AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH PARKS PROJECT.
Updated July 14, 2021: July is National Park and Recreation Month! Learn more about how you can participate here.
With so many holidays to celebrate over the next few days, I wanted to honor one in particular with my friends from Parks Project: I'm talking about a little event called Earth Day . Not only do we get to show some extra support for our Mother this Monday (she needs it!), but we're also kicking off National Park Week , where all parks will be free to enter tomorrow (4/20).
For those who don't know the incredible community and clothing line that is Parks Project , it was created by two former TOMS employees and nature enthusiasts who were inspired to start their own business designed to give back. I recently connected with them to dig a bit deeper into their mission, and how we can help.
What was the inspiration to start Parks Project?
A few years ago, we signed up to volunteer in the Santa Monica Mountains, figuring a little hard work in one of our favorite places would be a good way to contribute. What we found was that our parklands are more in need of help than we knew. Environmental damage and a lack of funding are increasingly threatening the conditions and existence of these majestic places. Have we forgotten about the National treasures we all own? During our time volunteering with park staff, we learned about the unique projects that needed advocacy, funding, and support. Out of that need (and our love for the parks), Parks Project was born.
What is your mission?
At Parks Project, we’re on an adventure with a purpose. We design goods that celebrate our National Parks and the wonders of nature that they preserve. Every purchase funds projects in our parks – wildlife conservation, trail restoration, visitor education, and much more. We’re here as advocates of America’s parklands; informing, inspiring, volunteering and directly supporting the next generation of park champions. Together, we can truly leave it better than we found it.
What keeps you motivated during the daily grind to keep your mission alive?
Knowing that we’re working toward a great cause that benefits everyone is definitely our number one motivation, but beyond that, it’s the support we get from customers all over the country. We get emails, messages, and comments on a daily basis from folks who share their National Park memories and thank us for the important work we’re doing. Being able to connect with people and connect those people to our National Parks is priceless and keeps our mission thriving.
Can you share one of your team's happiest memories from this Parks Project journey?
We’re constantly making memories as a team, but a stand out is definitely when we took a team trip up to Yosemite last year to help volunteer at Yosemite Facelift. We worked with NPS rangers in El Capitan Meadow removing and naturalizing social trails to restore the meadow. It was back-breaking work, but we were also able to relax by the campfire and reflect on how amazing our parks are.
Do you set specific goals? What exciting milestones have you met so far?
We’re actually about to hit our biggest goal yet, which is to give back half of a million dollars to our parks. To date, we’ve given back $432,313 and logged 2,052 volunteer hours, and these numbers are quickly rising thanks to all of the amazing support we’ve been getting over the years. We’re very excited to hit $500,000 this year and look forward to reaching new milestones in the name of parks.
Let's talk online store and all the fun merch you have. Is it a combination of created and curated goods, or where does it come from? How do the profits from the store make your mission possible?
Our products and brand are a huge part of what we’re doing. Part of the inspiration for the company started when we noticed a lack of fashionable National Park gear. The park visitor centers are filled with some gems, but we wanted to try to speak to the younger generation and get people excited about parks. We started designing timeless, vintage inspired apparel that made people proud to rep our parks. Since then, we’ve expanded our shop and now carry home goods, headwear and accessories and have even started curating products from other makers to create a marketplace and resource for all types of National Park gear. Each product supports a project in a park (from bear conservation in Denali to trail restoration in Muir Woods) and gives people who may not have time or access to volunteer, a chance to contribute to our parks.
Awesome! How can we help?
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