The Parative Project

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

fast fashion

Dream to Do: FLOWER POWER

Drew Oxley

We love the hustle (cue the song Do the Hustle and me dancing around in my pajamas). This past weekend we had a booth at Renegade Craft Fair in Wicker Park, Chicago. It was all music to our ears... the people presenting the goods they made, the names they came up with, the booth set ups they thought up. It was SO good to see everyone proudly presenting their ideas, their brain children, on display for all the world (actually just Chicago) to see. It was so fun AND INSPIRING. 

There is something about people going after it, people going hard, and not looking back. People sticking to their guns even when its not easy. People who have passion and want to talk about it. Its contagious and its attractive when people believe so much in an idea that they aren't ashamed to prioritize it. When people make themselves proud with hard work, bravery, and taking chances.

We love these people so much we want to highlight them in a blog series called Dream to Do.

This series is for the Dreamers and the Doers... Those that never give up and always persevere. Its an anthem for people who get out of bed to do what they were made to do. You know the ones, they don't put up with fears and consider even the tiniest of steps progress. The ones who open their eyes to the reality of their potential and step into that potential. They don't look back or wish things were different. They don't just daydream they live their dream.

Our first guest is Julie from Charlotte, North Carolina. She stood out to us as we got wind that she quit her full time job to pursue something that is a dream. We don't AT ALL believe you have to leave your job to pursue your dream (Ahem, Drew is dressed and ready to sling coffee as I type). We don't AT ALL believe you have to start a business to be following your dream. All you need is a goal and something to work towards. It could be anything. ANYTHING. Spending more time with your family, having a beautiful home, keeping a garden, making good food, eating junk food, belly dancing, ANYTHING. We don't care what your dream is we just care that you are making it happen.

So here is a snippet of our interview with Julie. We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did!

PARATIVE: Julie, thanks for sitting down with us. Tell us about your dream. 

JULIE: My dream is blowing people's minds with beautiful flowers. I own a small floral design business, Jimmy Blooms, and started it in 2014.  Flowers have always been one of my dreams, but I never considered making a career out of it. I started taking some classes and learning arranging techniques, but my dream really started when I got the opportunity to do the flowers for a friends wedding. It was complimentary of course, as are many small beginnings. :) I started an instagram page to post pictures of the flowers that I was arranging and then I decided to just go for it! I got a business license and wholesale license so I could buy all the flowers I needed. I ended up booking 7 weddings my first year in addition to other small events and random orders. By the end of 2016, I will have done over 20 weddings and events. I would never have imagined my business would have grown this much so fast, but I am pumped! If you would like to learn more about Jimmy Blooms, head over to www.jimmyblooms.com!

(photo by Stefanie Haviv)

(photo by Stefanie Haviv)

PARATIVE: Thats amazing, 7 weddings in the first year! Whats the biggest sacrifice you have made so far to keep your dream alive?

JULIE: Since I started my business, I had still been working another job 5 days a week. It was a little crazy trying to juggle everything, but I needed the stability of another income. As of the end of August, I am now doing my flower business full-time! I have booked enough events through next year that I was confident to quit my other job. It's definitely a little scary not knowing what each month will look like in the future, but it's definitely worth the risk to try and take the business to the next level. 

PARATIVE: So cool and ballsy, we love it! We know dreams are always changing but as of today, if your dream came to full fruition, what would it look like in 10 or 15 years?

JULIE: I have 5 big dreams for my business, so bare with me, I am dreaming big here!

1) I want to have a physical location so I can fill ongoing flower orders, teach classes, and have a beautiful space to host small events. I have two good friends who have a baking business/ministry called "Flour & Oil" and we are kindred dreamers alike. We have had the vision of combining forces and opening the "Blooming Bakeshop" , flour and flower power! How amazing would that be?

2) I would love to broaden the services of Jimmy Blooms to more than floral design. Adding event design, coordination, as well as having a preferred photographer.

3) Eventually, I want to have at least 2 staff so that I can take on larger weddings and events. 

4) I want to grow my business so that I am able to offer donation flower services for people who can't afford flowers but want to bless others who might be grieving, sick, or going through a tough time. 

5) Lastly, my dream is that after having some kiddos, I can teach them about flowers and possibly one day pass the flower dream onto them! But if not that, at least the "dreaming gene". 

PARATIVE: Talk about an obstacle you faced that made you question your dream?

JULIE: When I first started my business, I had a dry spell and wasn't getting much interest for a few months. I thought maybe my business would just dry up since I didn't really have the capability for marketing. I also lost quite a bit of money one time doing a flower pop-up shop. Floral design has a lot of overhead with the cost of flowers so it is discouraging if you feel like the time and money doesn't pay off. Thankful I pushed past that and continue to be confident in my work.

PARATIVE: I've never thought about how short the shelf life on flowers is. So then why flowers?

JULIE: I think the right question is, why not flowers?! They are amazing and beautiful and all so different. For me, flowers have always be something that points me to my creator. I have loved them since I was just a little girl. I always wanted to help my mom plant flowers and know all their names. What a dream come true that I get to work with them all the time and get paid for it!

PARATIVE: How did you get the name Jimmy Blooms?

JULIE: I got the "dreamer gene" from a man named Jim, or Jimmy, as some liked to call him. Jimmy was my dad and he was a man passionate about the Lord, his family, sports, and finding that passion and making it your work. And that is just what he always encouraged my sisters and I to do. He was a professional athlete and went after his passions and it landed him in the 1975 World Series. He was also an entrepreneur and started a very successful commercial printing business that supported our family. While printing was not his passion, our family was and he did everything he needed to provide for us. It was after he passed away a few years ago that I felt inspired to start my business and really run after it with a sense of purpose. And doesn't "Jimmy Blooms" just have a nice ring to it? Thanks for asking, I love any excuse to remember my dad and talk about what a cool guy he was. 

PARATIVE: We love the name and the meaning behind is even cooler. We just have to ask, what's your favorite 90s movie?

JULIE: I am going to have to go with Free Willy. I mean, if you had the chance to be best friends with a whale, wouldn't you? 

PARATIVE: Haha yes, that might actually be our newest dream. And the Michael Jackson music video at the end of the VHS is the best. What is your favorite thing in the Parative store right now?

JULIE: I really like the Land of the Dreamer Tee

PARATIVE: Us too! Thanks for sharing your dream. Best of luck and Godspeed. We are off to find that Free Willy music video. 

Here is Julie's cat Willie with her Land of the Dreamer flag (WISH WE WOULD'VE ASKED IF HER CAT WAS NAMED AFTER THE WHALE)

We're looking forward to hearing more from you in this series and you hope are too. Be sure to sign up for our email list so you don't miss a blog! (keep scrolling all the way down)

 

Ethical fashion is not as vanilla (ice) as you think

Drew Oxley

Thank you all for the positive response from our last entry. It is really encouraging to our family and we appreciate all the questions and comments about trying to consume ethically. 

I am giving my second entry a shot. Hopefully, I am not a one hit wonder like Vanilla Ice, but even if that's the case, I'm honored your giving this post a read (I never even tried any songs other than Ice Ice Baby... probably would've loved em all).

I remember when the ethical shopping bandit came knocking. It was after we received the "Our Freedom is Tied Together" shirts from India. I couldn't just keep consuming how I was and pretend it didn't affect other people, like the people making the clothes I was buying. I kept pulling the wool (sweater) over my eyes. But then I saw a video where someone described a garment being made and said "look at the seam in your shirt, someones hands sewed that, someones hands touched that seam." It was then that I lost my fast fashion appetite. The sight of even the most perfect pair of shoes, coolest shirt, or most comfortable pair of sweats became unappealing, if it meant it was made via forced labor or an unknown supply chain. 

Anyways, this whole thing isn't about me, its about all of us. If you were at all moved or inspired by the idea of shopping ethically and supporting brands that care about people and fair labor, we wanted to share some ideas to help make the transition smooth as fair trade butter:

1. Don't get rid of all the clothes you already have. Landfills are filled with clothes from one time wears and volunteer events where people didn't like their shirt. Americans send 10 million tons of clothes to the dump each year. If you like and wear the clothes you have, keep them and wear them! 

2. Take it one product at a time. If you want to start with coffee, find roasters that are Fair Trade Certified (There's several other organizations certifying ethical practices too!). If its clothes, contact brands you like and tell them you are wanting to buy clothes from companies that practice fair labor conditions and you were wondering about theirs. Small companies are usually pretty quick to respond to Facebook and Instagram messages. If you want to start with household items like soap and detergent check out GOOD GUIDE and make a list of brands you are proud to support.

3. Remember you are not alone. When your next door neighbor, cousin, friends, and dog are all not that interested in knowing who their products are made by, know there are other people trying to shop ethically and there are blogs and businesses dedicated to helping you. When it comes to this kind of thing it really doesn't matter what the majority is doing, you have to stick to what you think is right. 

and the best one yet...

5. ETHICAL CLOTHES DONT HAVE TO BE UGLY OR CRAZY EXPENSIVE. When we first walked down this road I thought I was doomed to wearing clothes that were made fair but just didn't look right. IT'S NOT TRUE. There are so many really cool and affordable brands that care about the environment and the people making their clothes. With a little research you will be sure to find at least a handful that have what you are looking for and are in your price range. 

Would love to hear any tips that have helped you to shop ethically. Feel free to leave them in the comments.

As Vanilla Ice once said, word to your mother.