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We are changing the world. And now we are blogging about it. We hope you enjoy a glimpse of what we do and how hard we work to do it. We are also excited to introduce you to our fabulous retailers and customers.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

2 truths & a lie: Miriam's Kitchen-- special edition

Who: Miriam's Kitchen

What: Miriam's Kitchen provides free, homemade meals and support services to over 4,000 of Washington D.C.'s homeless every year.

Why we are obsessed: I volunteered with Miriam's Kitchen while I was doing my internship in Washington D.C. last summer. I even won 2nd place in their pie baking contest!

I was first drawn to them as an organization due to their focus on serving their guests with dignity. Literally, when they would tweet their menu in the morning I would be DROOLING.

So I went in and did jobs that varied from peeling a million potatoes to frying a million plantains. When I was really lucky, I would be able to serve the guests. "Would you like some syrup with your pancakes?" was one of my favorite positions. Or manning the milk cart. That was fun, too.

Each staffer at Miriam's treats their guests like their own family. They care about getting them support, whether that's a warm meal, a pair of socks, housing, a canvas to paint, or someone to talk to.

Oh, and the White House loves them, which is pretty neat. (See the First Lady in the photo above!) Miriam's was one of the beneficiary's from the snazzy White House organic garden, actually!

Miriam's also hit a huge milestone recently. They were able to expand their services to offer dinner meals as well. This takes what they do to a totally new level of awesomeness.

Miriam's Kitchen is one of those places that you feel good supporting and blogging about about a million times. (Like I do.) They really inspire me to push the limits and keep growing and to not get comfortable just thinking that you are doing enough for your community and the world.

So, regardless of us draining our accounts to send money to our colleagues in Haiti, we need to send some barley&birch dollars to Miriam's Kitchen.

So let's test your knowledge of homelessness. For every person that attempts to guess the one INCORRECT fact below, barley&birch will donate $1 (which is an entire meal for a guest) to Miriam's Kitchen.

Which one is NOT TRUE:

1. A typical guest at Miriam’s Kitchen has been homeless for nearly 5 years.

2. Most of our guests stay in transitional housing, but come to us for their meals and support services that aren’t available in their home

One of our guests has his painting of Barack Obama hanging in the White House.

Start guessing!

P.S. Please check out their website, follow them on Twitter. They often tweet their "wish list" which contains things as simple as socks, jeans, and coffee. Consider spending a few extra bucks the next time you are at the grocery store and shipping off a box of goodies to them.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Wear it!" Wednesday

Wow, how cute can you get, right?

Meet Savannah! Savannah's mom, Sarah, is one of the writers for the popular blog In The Know Mom. (Erin, the other writer, also has an adorable daughter that will be featured next week!)

Savannah is 3 years old and her favorite foods are apples and cheese. Her mom also reports that Savannah's favorite things to do are to swim and play "soccer" at the park. Savannah loves giraffes and her favorite color is orange!

Sarah and Erin were kind enough to give barley & birch a sweet review on their blog recently!

Thanks to Sarah and Savannah for the photos!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My time in Haiti.

As most of you know, barley & birch was created because of the people of Haiti and, later, El Salvador and Central America as a whole. I am sickened watching the news footage of Haiti and seeing the photos of buildings collapsed onto masses of people, so I wanted to share just a few of my own photos (scanned from hard copy) to share another, more beautiful side, of this country and talk a little about why I love it so deeply. When I first traveled to Haiti, it was my first time out of the country. (Photo below is of the Port Au Prince airport.) I was going to help others, is just about all I knew.

I traveled in cattle trucks with a team to deliver rice and water to schools all over the area.

We would travel 4 hours one way to bring food and water, wash their hair with anti-fungal shampoo (the fungus can spiral into a variety of more devastating health issues), and giving various vitamins and medicine. If we had time, we loved to get a moment to play with the kids before we had to head back home. Sometimes, if we had enough people though, we would perform a puppet show in our best (though still sloppy) Creole and English. Giving the kids a chance to just be purely silly, unburdened by their worries of malnutrition and worms, was amazing.

Then one day we went to the market. And someone tried to kidnap me.

Then we went to town, and walked by a social area where two bodies lay, shot by a local gang leader for whatever reason, families forbidden to move them so the leader could make his control clear. They obeyed for fear of their own lives.

Then women asked me to hold their child and ran away, hoping that I would take the baby and give it a better life in my country.

Then we went to hospitals, and I made the mistake of breaking off from the group and poking around, looking for some kids to play with to break the sorrow. I stumbled into the room of people. I asked a nurse, "Why are there flies all over these people?" She said, "They are dead." I asked, "Why are they still laying here?" She said "The families are legally obligated to deal with burial, and no one can afford the headstone or casket, so they don't claim the body."

I was only 17. And got a huge dose of the real world. I was too young to effectively cope with the emotional shock and just internalized it, ignored it, and became a Haitian so the hurt I was feeling would go away. I mastered "bon jour" and "bon swa" and smiled a lot.

The landscape was stunningly beautiful. (These photos don't do it justice, but I will upload more soon.) The little villages were warm and happy.

The people were beautiful, inside and out. They were gracious and appreciative and felt blessed in their lives.

I ate bananas for breakfast and mangoes for dinner. And breadfruit, which I still unsuccessfully seek out to this day. I would cry with my head between my knees so no one would see me crying about their malnourished babies as we drove away. I would smile and hold the hands of dying kids, not allowing myself to blink because I knew a tear would fall down the cheek that they could clearly see and did not want them to see how sad I was that they had to suffer.

We danced and sang and talked and watched the cool fisherman in their cool sailboats and ran over to see what they had caught every sunset when they came in.
So this was how we lived. Happy and filled with sadness at the same time.

Then, I had to go back home. To my family and friends. I remember driving my car home and needing to roll down the windows because it was so silent. I hadn't been in a closed in car in who knows how long. I got home and I instantly missed Haiti. I missed the slow way of living. I missed not caring about all the silly things, but only caring about buying food at the market and helping bring food and water to others. I missed feeling like I was doing something good, rather than just spinning my wheels with the meaningless things of life.

I had Haiti on my brain from then on. I moved my paintings that I bought there from home to college to new home to new home, each time hanging a particular one so it was the first thing I saw in the morning, reminding me to be significant with each day, to do something good. Not to be "just another pretty face" as my father so kindly reminds me.

And so I traveled and worked in Central America. And graduated from DePauw. And started barley & birch, a clothing line created to give kids a healthy option and world, while using the profits to fund schools and clinics in Haiti first, and then Central America.

When town halls in the area in Haiti in which I worked were destroyed, they called us. When a school near one of our schools was reporting 90% of their children as malnourished, we broke the bank to send rice and water to an additional school immediately.

And now, the earthquake.

I feel sort of like I felt in the photo below. Idly standing by, letting those who are trained professionals do the work, because I don't know where to start or how to be most effective. (Sans Haitian braids and really cool outfit, of course.)

I miss Haiti and want the people there to not suffer anymore. I want to go back and see my friends and build it all back up.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"Wear it!" Wednesday

Well, its our first repeat Wear It Wednesday starlet, but how could we resist this cuteness? Here, Sophie is snuggled up getting ready to sleep in her b&b Cactus Tank.

Meet (or re-meet I suppose) darling Sophie. She was featured in our very first Wear it Wednesday post alongside her brothers.

Sophie is one of the namesakes behind her mum Natalie's clothing company, Sophie 4 Sophie. (The other Sophie is Natalie's sister.) Sophie 4 Sophie's signature piece is their reversable little girls dress. I've seen and felt these dresses before and was floored by the quality and attention to detail (there is even a small pocket in which you tuck the tag when you are reversing the design.) I cannot wait until they cet a stockist in the US so I can snatch them up fr the million little girls being born into my life at the moment!

Natalie was our very first friend on Twitter, and we value her friendship infinitely. She is the first person to lend an encouraging voice when we are challenged and a congratulatory voice when we succeed.

If cutie Soph has even a quarter of her mum's heart, she will grow up to be a fantastic young lady.

Thanks to Nat and Soph for the photos!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I just love this video. It was made by, and features, one of my favorite people,
Sara Sophia of tout-est-des-roses.

Check out the cameo of our very own Gazelle onepiece.

I don't think I will ever not get butterflies when I see our clothing on children.

THEN, when I see or hear of a parent allowing their precious babe to sleep and snuggle in our clothing, I get very choked up. All work and sleepless nights I spent making that piece perfectly free of all toxins and perfectly made have paid off. Their child will have a sleep free of harsh chemicals and heavy metals and I got to play a part in it. That was the mission, and its happening. It's really the most incredible feeling.

Isn't this video just the most darling thing you have ever seen?

I just had to share. So you all could have a lovely little break in your hectic lives.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Feeling like a real business!

I started barley & birch to change the world.

The "being a real business owner" stuff has fallen into place slowly since that date. We got Quickbooks and started havinv scheduled meetings and setting growth goals. Oh, and then
Inc. Magazine wrote an article about us.

And starting today, we do real e-mail campaigns.
Check out the recent e-mail we sent to our retailers.

This might seem like a big fat nothing to 99.9% of you, but to us, its SO COOL.

I think we are a real business now! Thank you for helping us along each step.



Sunday, January 3, 2010

2 truths and a lie- confessions

We are getting back into the routine of our guest blogging, but before we do, we need to confess some lies.

In November, I lied to you. The lie was that my mother toured with Bruce Springsteen. I am horribly terrified of clowns, mascots, Santa, etc. I also have two fake teeth from a surfing accident in which I knocked out some teeth and ripped off my face. (Photo far below of the stitches I had from jaw to jaw complete with a swollen face.)

Then, Summer from fawn&forest lied to you. While no one wanted to hurt her feelings by guessing it, her lie was that she was in Inc. 30 under 30 list.

And then finally, Amber, from RockerByeBaby lied to you. Her lie was that everyone in her wedding party worse Converse. Hm, that makes her truths even more awesome and interesting!

Are you all getting pretty good at this? Well, stay tuned for some more lies from our favorite people.