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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

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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

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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

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Socially Conscious Brands

Holiday Shopping Guide For Socially Conscious People

The Holidays are almost here, and we hope you can cozy up with loved ones and listen to Kenny G Christmas albums. It’s special that the last month of every year is dedicated to family, gratitude, service, and giving. For those missing someone at the dinner table this year, we’re thinking of you.

If you’re reading this, you probably buy gifts during the Holidays. Gifting is all about sharing a special moment with someone, a moment when you make them feel cared for and loved.

It’s important to share gifts with your loved ones, and there are many gift ideas out there, but this guide will help you find a gift that spreads love to more than just one person. Each brand on this guide was hand-selected because it has quality products and an admirable social mission, meaning it contributes to society in some positive way. By shopping these brands this Holiday season, you can gift a great product and also make a positive impact on the world!


Bombas socks

Bombas

The beloved Bombas! You probably already know of this brand, but we had to include it. They’ll tell you how their socks have unique fabrics, a seamless toe, a blister tab, yada yada. These socks are incredibly comfortable, and that’s what we care about most! A pair of ankle socks is $12-15, and there’s a wide variety of styles and packs to choose from as well.

Bombas’ social mission is simple: when you buy a pair of socks, Bombas donates a pair of socks to Americans in need. Keep it simple and gift some comfy Bombas this year!

Rumpl blankets

Rumpl

If you binge-watch Shark Tank like me, you recently learned about Rumpl. No sharks bit on Rumpl because it was valued too high, but the quality of their blankets is top-notch. Rumpl takes the materials found in premium sleeping bags and insulated jackets to make warm and cozy blankets. Choose from their selection of Everywhere blankets for camping and travel, or their Indoor blankets for your couch and bed. Prices start at $74 for the original puffy blanket.

Rumpl uses 100% post-consumer recycled plastic for the synthetic insulation in its blankets and sustainably-sourced down feathers for the natural insulation in its blankets. It also offsets the carbon emissions of the entire company and donates 1% of sales to support environmental non-profits. You gotta love a great product backed by a great company!

Headbands of Hope Tan Pom Pom Beanie

Headbands of Hope

Pretty headbands with a prettier cause! Headbands of Hope sells a wide selection of headbands, beanies, scrunchies, hair clips, and other hair accessories. A beanie costs under $33 while a scrunchie set or a headband will cost around $20. The beauty of this brand lies not only in its cute product designs but also in its social mission.

The founder, Jess, noticed a lot of kids wearing headbands after losing their hair to chemotherapy, so she wanted to help the kids feel confident and beautiful during such a tough time. Headbands of Hope donates a headband to children with illnesses for every item you buy. They’ve donated over 750,000 headbands already! Check out their beanies for the winter season. When you gift any of their products to your loved one, you also gift a headband to a child fighting an illness.

Ocean Bottles

Ocean Bottle

We live in a world that is saying goodbye to single-use plastics, and one where people realize water bottle companies sell us the exact same water that comes out of our sinks. The rise of reusable water bottles to stay hydrated while saving a penny and saving the earth is no surprise. Check out Ocean Bottle for one of the best-designed water bottles! It keeps cold drinks cold, and hot drinks hot. Plus, unlike most reusable bottles, Ocean Bottle is 100% dishwasher safe. This awesome bottle costs just $54 and will be good for a long time.

Ocean Bottle’s social mission is not only to keep consumers away from buying plastic bottles but also to clean up the plastic currently littering our earth. They’ve already funded the pick-up of enough plastic bottles to fill 33 Olympic swimming pools. By 2025, Ocean Bottle aims to collect the equivalent of 7 billion plastic bottles! Your loved one will appreciate this product and that it helps clean our earth.

Parker Clay Merkato Signature Tote

Parker Clay

For the best premium leather bags, look no further than Parker Clay. This Santa Barbara company obsesses over the quality of their bags, totes, backpacks, and wallets. The bags are built not just to last, but to get better with age – a claim they back up with their Lifetime Guarantee. You can find something for her AND for him at Parker Clay! Expect these high-quality leather bags to cost around $200 and up, but you won’t have to buy a new one in your lifetime, so it’s a good deal.

Parker Clay’s social mission is to end prostitution in Ethiopia. It’s currently estimated that over 150,000 women are in prostitution in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. Women with little to no opportunities are forced to turn to prostitution to support themselves, but often end up enslaved, exploited, and trafficked around the world. One of the most effective ways to combat this exploitation is to address the root cause; the fact that so many women in Ethiopia never have an opportunity for stable employment, vocational training, or professional skill development. Parker Clay hires these women to craft its incredible leather goods, while also receiving vocational training and taking advantage of classes, workshops, and team events to advance their careers. Amazing products backed by an admirable company makes a perfect choice for the big gift this year!

Shady Rays Ventura Amber Tortoise shades

Shady Rays

2021 is looking a whole lot brighter than 2020, and you may need a pair of shades to protect your eyes. Shady Rays is the spot for all your shady needs this holiday season! With a diverse selection of styles, you’ll like at least one pair. Most styles go for just $48. If you’re looking at this screen too long these days, Shady Rays also offers Blue Light glasses that will protect your eyes from harmful blue light.

Shady Rays’ mission is to donate 10 meals to food banks through Feeding America with every order it receives. It has already donated over 10 million meals! Keep it cool this year and gift a pair of Shady Rays.

Adventurist Backpack – Classic

Adventurist Backpack Co.

Planning to travel next year? Adventurist Backpack Co. designs minimalist backpacks with padding that will protect all of your belongings. These are made with ultra-durable, water-resistant polyester, so it will last for years. Two side water bottle pockets will give you the space to keep hydrated on hikes or long walks. The classic backpack is priced at $65 and comes in multiple colors.

Adventurist Backpack Co.’s social mission is to donate 25 meals to families in need through Feeding America for every backpack you purchase. 41 million Americans struggle with hunger each year, including 13 million children. Get your travel on and support a great mission!

Stocking Stuffers Under $20

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Socially Conscious Brands

Why Tommy Flaim Left Wall Street To Start Fox & Robin

Leaving a career on Wall Street to start an ethical fashion brand is a story you don’t hear every day, but Tommy Flaim is a man on a mission. With his activewear brand called Fox & Robin, Tommy is putting his mark on the world and creating his own job – one that he loves.

Read our interview with Tommy to see why he started the brand, how the company makes a positive social impact, and his vision for the future.


Introduce us to Tommy as a kid.
I grew up in upstate New York. I was a very curious kid. I really did love school, and I played soccer and tennis most of my life. I was outgoing – loved being around people.

Tommy celebrating the success of his Kickstarter for Fox & Robin.

I have what I’ll call an “all or nothing” attention span. If I’m not interested in the subject, I have a very difficult time motivating myself to learn about it (like many of the books we had to read in English class). Conversely, if I am curious about something, I get fascinated/obsessed with the subject and really dive into it. As a kid, I loved nature and animals. I used to read books on animals and do research reports on them for fun. I wanted to be a vet my whole life, actually. In 2008, the financial crisis caused me to start learning about the economy and how it all happened. That’s how I became interested in wall street and pivoted from wanting to be a vet to wanting to work on Wall Street.


So you went off to Notre Dame for college, then started your career on Wall Street as an Investment Banker.
I chose Notre Dame for their great business school, and because I’m Irish-Catholic and love sports, so it checked all the boxes. I majored in Finance and Education, Schooling, and Society. Education is another topic I’m super passionate about.

Early mockup of the Fox & Robin name and logo.

After 4 years in corporate America, you decide to leave and start a new activewear brand called Fox & Robin. Why?
I think I was interested in potentially starting my own thing since High School. I always liked doing my own thing, which my mom can attest to.

During an internship, I got introduced to impact investing, which lead me to get involved in a social entrepreneurship club at Notre Dame. Through that, I went to a conference in Colorado where I watched the founders of Nisolo, an ethical fashion brand, pitch to investors. In their pitch, they outlined the social and environmental ailments typically associated with fashion brands’ supply chains. That piqued my initial interest in fashion. Although my friends would definitely not consider me fashionable, the room for impact in fashion is enormous – 1 in 6 people in the world works in a fashion-related job, and 80 percent of the labor force throughout the supply chain are women.

I started researching supply chain issues in fashion and knew I wanted to create a clothing business that addressed these issues. I also saw a lack of ethical brands in activewear. I’m into sports and being active, so an ethical activewear brand really aligns with my interests.

Early design session for Fox & Robin.

Leaving a job and taking a leap to start a company can be really scary. How did you feel about doing it?
I was working through this idea for years while I kept my corporate job. It just got to a point where I had plenty to do for Fox & Robin and was overwhelmed with balancing both. Honestly, one morning I woke up to a billion work emails and decided then and there that I would give my full attention to Fox & Robin. It didn’t feel too risky because I’m confident in the success of Fox & Robin.

You didn’t just create any old activewear brand, you created an ethical brand. You make public the wages of all your factory workers, something you say no other activewear brand does, and your goal is to ensure 100% of your factory workers are paid a livable wage. Talk about what inspired you to be conscious of your company’s effect on workers. 
At the end of the day, I’m trying to create a job that I love and build something that I’m proud of. I’m aware of the issues in the fashion industry, so turning a blind eye to it would make my work less fulfilling. Also, I’m just empathetic towards the people in other countries who are working hard to produce our clothes and play such an important part in the success of the company. I just want to do the right thing, and I want customers to trust that this brand will do the right thing behind closed doors. Some companies do good because it’s a market opportunity. Others do good just because it’s the right thing to do. I want Fox & Robin to belong to the latter group. I think it’s an important distinction. 

Early samples of potential joggers.

Fox & Robin donates 2% of sales to causes you’re passionate about: education and the environment.
Yep. We will give money directly to individual teachers in low-income districts. Awarded teachers will be able to choose how to spend the money, whether that’s on school supplies, winter coats for their students, or whatever else is deemed most necessary. For the environment, we give money to a rotating list of NGOs to help replace the resources we have spent and to help preserve the environment. As I mentioned, these causes are important to me.


You had a successful Kickstarter and you’re now selling men’s athletic shorts in multiple different styles. What do you look forward to in the coming months?
We’re launching publicly this February! We’ll launch with our men’s shorts, joggers, hoodies, and athletic shirts. In the background, we’re also developing 12 women’s products and 8 new men’s products. I very much want to be a brand for both men and women. Look for our launch in February and a Kickstarter for the women’s line around March!

What’s your ultimate vision for Fox & Robin? 
I want to be the first apparel benefit corporation to IPO. I want to show people that you can have a triple bottom line. Profitability is very important, but I also want to prove that a business can maximize for more than just profits.

One of Tommy’s friends helping him get Fox & Robin off the ground.

I want to be an advocate for those on the outskirts of society and empower them in any way I can. I’d love to have some factory workers and teachers on our Board of Directors. Just to give a voice to those who typically don’t get represented in the room.

Finally, reflecting on your pretty big change, from working in banking to taking on ethical business practices, how do you feel about your day-to-day work now?

I learned some useful skillsets in banking – making pitch decks, building financial projections, staying organized – that help me with Fox & Robin. For many reasons, I’m grateful for my banking experience. However, this is just much more fulfilling. Even when I’m working late on Fox & Robin, it doesn’t feel like work. The feeling of the work is drastically different, and I’m excited about the future of this company!

Shop Fox & Robin on Choobs today! Also, follow them on Instagram to keep up with their public launch.

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Socially Conscious Brands

How 4 College Dropouts Used Quarantine To Start A Viral Clothing Brand

When people remember 2020, it may bring feelings of pain, loneliness, and havoc. It’s true, this year was full of despair. For some, though, quarantine gave them the downtime to reevaluate their path, and maybe even work on the idea that always circled the back of their mind.

One of these ideas that spun up out of quarantine is Happiness Project, a socially conscious clothing brand with the mission to elevate happiness throughout the world. It has grown to 50,000 followers on Instagram so far this year, and I had the chance to interview the four college dropouts who worked tirelessly to make it happen. It’s a story that made 2020 a little brighter for those who have followed along, and for those who haven’t, this will get you caught up!


How did you start Happiness Project?

I (Jake Lavin) had the idea for it in 2017. A classmate had committed suicide and it shook our world, so I wanted to spread happiness and teach people about mental health. I decided to create a clothing brand that would donate a percentage of profits to a mental health organization. I dropped a line of clothing and got some followers, which was cool, but I eventually went off to college at Mizzou and stopped focusing on the company. Then at the end of 2019, I started coming back around to the brand, making new products and posting more on Instagram.

What changed in 2020?

In April of 2020, everything changed! Quarantine hit and my friend, Joey DeFilippo, started making some awesome tie-dye designs for Happiness Project. He was a little ahead of the tie-dye trend that hit this year. We started promoting these new designs with giveaways on Instagram, which really grew our following. Then we dropped the collection of tie-dye apparel in June and our followers and sales skyrocketed! We added another dye collection in July and just kept growing. Influencers were posting about Happiness Project, adding fuel to the fire. We launched a new product in August and another new ‘basics’ collection in September, so we’re always giving our customers new products. During that span, we also added two team members, Mike and Brendan.

What do you attribute to the success of the brand so far?

I think people really resonate with our mission to elevate happiness around the world. Mental illness is such a prevalent issue we face today and there’s a lot of stigma we have to break through to fix it. We educate about mental health and donate 15% of profits to an organization building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. We also hold events to raise money for mental health and spread happiness. Along with our mission, customers love our product designs and giveaways!

Where do you see Happiness Project going in the future?

We want Happiness Project to eventually become more than just a clothing brand.  We hope to one day have our own resources for mental illness in struggling communities and third world countries.  We want to make a community where people have a safe space to come and have fun (hopefully a physical location with fun activities throughout the building open to the public). We want to throw concerts and other events across the world to raise awareness for mental illness.

Happiness Project will continue dropping awesome collections and spreading happiness around the world! We are excited to grow and reach more people with our brand and mission. You can keep up with us by following our Instagram @happinessproject.