In November of 1993, Kate set off on a journey to Nepal and India taking a break from college to do a bit of soul searching. During her trip she immersed herself in the cultures, and while doing so she curated accessories made by the local artisans she got to know. Her plan was to sell at various marketplaces and shops set-up outside of rock shows of her favorite bands such as Phish and The Grateful Dead. At a Phish show, she met Henry her to be husband and business partner of Synergy Clothing who was at the time working for an environmental non-profit organization. Kate’s intended 8-month college leave turned into a 5 year exploration going back between traveling and returning to the states to re-sell accessories, leading to the birth of Synergy clothing.
A natural drive for entrepreneurialism, Kate started her first business selling ice cream in high school. With a constant itch to create and build something new, her self-starter spirit is well ingrained in her. Even while she was taking on college courses after she returned from her hiatus, Kate was managing her small basement business in between classes which would become the Synergy Clothing we know and adore today. At the time she was selling hand-made embroidered clothing crafted by artisans in Nepal. A business that started from selling ready-made clothes evolved into an endeavor to create uniquely designed clothing by Kate herself. Her earliest designs came from turning recycled Sari fabric from an Indian marketplace into Western style clothing. To this day Kate is the sole creative vision behind Synergy Clothing. She draws inspiration for her designs from overseas, rock ‘n’ roll shows, urban street culture and a classical New York City style that is more innate to her, having grown up in the Big Apple.
Synergy organically grew into a brand that encompassed what she values personally by implementing sustainable practices and ethics. The businesses of fast fashion has grown exponentially in the past decade, but Synergy is not a brand that caters to it. Having built strong personal heart-to-heart relationships with the women who make the clothes, fair working conditions and wages are embedded values of Synergy from its very start. With every opportunity, Synergy gives back to support women’s rights in Nepal. Visit their site to check out all the charities they donate to. Also driven by an environmentally conscious mindset, all the brand’s clothes are made from recycled fabrics or organic cotton.
The dynamic duo behind Synergy include Kate as the Creative Director and Henry as the CEO/ CFO. Kate’s story and vision that built Synergy, and Henry’s passion to help drive something much bigger for the company, harmoniously worked to grow Synergy into the brand it is today.
Next month on February 1st, Synergy will be entering Whole Foods all over the U.S. and Ontario, taking over the clothing basics program.*
*Please note that not all their clothes are vegan as they do carry items made from recycled wool.
I slide the glass door open to a dainty and hip salon space. I’m invited in and greeted by Tina, who has fiery yellow-orange hair and a friendly grin. I hang my coat on the colorfully knobbed coat rack mounted against the wall, and place my bag down below on the vintage chair she had custom upholstered. A Few unique art pieces are hung on the corner opposite this space, each bit helping to tie together the vibe of her studio. I’m ushered to the giant barber chair in the center, situated in front of a two large mirror panels and a work space decorated by a glory of vegan and cruelty-free hair care products. I sit down in the comfy and plush seat, and she begins working her magic.
Tina has been a licensed hair stylist for 13 years, however her journey began much younger as a junior high student experimenting with her own hair. The idea of Va Va Vroom came to her 4 years ago, inspired by her vegan lifestyle and the lack of awareness around cruelty-free and eco-friendly hair care products. She shares with me a few valuable insights on how she made her passion for her lifestyle change work with her profession.
What made you start Va Va Vroom?
Tina: I really wanted to start a business that reflected my ethics, so I did a lot of research to find products that are not only vegan-friendly, but are eco-friendly as well. What goes down my drain is of equal importance to me. The majority of cleaning / beauty products have harsh detergents, plastics, and petroleum in them! Now that I’ve become kind of a pro at label reading, it’s scary knowing what’s really out there.
What does it mean for a salon to be vegan and cruelty-free?
T: Most people, Vegan or otherwise have a decent understanding of what Vegan and cruelty- free means, but don’t necessarily apply that to products used outside of the food realm. I explain that many commercial beauty products, and their parent companies test their products on animals, and or have animal byproducts in their ingredients. Most people are shocked when I tell them there are shampoos that exist with ingredients such as urea, and placenta! Although not very common, its still really gross, and completely unnecessary.
What is your favorite part of owning a salon and being a hair stylist?
T: Apart from setting my own hours (which is super awesome!) I love meeting new people, hearing their stories, working with my hands, and being creative. It’s just that much more exciting now that I’m using products I can fully get behind, and I finally feel 100% genuine in my own space.
What is your must have hair product of the moment?
T: I’m head over heels right now over Reverie’s “Milk” it’s a botanical blend of essential oils such as: sandlewood, vetiver, jasmine, and bourbon vanilla. It smells absolutely delicious. It’s texture is light, and creamy. It’s like a leave-in and anti-frizz serum in one! Fabulous for all hair types, can be used a multitude of ways. All Reverie products are free of harmful sulfates, gluten, artificial fragrance, petrochemicals, and of course Vegan friendly. All their product ingredients are sustainably sourced, and biodegradable!
Tell us about your hip mobile salon. What is the story behind it?
T: I’ve always loved Airstreams! I mean, who doesn’t? The idea came when I was driving on the road and one passed, and I wondered if it was possible to turn one into a salon. It’s been over 3 years labor of love. Lots of ups and downs. I’m so excited that we’re FINALLY ready to get this baby out there, and rollin’!
What services do you provide on the Airstream?
T: The Airstream is designed to be an onsite service/ perk for business, or for special occasions and events. If you would like to have VaVaVroom salon come to your place of work, or an event visit the “trailer” portion of our website at vavavroomsalon.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We also have our studio in down town Redwood City! Making appointments is easy, and can be done directly from the website.
The Airstream is focused on haircuts and styling only.
The Redwood City Studio is designed for cut and color.
Phone : (650) 517-3381
Facebook // Instagram
Photography is an art form that has been long integrated across many cultures. I am drawn in by captured images that surge a uniquely empowering feeling whether it is sparked by abstract, candid, nature, or street photography. Lately, I’ve been mesmerized by photographers who take shots from our natural world to either send a message or reveal a truth that allows the audience to interpret for ourselves. These people are commonly known as photojournalists. I like people who tell it like it is but in their individual style, and here are 5 of my favorites who do just that.
- Paul Nicklen is a marine biologist and National Geographic photographer. His job was my dream job in high school. His vision of the world, especially of the one underwater is absolutely breathtaking. His Instagram is amazing, and if you aren’t already following him you are in for a treat.
“Emperor Penguins shot from the Mario Zuchelli Base, Ross Sea, Antarctica.
Penguins at Floe Edge at Terra Nova.”
Social: Instagram/ Facebook/ Twitter
- Paolo Marchetti is an Italian political and anthropological photographer based in Rome, Italy. His photos are incredibly compelling and invoke emotions that can’t be ignored. I discovered him through his photo series ‘The Price of Vanity’, which can be found here and here – where he reveals truths about the high fashion industry.
Social: Instagram/ Twitter
- JoAnne McArthur is an animal rights activist and photographer. She takes photographs to educate people about the food and luxury product animal farming industries through her longterm photography project ‘We Animals’.
Social: Facebook/ Instagram/Twitter
- Tamara Kenneally is an Australian photographer who has dedicated her life and work to animal welfare. With film photography as her focus, she captures images at their most rawest form.
Social: Facebook/ Twitter
- Conrad Cramer is an adventurer and wildlife photographer. His photos are mainly of the animals inhabiting Africa and they are absolutely stunning. He is an activist for elephants to fight for their freedom from poaching and other heinous acts imposed by humans.
My car rolled 8 mph, crunching over muddy gravel inching towards my two o’ clock appointment several feet ahead at end of the driveway . Upon arriving, I was greeted by a sweet dog and a smiling couple who invited the group of us into their cozy abode from the on and off rain fall. Settling on sofas and chairs among each other, our focus drew in on an introductory video playing on the television about PreetiRang Sanctuary and their mission. Two years ago, the founders of PreetiRang gave up their comfortable Silicon Valley tech jobs to dedicate their lives to the farm animals who suffer daily from cruel confinements on animal farms.
Madhulika and Michael led us on the joyous tour ahead despite the cold wind and the sprinkling rain. We first stepped into a muddy mass where the cows gathered, as our rain boots glopped and suctioned into the wet mud with every step. “Watch your feet” was the only warning they gave as we went to meet the cows. These large animal’s steps could leave a really bad bruise on our toes if someone got unlucky. I was smiling from ear to ear as the group of cows welcomed my pats and rubs. Each of their personalities shined as we spent time with them.
Harvey is on the left and Shiva is on the right and they were inseparable the entire time, making their bond ever so apparent.
This big guy is Chester. Standing up he was 6 feet tall, and although he was the largest of the bunch, gentle giant is a suitable nickname for him.
The only one who wasn’t receiving our excessive tummy pats and head scratches, was this one. Madhulika and Michael also forewarned us that Ganesha was still building up trust to humans beings. However, he still joined the circle as he watched us and slowly inched closer among us. I was sure he was yearning for a bit of attention too, so I did sneak in a quick pat and he was quite receptive and sweet. As PreetiRang is his new home, we hope that this very place will help him let his guard down as he makes new friends, and builds a new bond with humans.
For months, Vishnu (above) roamed the mountains of Santa Cruz, CA after escaping from an Angus beef slaughterhouse. He lived those months in fear hiding from humans who were to him, the monsters. He was eventually coaxed in by a horse ranch owner. He had to be auctioned off or returned because he was branded aka owned by the Angus cattle farm.
Arriving at PreetiRang, as soon as his trailer doors flew open he charged out in protection and fear. First confused that there was no one in his way and no men prodding him, he then made the connection after seeing the open field in front of him; Vishnu galloped back and forth across the wide field bellowing.
Madhulika receives licks and nuzzles from Tulsi and simultaneously pats attention-seeking Gandalf between his beautiful massive goat horns. Prior to starting the sanctuary, Madhulika had no knowledge of running a farm, neither did she have experience with raising farm animals. Her connection and care for these animals would fool you.
Norman runs towards us with his eyes gleaming, as he is called over for dinner time. This young cow was born with three legs on a beef cattle farm and was sentenced to death for his disability by the farm owner. The farmer’s wife, feeling that he needed to be given a chance as the problem could have resulted from incorrect breeding, convinced her husband to give him a new home instead. When cows or any farm animals are born with disadvantages, they are deemed unprofitable for farmers and are normally executed without consideration. This is a common practice in the meat business and all industries that breed and collect animals for profit whether it is meat, dairy, egg, animal skin, or animal fur.
Welcome to the hen house. Ex-game hens and ex-egg hens reside in this area.
On egg farms, hens lay up to 300 eggs a year in comparison to wild hens who lay on average 15 eggs annually. This unnatural process commonly leads to diseases such as osteoporosis resulting in early deaths, cutting their lifespan by more than half. When their egg production declines, they are gassed to death or when gassing becomes too costly, the hens are thrown away and left to suffocate as they are piled on top of each other.
These hens also have a difficult time eating as their beaks are cut off as a standard procedure for hens on egg farms. It took several tries for them to pick up the grape halves Madhulika was sprinkling in front of them.
PreetiRang sanctuary is a close-knit family of animals and people, and is going on two years old. Family friendly, this is a great place to bring your children to educate and expose them to farm animals. Or if one weekend you feel up for taking a drive, check out PreetiRang to meet some sweet and friendly animals.
“Activism is my rent for living on this planet.”
– Alice Walker
Visit PreetiRang Sanctuary if you are ever wandering Northern California.
Located in Dixon, CA.
Facebook: Preetirang Sanctuary
James Yurichuk, CFL Lineman created a winter coat line that is fur-free and feather-free sparked by his desire to challenge Canada’s long time association of fur as the warmest winter-wear. Walking through the streets of Toronto, Canada, he was tired of seeing fur as a common thread to winter fashion. Being someone raised to love and respect wildlife, James wanted the future to be a safe place for the animals exploited day after day. “Anything that can spare the life of the animal is a good thing to me. We feel like we are saving a lot of animal lives by creating these animal free jackets,” says James.
Taking on his newest project, Mammoth, while balancing his football career and two boys at home is no easy task. “It takes a lot of discipline and hard work. Sometimes you have to put in 16 hours days, with half football, half Mammoth go to sleep and do it all over again the next day,” says James. However, his determination and drive led him to invent a winter wear line to prove a warm winter without fur and feathers. Mammoth Outerwear was created with his passion behind it and with a bigger mission in mind. The brand’s message boldly expresses a strong aspiration to change the common notion of fur necessary for warmth through the winter. James tells, “There has been a movement in Canada that is calling for the end of fur trade, but it is often shoved aside from the mainstream because it is a large money generator and large corporations have a way of controlling these things. We are rallying these people in the #MammothMovement and they have been our main supporters thus far!” Mammoth was launched through Kickstarter where jackets were made available to purchase with a charitable pledge made to further their cause. Ten dollars from each jacket purchased is donated to the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.
James explains how the name of the brand came about and it is incredibly well suited. “We thought Mammoth was an appropriate name because it was the animal scientists believed went extinct from over hunting. We thought this might be a subtle reminder that we must respect the animals we share the planet with. Also Mammoth is a majestic being that stayed really warm in the winter and that’s pretty cool too!”
When I asked what separates Mammoth from all the other winter outerwear brands, he replied, “Mammoth is a new school of outerwear. We use the best technology which outperforms feathers and fur to keep our customers warm.” On top of being animal-free, this jacket is marketed as functional and fashionable. With a chic and retro look, the jacket is made with a waterproof outer shell and a lightweight Primaloft insulation.
Introducing Mammoth will give those who think warmth can’t be obtained without the exploitation of animals, a fresh perspective. Believe it, Mammoth is a high-quality outerwear that is more than sufficient for harsh winters while being entirely animal-free. Our fellow eco-conscious friends are in for a treat with Mammoth and the future it holds for fur-free outerwear.
“I hope that people will start to realize fur is the fashion of yesteryear, and these animals can enjoy life without human interference,” James says. Let’s join James in the #MammothMovement and go animal-free this winter.
Where to purchase your very own Mammoth Outerwear: http://shop.mammothouterwear.com/
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Joan La // Follow me on Instagram @acupofjoan