The 5 Businesses that most Inpsired KOOSHOO
Just as we as people have mentors, so too do businesses. Well, at least ours does.
In follow up to our inaugural 5 "Feeling Kooshoo" Things list from last week (read it here), this week's rendition is an homage to the businesses (and 1 charity) that inspired KOOSHOO into existence. Hope you find these businesses as inspiring and awesome as we do!
1. NICOLE BRIDGER
KOOSHOO was still just an idea on paper when our good friend Melissa suggested she put us in touch with her friend Nicole. At the time we’d heard of the brand, her namesake Nicole Bridger, but knew nothing of the incredible woman who manifested it into reality.
From the moment we met Nicole we knew we’d met someone very special. Exuding grace, beauty, confidence and calm, she was a living, breathing example of a business that could be built on principles that we believed in. She taught us that building a sustainable business without cutting corners is indeed possible. It was the most important lesson we learnt when starting out and has been our ethos – do our utmost to ensure that everyone in our production chain is left “feeling good” – ever since.
In the years since, our relationship has evolved from mentor to dear friend. If you live in Vancouver check out her beautiful boutique on West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano and if that’s not available to you than her website, www.nicolebridger.com, always is. We guarantee you’ll fall in love with both Nicole and her products just as we did.
Over the past two decades synthetics have risen from novelty to near monopoly in the athletic apparel industry. Care of the Nikes and Lulus of the world we as consumers have been taught through fancy diagrams and fancier words that only man made fabrics can handle the responsibilities of wicking away our sweat and carrying us aerodynamically through the wind.
And amidst all that synthetic hubbub natural fibres were essentially forgotten when it came to performance apparel.
Then Icebreaker changed the game. A Kiwi (New Zealand) company, they reached out to local merino farmers before they’d even begun making products to understand the challenges facing the industry and to create a collective that would help overcome said challenges.
What they heard from the farmers was that fighting to compete on price with their petroleum-derived comparatives was simply unsustainable. The brilliance of the Icebreaker folks was in realizing that merino had no business competing with synthetics on price for one principle reason: it was better than synthetics in almost every possible way. Merino, rather, should be marketed for the premium product that it is.
Through a number of ingenious initiatives including testimonials from hardcore endurance athletes, tight collaboration and quality control with the farming community and genius marketing like unique Baa codes (pun intended) that allowed both traceability and transparency by showing consumers exactly which sheep station the wool from their clothing originated, they single-handedly taught the world that merino wool was a super fiber fit for any athlete’s needs.
When it came our time to design our products we knew from the beginning that we too would only use natural and organic materials. In our opinion, just as merino had been mismarketed, so too have the incredible performance attributes (wicking, breathability, comfort..) of natural fibers like organic cotton and Tencel.
3. HAPPY SOCKS
We are naturally colorful people and every one of us has an interesting story to tell. Let’s celebrate our colorful personalities and fascinating stories with what we wear, as opposed to always trying to blend in. How many people do you know whose personalities are actually matched by the greys, blues and blacks that so dominate our wardrobes? Our point exactly!
Happy Socks embodies this reality. They make socks that make you smile. And I think we can all agree, socks that make people smile aren’t navy, black or brown. They’re colorful and expressive, just like you.
Like Happy Socks, KOOSHOO is all about celebrating you exactly the way you are. Yes we use colors that are expressive, unique and special, but we take it a step further by designing products that adapt to you, and not the other way around. Our goal is that when you put on a KOOSHOO product you are only accentuating your own beautiful and unique nature, rather than simply fitting in.
4. SUE PEARSON
Sue Pearson is an artist and print-maker from Norfolk Island, where 2/3 of our KOOSHOO team was born and raised.
Growing up on Norfolk Island, our product designers Rachel and Leilani were continually exposed to and inspired by Sue's work. With her incredible eye for color and composition, along with an innate ability to capture the essence through art of their south pacific home, Sue unknowingly inspired both Rachel and Leilani to become artists themselves.
Today, Rachel and Leilani's gift for color and composition, along with their deep appreciation for the art of hand dyeing and print making, can be directly traced back to Sue. This appreciation has manifested itself in our range of hand dyed items, each color-mapped and intricately designed with a care that was learnt many years ago growing up on Norfolk.
Rachel in Sue's Aatuti Shop on Norfolk Island
Sue continues to blaze new trails with her artwork throughout the South Pacific. Our hope is that eventually we will be able to collaborate together with her on products, thus introducing her incredible talents to our wonderful KOOSHOO community. We’ve held early discussions with Sue to this effect so stay tuned, sooner than later we hope to be sharing Sue’s incredible prints with the word.
5. KARMA TEACHERS
Inspiring is perhaps an understatement when it comes to the charity Karma Teachers Centre for Yoga and Meditation. I have never personally been involved with a group of people so selfless in their actions.
The Centre was established in Canada’s poorest neighbourhood for one purpose – to provide a healing space for those that need it most in our society. Running free or by donation yoga and meditation classes 7 days a week, the Centre has become a haven for the residents of its deserving neighbourhood.
Some of those who have benefited most from the open door policy at Karma are Vancouver’s startlingly-large homeless gay youth population, impoverished women, children with special needs and countless others.
Behind the scenes are a throng of passionate, dedicated volunteers though the two men who’s brainchild was Karma Teachers, Emerson and Derek, are two of the most inspiring people I have ever met. I have no doubt that I am not alone in this sentiment. They are the type of people that teach you that with hard work any dream can become reality. No question, our dream of KOOSHOO becoming the reality that it is can be traced back to the confidence inspired by watching Karma grow.
Donating 1000 yoga classes care of the KOOSHOO community in our first year of business is likely the achievement I’m most proud of in my life. Fitting, as it’s been in watching Emerson and Derek grow Karma Teachers that inspired us to believe that such a lofty first year goal could even be possible.
There you have it: the 5 awesome businesses that have helped craft KOOSHOO. A deep, heartfelt thank you to each of these, in addition to the countless other businesses, and especially people, that have taught us that our dreams are indeed possible. We're deeply grateful.
Would love to know of the businesses and people that have helped lead you down your path of life?