The Parative Project

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

Dream to Do: TAYLOR TIPPETT

Drew Oxley

Have you guys seen the new flag we are launching this Thursday? It is amazing. We love it so much. It is a collaboration between so many talented people. The flags are hand sewn and grommeted by the beautiful women of Somerset in India. The design is by the talented Laura Supnik. The inspiration is from Taylor Tippet and her project, Words from the Windowseat. Our small flags were hand screen printed here in Cincinnati by AJ and Brady of Lightning Horse Industries

The flag is dropping at 5pm on Thursday and it is a small batch so we expect them to sell out quickly. It was incredible and so inspiring to work with these people. From working with Taylor and Laura we gleaned so much inspiration so we wanted to peek further into their lives and hear about a thing or two they are dreaming on. Today's feature is on Taylor and later this week we will feature Laura!

PARATIVE: TAYLOR, let's hear about a dream that you have.

TAYLOR: Ever since I was a little kid, I have ALWAYS dreamt of opening up my own Bed and Breakfast.

PARATIVE: We love that idea. What are some ways you have tried to make that dream a reality recently?

TAYLOR: I recently moved into a brand new apartment and I have been really working towards styling it in ways that truly fit my style. I've been purchasing more goods that are quality over quantity. I feel like so many times we just purchase things to fill the space & I've been really straying away from that. I've always adored interior design, so I've been really teaching myself what that looks like. It's going to come in handy when I finally have the savings to purchase my own house to turn it into a B&B. Also when traveling for work or adventure I really keep my eyes open wherever I am. I pay really close attention to the culture and the spaces I get to spend my time in. Europe has influenced me tremendously.

PARATIVE: We love the concept of waiting to purchase til its something you love rather than meet an immediate need! We want to stay at your B&B already! Where do you see this dream in 5-10 years?

TAYLOR: It is messy, but that's the cool part about dreams. We don't have to have it all together and planned out to make it work. As for now, it looks like saving up a lot of money and working so hard to have enough saved to start making moves. I'm also traveling all over the U.S. to figure out exactly where I want to end up as well. 

PARATIVE: If you had to pick now, what cities would you consider to have your B&B?

TAYLOR: My top places are in the mountains of North Carolina (where I'm from), Tennessee, or Kentucky. Anywhere where there is land is where I want to be ideally.

PARATIVE: What is something you would want people to walk away with after their stay at your B&B?

TAYLOR: I want them to feel so loved & taken care of, surrounded by plants and flowers, and stuffed with the best food. It's all about the people you meet and the places you go. My main hope is that it is a place of comfort, rest, and love. I want my B&B to be that place for people. 

PARATIVE: OK and now for your fav breakfast food?

TAYLOR: Hardest question EVER. It's tied between eggs Benedict or Biscuits & Gravy.

PARATIVE: OH! Good call on those two. We can't wait for the flag to drop on Thursday! Thanks for chatting with us!

 

Dream to Do: JULIE THEIS

Drew Oxley

Even though a year has passed since Parative completed our Kickstarter campaign, the memories are still so fresh. We look back and smile on all the hustle and working so hard to reach the goal in a set amount of time. I think too, having your goal for the whole world to see if you hit it or fail is hard too. There is something really vulnerable about it. We met Julie and her husband Brodie because some friends told them we had completed a crowd funding campaign and they were thinking about doing one as well. I won't spoil the whole thing for you but we are stoked for you to hear what they are about. 

PARATIVE: Tell us about your dream!

JULIE: Well, to start off, I feel like I need to say that this is not a dream that I've held dearly for many years based on something I'm really good at, and it's definitely not a dream that lines up perfectly with my greatest strengths or my deepest loves...it's a dream that has been really hard for me to pursue, a dream that requires me to reject fear and insecurity every single day.  It's a new dream that has welled up inside me, as I have begun really listening to and moving towards the things I feel like God is speaking to me about.  

PARATIVE: So when did you first discover it?

JULIE: I took a small step of obedience, years ago, when I felt God asking me to sell my engagement ring diamond, replace it with a Cubic Zirconium, and give the money to charity.  Two years ago, I began feeling like God was stirring three new things in me: 1. a broken heart for those in slavery, 2. a heart to bring freedom to those in slavery and 3. a desire to invite women to journey with me on this road towards bringing freedom.   

I have always been a pretty empathetic person, but after my daughter was born, it started going to a whole new level.  I started to frequently imagine what it would feel like to be a mother in another country, a mother so desperate to provide for her younger kids that she could decide to sell her oldest daughter to feed her younger ones.  And I started to think, sometimes every day, what it would feel like as that mother to know that there were people in other parts of the world who could easily help me, but who weren't helping.  

And as I've talked with women about these things, I began to think that women in America, if they had a vision for what their resources could actually do in the world, and even more so in a specific woman's life, that many would have a heart to join in.  So the larger dream in all this, is to see women in America use their freedom to bring freedom.  The smaller dream within the bigger dream, is that women would join me in donating a diamond, either the one on their finger or one they have sitting in a dresser drawer somewhere...and that those diamonds could be turned into freedom for women and children all over the world.

PARATIVE: What are you doing currently to make this dream happen?

JULIE: My husband, Brodie, and I have started a non-profit called A Brilliant Exchange, and we began a crowdfunding campaign to raise $50,000 to build the infrastructure and get it off the ground.

Scene's from A Brilliant Exchange's crowdfunding launch party that took place earlier this month.

Scene's from A Brilliant Exchange's crowdfunding launch party that took place earlier this month.

PARATIVE: If this campaign is successful, what would you want this to look like in 5-10 years?

JULIE: In 5-10 years, if I'm being completely honest and really optimistic, I would love for A Brilliant Exchange to be receiving hundreds of diamonds every year, so that we could be giving away more money to organizations who are bringing freedom to the world's most vulnerable.  Who knows what's going to happen with it all...but at least I sleep well at night knowing I'm pursuing the dream that's in my heart!

PARATIVE: Have you always been confident you should keep pursuing this dream or have their been moments of doubt?

JULIE: Yes, there have been many thoughts of kicking this whole thing to the curb.  My whole life, I've had to fight against my natural tendencies towards laziness and lack of discipline...I like to be comfortable, and not to mention, I really dislike asking for money.  The thing that gets me to start moving and working towards freedom, is the thought that it could have easily been me living in another country, faced with these horrifying things, every day hoping that someone would advocate for me. And if one day, I'm going to stand before God, I want to be able to say that I used everything He gave me...and that fighting for freedom was more important to me than having a comfortable easy life.

PARATIVE: Do you have moments of absolute confidence to cancel out the moments of doubt? What is a time when you were like yes, we have to keep doing this no matter how hard?

JULIE: We got an email last week from a friend who has just recently gone through a really really hard divorce.  When she described how she felt when she read about A Brililant Exchange, all the insecurity of what people would think about our cause, just completely melted away.  And I thought, if this is all that comes out of what we're doing, it would be enough. Here's what she said:  "I want to donate my wedding band and ring. I just had plans to sell them after my divorce. I could use the money, but I soon as I read this I thought that is what I'm suppose to do with them. The rings once brought me so much joy and then my life was shattered and I could barely look at them or the mark that is still left on my hand after 10 years of wearing them. Now when I look down at my hand and see the indention I can think that those rings were used to help save a life. I'm so grateful for this non-profit. Not only am I helping to free someone, but it is helping to free me of some of the pain associated with looking at my hand." 

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You can find A Brilliant Exchange's campaign page here. Check out there awesome video and use this opportunity to contribute to their dream!

We love stories like Julie's where people are like this is hard but I am going to keep at it because I am able and willing and if I don't do it, who else will? This series has been such a good chance to see how so many people are getting out and dreaming to do and how dreaming to do looks so different on everyone. And I must say, it looks damn good! (Thats a normal way to close out a blog post right? Just cat call all the readers..)

 

 

a trip to a little place I like to call the mall

Drew Oxley

 If you follow this blog you probably know for the past 6 months we have been trying to shop ethically... (side note: "ethically" has become such a trendy word, how we like to define it is that the company or brand knows where their clothes are being manufactured and can guarantee that their manufacturing facilities are practicing safe and fair labor laws).

Over the weekend we went walking through the mall and we weren't really seeing anything from the brands we are familiar with and know we can shop. Walking through the mall when you are an ethical shopper is like one of those horses pulling a carriage, the kind with the blinders on the side of their eyes, but minus the pulling a carriage part. You don't want to spend a bunch of time looking at things you simply couldn't buy if you wanted to. Well, I had a weak moment and I peeked around my blinders. I saw this shirt from a brand that I know isn't strict about their supply chain. I was just setting myself up for failure because then I continued to try it on :) OOPS! It was so perfect and I would've worn it everyday. I really wanted to buy it. Drew just looked at me like why are you doing this to yourself? Luckily, he was there because if I was alone I'd most likely be sporting that shirt right now, and boy would I look good in it, just kidding, we would've talked about it when I got home and I would have returned it.

So the point is, I didn't get the shirt and I walked away super bummed about it and not excited about what we have chosen to do this year. I walked away so annoyed that I can't even buy a shirt that I really like not because we don't have the money (you better believe I've been saving up!!) but because the people who make it don't value their workers. It may sound dramatic to you, I couldn't get a shirt, whats the big deal? Let me tell you what the big deal is.. It's that many women in the world don't have the opportunity to be mad about buying or not buying a shirt because they are forced into labor and have no fair options or the choice to leave. The other part of the big deal is that huge corporations don't care enough about the lives of these women to guarantee them safe and fair labor, instead they take advantage of them and turn a blind eye. If I wasn't having enough of a cow the thing that tops it off is that WE EAT IT UP. We love it. We brag about the cheap deals we get without considering at whose expense we are getting a deal.

Something has to change in the fashion industry. I think choosing whether or not you buy something depending on the company's labor practices will make a difference. I'd like to believe that if we start shopping places like Everlane or PeopleTree, instead of places that can't and won't give information about their manufacturing practices, it will make companies change their ways of treating employees. I don't know, am I crazy for thinking this? That we could single handedly take down the man? Ha, I'M KIDDING. But I know money talks. And I think when we (ME TOO, I'm so guilty of it) throw our money at brands who don't care about labor practices we essentially say fair labor isn't important to us. 

We pick the things that the media cares to talk about it. When we turn our attention to the Kardashians and Fantasy Football that is what they are going to cover. We as the public pick the things that are popular or cool. When we start saying things aren't cool and we want change, businesses have to listen or they won't last. We as the public have to engage and search and care about things that matter. That is when we will have a large affect. 

I guess what I learned isn't to not go in the mall. What I'm learning is that we all have a voice. And how we spend or don't spend our money is a way to use that voice, I think its one of the most effective ways. We must remember that until all of us are free, not one of us is free. 

 

 

 

Dream to Do: JEFF RILEY

Drew Oxley

In today's Dream to Do interview we are sitting down with a talented videographer and photographer. We wanted to interview Jeff because he recently moved to LA to chase a dream and what he was chasing ended up not being as dreamy as he thought. We can't wait for you guys to hear how it all turned out!

 

PARATIVE: Hey Jeff! Thanks for sitting down with us. To get to know more about you before we talk dreams, what is something that you are passionate about?

JEFF: A little bit about me and what I like: I’m very into being outside, most specifically I love rock climbing and it’s very much a huge part of who I am. Being active and climbing has changed my entire personality. The outdoors is pretty much the key ingredient to my balance as a human.

PARATIVE: Tell us a little bit about your transition to move out west.

JEFF: My path started in Ohio about 3 months ago. I found myself working in Columbus for a few years and I felt that my time was about up there.  So I made a decision and began packing up my life for a huge move across the country to Los Angeles. I was bright eyed and psyched on moving to a new home filled with promise. I wanted to become this cool production guy and work on big sets with big lights and be important... This was the beginning of my destruction. 

When I got to LA, I felt miserable and was having a hard time connecting. What I realized was, I wasn’t excited to be living. I moved to this city just to work. I didn’t take into account how important the ingredient of being active and having the time to be active was to me. I started to get jobs and talked with people in the industry and all of a sudden this image of myself appeared. I saw myself working my way through the industry and I saw myself working more hours than I’d ever want to work. I started thinking, “When will I be able to go climbing?” “Will I have enough time to workout?” This future-Jeff appeared to me and I saw him tired and overworked. I didn’t want to become him. 

PARATIVE: Crazy how easy it is to forget and prioritize the things that are important to us. How did you pull yourself out of that situation?

JEFF: Fortunately, around the same time I had a gig in a city I had always dreamt about living in, but never had the chance to visit, Denver. I stepped off the plane in Denver, Colorado and greeted my colleague. He is a good friend of mine and as we drove into Denver I expressed my misery in LA to him. Almost simultaneously we challenged, “What about Denver?” It made sense. Denver has everything I could want to be happy regardless of what I’m doing for work. So, I chased my key ingredient to finding happiness and peace: being outside. I called a good friend of mine (Joel B.) and told him what I was thinking. He rightfully played the devil’s advocate and told me I should give LA more time and I quickly told him “naw.”

I cancelled my plane back to LA. bought a car. Drove to LA. packed that car. Drove back to Denver.

 

PARATIVE: So cool, happy for you, man. So what exactly would you say your dream is? 

JEFF: My dream is pretty simple. I want to live a life with a foundation of happiness and strong sense of fulfillment. I think it’s easy to fall into this trap of saying “well, if I get this position at work, I’ll start making however much money and then I can do whatever.” For me at this time in my life, I was chasing a false promise. I don’t want my happiness or quality of life to depend on what I’m doing for work or something in the future. Then when that work falls through or I become burnt out, that happiness dissipates and the ones I love most will suffer from my attitude, because it was never a truly genuine source of happiness to begin with. 

PARATIVE: Do you think you just haven't found the right job yet?

JEFF: No, I would like to add, that I know a lot of people really love what they do for work and that it indeed provides an authentic form of happiness to them. I think that’s so great. I hope to find that one day for myself. But for right now, I had to let go of that task. During two separate times in my young adult life I had been under the impression that I had found that certain job. Unfortunately, things change and I realized I was trying too hard to make my work life define my existence. It wasn’t until I just let go of any expectations and searched for what makes me happiest, whether it be occupation or recreation. That’s when I felt the truest sense of happiness I’ve yet to feel. I let go of everything and said, “Alright Jeff, what do you actually want to do with your time?”

PARATIVE: Thanks for sharing your story with us. For anyone traveling to Denver, where's your favorite spot to hike or climb?

JEFF: I don't have a favorite spot, but my home training ground has been bouldering at Carter Lake.

PARATIVE: What's your favorite thing in our shop right now?

JEFFMy favorite thing in the store has to be any of the flags.  I think they’re just incredible and so inspiring.  Also they make any picture about 10 times cooler. I would buy ten of them if I had the money.

 

The Parative Project has a dream of bringing freedom to those suffering from oppression. We love to hear the dreams that others are pursuing. If you have a dream that you would like to share with us please reach out!

little dreamer boy

Drew Oxley

The title has nothing to do with the post other than that all we talk about is dreams. I am not a boy but I do like Christmas songs and the weather is cool enough to wear a sweater, so never mind its the perfect title!

After launching our Dream to Do series I had a noteworthy conversation with a friend. She mentioned a girl who talked about how our generation is all about following your dreams but doesn't recognize staying in their jobs for years or mundane tasks like chopping food for their kids to eat. I think its a good point and a conversation worth having.

And it seems like it keeps coming up... (Our family is so cool we are STILL watching Survivor.) This season it is Millenials vs Gen X, so obviously the idea of dream chasing was practically all Jeff Probst said when describing the millennial tribe... That Millennials don't want to work hard, they only want to dream. During the first episode my dad commented, "I wasn't working for a dream, I was working for a paycheck." These conversations started to make me feel embarrassed to be working for a dream. Embarrassed that we started this blog that is about dreaming. Embarrassed that we are chasing a dream we have. But I keep coming back to this notion that we must take action in order to see change. 

I stumbled upon a quote that resonated with me about how we at Parative see dreaming. It said, "Act as if what you do makes a difference because IT DOES." This is why we dream. This is why we are starting a business that helps women stay out of trafficking. This is why we shop ethically. This is why mothers chop vegetables to feed to their families or some even have kids in the first place. This is why my dad worked hard to provide for us. This is why families adopt children. This is why people do the things they do. We aren't saying a dream has to be outrageous and change the trajectory of your life. We are saying act with purpose and intentionality. If you have an idea search it out. Don't brush it under the rug because it could be too hard or too much work. Sniff it out. See where it leads. Have vision and take action steps to accomplish it. 

I don't think going to work everyday should give you shits and giggles. Being a hard worker and tilling the soil is hard and takes discipline and doesn't mean you are going to love every minute of it. But I think to have purpose in our work is valuable. So find it. Figure out why you are doing what you're doing and tell people about it. Inspire them to do the same.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this matter. When we type these we are really just shooting the breeze with the world wide web or having coffee with Al Gore. However you want to put it. And I will say I got pretty honest with Al today.

 

Disclaimer: Is shits and giggles a good thing? I've heard that saying a ton, but it actually sounds really terrible!

 

 

Why we love where our goods are made

Drew Oxley

We are so excited to be doing a 3 part series with Freestate and bonJOY! When all three of our businesses decided to collaborate we wanted to obviously do a giveaway (everyones favorite word!!) but we also wanted to inspire anyone who is starting their ethical journey. We wanted to bring you guys some valuable content and information on where ethical goods start and how they end up in the hands of you (or anyone who buys them). This week between our businesses we will discuss 3 things that contribute to effectively fostering ethical business.  Tonight we are going to touch on the production side of ethical fashion.

With Drew's recent trip to India he had the opportunity to see the production facilities that Parative partners with first hand. The production facilities we work with have a lot of depth because they not only value fair labor but they choose to hire and train women that were previously at risk or on the streets being trafficked.

In May, I went to India to visit one of our partnering production units. I got to spend a lot of time with the women and staff, as we were with them from 9-5 everyday. During the week, I got to see the culture of the workplace. The women are more sisters than coworkers. That week, the room was consistently full of laughter, questions about America and snow, and tea drinking. LOTS of tea. It was over 100 degrees and they all wanted hot tea. Needless to say, I stuck mostly to the ice water.

These women had been through some traumatic times. Even with all the smiles I saw, the women are still processing their past. But they're growing. A few women each morning were encouraged to sing a solo to help build their confidence. At one point, we had a pizza party. One woman, who was recently hired, was hesitant to eat. But with the nudge of a few others, she joined in with the rest of us. There was one particular instance that really sticks out to me still, and reconfirmed that we're working with some really good people.

One of the days, I was talking with one of the supervisors. She reminded me a lot of my own mom, very caring and sweet. She told me when one of the girls had been hired she was a natural at sewing. She quickly became one of the top artisans in the production unit. Her newly found sewing skills were growing, but the pain from her past would keep a grip on her as she would get frustrated and lose her temper with the others.

This situation called for a hard conversation. The two supervisors sat down with this woman and helped her process what needed to change. Basically in this conversation, they told her that this was a job and she needed to act appropriately. There was an understanding that these outbreaks weren't beneficial to her or the team. That conversation concluded with the proposal that she had one month to control her anger, or she would be dismissed. 

Fast forward a month after that conversation. She did it! Through lots of one on one conversations with her supervisor, she had worked through several of her trigger points. And as time went on she grew in her patience and leadership. She's now preparing to be a line leader, the first job promotion the women can receive. The line leader supervises five other women, and fields any questions they may have. This is an important position as this allows the tailor to focus on his work and not have to stop whenever there's a question. 

The "what" of this story is a great  example of redemption. The "how" of this story is where the magic is. Over the past year, I became familiar with a model that shows four different types of relationship approaches.

1. Low invitation/Low challenge

2. High invitation/Low challenge

3. Low invitation/High challenge

4. High invitation/High Challenge

Throughout the week I spent in that production unit, I knew they had established an environment of high invitation and high challenge. There weren't any "drill sergeants" demanding the women to work harder, and there wasn't a vibe where the staff was stepping on eggshells so they wouldn't offend anyone. What I saw was love. Real love. They were meeting the women where they were and helping heal, grow, and become who they were made to be.

We are thankful to be partnered with manufacturing facilities that are this dedicated to their employees. These aren't the requirements that make a brand ethical or fair trade but it is what good business looks like. It makes you think, who is making my clothes and how are they being treated? It makes you question where you buy from and how you do business. 

Thanks for reading and following along. You can enter the giveaway we are doing with Freestate and bonJOY below! Just leave your email and you will be entered. The winner will be chosen on Monday Sept 26. Be sure to check out their blogs as they finish out what the other stages of ethical fashion look like. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

 

Injustice and our own moral compasses (or is it compi?)

Drew Oxley

Something that is important and relevant when talking about any kind of injustice in the world is asking the question, "what is my responsibility?". Is it our responsibility to only buy clothes that are fair labor? To only buy diamonds that we know were mined properly? To care for the orphan and widow? To make sure the education system is giving all kids equal opportunities? To get all the women being trafficked out of the system? To take in refugees?

As information becomes more available it seems our responsibility becomes greater, because with knowledge comes great responsibility. And ignorance may be bliss, but it's also the worst. If knowledge is power and then ignorance is weakness and surrender.

If injustice was a rope climb, where is the top? When will it end? It almost creates this hopelessness in us because we can climb and climb and we will get somewhere but will we get to the end? 

But should that make us slow down? I don't see why it would. Since we can't change everything should we change nothing? I don't know about you but if the injustice glass is half full it would be worth anything we could do to make it even a little more full. Let us do all that we possibly can. Let us give more. Let us start by loving our neighbor and the people right in front of us. 

All that being said I don't think you can be an activist for all things and its absolutely important to prioritize things. We think you should do all you possibly can though. We think knowing injustices should make us want to help more and use our gifts for the good of others. We have bought in and are dreaming big dreams. We are drinking the "let's stop injustice juice" .... actually we are chugging it.  We can tell you its tasty! 

As always, love your feedback. Would love to hear what you guys think about what is and isn't our responsibility when it comes to helping? We obviously don't have it all figured out and this post is a kick in the pants to us. It is a reminder that we may not be able to do everything, but we can do something! And if I was a high school basketball ball coach, this is where I would say, "Put your hands in the middle. Dream to do on three.".

does social media Affect Shopping ethically?

Drew Oxley

We all know the feeling. It is a great day, you got a good nights sleep, it's 75 and sunny, you have some time to yourself so you decide to scroll your Instagram feed... scroll scroll scroll, like like like, funny comment here and there, and then there it is.. you have been saving your money and searching for a pair of jeans for a few months, HERE THEY ARE. So you do a little research because you have been trying to shop ethically and.. BUZZKILL, the brand with the dreamy jeans doesn't monitor their supply chain. Now you are in a bind, do you buy the jeans? What if you can't find a pair of jeans that you like that are ethically made? 

You would have to be living under a rock to not know that people love to shop online. An article the Wall Street Journal put out in June said that people actually prefer to shop online and the majority (51%, lol) of purchases are made through the internet. You can order anything online from your groceries to an alligator surfer dude hooded towel. Social media affects our spending habits, colleges are now offering social media marketing classes (and majors) because of social media's impact on consumption. 

As our family is trying to shop thoughtfully and ethically, it got old, fast, being teased by things we couldn't (and didn't want to) buy. So we cleaned shop and found brands that care about their supply chain and fair labor and followed them instead. The result... SO HELPFUL! Since then, I actually have ideas of the ethical things that are out there. When my mom's birthday comes around I have an arsenal of ethical things she would like, not to mention having ideas of what to buy people for wedding gifts, birthdays, or day I say Christmas, kidding, you know I mean holidays.

Speaking of holidays, happy labor day! A Monday off seems like a great day to rearrange your social media accounts. Enjoy your long weekend.

Parative Update: one year after the Kickstarter

Drew Oxley

Happy kickstarter ending anniversary (say that three times fast). It seems like just yesterday Drew and I were getting ready to go to bed and he was describing having this feeling... kinda unsettling, kinda nervous, kinda can't sleep. I explained to him that it is called anxiety and most of us experience it on a daily basis. Drew was the most stressed he had ever been... We had 30 days to raise $20,000. Our goal with this money was most importantly to move Parative's production to India, we also wanted to work on Parative's branding and create an easy for consumers to use website. Well, SPOILER ALERT, we have been able to do all that and so much more.

In the past year, all our Kickstarter orders have been fulfilled, a new website has launched (with really cool photos by BEST DAY EVER), Drew has gone to India to visit the Mumbai production facility, Parative's basic line of t-shirts is almost ready for production, Dream to Do is now the phrase we live by and push people towards, and Niles can walk (Does anyone except me remember the little sack of potatoes he was at the Kickstarter launch party?). 

We have more vision than we did when we began on this adventure. We don't know what Parative will become and never have. We have big dreams and bigger hopes. Our definition of success has always been that the shops we work with in Mumbai and Calcutta can hire more and more women and for ethical clothing to be affordable and practical. We want to help people Dream to Do. 

Thank you to anyone who played a part in where we are now. Thanks for wearing your Parative shirts, carrying your bags, and hanging your Parative flags. We couldn't be here without you and we wouldn't want to be. 

Now I am going to go shed a tear about how fast time goes and how my tiny baby is now a person who can walk.

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.

OXLEY... PARTY OF 3

Drew Oxley

A little bit of background for your reading pleasure... We are Drew (28), Carolyn (27), and Niles (1.3). We live in a small apartment in Cincinnati and we love this freaking life. We laugh a lot, spend 20 minutes every morning looking at our phones in bed, and we love exploring new places... whether across the world or in our neighborhood. 

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We have been exposed recently to the lack of fair labor practices around the world. We wanted to do something about it personally. Not just through Parative, we wanted our family to create habits and patterns around supporting ethical businesses. So we unanimously (Niles just happened to randomly nod yes so that was his vote) decided we needed to change the way we personally consume. We needed to buy things from brands that guarantee their supply chain has fair labor practices from start to finish.

If you have known me since I was like 5, you know dressing myself (and helping other people) is one of my favorite things. I enjoy personal style and its important to me. Even typing this 6 months after our commitment I want to throw up because of the pull I feel in both directions. BUT I REALIZE THE IMPORTANCE AND VALUE IN WHERE I SPEND MY MONEY. When we buy something we are essentially saying to the supply chain, and business, do this more, this is working. 

The ILO estimates that 170 million are engaged in child labour, with many making textiles and garments to satisfy the demand of consumers in Europe, the US, and beyond

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So, I got over myself and we set up parameters around everything we buy except food (we realize the farming industry is one with prevalent unfair labor practices but we had to start somewhere) and we got to researching. We use Freestate and Project Just for a lot of our research.

Our guidelines are pretty vague (but we normally air on the side of if you can't prove its made ethically its not worth having):

1. if there is recent information on a brand that proves they don't value fair labor, don't buy it

2. if there is no information, contact the brand and ask about their manufacturing guidelines

3. if you can, buy it used (this works for us especially when it comes to non-clothes, i.e. a soccer ball)

WE ARE CHALLENGING OURSELVES TO CREATE CHANGE MORE THAN JUST THROUGH OUR BUSINESS BUT THE WAY WE CONSUME

We are excited to be on this journey and for the value this brings to our family and families all over the world. Would love for you to join us along the ride. It isn't easy, but we think it'll be worth it. 

Keep checking back in, we'll be updating our blog more frequently here in the future; sharing more on ethical shopping, highlighting dreams others are doing, and catching you up on the latest Parative happenings.

 

 

When "Made In India" is good

Drew Oxley

I once read an article stating "American made clothing is simply better made. Better craftsmanship, happier workers, and good old fashioned American work ethic." 

The author of this article definitely hasn't experienced the manufacturing units we work with. 

For example, when we patterned our bag and sent it with Ryan (the shop owner) to the shop in Mumbai, the women worked so hard to perfect the bag, when we received them back the craftsmanship was of excellent quality. It was a new pattern and they worked hard to learn it quickly. And more than the quality, we love that the production units treat the women fair and with respect. They balancing using their skills and lovingly challenging them. We couldn't be more proud that our goods are made overseas. We love that the factories we work with choose to hire the women they do and we are honored we get to be apart of their story.

This is not at all to say that goods made in America are bad by ANY means. Shopping within the states is a good way to find ethically made goods. We love that you can't put a blanket statement on what countries clothing manufacturing is the best and we love that our goods being made in India is outside of the box in regards to how clothing is produced. We hope it challenges other manufacturers in India (and all over) to raise their standards. 

Explaining "Dream to Do"

Drew Oxley

"Dream to Do" is the putting action behind your daydream. It is having coffee with a friend and not just talking about your dream, but making an action plan. It is never giving up, always persevering. It is getting out of bed to do what you were made to do. It is not listening to the fears, and taking even the tiniest of steps. It is the opening our eyes to the reality of our potential and living up to it. It is hard work. 

This blog is dedicated to the doers. To those who have a dream and want to do something about it. It is a place for reassurance and encouragement. To share your failures and your trophies, your home-runs and your strike outs. To be a place for a pep talk or to cheer on others. 

We are so glad you are here. We want to dream together. We want to do more and dream bigger dreams. It's not always going to be an easy ride but we promise it will be worthwhile. 

Our Kickstarter is Live!

Andrew Penniman

That's right folks, our Kickstarter is up and going.

Head over to our campaign page as we'll be live until Aug 28th. 

The goal of our campaign is to move production over to India as we partner with Freeset and The Aruna Project. Both of these organizations help victims of human trafficking find freedom through employment and aftercare. The two t-shirts we designed for the campaign will speak directly to the women making the shirts; carrying the messages "You Are Loved" and " Our Freedom Is Tied Together". This gives an opportunity for the wearer to send encourage to the women of India!

More information on our campaign can be found here.