Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Whew-- finished with the the Gift Guide fun and back to Wear it Weds.!
And what better of a way to get back into the swing of things than with this little darling! Meet Jace. Jace's mother, Beth, has the super cool blog, The Fabulous Won. She recently was kind enough to review barley & birch. We loved that she gave her own shout out to the groups we love and support.
But back to darling Jace. Jace is "crazy, loud" and a stranger to no man! His mother also reports that he requests to watch the movie Cars at least 10 times a day and loves playing with his Hot Wheels and "Bear Bear" that he received from his Great Grandma.
Jace's smile goes from ear to ear and can truly brighten anyone's day with it.
Well, we think that that is just the perfect way to end 2009 dose of Wear It Wednesday-- with a happy darling little boy.
Thanks to Beth and Jace for the photos!
Friday, December 18, 2009
The holidays really aren't about giving gifts.
The holiday season is about sharing love with friends, family, and members of your community. Giving material gifts might help express that love, but the gifts do not validate or define it. So this holiday, feel free to not give a single gift or donation to any of the causes listed these eleven days. Instead, give your giftee's a hug and sincerely tell them what they mean to you and that you appreciate their presence in your life more than they might realize. That is what the gifts are intended to do, but you will find that verbally expressing the sentiments communicates them much more effectively than giving a sweater. Or you could write a note. Or a poem. Sharing love and kindness with those around you is what the holidays are for, not gifts.
Thank you all for being a part of barley & birch's wonderful community. Each of us loves you all and we appreciate the opportunity to have connected with you once or every day since we opened our doors. Have a wonderful holiday season.
(Photo above is of Alia and I posing in a neighbor's yard. Wow, right?)
Thursday, December 17, 2009
As the economy struggles to revive itself, one area that is still struggling is our public libraries. People are doing things increasingly digitally and I am told that libraries are becoming things of the past. Well, I don't agree with that nor am I willing to accept it.
I loved, and still love, my local library (pictured above) and could spend whole days there just lost in all the neat books that those walls contained. Do you know a bookworm? Make a monetary donation to the library in their neighborhood and you will give them the most meaningful gift you can give-- sharing the love of books with their community.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
"Right now, almost a billion people on the planet don't have access to safe, clean drinking water. That's one in eight of us."
charity: water is an incredible non-profit organization. Their tireless efforts to bring a source of clean water to developing areas all over the world are truly infinitely inspiring to me and everyone involved with them.
One thing I love about them is that 100% of your donation goes directly to serve the people you want it to serve, as the group's administrative costs are covered by other private donors.
I also love that they do great work in my beloved Haiti, where clear water is like gold.
charity: water asserts that $20 can give one person clean water for 20 years.
I love their gift section. For those giftee's that don't like a printed certificate or photo of what you have done to honor them, charity: water has bracelets, certificates, and DVDs explaining what they do and where the money went.
Giving the gift of water- something that so many of us take for granted- is a wonderful gift for absolutely any friend.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
This is one of the most touching gifts that I have been given.
I give money away a lot. But its not my personal money, its that of barley & birch. So I forget to donate on a personal level. I, therefore, don't give to my alma mater, DePauw, very much. Last year for my birthday, a friend made a $25 donation to DePauw in my honor. I was absolutely floored. It was amazing. My heart was endlessly warmed and I will never forget it.
A donation to your giftee's alma mater is a touching way of expressing that you are thankful for the person their university (or high school or junior high school) made them and wanted to pay tribute to that.
Were they a soccer player? You could donate to the soccer program. Geology major? Donate to the geology field trip fund.
Giving a gift to a friend's alma mater is the gift to give someone you deeply respect who enjoyed their undergraduate (or highschool or junior high school) education.
You will warm their heart in a way that no other gift can.
Monday, December 14, 2009
I personally often fall victim to thinking too globally. I think of the people I lived with in El Salvador and their school that needed new books. I think of the schools in Haiti that had an unclean and inconsistent water source. I donate there. I worry about the schools there. Schools around the world consume my thoughts. I rarely remember to think of the school a block from my house. But the reality of it all is that thousands of schools here are in dire need of just a little boost of support. A few gallons of tempura paint so the kids can paint rather than only draw, a years' supply of facial tissues (24 boxes or so), a big box of extra pencils, extra crayons, anything. Domestic public schools are often hurting for basic supplies. Have an artist friend? Call the public school close to her home and ask what the art teacher would like that they can purchase for $100 or so. Donate the money to the school there, so the kids that attend the school can have as enriching an education as possible. Have a musical friend? See if the music teachers has any kids unable to afford a recorder for the annual recital, unable to pay their membership into and after school music lesson, or unable to attend an upcoming field trip. Cover the costs in honor of your friend and let them now. Enriching your local schools benefits absolutely everyone in the school and community. And the U.S. as a whole. Give the gift of an enriched education this year. (Photo above is of my elementary school in small town Ohio. I can still sing my school song perfectly and am infinitely grateful for the education I received there.)
Sunday, December 13, 2009
No, for real. A chicken!
Before you laugh too hard, I will acknowledge that this gift is not for everyone. But I would like to posit that this gift can be for more people than you might imagine. More and more of my friends and colleagues in the world-changing field are getting a pair or trio of chickens for their backyard.
Getting a chicken or two is easier than you might think. Build/buy them a little space and pen (say, your old dog house) get some feed, and you will have healthy, FREE, eggs for the lifetime of the chicken. You can take your chicken to your local butcher if you choose to eat meat, and buy some replacement chicks (or have your hens' eggs fertilized by your rooster or one loaned by a local farmer.) One of my friends recently told me that her local farmers market has a vendor selling a coop and a hen together, so you can just take it home and get farming!
Raising your own eggs is a great way to learn about, and likely find a new deep respect for, what goes into creating the food we eat. Such an education would also create healthy, well-rounded children who have an actual understanding of the food chain and can make their dietary choices accordingly.
The best part? You don't need to have acres of land to have chickens! Many websites, most notably Back Yard Chickens, provide information for urban chicken raising!
The most important thing for this gift is communication and education. Be sure that your giftee is in a position to successfully undertake the project and eager to raise their own eggs. Go chat up the employees at your local farm supply store or call one near you for tips.
Raising chickens is the next step, and hottest trend, for the darkest green of us.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Heifer International is an awesome organization that use agriculture/livestock as the seed of global change.
You can donate a water buffalo to a Filipino family, who will then use it to plan more rice, haul goods to market for sale, and rent to neighbors for their own work. Or you can donate some honeybees, who will be a source of income through the sale of beeswax, honey, and pollen.
Don't have the funds to buy a huge animal? There is also the option to buy a "share" in a larger animal. That way, you will still work to donate a heifer (because you want a family to have the benefits associated with one) but will not need to foot the entire bill yourself!) You can also make a donation where is it most needed. Another part about Heifer International that I love is that they have a great woman-focused initiative. A donation to the initiative is a great gift to give your niece or goddaughter. As women, its important to help other women, as they make up the vast majority of people living in poverty.
This gift is great for your economics-loving friend. The founding principles of Heifer International are to give people around the world the tools they need to sustain their families' health and create a source of income to allow them to work their way out of poverty with pride and dignity. A gift of a sustainable income source, such as a llama to be used for fleece and fertilization, affects not only the family given one, but the entire community.
Giving a friend the gift of helping a family to make a living is truly priceless.
Friday, December 11, 2009
One of my favorite gifts to give people is a photo of me holding a big bag of dog food.
While this might not seem like a gift you would like to receive, what it symbolizes makes a difference to the furry friends living at your (or your giftee's) local animal shelter.
Animal shelters are ALWAYS in need of food, money, and time. This means that there are endless ways to give back and make a difference.
Grab a huge bag of dog food and donate it in honor of your babysitter or postman. Make a monetary donation to the SPCA in honor of your child's piano teacher that you know loves her kitties.
Don't forget breed-particular rescue organizations, either! Know someone who loves their Labrador? Make a donation to a lab rescue. Know someone who can't stop cuddling with their snuggly pit bull puppy (me!)? Make a donation to a hard working pit bull rehabilitation group in their name.
In my experience, this is the best gift to give someone who has it all and adores animals. It will touch their hearts infinitely and go a long way to serve a group of living beings so often neglected, abused, and unloved.
Many shelters often have the option of purchasing a brick in honor or memory of both people and pets. Our neighbors did that when our dog passed after 15 happy years. Inquire about an option if you know your gift recipient is mourning a recent pet loss.
Low on cash? Get signed up as volunteers, and go into the local shelter and volunteer for a day in someone's honor. Take a quick photo of yourselves washing those dirty dogs, print it out, and include it in a card explaining what you did for the giftee. Remember, the thought that went into it will blow your giftee away. And as with the other gifts, teach your little ones that volunteering in a thoughtful way can make people even happier than material goods.
Change the world one little kitten at a time!
(P.S. Photo above is of the newest addition to our family, Pit Bull/German Shepherd mix Theo. We love him just TONS.)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
One way to make a big difference in your local community is to purchase your food from local farmers.
Sometimes it's difficult to track down local food, though! Where are the best farmers' markets? What stores sell local food? One of my favorite sites, Local Harvest, takes all the sleuth work out of it! Just type in your location, and find farmers' markets, Community Supported Agriculture ("CSA") groups, food co-ops, U-Picks, and more! It's really amazing.
So, a great gift for a friend or entire family could be a share in a CSA! Find one near your giftee on Local Harvest, and give them a call! You will be supporting your local farmers and community as a whole. You pick the quantity of food to be picked up at a central location at your choice of time, and they get it. (For a price point reference, our CSA, which feeds 8 people, is $350/year. For a single person, you can find great plans starting from $50-80.)
What a great gift for anyone that likes to eat and loves their community!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Everyone is trying to be eco-friendly in some fashion. Some are very light green and others are a deep, intense shades of mistletoe-esque green.
In these economic times, all shades of green as thinking "Well, I should probably do something to offset my carbon emissions, what with COP-15 going on in Copenhagen, etc. Wait, $75?! Ughhhh, I'll think about it."
So why not offset for them? Like a carbon offset angel!
TerraPass is a well-respected, highly accredited group that offers a year's worth of offsets for an average car, air travel, an individual, and a family of four.
We at barley&birch like TerraPass because they back up their claims. Their reductions are confirmed by a third party. Annually, they are audited to confirm that their final reductions reports are accurate. Essentially, you get what you see and what you pay for.
We LOVE businesses like that. (:
Do you love your light green friends? You should offset their emissions this year!
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I love Oxfam.
When I was in El Salvador, I worked alongside an Oxfam staffer for 2 weeks. 4 years later, the same volunteer is still there. She lives on nothing and works tirelessly-- and I really mean tirelessly-- for justice for the people in rural areas of El Salvador. She inspires me infinitely despite possibly not even remembering that I exist.
Regardless, seeing the impact that one limb of Oxfam can do in the seemingly most hopeless of situations, made a permanent impact on me and barley & birch donates to them often.
They have a neat way of helping, however, that lets you choose the area to which your money goes. It is called Oxfam Unwrapped and makes the most perfect gift.
Oxfam Unwrapped is my most gifted gift of all time. Ever. All occasions. Why? It's not just an honorary donation, it shows deeper thought.
You can give your nephew school books. You could give your sister a school lunch for a child for a year. Or give your mother-in-law a stove. Give your husband manure. And your brother a cow. I mean, really, when you look, can't you think of the perfect person for each gift?
The possibilities are truly endless and I assure you that this will warm the heart of the recipient, everyone in the room, and, of course, the beneficiaries all over the world.
Giving Oxfam Unwrapped is a great way of showing your children that you don't need to give the newest, trendiest gifts to make others happy in a very thoughtful way.
Change the world with your holiday gifts.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Well, if you know me at all, you know that I love Miriam's Kitchen. I volunteered there while I was doing my internship in D.C.
Needless to say I was instantly inspired.
What is so cool about them? They feed and support D.C.'s homeless.
Oh, and not only do they just feed their guests, they feed them DELICIOUS food that they put a lot of time and energy into, because every single staffer and volunteer believes that their guests deserve that respect and dignity. They provide case management services including mental health, medical and substance abuse services and assistance finding housing and employment.
Every single person there goes above and beyond to help the people that many overlook.
So for a gift this Christmas, we think it'd be really cool if you would support Miriam's. And the awesome thing is that you can SEE where your donations go.
With a $50 donation, you will provide transportation to doctor appointments and job interviews to 40 homeless men and women.
With a $100 donation, you will provide art supplies for our After-Breakfast Program's Art Therapy class. New paintbrushes, watercolors and canvases will provide our guests with even more resources to express their creativity.
With a $500 donation, you will provide one day of case management services to 80 of our guests.
Wouldn't a gift of art supplies for Miriam's guests be the best holiday gift to give your neighbors? Wouldn't it be neat to fund an entire Miriam's breakfast as your office gift? Or provide case management services in honor of your child's teacher? I think so.
You could make it a project for the kids, boxing up extra blankets and Daddy's jeans he never wears. To top it off you could swing by the store and get a few pairs of socks. For $15 you can make in immense difference in the lives of others while teaching your children what it means to give back to the global community.
Think about it. (:
We are majorly loving the gift guides flowing about out there. They have the cutest stuff and tons are showcasing the adorably chic side of eco gifts. I've learned a ton from the gift guides I've already seen.
But I wanted to put together barley & birch's own guide. One that, like our products, can be your purely good and globe-friendly option!
One post will follow daily for, you guessed it, 12 days! I hope you love it. (: Love, Kyle
(yes, that is me in the photo with my best friend Michelle who is dressed normally.)
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
What: Owner of RockerByeBaby, a super cool rocker-y line of kids clothing, blogger extraordinaire.
Why we are obsessed: Amber is awesome. She is so fun to work with. We love them so much that we designed a graphic and tee for them! Amber is so REAL. Her emails are hilarious 100% of the time. We, oh and several celebs, are obviously drawn to her designs and take on kidswear. It doesn't always have to be trucks and ponies. Some kids were just born to be COOL. (barley & birch obviously can't pull off cool like RockerByeBaby can, but we are okay just settling with our neato Cactus.) We look forward to Tweeting with Amber every day. (:
But Amber is going to LIE to you all.
"I just got married back in July and all weekend have been working on
photo albums... dvd's and all that Jazz... so while Im still riding
the wedding high, i think ill quiz you on that :) We had pretty much
the most perfectly punk rock chic wedding ever... Kyle Knows, i made
her look at all the photos :) I'm even tagging along two photos just to
really throw you for a loop :)"
1. Our entire wedding party wore Converse shoes, including me.
2. My girls wore stripper dresses.
3. My wedding dress was under $150.
**WHICH IS THE LIE?? Submit guesses below.**
P.S. For the record, her wedding pictures are amazing cool. See evidence above.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Wow, this awesome photography definitely merits the first two-photo "Wear it!" Wednesday post yet.
That's understandable, I suppose, as this little cutie, whose name is Maddie, has one skilled mother! Maddie's mom is Beki of Beki Dawn Photography. We love reading her blog too just to stare at her pretty photos!
Maddie loves watching movies while eating popcorn and loves going to the park. She also loves to read and sing songs. Maddie also has our favorite little girl trait ever, a love of twirling!
Beki reports that Maddie's favorite food is "of course anything candy or sugar, but when she is eating what she's supposed to...she loves apples, waffles, and hot dogs!"
Well one look at these photos and its easy to see that Maddie is a total sweetie!
Beki, too, is pretty awesome and actually paid us one of the best compliments ever without even knowing it. She told us, "I love hugging Maddie when she has her barley & birch shirt on because it is so soft and snuggly!" That is music to our ears! (:
Thanks to Beki and Maddie for the photos!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
What: Beautiful owner of fawn&forest, the insanely gorgeous mecca of children's gear and clothing. Supermom of 2 cutie boys.
Why are are obsessed: First of all, we at b&b are instantly smitten by impeccable taste and design, so obviously we had a business crush on Summer and fawn&forest from day 1. THEN I got to meet the cool crew she has over at fawn&forest and exchange some (like 200) e-mails with her at all hours of the morning. It was love at first "Reply" for me.
Since then, she has taken time out of her insanely busy days to respond to me please for advice and suggestions, always offered words of encouragement for what we are doing, and inspired us daily with her neat finds and ideas on Twitter.
We are stoked to know her.
Now she is going to lie to you.
1. She skipped the 11th grade.
2. She was one of Inc. Magazine's Top 30 Under 30.
3. She wants to legally change her middle name.
WHICH IS THE LIE?? Submit guesses below.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
This past week I have been really overcome with love of my alma mater-- DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana.
I've given 6 interviews this week. Most of them asked "What gave you this sense of global responsibility?" I thought about it and gave the same response "My parents and my university, who both pushed me to get our and see the world and how others lived."
But then, on Wednesday night, as I was leaving my late class in lonely downtown San Francisco (I still haven't made many friends at my new school yet,) I saw something that warmed my heart more than I expected it to. I saw my friend, a homeless man, in his usual stoop, huddled with his stuff, wearing a DePauw hoodie. (The classic one, black with bold gold fabric letters.) A DePauw grad, whoever he or she might be, had likely donated their sweatshirt somewhere, and it was now keeping my friend warm.
It hit me very hard, and tears welled up in my eyes. Amidst a city of strangers, I all of the sudden felt a sense of being home.
DePauw University is pretty cool like that.
DePauw shipped me off to Central America, and had me live in poverty with the families that have eventually become my own. It put me face to face with community members as we worked to build a town hall. It humbled me when both my tortilla and cement making ability was the mockery of an entire village. It taught me that just a few people can truly change the world.
DePauw showed me that you can do totally different things, like say, law and fashion, and make it work. (I was a philosophy and geology major, with Spanish and Chemistry minors.) DePauw showed me that there will always be adults that are hating, and trying to break you down for whatever reason. (Like Scott Wilkerson and Fred Soster.) But DePauw taught me that for every naysayer, there will be an inspiration, someone pushing you even farther, who never stops believing in your ideas and mission. (I will be forever indebted to you, Dr. Jeanne Pope and Dr. Jeff McCall/Chris Newton and Hazel/Pigg families.) So, I suppose what I am trying to say is that DePauw taught me about the real world. I face the same challenges now as I did then. I hear and sense the same haters, and I overcome the same obstacles in the same way-- a smile, a brain, and a little perseverance.
So here I am now, using what I learned in my two majors and two minors (and many extracurriculars) there and the social charm polished up at the Indiana Epsilon Chapter of Pi Beta Phi there and combining them to give back to communities that gave so much to me and a growing number of communities that could use a little boost.
In my recent successes, I have been fortunate enough to have received some press for my mission, my cause.
Who are the first people to reach out of nowhere and give me a few hearty pats on the back? DePauw graduates, of all decades. I have consistently received e-mails from my old professors and graduates I have never met saying, "Great work. You make us proud. Keep going." Its so awesome.
So, this is just a thank you note to DePauw, for making me much of what I am today. Thank you.
(Photos from my trip to Belize, where I asked my parents for the best birthday gift yet: paint for a cistern for the school we lived at that was saving and saving for paint for it.)
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
We are making big fun changes here at barley & birch. New website in the works that will blow your minds, we're transitioning into our cool spring collection (see photo above) and we're designing Fall 2010.
One thing I have been wanting to do is to have guest bloggers on here as we begin to develop the blog more. But, like, we are sort of not-for-serious with our blogging and like to have fun with it, so I was having a hard time finding a theme to unite a series of serious and meaningful blog posts.
Then it hit me-- it doesn't have to be serious like the other guest posting going on! It can be fun and silly! (Then we can transition into significance.)
I am pleased to announce that our guest bloggers will be playing one of my favorite conversation starters here on barley & birch's blog: two truths and a lie.
This will give us an opportunity to showcase some of our dearest friends and their quirky lives that make us love them SO MUCH.
To kick off our game, I shall begin. Guess the lie, be entered to win a barley & birch piece of your choice!
HERE WE GO:
1. My mom sang backup with Bruce Springsteen on one of his tours before I was born.
2. I am afraid of clowns and things in costumes.
3. I have two fake teeth.
Post your guesses below! We will announce the winner, and correct answer, next week!
P.S. E-mail me if you ever want to guest post!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Well after seeing this sweetie, we just couldn't resist posting another picture of the ADORABLE tees we did for RockerByeBaby (if we don't say so ourselves!)
Meet Violet! She is 13.5 months old. Her mom, Katie, has the super cute blog thinkPINK and was kind enough to send us this photo.
Violet's favorite foods are sweet potato fries and grilled cheese sandwiches. She also loves playing with her kitties & chasing them around the house! Violet's mother fondly notes that she "loves pressing buttons to turn things on and off and switch the channels on the TV!" Violet also loves playing with her Wonder Pets toys.
We think Violet makes our new edgy graphic look beautifully sweet and oh-so-cool. (Check out her matching shoes!)
Thanks to Katie and Violet for the photo! (:
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
We get a lot of sweet e-mails from people all over the world thanking us for our standards and the stand we take on where the apparel industry should be with regards to protecting the environment and the people that create our clothing.
These emails make it all worth it.
This morning I woke up to a really lovely e-mail. We love sending pieces to people to review. But when someone writes about what we DO, independent of a giveaway or product review, it really touches me.
Paula, from Green Colored Glasses wrote this review about our brand. She closed her e-mail by saying:
"As a mom and a human being, thanks from the bottom of my heart for all that you're doing for the planet and the people in it! Keep up the great work!!"
To everyone that's written then, THANK YOU, you inspire me personally every single day. You make me excited to stay up all night getting back with people and never leaving anything for the next day, you make me excited to keep working on our new website and new collection. You all make me want to do even more to save the world.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
This week's post is VERY special and, well, EXCLUSIVE!
We created custom pieces and graphic for the insanely popular and famous (celeb fans include Angie Everhardt and Tori Spelling!) RockerByeBaby. Check out their blankets and shirts, as they are our edgy idols. (:
We made laptees and tees for them that are selling like wildfire! Get yours here. (And if you mention this blog post, we will send you a free b&b tank, too!)
So meet Gregory, the cutie son of Brooke of Brooke Van Gory fame. She makes AWESOME baby products-- everyone's favorite are the gorgeous upcycled pants!
Definitely be sure to check out our pieces for RBB, all RBB's awesome stock, and all of the wonderful Brooke Van Gory's pieces!
Thanks to Brooke, Gregory, and Amber for the photo!
Monday, October 26, 2009
Well, after a whirlwind trip back to my awesome hometown of Defiance, Ohio, I am headed back to the Bay Area. I can't say I am too thrilled, but trying to get there.
Ohio just really is the best state ever. For real.
My trip was packed with speaking to a Middle School about "a healthy vision for the future" (my topic was the affect the apparel industry has on the environment), school work, seeing my best friend's new baby, and catching up with my friends and family that I love so so much.
I am so tired and can't wait to zonk out on my flight.
(Photo courtesy of the wildly talented Monika Elena.)
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Wondering who the little darling wearing the Panda Tank is? Well, meet Savannah!
Savannah is the daughter of Anne, whose popular blog, Mommy Has to Work, recently reviewed barley & birch (with a giveaway!)
Savannah is 21 months and is at the age where she is wanting to be independent and do things herself. Her mom reports that she loves 'ellies" (elephants) and lions and her favorite foods is either spaghetti or pretzels. Anne also notes that "she love her big brother something fierce!" We can tell! How adorable is their picture?!
Thanks to Anne and Savannah for the photos! (:
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Oh no. We are back to posting these on Friday. A sign of how much we have going on over here, I suppose? Stay tuned for more frequent blog posts about all sorts of fun things!
But without further ado let me introduce this super-cutie wearing his Fishies Tee! Meet Jackson. Jackson is the son of Melissa, who has the well-known blog Now What Baby? Melissa was kind enough to include our pieces in her awesome Fall Style Guide, and don't miss her review here (with giveaway!)
Darling Jackson's favorite animal is a stuffed lemur and he has to have with him everywhere. His mom reports that he loves to eat pizza and can out eat most of the family! Jackson is also very into golf - most of the time you can find him carrying his plastic club around the house and knocking golf balls into everything. His mom sums it up best-- "He is a very happy little guy and you rarely see him without a smile on his face." We can tell! We think Jackson is a total doll and are thrilled to have him sport some barley & birch.
Thanks to Melissa and Jackson for the photos!
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
This bike is NOT your average bike.
This bike is old (read: NOT new and creating more waste and emissions.) This bike is cool (obviously.) This bike gave kids in my community something to do with their afternoon, a job, skills, a paycheck, and a chance to earn their own bike (Whoa.)
See, I told you this bike was different!
I purchased my bike, which came with the name "WIND" on it, so I refer to is as "The Wind", from Cycles of Change APC Bike Shop.
Their website says it best: "APC is a supportive housing community, providing housing, services and community programs to support residents and families so that they need never know the struggles of homelessness again. APC pairs each resident with a case worker who provides access to health services, mental health and substance counseling, family programs and job training. APC also operates a bike shop, commercial plant nursery and brand new urban farm. Proceeds from these enterprises help support homeless services at APC."
I went, chatted with some of the kids and their very tall, funny, leader Evan, picked a bike, and eagerly awaited the day when I could pick it up. (It needed some TLC.)
I picked it up last Thursday and it rides like a dream. See evidence below.
The Cycles of Change APC bike shop is inspiring! They mix the purest form of sustainability (upcycling car alternatives!) with social relevance and awareness.
Just think, what if all of our needs could be fulfilled by a business with a similar model? Wouldn't it be cool if we could be as passionate about our shoes, pots & pans, and clothing as I am about my bike? I think so.
Thanks to the good people at Cycles of Change APC Bike Shop for my bike and giving me a much needed boost of inspiration to keep trying to change the world!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
This weeks "Wear it!" Wednesday post is yet again pretty near and dear to barley & birch's heart.
Meeting the darling Pixie. (:
Pixie is the daughter of Sara, who writes the blog I read most often, tout-est-des-roses. Pixie also has three adorable old brothers named Sam, Mac and Bean. I love reading Sara's blog about her incredible family and lovely way of mothering her wonderful kids. Her blog is a great place to go for inspiration about how to make every day beautiful and fun for everyone! Her energy is so contagious!
As I think I've mentioned before, I kind of want to be one of her kids, as well!
Sara is currently at the Type A Mom conference equipped with TONS of swag, including many b&b tanks, to give to the lucky mommas of her choosing. If you are there, be sure to track her down!
Thanks to my BFF and Pixie for the photos!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Okay so POP QUIZ whats the coolest part of this really cool photo?
A. The look on my face
B. My slept on hair
C. My classic Ray Bans
D. My 7 year old Citizens
E. My ratty UGGs that I can't get rid of
F. MY FCearth T-shirt
G. The Guy's Volvo wagon
Yep-- you guessed it! F! My FCearth T-shirt!!
So FCearth is a super neat new company owned by my friend Jeff. Jeff is one of the coolest guys ever and also happens to be from the Toledo, OH area. (Like me!!)
FCearth's point is quite similar to b&b's-- you can change the world in everything you do. FCearth has cool tees (like the one I am rocking) now and is working on a line of eco-friendly soccer gear. They then use a part of their proceeds to give soccer balls and instructional DVDs to urban elementary schools all over the US. Um COOL. Soccer is an international language (or so I've been told by The Guy) and the fact that FCearth is sharing it domestically with kids that might not otherwise be exposed is amazing, heartwarming, and relevant.
We are stoked to hear more about what FCearth is doing as they grow and grow. We'll keep you all posted.
Go check them out, get some tees, and get involved!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
So we aren't sure if it's the Bluefeet Tee, the sunny beach, or the darling little smile that make this photo one of our favorites. Hm, probably the darling little smile!
Jennifer reports that Ladybugs favorite foods are salads and is speaking a mixture of English and Spanish! Ladybug loves to climb and anything involving water-- at 27 months old almost knows how to swim already! Wow!
Thanks to Jennifer and Ladybug for the photos!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
It's that time of the week again! Yep-- Thursday, the day I get around to posting our "Wear it!" Wednesday post.
Meet mega-cutie Amelie Jo! Amelie Jo is the daughter of Anna, who owns our newest online retailer Amelie Jo American Baby Boutique! Anna also recently blogged about our line! (:
Amelie's favorite animal is the family dog Hektor, who is a BEAUTIFUL German Shepherd. Her favorite food is organic blueberries and yogurt and she enjoys toddling around the coffee table. Her mother also reports that the darling Amelie Jo enjoying headbanging to Iron Maiden to her father's delight!
We think she sounds like a pretty rad young lady already!
Thanks to Anna & Amelie for the photos!
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wow-- we are so very much delayed posting this as I (Kyle) am in the middle of a move to San Francisco! YIKES!
So I am happy to introduce the adorable Chase!
Chase's mom Michelle was kind enough to send us this adorable pic of Chase enjoying his Palms Tank. As natives of Florida, Chase & family were particularly fond of the Palms design!
Michelle reports that Chase loves todance and is a huge fan of Elmo and Yo Gabba Gabba!
We think he's totally stylin'!
Thanks to Michelle and Chase for the photos! (:
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Each click donates .6 bowls of food. Click! Click a lot!!
Tell everyone you know!!!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
That's right, Bubble is over and we are back to blogging on Wednesdays! In fact, get ready for multiple posts this week. Whoa, right?
This week's "Wear it!" Wednesday is all about little miss Ja'Naya here. This cutie is 4 years old and the daughter of Jennae, of Green Your Decor fame. Jennae recently created another incredible blog, Green & Gorgeous, which launched on Monday! Definitely swing by to check it out. If Green Your Decor is any indicator, we are certain its going to be a daily must-read.
We at barley & birch were of course thrilled to read Jennae's super sweet review of our Octi Tank posted today.
But, lets get back to Ja'Naya, shall we?
Ja'Naya's favorite colors are red and pink, and her favorite foods are spaghetti and friend plantains. Her favorite animals are Beluga whales (ever since seeing them at the Georgia Aquarium.) Now, I, too count Beluga whales among my favorite animals and manage to burst out into the Raffi song at any given moment from day to day.
Her mother also reports that Ja'Naya enjoys playing games on Webkinz and PBSkids, noting that she is surprisingly computer savvy for only being 4. Hmm, we wonder where she got that savviness from...
All we know is that this cutie has officially made the Octi tank look totally, well, Green & Gorgeous!
Thanks to Jennae and Ja'Naya for the picture!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wow-- we LOVE siblings wearing our clothes. We've really lucked out lately!
For this weeks post, meet the beautiful Jaylin and Jeffery, sporting their barley & birch Bluefeet and Monkey Tees. These two are the beautiful babes of Jackie whose blog Monkey Mayhem just reviewed barley & birch here!
Mom Jackie reports that Jeffery loves the movie Cars and loves to play with trains, cars, airplanes...anything that moves!
Jaylin loves animals, her favorite of which being horses. And she likes princesses, of course! Fun fact about Jaylin-- her hair is naturally curly but neither her mom or her dad have curly hair!
Both of them love to watch Spongebob and riding their bike/tricicle.
We think: they sound like perfect little kids. (:
We love Jaylin's "Mom, get that camera out of my face please" look and Jeffery's willingness to soak up the attention.
Thanks to Jackie for sending over the pics!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
This week's "Wear it!" Wednesday is near and dear to my heart-- as this photo was so kindly sent by my great friend, Sarah. Well, she is more like the sister I never had. Sarah and I grew up a house down from one another and our parents have been close for years. We fondly recall family camping trips (riding fold up bikes that would fold up while you were riding them if my mother happened to be the one that set it up) and Mini Golf outings (where you never knew how her mother always managed to get "2" strokes on the hole she spent 20 minutes on.) And I probably shouldnt mention the perfectly choreographed dances to various Dixie Chicks songs. In the car. Or dancing around it stopped at a red light. To the humiliation of her brother siting/hiding in the back.
ANYWAY, these CUTIES are her cousins. Meet Nicholas (2), Jackson (6 months), and Luke (4) of beautiful Ankeny, Iowa. Their mother, Jann, notes that the boys enjoy counting the animals on each others barley & birch shirts! The boys love playing outside and look forward to getting plenty of use out of their barley & birch tees during their annual trip to the family's lakehouse in Wisconsin this August. Looking at the picture, we certainly don't doubt that.
Well, we are convinced that you couldn't pack much more cuteness into a single photograph if you tried. (:
Thanks to Sis and Jann for sharing this adorable photo!
P.S. If I get enough comments or messages, I would be willing to post some hilarious chilhood photos of Sis and I. And her 4 siblings.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
This week we would like to introduce you to the infinitely happy Elijah! Elijah is the son of Autum, who, on top of raising 3 little boys, manages to keep up two blogs: Monsters in My House and Three Boys and Mom-- both of which we at barley & birch love. (Check out her review of barley & birch here!)
Elijah is an active 14-month old who is always on the go-- he particularly loves dancing and being outside. His favorite book at the moment is Eric Carle's "I can do that, can you?" and his mom mentions that "he's always flipping the pages and giggling at it by himself if he's not crawling into our laps with it." Wow, did anyone else's heart just melt? What a sweet boy! We are proud that he is outfitted in our threads, thats for sure.
Thanks to Autum and Elijah for the photos and barley & birch love. (:
Thursday, July 2, 2009
(Hm, back to Thursday, BUT better late than never.)
This weeks "Wear it!" Wednesday features Zavery, the mischievous-but-sweet-as-sugar-looking tot of Amber, owner of RockerByeBaby, which makes and sells adorable kids clothes & blankets for the rockstar in every kid. Amber also blogs and does some incredible giveaways there! Barley & birch was lucky to get one of the sweetest, most touching reviews we have ever received from her site. We can't get enough of mega-cool people taking steps toward a super eco-friendly life, thus making it look even cooler! You can only take so many hemp-wearing, vegan, barefooted hippies... oh, wait...
Anyway, Zavery's clever slogan is also probably the cutest thing that we have ever seen. Other than his little smirk that is...
And yes, staying true to the barley & birch mission, Zavery is definitely rocking a cloth diaper! We think: BEST OUTFIT EVER.
Thanks to Amber and Zavery for being, well, total rockstars.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Okay! Back to posting on Wednesdays!
This weeks "Wear it!" Wednesday post features the super-cute Michael! Michael is the son of Jen E. one of the wonderful moms writing for Mommas Review. (See their review of barley & birch here. Yay!)
But I mean, seriously, one look at Michael in that Cactus Tee and you immediately see that he might be one of the funnest kids ever. Am I right?
Michael loves anything that involves running, jumping, and climbing. So it's no wonder that his favorite animal is a monkey!
Thanks to Michael and momma Jen for sharing the pics! (:
Friday, June 19, 2009
I had a major moment of utter gratitude yesterday. If you're reading this post, this is likely about you.
I never stop working. I work hard for barley & birch, so the line can continue to grow fast and keep changing the world. I work hard as a law student. And I work hard to keep my two lives separate and give both of them 100% of me.
It gets hard, I don't sleep, and I get crabby sometimes.
Yesterday was destined to be a crabby day. I have been averaging 4 hours of sleep a week this week because I am up late working with our new retailers in Japan and wake up early to rub elbows with Senators, cabinet members, and First Ladies.
I woke up yesterday at 5am to bake a pie for a contest at Miriam's Kitchen. I scowled nearly the entire time. I was too tired to shower, so I pinned some braids back and figured I could pass for Boho Chic. (fail.)
I lugged the pie in on a crowded commute and was late to work. Worked frantically all day, taking breaks to deal with barley & birch work. Was crabby about figuring out dress designs, where to get our lookbook printed, and our depleting inventory which we are not going to replace since we are releasing a new collection soon.
Stressed, I sent my soul mate best friend and best employee ever, Alia, a text that said "I need you to come to Bubble NY with me." She of course had already been planning on this and also said "I am lining up things for you while you are there." Crabby, I said, "Plz don't. I won't have time." To which she responded, "Oh, well, I think you have time for the Today Show." So I took a moment, paused, and wondered. I knew she would follow up with more details so I continued working like a maniac.
After work I headed to Miriam's on both phones the whole time-- invoicing on my iPhone while getting lookbook quotes on my personal cell. Hung up both as I walked into Miriam's to submit my pie and take part in the BBQ. People called and texted throughout the BBQ and I would duck away and respond and was grumpy again because I am always responding and always getting back with people and couldn't I even enjoy this vegan bratwurst please?
While there, I spoke with Jenn, Miriam's development and outreach guru. She mentioned that in response to some of my tweets on Twitter and a quick e-mail I had sent to Green America, a business group of which I am a part, they had received boxes of donations. Her appreciation touched me, but my brain was still crabby. Frazzled with all the things I had to do. We spoke about how I respect her nonstop dedication to changing lives and the fact that she fights what looks to be an endless fight. Me? I get to play with kids clothing and donate money and time and sort of feel like I help. But her and the crew and Miriam's-- they are the heroes.
My pie, pictured above, got 2nd place! (It looks a lot more burnt and ratty in the picture, I swear. It was made from scratch. E-mail for recipe.)
Head throbbing, I gathered my empty-but-still-gooey pie dish and left. I remembered that I had planned on speaking with Julie about her crew doing some work for us. Great work, Kyle. She had called and I had not answered. I call her back and we talk as I mosey around a park carrying a dirty pie dish. We talk about ideas for dresses, shorts, fabric, and dyes.
We hang up and I walk down to get on Metro and head home. Its 9pm. I have 18 unread e-mails from the last 40 minutes and I decide, for the first time ever, to not read them while on the way home. Best decision ever.
As I sat on Metro, I was overwhelmed with this sense of pure exhaustion. I was too tired to pull my bag strap up when it fell from my shoulder, I desperately needed a shower, and my hand was covered in pie remnants. Then, my mind went blank. And I almost started to cry. I had had a beautiful day and had been too busy being stressed to even notice it. When did I even become like this?
Yesterday was a great day! I woke up early and baked a pie from scratch (with cherries picked and canned by my family). I was chosen to do an IRL section for Hayden Hartnett and was told I might be on the Today Show in August. I got 2nd place in a pie contest! People I see as heroes told me that they are blown away with all I am doing to help them. And I am now working with an amazing woman who is changing lives and believes in our mission. The texts I received had come from our designer Jodie while she was at the zoo, sending pictures of animals I could tell she wanted to draw. It reminded me what an amazing thing it is that Jodie is one of my closest friends now. I received a call from my BFF from law school, confirming how the love-of-my-life makes his beans for tacos. I love that we are still close enough to call for things like that. I also received calls and texts from the love-of-my-life and family, reminding me I would not even be close to where I am now without each of them.
Some e-mails came from our newest retailer, Sprout San Fransisco, saying "You sent us different quantities than you listed on the packing slip..." (humiliating.) "...but it's okay. Its so much cuter in person! Please update the invoice to reflect the million mistakes you all made but don't worry about correcting the order." Okay maybe not the million mistakes part-- but how cool are they? I read an e-mail from our new photographer who is doing the photoshoot for our new line with not much time to prepare and fell in love with her energy all over again. I read e-mails from our new retailer in Japan, bcbasics, who has already placed a re-order! Wow! How neat!
I read a hilarious e-mail from Summer, owner of fawn&forest. She has one of the coolest stores and still finds the time to say "Great job on having hardly anything in stock! It shows a great response to your line!" as opposed to blocking my e-mails and removing the line from her site for constantly being sold out of more and more styles.
I received an e-mail from Bridget, who owns Wiggle Room, with a picture of her newest baby boy and it reminded me to e-mail her info for the model search we are going to do through her store. Her unending support means more to me than I can express.
In the other e-mails and tweets, I was reminded that I share beautifully friendly and casual and respectful relationships with hundreds of mom-bloggers (incredible women, I tell you), many retailers (even those that don't carry the line), our marketing company, and every other single person we work with.
I officially have no business relationships-- I have barley & birch-induced friendships. Isn't that amazing? I at one point had to ask a friend if it would be weird to invited them all to my wedding. Answer: yes. But I still might anyway...
So my new friends, thank you all for being so wonderful. You have no idea how much I look forward to speaking, e-mailing, texting, and okay, even tweeting with you every day. I truly adore you.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Hm, at our rate maybe we should just start calling this 'Wear it!' Thursday.
But, alas, this weeks 'Wear it!' Wednesday continues our streak of showing off the most beautiful kids in the UK. I mean seriously what is in the water over there?
Please meet Lily (in the Fishies Tee) and Ruby (in the Panda Tee). They are the gorgeous daughters of Abby, who owns the very cool Juicy Tots, an online kids boutique.
Its amazing how different children can transform the look of our clothing. And its also amazing how much we melt whenever we see kids in barley & birch!
Big thanks to Ruby, Lily, & Abby for modeling/snapping some pics for us!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
This weeks "Wear It!" Wednesday features Jake! Jake is the son of Tze, the fabulous owner of Monsters & Munchkins, which happens to be barley & birch's first and only UK retailer.
Isn't he cute?
What's even cuter is that Jake has a twin sister Maya, who also loves monkeys. Whenever Jake walks by her when he is wearing his Monkeys Tee, Maya makes monkey noises!
That officially melted our hearts and we have been set on recruiting Jake & Maya to be our permanent models ever since. If only their mother didn't have her own incredible clothing line, conveniently named Jakeandmaya....