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Living Intentionally

25 To 35-Year-Olds Must Avoid This Trap

Be A Conscious Consumer

Jane lived with her two best friends in a just-good-enough 3 bedroom city apartment. Her first job out of college paid her a nice $68,000. She took public transportation to work, went out on most weekends, and bought some new outfits every Spring. Her kitchen utensils and couch were kindly passed down to her. She was happy!

Now 30 and a couple promotions later, Jane was making $100,000. She moved to a studio by herself to have more personal space. She adopted a puppy, joined a boutique fitness club, and occasionally tried out Michelin star restaurants. Those passed-down utensils and coffee maker wouldn’t cut it anymore… an espresso machine was “totally worth it.” That once-a-year camping weekend required the best camping gear. Vacations in Cabo and New York City helped her escape her annoying boss for a while. Jane gifted her friends nice things for their birthdays, and her friends gifted Jane nice things in return. What was previously a luxury now became a necessity.

At 36, Jane was married and her second kid was on the way! Her new manager title came with a juicy salary of $150,000 (to match her 55-hour work weeks). Her old studio seems like a nightmare now in her newly-renovated suburban home. A new car, lawn service, and nanny became necessary.

Some expenses became trivial. A thousand dollars for bikes, a TV, or flights to Europe didn’t bat an eye. She couldn’t make it to the boutique gym much, but she kept her membership just to avoid that guilt that comes from quitting. Jane couldn’t make the camping trip anymore – her babies wouldn’t love sleeping on the ground – so the fancy camping gear sat idly in the shed.

You may know someone like Jane. Why am I telling you about her?

Because Jane is trapped. She has unconsciously entered the Lifestyle Inflation trap, and she will never get out of it.

Lifestyle Inflation refers to an increase in spending when an individual’s income goes up. All this time, Jane has been earning more and more money. But she has responded by spending more and more money.

It is what causes people to get stuck in a cycle of living paycheck to paycheck where they have just enough money to pay the bills every month. (Yes, someone who makes $150,000 can live paycheck to paycheck. In fact, Johnny Depp is now dead broke after earning $650 million in his career. And Nicolas Cage blew his $150 million fortune. They were trapped in Lifestyle Inflation too.)

Jane had placed great emphasis on the acquisition of objects in order to achieve happiness. She felt she deserved all the fancy things – a lavish wedding, nice house, brand new car, modern appliances, wine subscriptions, food delivery, skis, bikes, dresses. She worked so hard, why shouldn’t she get to have these things??

Companies exist to market how buying their thing will make Jane happier, and she fell for it. What she hadn’t realized yet was that buying things didn’t really make her happier.

Jane is not free. She is owned by her lifestyle…

If Jane were miserable at her job, she couldn’t take a lower salary at a company that would make her happier. She couldn’t start her dream company. She couldn’t stop working altogether to care for her kids full-time. Her lifestyle wouldn’t allow this.

How would she keep making mortgage payments on that house she just moved into? How would she afford her car payments? Her boutique gym, wine, Euro trips? Jane can’t take a pay cut. Her lifestyle owns her.

“She could just change her lifestyle.” Ah, yes. Just change her lifestyle. Sell her house and downsize, trade her car for a used one, take her kids out of private school, learn to cook instead of getting meals delivered, and turn down her friends’ annual boujee vacation. Easy!

It’s unlikely that Jane would be able to do this. Humans are social creatures, and we care what our friends and neighbors think of us. What will everyone think of Jane’s massive lifestyle change? Is she having a mid-life crisis? Did she get laid off?

Plus, humans suck at change. Our habits define us, and Jane built a habit of being fancy. It’s extremely difficult to settle for less. It’s extremely difficult to get out of this trap.

Avoiding this Lifestyle Inflation trap is much easier than trying to climb out of it. How can you avoid it?

People tend to increase their spending when their income increases because they believe that the additional goods and services they can now buy will make them happier. Often those purchases don’t actually make them happier. A better option would be to work toward financial independence by saving more.

Avoiding lifestyle inflation can mean achieving financial independence at a younger age, having the financial flexibility to choose a dream job over a higher-paying option, and retiring early.

As your income goes up, keep your expenses even or only slightly increased. Be satisfied with what you have, live below your means, and don’t get too fancy. Value experiences and relationships over things.

If you do this, you will have the freedom of not being owned by your lifestyle. You will feel free from annoying bosses, unpredictable health issues, the Joneses next door, and even an ‘oops’ baby. You will be happier, cleaner, and more at peace.

What could make Jane happier? Feeling satisfied – like she doesn’t need more, but has just enough. Doing a job she loves, even at a lower salary. Feeling secure in case of an unforeseen setback, like a layoff or cancer diagnosis. Retiring early. Learning and growing.

Not buying things.

While Jane tries to get out of the Lifestyle Inflation trap, you must avoid it altogether.

RELATED: Become More Conscious By Doing This

Choobs is an online marketplace to shop clothing from the best conscious brands.

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Choobs News Socially Conscious Brands

Kicks That Kick Back: Introducing An Awesome Conscious Brand

Discover and shop conscious brands online

We’re excited to offer another awesome conscious brand to the Choobs marketplace, and we think you’ll love them too!

SAOLA is on a mission to design casual kicks that look good, feel great, and are made with as many eco-friendly materials as possible. They are outdoor lovers, parents of future generations, and they are dedicated to making a difference.

SAOLA makes sustainable kicks that kick back. Here’s why they’re so great…

Super comfy, Extra light shoes

SAOLA shoes are super comfortable and extra light. They’re so soft, you can even wear them barefoot! The insoles are made from natural cork, which makes you feel like you’re walking on a cloud.

These shoes are light as a feather! They weigh less than 0.4 pounds – lighter than Allbirds!

Fairly priced

SAOLAs are priced fairly compared to other shoe brands, especially other conscious brands. You can get a great pair of shoes for as little as $69, and the maximum you’ll pay is $99.

A bonus is that you’ll get free shipping!

Sustainably made

SAOLA knows that sixty to seventy percent of the environmental footprint of a pair of shoes is a result of the product’s materials, so they’ve made eco-construction the central pillar of SAOLA’s shoe development. They carefully selected the materials that go into the shoes…

As mentioned, the comfy insoles are made of natural cork. An advantage of natural cork is that the bark can be harvested without cutting down the trees! These trees continue to grow and generate a new bark which can be taken again a few years later.

The uppers of SAOLA shoes are made with recycled plastic bottles, otherwise known as PET. When recycled, PET goes through a cleaning, grinding, and melting process that results in a thread, giving second life to plastic and reducing trash in our landfills. And what happens to this thread? Well, it’s then woven into various fabrics to create the comfy and stylish uppers for SAOLA shoes. Depending on the style, each pair of SAOLA shoes contains between 3 and 7 recycled PET bottles.

If that’s not enough, check this out… Rising temperatures and excess chemicals in our lakes and rivers contribute to the growth of algae – harming the lives of plants, animals, and humans. SAOLA partnered with the team at Bloom Foam to harvest harmful algae and create eco-friendly, bio-sourced materials for the insoles and outsoles of their shoes. Bloom Foam removes harmful algae from the water and puts it through a process that dries, crushes, and converts it into powder. This powder is then mixed with EVA (a synthetic material) to become Algae Foam, used for sole construction. Using Algae Foam allows SAOLA to use fifteen to twenty percent less synthetic materials in their soles, cleans lakes of harmful algae, and prevents the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. Now that’s what we call a win for mother nature and a win for your feet!

Oh, and the laces are made from organic cotton.

Gives back to wildlife preservation

Not only can you buy shoes that are comfy and sustainable, but you can also help support SAOLA’s social mission. SAOLA has been committed to the preservation of wildlife since its creation. It’s even in the name… the Saola is one of the rarest animals found on our planet with only 700 or so animals left.

the-saola-description
The Saola – a critically endangered “Asian unicorn” that lives in the mountains between Vietnam and Laos.

This conscious brand donates one percent of sales to wildlife conservation projects so that in another 40 years, our planet’s animals are not a thing of the past.

SAOLA donates this money to MWALUA WILDLIFE TRUST, a grassroots organization in Africa that is fighting droughts to supply sustainable water systems to wildlife communities, while also promoting human-wildlife coexistence. Volunteers work with communities to raise awareness about conservation, promote ecological restoration, and increase ethical economic opportunities to protect Kenya’s nature and biodiversity.

Machine washable

Like all my favorite things, SAOLAs are easy to clean! Throw them in the wash (on cold) and you can also tumble dry them on low.

SHOP ALL OF SAOLA HERE!

RELATED: Shop Consciously: Karma Collective

Choobs is an online marketplace for shopping socially conscious brands!

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Living Intentionally

How To Change Your Alarm Clock So You Wake Up Feeling Energized

Be A Conscious Consumer

It’s 4:45 AM on a Wednesday and my 2008 iHome begins to blare its high-pitched BEEPs at me. This Steve-Jobs-era Apple device has no chill…within seconds, the slow BEEP BEEP’s escalate to a rapid-fire BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP. It is intentionally placed just beyond the reach of my lanky arms so I have to get up to turn off the torturous sound.

I could just set it to play FM country radio so I can wake up in a more peaceful state – to a Luke Combs love song probably – but that’s not the way I want it. To me, an ALARM clock has one function: get me out of bed. Period.

If my bed had a feature where it could buck me off at 4:45 AM, I would consider it…

This is what works for me, and I wake up most days feeling energized. I know that most people don’t use their alarm clock this way, so I wanted to see what science had to say about the best way to wake up.

Here’s how to intentionally use your alarm clock to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go.

1. Quit snoozin’

It seems that most people use the alarm on their phone, and they keep said phone in bed with them at night. They know they want to get up at 7:30, so they set an alarm at 7:00, planning to snooze a few times. “Two more snoozes until I ACTUALLY have to wake up!”

I’ve always found this silly, and science backs me up – you should stop using your snooze button. Why?

According to Amerisleep, you go through sleep cycles every night. REM sleep is the cycle when your brain is highly active and you experience dreams. It’s important because it’s highly restorative, and getting enough REM is crucial for feeling sharp the next day. When your alarm goes off in the morning, you’re usually nearing the end of your last REM cycle.

Wake up and get yourself out of bed, and the REM cycle ends. Hit the snooze button and go back to sleep, though, and you throw yourself right back into the REM cycle. When your alarm goes off a second time, it wakes you up in the middle of REM instead of at the end of REM. As a result, you end up feeling foggy and disoriented.

There’s more reason not to use snooze! If you went to bed at a decent hour the night before, your body’s internal clock is ready to wake up once the alarm goes off. But when you hit snooze and go back to sleep, you send your whole system into a confusing tailspin. Before long, your body isn’t sure when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to go to sleep. This leads to less quality sleep which means heightened stress, increased inflammation, and lowered immunity.

Instead of setting your alarm early so you can ‘progressively’ wake up, just set your alarm at the actual time you need to wake up and don’t hit snooze. You may feel groggy at first, but after a few minutes, you’ll feel refreshed and ready for action!

2. Keep your alarm out of reach

When your alarm is in your bed or on your nightstand, it’s way too easy to hit snooze or turn it off without even opening your eyes. Avoid this by keeping your alarm out of reach so you have to get up and walk over to it. You’ll be forced to put your feet on the floor and open your eyes, which will wake you up.

If you use the alarm on your phone, charge your phone on the other side of the room or in your bathroom, NOT in your bed. This will also make you stop looking at your phone before bed, which helps you fall asleep! Or you can buy a true alarm clock and place it far from your bed. (You can still buy iHomes…who knew!)

Bonus: If your alarm sound is super annoying like mine, you’ll jump up and shut it off ASAP.

3. Keep your wake up time consistent

If you wake up at 6:00 some days and 8:00 other days, you mess up your circadian rhythm. Try to set your alarm within the same 15-minute window every day so your body can keep its internal rhythm. This will help you sleep better and feel more energetic throughout your day.

My iHome lets me set my 4:45 alarm for all weekdays, so I never have to change it. Choose a time that works for you, and make sure you’re getting 7-8 hours of sleep! Snooze-free sleep…

For more tips on intentional living, subscribe using this form…

Related: Become Conscious Of Your Career Path

Choobs is an online marketplace for shopping conscious brands.

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Choobs News Socially Conscious Brands

SHOP CONSCIOUSLY: Karma Collective

Discover and shop sustainable brands online

We’re very excited to welcome another incredible socially conscious brand to the Choobs family, and we think you’ll like them too!

This brand is spreading good karma, so scroll down to learn all about Karma Collective!

Karma Collective is a lifestyle apparel brand on a mission to empower people to live their best life

One look at their designs and it’s pretty obvious – Karma Collective is here to share the positive vibes! Whether you’re rocking the ‘Happy’ Terry cotton pullover or our personal favorite, the ‘Trust The Universe’ crop tank, you’ll be sure to stay uplifted while wearing these inspiring reminders!

The brand was inspired by a silent meditation retreat

After completing a 10-day silent meditation retreat in the rain forests of Hawaii- Karma Collective’s founder felt evoked to share her experience with the world by spreading good vibes and impacting change. This got her thinking, what better way to express yourself than by style?

The brand’s name is also inspired by the retreat

The concept of donating, not paying, to take part in the retreat is like sharing good karma points which persuaded Karma Collective to inspire others to support their communities.

Karma Collective donates a part of their profits from every item they sell

In fact, 10% of the profits donated go to World Housing, a hybrid organization that provides safe homes to families in need around the world!

It’s all about the positive vibes

All Karma Collective designs have a positive meaning to them that empowers each person who wears them to take part in small acts of kindness and positivity because they can make a big difference!

They believe in trusting the universe

Karma Collective is all about following your passions, listening to your gut, and trusting the universe- so if you’re looking for a sign – this is it!

Shop Karma Collective here!

RELATED: 5 Up-and-Coming Mission Brands To Watch

Choobs is an online marketplace for shopping sustainable brands!

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Living Intentionally Socially Conscious Brands

8 Chicago Based Sustainable Brands You Should Know

Discover and shop sustainable brands online

Whether you’re in Chicago or not, we know you’ll appreciate this list of local sustainable brands.

Have you opened your closet recently and thought “Ok, I NEED a style upgrade”? Well, we hear you!

Those looking to elevate their style this year listen up. Sustainable brands are the answer. Sustainable fashion is on the rise and is loved for using high-quality, ethically sourced materials that will last a long time. That’s something fast fashion does not do and we all know it!

The thing you should know about fast fashion is that items are generally mass-produced, which lowers its quality. On the other hand, sustainable, socially conscious clothes are authentically made and unique. All while taking the initiative to save the planet!

With the emergence of socially conscious brands, consumers are really thinking about ethical clothing nowadays, and how looking into sustainable brands is an important factor in making purchases. It kind of comes down to wanting to shop while supporting brands that give back.

The people have spoken and they really want fashion brands to take social and environmental responsibility in helping keep our planet clean, and in turn, consumers are more than ever expressing their style by wearing clothes that they know where and how they’re made, and by who.

The good news is, sustainable brands are popping up all over and that makes us so excited! That’s why we’re going back to our Chicago roots to shine a light on the amazing local talent that is helping keep the fashion industry’s ethical standards high.

So, if you are on board and ready to invest in some gorgeous statement pieces to add to your closet, keep reading to check out 8 Chicago-based sustainable brands you can support!

MOD + Ethico

What: This popular Chicago-based clothing store can be found all over the city and is a great place to check out local artists and designers that support ethical standards. Founded by Candice Collision in 2015, her company is for the busy and active women who don’t want to compromise their style for their values of quality, sustainability, and fair wages, and we agree with that statement!
Good for the planet: They support emerging designers with the same vision to meet better standards for fashion like being made in the USA, fair trade, ethically sourced, and fair wages.

Divinity 7

What: This Chicago-based lifestyle clothing brand started in 2012, with the vision of building ‘consciousness’ through social awareness. They believe art, fashion, and design should go hand in hand, which is why they are embodied through their clothes. They’re the place to go search for that perfect authentic statement piece!
Good for the planet:
Donates a percentage of sales to organizations that support and assist in social issues like poverty, homelessness, and hunger.

Gemini

What: This Chicago store carries collections of thoughtfully curated clothes and accessories that are intentional with quality, style, functionality, and sustainability. They work with talented designers from all over to help you choose pieces that’ll last you a long time!
Good for the planet:
Gemini carries items made by designers that follow sustainable standards whether that’s made in the USA, paying fair wages, or using organic/ethically sourced materials.

Squasht Boutique  

What: This women’s boutique is founded by Chicago’s very own top designer Lesley Timpe and carries locally designed, professionally hand-crafted clothes and accessories that will fit anyone’s personal style! They’re totally affordable too which is great if you’re in the market for affordable sustainable pieces to highlight your style. The store also carries Squasht brand clothing, which is created from start to finish right here in Chicago!
Good for the planet: Women-owned and operated, carries hand-made, Chicago-made items, and supports independent-brand designers.

Vihanga Co

What: This sustainable brand is created by duo Miles Jackson and Vihanga Sontam, and like many on this list, also has its roots in Chicago, before heading to LA. The style is influenced by Vihanga’s childhood in a small town in India where they wore and tailored their own comfy, breathable clothes. Nothing like being in style, helping keep the planet clean, AND being comfortable in what you’re wearing!
Good for the planet:
All pieces are handmade by Sontam and the brand is brown-led, materials are sourced locally from LA or sent in small quantities from India and they use carbon-negative biodegradable package.

Felt Chicago

What: This local brand highlights a diverse mix of emerging and established designers and their approach is to individualize every client’s style! They simultaneously support causes and charities like Gabriel’s Light and other community outreach programs.
Good for the planet: Hand-made and designed right in Chicago! They support charities and organizations.

Valani

What: This vegan sustainable fashion brand started out in Chicago and is currently producing all made-to-order, hand-made items in California. This conscious brand is passionate about creating clothes that feel fun, flirty, and beautiful while saving the planet all in all!
Good for the planet: Everything is vegan, made ethically, supports eco-friendly practices like using low-impact Oeko tex certified dyes, repurposed or recycled fabrics, and non-toxic chemicals. They also support their seamstresses in remote collaboration and with fair wages and flexible hours consequently,

High End Junkie

What: For those who might find this brand familiar, you might’ve seen it on a bunch of celebrities throughout the years, for example on NBA Champion Iman Shumpert and Chris Brown! High End Junkie is the brainchild of Q. Hudson, a Chicago-based visual artist who launched the company in 2013 and makes bold and bright 1:1 custom hand-painted apparel & accessories.
Good for the planet: Makes handpainted custom designs that are exclusively available online and in pop-ups, making the brand direct-to-consumer, maintained quality, and affordable. On top of that, they support charities, community initiatives, and independent designers.

RELATED: How 4 College Dropouts Used Quarantine To Start A Viral Clothing Brand
RELATED: 5 Up-and-Coming Mission Brands To Watch

Choobs is a Chicago-based online marketplace for shopping sustainable brands!

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Socially Conscious Brands

5 Up-and-Coming Mission Brands To Watch

Shop Mission Brands Now

Mission brands are companies that sell goods and care about more than just profits. They have a mission to positively impact the planet and its people. Mission brands can do this by creating sustainable products, helping employees get out of poverty, or donating to causes.

By choosing to shop these brands, you are supporting their mission! Here are 5 up-and-coming mission brands to look out for this year.

Happiness Project

Addison Rae, Vanessa Hudgens, and Tyler Cameron are all fans of this brand! Happiness Project is gaining popularity for its clothing line and its mission to elevate happiness throughout the world.

You can shop the brand’s basic clothing line or wait for it to drop its tie-dye collections. 15% of Happiness Project’s net profits are donated to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, whose mission is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. The brand donated $50,000 in 2020!

Chnge

Chnge is a viral streetwear brand selling shirts with messages of social change. It drops collections of cause-specific lines (Zero Waste, BLM, Mental Health Awareness) and also tie-dye gear.

50% of its net profits are donated to charities making the world a better place through education, facilitating equality, and/or protecting the environment. Its shirts are made from organic cotton and it offsets all carbon emissions from production. Chnge donated $50,000 to Mental Health America through sales of its 2021 Mental Health collection.

Roma Boots

Coming off its best year and best quarter ever, ROMA Boots is on the rise. This brand sells America’s favorite rainboot and for every pair a customer buys, ROMA donates a pair of boots to children living in poverty.

In 2020 alone, ROMA donated 30,000 boots in the following countries: Armenia, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the United States.

Janji

For runners on a mission, this brand will resonate. Janji sells high-performance running shorts, shirts, and accessories. The lightweight and fast-drying Middle Short is a bestseller.

Janji, which means “promise” in Malay, promises to expand access to safe drinking water. The brand gives 2% of proceeds from every purchase to support clean water projects in the countries that inspire each of its seasonal collections.

PIYOGA

PIYOGA is a loungewear and activewear brand selling some of the comfiest pants in the world. It empowers people of all shapes and sizes to feel comfortable and confident on and off their yoga mat.

PIYOGA donates 10% of net profits to sea turtle conservation!

Choobs is an online marketplace for shopping mission brands.

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Marketplaces Socially Conscious Brands

Conscious Clothing: It’s Not as Difficult as You Think

Shop Conscious Clothing Brands Now

I was on the hunt for clothing brands that made an effort to do good in the world. Whether they donated to a cause, donated their product to people in need, or made their clothing in a conscious way, I wanted to find them.

This was back in 2018, and it was hard! I googled some relevant keywords, then dug through blog after blog. If I found a blog that highlighted some of these brands, I’d have to visit the brand’s site to see if I liked its products. Usually, I was back to the blog and back to google search to find different brands.

Clicking through many different tabs is a time-consuming and frustrating experience. Fortunately, finding and shopping conscious clothing brands has become much easier since 2018!

There are new ways to shop these brands now. You can go through blogs, affiliate sites, or marketplaces.

Blogs tell you about the brand, but don’t show you products. Affiliate sites do show you a brand’s products, but when you want to buy the product you are redirected to the brand’s site to checkout. This is better than blogs, but it’s still an annoyance to bounce around different websites.

The best way to shop conscious clothing brands is through marketplaces because they allow you to discover and shop all on one site. You can read about a brand, see its products, then checkout without opening any new tabs. It’s a one-stop shop.

Here are some marketplaces you can use to shop conscious clothing…

Choobs

There are a handful of marketplaces that sell conscious brands, but Choobs is the only marketplace that focuses on clothing.

You can shop Men’s Clothing, Women’s Clothing, and Accessories like bags, jewelry, or headbands. You can also shop by social mission – like environmental causes, poverty relief, or animal conservation.

Choobs sells conscious brands like Headbands Of Hope – which donates headbands to children with illnesses for every headband you buy, Pi Yoga – which sells loungewear with a beach vibe and donates 10% of profits to sea turtle conservation, and Happiness Project – which sells streetwear and donates 15% of profits to mental health.

Made Trade

Made Trade is a marketplace that sells eco-friendly and fair trade goods. You can shop Home + Furniture, Clothing, and Accessories. You may also shop by value like American Made or Fair Trade.

Made Trade sells brands like Saturday Swimwear and One432, both sustainable brands.

Done Good

Done Good is a marketplace that sells Clothing, Food, Makeup, and Bedding from eco-friendly, fair trade, and organic brands.

Done Good sells sustainable brands like Bold Swim and Groceries Apparel.

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Uncategorized

How We Select Brands To Sell On Choobs

Choobs is a marketplace that sells socially conscious brands. Here is how we decide which brands can sell on Choobs.

The Products

The first thing we look at is a brand’s products. If the products are clothing or accessories, we will continue our discovery process. If the products are not clothing or accessories, we will pass.

We also perform an eye test on the quality of the products. If it looks like a brand has not invested in the design, functionality, or comfort of the products, we will pass.

The Mission

Next, we look at a brand’s mission, or its reason for existence. What do the people who started and operate this brand believe?

We select brands that are on a mission to make a positive impact on people, animals, and the environment. Every brand in the world cares about customers and shareholders, but we seek brands that also care about people making their products, conserving earth’s species, and preserving its resources. In the world we envision, companies don’t take from the world for their own gain.

Brands we qualify for Choobs fall into these categories:

  1. Buy One, Give One: when a customer buys a product, the brand donates a product to someone in need.
  2. Donation To A Cause: the brand donates money, usually a percentage of sales or profits, to a specific cause that they support. Sometimes they also donate their time to volunteer for this cause.
  3. Environmentally Conscious: the brand uses materials that are recycled, upcycled, easily decomposable, and/or sustainable.
  4. Employs Disadvantaged People: the brand employs disadvantaged people, providing a sustainable income and path to prosperity.
For-Profits Only

Once we know the brand’s mission, we then ensure that the brand is a for-profit entity. We only allow for-profits because we believe in conscious capitalism and want to help prove that it works. Businesses can do good and still make a sustainable profit.

It is important to remember that no human is perfect, and since humans run brands, no brand is perfect. The brands we sell are intentional and conscious of the impact their business has on the world. They do their best given their knowledge and resources, and we do our best to validate their missions given our knowledge and resources.

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Choobs News

How A Two-Person Startup Won Chicago Tech Madness

David stoned Goliath, American revolutionaries sent home the British kingdom, #16 UMBC took down #1 Virginia in the NCAA tournament, and Choobs won Chicago Tech Madness.

How did Choobs, a two-person startup that nobody’s heard of, get enough votes to beat billion-dollar startups with hundreds of employees? How did a #16 seed go all the way?

On an afternoon in early February, Chicago Inno, the top publication for local startup news, sent me their daily newsletter which I’ve subscribed to for three years. It said to nominate startups for this year’s Tech Madness bracket, a March-Madness-like competition where people vote for which startup they’d invest in, and the company with more votes moves on to the next round. I’ve followed and voted in this competition for years.

I quickly nominated Choobs, a tech startup that I launched 7 months prior, and went on with my day. Choobs is a bootstrapped company that had zero publicity and few followers. I didn’t expect to make it in.

A month later, on March 9, the newsletter hit my inbox again. This one announced the bracket, and I opened it with little hope. Like your own name popping out at you, the very first thing I saw on the bracket filled with 64 companies was my company, Choobs.

I assume the team at Chicago Inno had more than 64 nominations, so some companies had to be cut. How did we get in? Maybe Choobs made the cut because we already had launched a product and were doing business. Maybe it was because they liked our mission or website. Or maybe they just picked out of a hat to decide which company would get the final spot…

All I know is my feeling of excitement lasted for less than one second because the next thing I noticed was Choobs got the #16 seed. Anyone who follows March Madness knows that a #16 seed is the lowest seed in the bracket.

Considering my expectations, I should have been happy just to be in the competition. My company was on the same page as popular Chicago startups – Foxtrot, Cameo, SpotHero, Farmer’s Fridge. That’s pretty cool! But competitors like me can be irrational, and a little fire lit inside of me when I saw that #16 next to Choobs.

We would face a #1 seed, Avant, in the first round, and I felt a burn to win. To prove Choobs worthy of Tech Madness and get revenge for being a #16.

My love for sports taught me something about human nature – everyone loves an underdog. I’ve always cheered for underdogs in March Madness, World Cups, and Olympics. The country cheered when Loyola-Chicago made the Final Four, people went crazy when Leicester City won the Premier League, and we never forgot when U.S.A beat Russia in hockey. I figured I could rally people behind #16 Choobs beating #1 Avant. All we had to do was get more votes than them.

With an attention-grabbing tweet and a post on LinkedIn, we were off to the races. The posts racked up likes, shares, and comments from friends and random people alike. Human nature was in full force… Beat Goliath!!

I added fuel to the fire with memes. You know what they say… tell a man to vote and he’ll vote once, rile him up with memes and he’ll vote every day. Honestly, I made these memes for my own entertainment…

Even with this traction on social media, I didn’t expect to beat Avant. Any random person passing through the bracket would vote for the company they recognized, Avant, over Choobs. That meant we would need more votes than Avant employees AND neutral voters. How could we work smarter?

I found a link to make voting much easier, figured out that the site would allow me to vote every 24 hours, and found that each device and browser let me vote additional times each day. While they voted once per day, we were voting 5 times. That’s working smart.

As a result, the #16 seed no-name startup with 2 employees beat the 1.5 billion dollar, 500-person startup. Mission accomplished!

Chicago Inno wrote about how Choobs won, our site got a little traffic bump from the news, and I was satisfied with pulling off the best upset in Chicago Tech Madness history.

The story could’ve very well ended here. Choobs was to face another well-known startup, The Mom Project, in the next round (and I figured a name like that would beat Choobs easily). I didn’t make memes and hardly posted about voting, but somehow the voters kept voting, and we won again! We were going to the Sweet 16, and now I felt motivated to make a push.

The memes were flying, and Choobs kept winning.

We rolled past #5 Chowbus ($68M raised) to get to the Elite 8.

The rounds would last 3-4 days and the winner was always shown at 11:00 pm on the last day. My mind juggled between “we got this” and “no chance we win again.” I rarely stayed up to see if we won, opting to find out in the morning instead.

We knocked off #7 HealthJoy ($48M raised) to make the Final Four.

We danced past #7 PerkSpot ($50M raised) to stake our spot in the Championship.

I saw friends and family feverishly voting every day. Each time we won, people wanted to know what I’d get if Choobs won the championship, and the answer was always… “nothing.” The lack of reward didn’t stop the voters, though. People I haven’t talked to in years told me they were voting every day. Secondary connections were sharing the voting link with their extended families. Someone I knew well was confused when he got told to vote from someone who didn’t know me. A Barstool Sports personality tweeted to vote for Choobs. Gies College Of Business tweeted to vote for Choobs. My high school teachers joined in too. How could something so meaningless spread so fast? Everyone just wanted to see a good old Cinderella story.

And so we faced a #5 seed, M1 Finance, in the Championship. M1 is a startup with 150 employees and $170 million in funding, but I no longer feared that they had the employees, the publicity, and the flashy name. Choobs had become an unstoppable force in Tech Madness.

I sat with a few friends at a live music bar on April 1, just three weeks after I made those first posts about voting for Choobs in Tech Madness. With a refresh of the voting page at 11:00 pm, while the musician played an acoustic version of The Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want, I got what I then wanted. Choobs won 2021 Chicago Tech Madness! It turns out that we got over 75% of the vote in that championship round.

I never dreamed of winning the whole thing. I badly wanted to win that first round against the #1 seed and I was satisfied after that. But when an underdog picks up steam, and people have an opportunity to feel part of a movement, they join in. It’s human nature.

I’m very grateful that Choobs was the vehicle for excitement this March. Winning the competition doesn’t mean that Choobs is the favorite startup in Chicago or anything like that, but it does signify the strength of my community. A damn good community!

Categories
Living Intentionally

Become More Conscious By Doing This

Life is slippery. You realize you need to get serious about health only after having a stroke. You realize you should’ve spent more time with someone only after they tragically pass away. You realize you should have taken a different career only after you reach a mid-life crisis. Too often, it takes falling off a cliff to realize you were heading toward it for years.

To avoid wandering off this cliff, you can become more conscious. Be in touch with yourself and how things are going. Here’s an activity to help.

Let’s check-in and see how life is going right now.

Pause to reflect on each of the following questions. Write down one thing in each area that you’re satisfied with, and one thing you want to improve.

Relationships
1. How is your relationship with your family right now?
2. Do you have a few really close friends?
3. How’s your romantic life going?
4. Have you talked to your parents and grandparents enough recently?
5. Can you check in on an old friend?
6. Is there someone with who you want to become friends?

Career
1. Where’s your career path heading?
2. Are you learning new skills?
3. Do you feel motivated to succeed?
4. Can you ask your manager how you can be better?
5. Do you need change?
6. Can you work even harder?
7. Can you take on responsibility outside of work to learn more?
8. Should you ask for a raise?

Health
1. How do you feel right now?
2. Do you have the energy to get through your day?
3. Are you eating healthy foods?
4. Are you exercising enough?
5. Is your weight where you want it to be?
6. How is your hygiene?
7. Do you need some meditation to relieve stress?
8. Are you mentally ok?

Fun
1. Are you having enough fun?
2. Are there any hobbies you should take up?
3. Should you plan more social activities?
4. Do you need a vacation?
5. Should you learn to find more appreciation in simple things?
6. Should you create more?

Do this now and often to avoid slipping from where you want to be in life. This state of being awake and aware is called consciousness.

To become more conscious of your consumption and its effect on the world, check out Choobs. We sell the best socially conscious brands.