropologie or a TJMaxx. I know, the two aren’t exactly synonymous, but I love them both equally. I never really need anything inside of either store, but I always walk out with a candle or shirt or (God help me) a piece of pottery.  

Here are a couple of takeaways after immersing ourselves in three months of ethical shopping.

Success #1: God always provides, and sometimes with hyperbole.

My sister recently moved to Costa Rica and unloaded her entire wardrobe on me. I can’t wear all of it, but there are heaps of items I love, and receiving an entire secondhand wardrobe means I basically doubled my clothing. (Small downside: I’ve aspired--experiment alert--to cultivate a capsule wardrobe, and doubling my closet isn’t helping any.)

Success #2: I made my first ethical clothing purchase.  In bulk.

My English department (I’m a high school teacher) put me and a coworker in charge of designing and ordering department shirts this year. In no way do I want to push my experiment on anyone else, but I decided it couldn’t hurt to at least ask if my peers were interested in buying an ethically sourced shirt over any other shirt, even if it meant spending more money. We put it to a vote, and an ethically sourced shirt won. (Moral: English teachers are awesome.)

Success #3: We survived Christmas.

I envy Mary.  When Jesus finally came, she needn’t fret about where his swaddled clothes came from.  Everything, I imagine, was local, everything homemade.  That’s not the case here.  When our own Christmas came, my husband and I had to think past our normal gift exchange. Usually it involves something experiential--a climbing gym membership or a massage, and always it involves a couple of items from Gap that also double as workwear. We had to get creative. We took getting creative with our gifting literally. I got my husband a weekend away at a Young Adult writer’s retreat at the Rivendell Writers’ Colony in Sewanee, TN; he purchased art supplies for me.

My husband is a beautiful writer--I fell in love with his long-distance letters to me long before I really fell for him--and he’s been working on and long dreamed of writing a book of his own. The weekend, he said, was perfect. The hosts, two published young adult authors, one we count as a long-lost friend from our Nashville days, were personable, encouraging, and relaxed. He came back from the conference inspired, refreshed, and energized, ready to get serious about writing. A dream awakened. It was and is beautiful to witness.  

While he was gone, I cleared out our guest room closet, put the desk made by my great-grandpa Otis in it with a few writing accoutrements, and declared it Ben’s Writing Closet. It’s awesome.  

I thought about the painting supplies for about six days before taking a crack at them. When we lived in Nashville and were first married, creative writing and painting were just part of our lives, as natural as binge-watching “30 Rock” became to me once it aired (Tina Fey as Liz Lemon as Princess Leia?  Fuhgettaboutit). When I started grad school and we moved to Cincinnati in 2006, the painting shut down altogether. I loved to paint, but the more the years ticked away, the less it seemed likely it would ever happen again. It seemed childish, a thing of the past.  

But I cracked open that first canvas, had a picture in my head of what I wanted to paint, and went for it. I fell in love. It became a nightly endeavor, an obsession. Ever the Google Calendar evangelist, I created a separate shared calendar called “Create” so we can make a record of every night we spend at least some time writing or painting, even if it’s a puny twenty minutes. It’s exciting to add yet another notch in that belt. It’s awakened something new that feels urgent and important for us. And it’s so much better than khakis or flannel!  

Even more amazing, we’re realizing the baloney that is the idea that there’s just not enough time to do something. There’s always time. We’re learning to say no to the right things, even things we love like re-binge-watching “30 Rock” for the fourth time because we need humor in our winters. We’re still having quality family time (we paint and write after the boys go to bed), haven’t slacked one bit on our schoolwork (if anything, we’re more efficient at work so we can “play” at home), and we’re finding it’s life giving. God provides.

We’ll take creation over clothing any day, any gift.  

Success #4: The mall just isn’t that appealing right now.

I’ve never been a mall lover. I get dizzy easily and mall-type crowds make me feel anxious. But. There are those times I just want to buy, you know? And Gap has been my go-to place for cheap, stylish, functional clothing for FOREVER. I can even remember those first few Gap items my parents bought for me when we visited the Gap outlet in Hebron, KY, for the first time in the late ‘80s. Have mercy.

Like Bill Murray in What About Bob?, I’m taking baby steps in this experiment. When Ben and I went to kill time at the mall during Christmas season, I thought we might be playing with fire, like when I tell people I’m gluten-free BUT THERE’S A FUNFETTI CUPCAKE STARING AT ME on the counter. The amazing thing? We felt ho-hum in our desire to go into any store. I geek out over Christmas decor, so I love the overdone lights and bling. But I wasn’t tempted to buy a thing. Plus it was strange for me to think first about the hands that made all of the clothing--and there’s a lot of clothing--in each of the store windows. We want to know what’s in the meat.  

It feels weird to flip the switch from somewhat-aware-but-still-part-of-the-system consumer to but-not-at-the-expense-of-others consumer.  It’s becoming less strange as time goes on.  

Erin is an english teacher married to an english teacher in a house full of boys. She is hilarious and has become a great friend of The Parative Project. Erin's blog can be found here.


Drew Oxley

Jeremiah and his wife Becki have electrifying personalities. They are the type of people that are so fun to be around and can strike up a conversation with anyone. They are also the type of people that get stuff done. They dream big dreams AND they find ways to make it happen. Of course its inspiring and makes you want to do whatever it is your going after, but more importantly they are making an impact and literally changing people's lives. It's people and things like this we love hearing and sharing about. We can't wait to fill you all in on what they have going on!

PARATIVE: Thanks for sharing with us, Jeremiah. Can you tell us a little about your dream?

JEREMIAH: Since I lived in Guatemala and began my tattoo apprenticeship nearly a decade ago, it has been my dream to return to Guatemala with a team of tattoo artists to do a bunch of cover-up tattoo work for former gang members and others who have made significant life changes. My tattoo apprenticeship began in Guatemala as I was volunteering in gang prisons and with young men who were trying to leave the gang lifestyle. Covering up gang tattoos can quite literally be a life saving transaction in many circumstances, and it is powerful to see the reaction on one’s face when they see a symbol that they were once embarrassed by or reminded them of a dark past covered by a beautiful work of art. 

Photo: Jesse Fox 

Photo: Jesse Fox 

PARATIVE: What action steps have you taken recently towards this dream?

JEREMIAH: We decided that it was time to stop dreaming about this and make it happen, so a few months ago we decided we were going to go in January 2017. We weren’t quite sure how we would come up with the funds to make the trip happen, but we trusted that if we were supposed to do it everything would fall into place. We wanted to allow as many people as possible to join us in support of this trip and play a part however they could. Our crew of five people from White Whale Tattoo all committed to go, and some other friends decided to join us on the trip as well to help however they could. We decided to hold a fundraiser in which we would take walk-ins on a Saturday (we are typically appointment only) and all of our artists created a series of tattoo designs that people could choose from, with all of the proceeds going to cover the costs of the trip. When we opened the doors at 10am, we could not believe that we had a line of fifty or so people out the door and down the street! We planned to tattoo until 8pm and ended up tattooing until about 10:30pm as people just kept coming, some of them waiting all day. It was such an incredible vibe of positive people from all walks of life coming together around the cause. We did 62 tattoos that day and raised nearly $9,000. I had my Jordan day and tattooed 23 people, which was well beyond a personal record!

PARATIVE: That is amazing. Unreal results and love that you had your best day. Can you share any stories or highlights from the trip?

JEREMIAH: There is so much to process from the trip and so many incredible stories but one of my favorites is the story of a cupcake coverup for Luis, the former gang member who now is as sweet as can be. He currently sells cupcakes and candy on the public buses to provide for his three children. Everyday he feared for his life as someone from an opposing gang, or the police, might see his old gang tattoos. Thanks to the collaboration of @ag_aka_annie and @nikiwoltja he no longer has to worry; the gang tattoo has been covered by 🍬🍭and a cupcake!

PARATIVE: Thats an amazing story and tattoo. What does this dream look like in 5-10 years?

JEREMIAH: Sometimes my wife, Becki, and I dream about someday having a guest home in Guatemala so we can host people who want to learn about and volunteer there. Perhaps we may even open up a tattoo studio there someday. Ultimately though, our dream is that 5-10 years from now we will have taken many more trips to Guatemala with others who are interested in building relationships, and they will go back and take their friends, and it will continue to ripple into something much bigger than I could even imagine. I believe that anytime we travel and interact with others of different cultures or speak different languages, it creates more understanding, inspires creativity, and reminds us that we are all part of one big diverse and beautiful family. When one travels to Guatemala or elsewhere and forms a lifelong friendship with someone who lives there, we begin to converse about how to tear down any walls that separate us rather than build new ones. Often what we discover when we travel to a new place is a mutually beneficial relationship in which we learn from the individuals who live there as much as, and in some cases even more than, they do from us. 

PARATIVE: Keep dreaming and doing, man! We love it and can't wait to follow along with what happens next.

JEREMIAH: Yeah and actually we will be doing another Tattoo Flash Day on Thursday May 11th from 11am-6pm that will raise funds for our next trip. 


is second hand second best?

Drew Oxley

Today we visit the age old question, IS BUYING FROM THRIFT OR SECOND HAND STORES ETHICAL? If the stuff we find in second hand stores was originally made by unfair labor practices, when it becomes second hand how does it all the sudden become ethically made? 


Yes, we consider shopping pre loved (as I like to call it) to be an ethical way of shopping. The confusion lies in the question of, does that make the garments that you are buying ethical garments? Not necessarily. The clothes are still made by the ones who made them originally, however they were made... But buying clothes second hand helps your carbon footprint by eliminating transport, you are diverting waste from landfills, you are not supporting the production of new fast fashion, and you are giving clothes a second chance or a longer shelf life.

If any of you have tried shopping ethically you know how hard it can be to track the impact of your seemingly trivial purchase. But with thrift stores, the burden of impact of your purchase is greatly reduced. The original purchaser has already supported the whole chain of production that made the item, so you only have to worry about the second hand store in front of you that you are purchasing from. And it's a double whammy because many second hand stores support charities. 

Buying second hand helps.. it is a way and a form of recycling and it is a way to slow down fast fashion. 

After reading this article you might be thinking, is Carolyn actually Bill Nye the Science Guy? No, no, I am not. We just get the question a TON, "is buying second hand or thrift shopping ethical?" So, I put on my researcher pants (sweats) and took to Google to find this information. It really is quite interesting if you ask me. 

I am not asking you to never buy anything new again. That would be ludicrous (which is a rapper I love). What I am challenging you to, is to purchase things new that you will use and use for a long time. Things that you think you may only use for a short time or are not sure you will like, try buying second hand. Buy things new that won't go out of style in a year or two. Give gifts that will be used for a long time. I get it if you are a little hesitant, before I married Drew I didn't even like eating the leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day. So maybe clothes aren't your go to for shopping second hand, think of other things you can buy used. My personal favorite thing to buy second hand is sporting goods. Think about it... and let us know what you come up with!






Drew Oxley

THERE IS SO MUCH TALENT AND CREATIVE ENERGY IN CINCINNATI RIGHT NOW. It is incredible to be around people who are creating and reinventing the wheel. We stumbled across Anastasiya's work and took her to coffee to pick her brain about pattern making. We have become friends and huge fans of hers since. She is one of those people that has good ideas and asks hard questions but is still encouraging. We think you guys will love her story. She is from Russia and has an incredible story of dream chasing and making things happen.

PARATIVE: Thanks for sitting down with us! Tell us about a dream you have?

ANASTASIYA: My biggest dream is to grow my business, Textilehaus, to the point where it could impact lives of many people in a positive way. I want my company to provide a creative outlet where people can invent new things and expand boundaries in already existing systems in fashion and textile industry. I also want to provide product that is meaningful for many people, makes them feel good and inspired.

PARATIVE: When and how did you come up with Textilehaus or knowing you wanted to design a line?

ANASTASIYA: My DAAP professor was working on an art project and needed some custom raincoats. He posted on FB asking his friends if they knew anybody who can do it and I said I could. My mother taught me how to make clothes when I was little. She would require for me to make a sample of garment before she would let me to buy something at the store. So when I was making those coats for my professor I felt that I was with my mom back at home bonding over a project. So I decided that I would utilize the skills I learned from my mom and my creative background (I graduated from DAAP with a Fine Arts degree). When I designed my first dress people just kept asking where they could buy one, this is how I knew that I was on to something. Within the next year I came up with a name, enrolled into local small business accelerator called First Batch, designed my first collection and learned some major fundamentals about working in a start-up.

PARATIVE: So cool that your mom did that and the skills it required you to learn and grow. What action steps have you taken towards your dream recently?

ANASTASIYA: I've gone through a small business accelerator which was one of the hardest things I had to do in my life besides moving to another country. Learning something new is a challenging humbling experience and I realized that If I didn't love what I do it would be impossible for me to move forward.

PARATIVE: Talking about moving forward, what would you like your dream to look like in 5 or 10 years?

ANASTASIYA: My goal is to have a design house where we are able to produce our own fabrics, experiment with textile innovation and strive for sustainable manufacturing. I aslo want Textilehaus to have both menswear and woman's wear lines.

PARATIVE: How can people around you support and help with your dream?

ANASTASIYA: Everyday I find myself thanking my friends, family and local community for their support. Sometimes I look around and see my friends doing amazing things and think that I'm so lucky to be surrounded by such talented, wildly intelligent people. I have several business mentors, that give me financial and strategic advice. I can not stress enough how important it is to have family. I have two sets of parents, two of them live in Russia and two of them are here in Cincinnati. Over the past couple of years I learned that it is important to come home for dinner and spend time with people that unconditionally love me no matter where Im in life. Many of my friends work in start-up or are in a creative field, so it is always nice to pick up a phone and talk to them or go on a walk, they definitely helped through some tough beginner stages.

PARATIVE: What cool perspective about family and being loved! An important part in taking risks is knowing you are loved unconditionally, takes some of the pressure off. If you could choose a historical figure to rock your clothes, who would you choose?

ANASTASIYA: The first women that come to mind are Princess Diana, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Michelle Obama. I don't think these women come to my mind because of their social status, I just love their set of values and how they carry themself. I design for a woman that is intelligent, wise and kind, and those are the women I look up to. I love that they are experimental and artistic with their wardrobe in a very curated way. 

PARATIVE: We loved getting to hear about you and the dreams you have and the things that got you to where you are. Thanks Anastasiya. We are big fans!



Drew Oxley

We are so excited for you all to get to know Laura better. She is an incredible artist and when Taylor suggested her for the wildflower flag's illustration/design we took one look at her work and became a fan of her. Do yourself a favor and check out her work after you read about her dream!

PARATIVE: It is so exciting and fun to work with you. Thanks for taking time to answer our questions! When we started this flag collaboration, Taylor really wanted you to do the design. How do you guys know each other?

LAURA: Taylor and I have some mutual friends - one of them being Madisen Kuhn, I illustrated her book of poetry! Somehow Taylor and I ended up in contact through a few different connections. 

PARATIVE: So cool, we will have to check that book out. LAURA, we would love to hear about one of your dreams!

LAURA: A dream I have is to have my own brick and mortar store with my work as well as other artists.

PARATIVE: Man, that would be cool! What is a way you are dreaming to do this idea, or taking steps to make it a reality?

LAURA: Steps I am making towards this goal are to constantly put more work out there and build my portfolio! Hopefully the dream will be a reality in 5-10 years!

PARATIVE: If there's a person, business, or band that you could add to you portfilio who would it be?

LAURA: Tough question! Not one person or group comes to mind specifically at the moment, I'll have to think on that one!

PARATIVE: Your artistic style is unique and whimsical, where do you get your inspiration?

LAURA: I try to pull inspiration from everywhere and everything! I love flowers, people and traveling. (I'm currently on a plane back to Paris from Stockholm!)

PARATIVE: That is awesome. And now for a really tough one, what is your favorite pastry in Paris?

LAURA: Yes, favorite pastry is a tough one. I'm gonna go with the classic croissant. 

PARATIVE: Thanks for chatting, Laura and thanks for the killer flag design. We are so excited for them to go live later today!