Bringing Optimism to our Cities: One Color at a Time

Over the last several weeks, a lot has changed in our daily lives. We’ve gotten more familiar with our own four walls than we may have ever thought possible (seriously, has that rug always been that color?!), and when we do venture out, things look pretty different. In many places, our neighborhoods are empty and plywood covers the doors and windows of our favorite local bars, restaurants, and shops. But amongst all the uncertainty that COVID-19 brings, our optimism is one thing that continues to propel us forward.

Tim Reaching_blogcrop

When our Lizard Lounge store in Portland, OR, had to shut its doors due to the pandemic, it was boarded up and no longer gave off those feel-good Toad vibes that we know and love. So when designers from architecture and design firm Gensler reached out to us about sprucing it up, we couldn’t have been more excited. To brighten the canvas around our cities, these designers have volunteered their time to partner with small business owners to create vibrant and inspiring murals that reflect the distinct personalty of each business – and the promise of better times to come.

Color Speaks — a research project spearheaded by Gensler’s Seattle office — was initially created to study how color can bring hope and optimism to the future of our cities, and how applications of color in the urban environment affect our behavior and collective well-being (and if we weren’t already excited enough, this research is right up our alley — this spring, we too drew inspiration from the psychology of color).

20200426_160000_blogcrop2

20200426_160000_blogcrop

These designers are using this initiative to encourage others to join them in revitalizing storefronts and transforming abandoned streets into beautiful splashes of uplifting colors and positive messages of resilience and hope. To date, the Gensler Portland team has painted murals at four locations around the city, and conversations are underway with even more business owners. Since initiating this project, more Gensler offices around the nation are joining in to beautify their own cities. And until Lizard Lounge reopens, passersby get to experience some seriously good vibes from the outside.

Good_blogcrop

Panoramic_blogcrop

Feeling inspired? Here’s how you can get involved. The team has created a free tool kit (containing a list of necessary supplies, “paint-by-number” guide, and helpful tips) that walks even non-artists through the process of painting their own murals. Just contact the team through the Color Speaks (@colorspeaks_) Instagram page to get one.

 

 

How to Look on the Bright Side

Gratitude jars, daily mantras, appreciation journals, happy hours… however you practice gratitude, keep it up. There have been loads of studies about how gratitude makes us happier, and in times of unpredictability and stress, a little hit of serotonin can do wonders.

On a recent Zoom-powered company happy hour, we went around and shared each of our shelter-in-place silver linings. It was just about the happiest hour we’ve ever had! 

Use these questions to jump start your mind to look on the bright side:

I have more time to… 

I reignited my love of… 

I spend more time with… 

I have a newfound appreciation for… 

My favorite part of my day is… 

We posed the same questions to a few Toads. From slow morning routines to tapping into the green thumb, their responses reflect a gleaming, beaming Bright Side. 

Sarah:

I have more time to… appreciate the mind of a 15-year-old. 

I reignited my love of… fresh air yoga.

I spend more time with… my 9-year old golden retriever…social distancing is NOT her thing.  #shadow

I have a newfound appreciation for… fresh herbs, they make the most boring dinner feel gourmet! 

My favorite part of my day is… happy hour, it truly feels happy!

Guin: 

I have more time to… cook

I reignited my love of… gardening

I spend more time with… pups

I have a newfound appreciation for… living in a rural area

My favorite part of my day is… lunch in the sun on my patio, sometimes with my husband Andy which we have NEVER been able to do before.

Lucinda: 

I have more time to… perfect my breadmaking technique

I reignited my love of… my community. Venturans are being so helpful and kind to one another, it touches my heart every day.

I spend more time with… my feline colleagues, but I think they might be getting tired of having me around so much. 

I have a newfound appreciation for… all the skills my mom taught me as a child (cooking, baking, gardening, knitting, sewing) that I am putting to good use these days.

My favorite part of my day is… after dinner when my beloved and I settle in on the couch to watch my latest Netflix obsession, The Protector.

Neil:

I have more time to… sleep in 😊

I reignited my love of… working on the house

I spend more time with… my wife and three kids

I have a newfound appreciation for… group activities

My favorite part of my day is… dinner!

Divas:

I have more time to… spend with my family.

I reignited my love for… gardening and movies.

I spend more time with…my extended friends and family circle around the world whom I have not connected with in a very long time.

I have a newfound appreciation for… how much my wife does for our home and family. 

My favorite part of my day is… evening when kids ride bikes in the front street.

Christina:

I have more time to… channel my inner Ina Garten (trying all sorts of new recipes, and yes, that includes supersized cocktails too)

I reignited my love of… carbs (never really went away, but stronger than ever in quarantine)

I spend more time with… my garden. My fiancé and I are proud parents right now – our vegetable and herb garden has never looked better.

I have a newfound appreciation for… technology. Spending more time catching up with long-distance friends and family via Zoom and Facetime has been a big bright spot.

My favorite part of my day is… after work neighborhood and beach walks. Feel like I’m noticing plants, trees, and architecture that I’ve never seen before.

Lucas:

I have more time to… get that extra hour of sleep I desperately need

I reignited my love of… laying on the couch and reading a good book on a lazy weekend afternoon

I spend more time with… my 6-year-old (although balancing WFH and Homeschooling is challenging)

I have a newfound appreciation for…. my daughter’s teachers (actually ALL teachers, but Mrs. Trac especially)

My favorite part of my day is… the slow morning routine

Steve:

I have more time to… enjoy a “slow” morning of coffee and breakfast taking in the day.

I reignited my love of… Santa Barbara. Being able to get outside and enjoy the neighborhood and the smells of spring.

I spend more time with… my mother-in-law. She has become part of our “family unit.”

I have a newfound appreciation for… my neighbors. The optimism in our community is so uplifting.  

My favorite part of my day is… walks, hikes, bike rides with my 2 year-old.

Kyle:

I have more time to… be present with and appreciative of those special people in my life

I reignited my love of… inventing new cocktail recipes from things found in our garden. I’ve also reignited my love affair with the push up. 💪🏼

I spend more time with… my diehard crew of beagle and husband

I have a newfound appreciation for… my meditation practice

My favorite part of my day is… walking the pup in the morning right after sunrise with a warm mug of coffee

Factories Spotlight

We’re often asked about where our clothes are made, and what the working conditions are like in our factories. We’re incredibly proud of the longstanding partnerships we have with our vendors, and of the progressive initiatives that they are constantly pushing forward.

When it comes to our relationships with our factories, it’s all about working with the best possible partners who adhere to our high standards for protecting people and the planet. We require that all of our partners follow our strict Code of Conduct, ensuring fair wages and proper working conditions. We also choose partners based on their sustainability practices, not just in the manufacturing process, but throughout the entire supply chain – sourcing, transportation, and production (About 75% of our garments are made with fabrics produced in the same country, which helps reduce environmental impact). And because making quality garments is crucial to sustainability (the longer your clothes last, the less you have to buy), we only work with partners who we know produce the highest quality clothing.

Here’s a spotlight on two of our biggest partners:

Egedeniz Textile

We’ve worked with Egedeniz – the first certified organic textile company of Turkey – for 20 years. They’ve been long standing leaders within Textile Exchange, and have progressive initiatives regarding solar energy, job training for women trying to get into the workforce, and they plant 1,000 trees annually to offset their carbon emissions. When it comes to organic cotton, Egedeniz is known for managing the whole process – from growing it to manufacturing it – all within the same country. Not only does this ensure that their cotton is not grown with pesticides or other harmful substances, but it also means reduced fuel usage for transport. Double win for sustainability.

IMG_5360_edit_blog

Photos from the Toad team’s most recent trip to Egedeniz. That’s Our Head of Production Joanna (center), our Head of Product and Design Kyle (right), and Egedeniz partners Yener, Aysemin, and Ozgu (left to right). 

IMG_5362_blog

IMG_5331_blog

Hemp Fortex

We work with Hemp Fortex in China to produce our hemp clothing, and (you guessed it), most of the hemp they use is grown in China too. Their main facilities (knitting, cutting, and dye house) all run on 100% solar power, and they have only used sustainable fabrics in their manufacturing process since day one. While sustainability is a definite highlight of this partnership, they also have progressive social initiatives. Hemp Fortex was the first member of the Fair Wear Foundation – an independent non-profit organization that works with factories to improve labor conditions for garment workers. Hemp Fortex also provides assistance to employees to help motivate home purchases, and in 2013, founded Hemp Fortex Foundation, which aims to help those with physical disabilities be able to afford their medical bills and day-to-day living expenses. So if you weren’t already a hemp clothing superfan, all the more reason to love it.

hempfortex_blog

And just like not all factories are created equal, the fabrics and fibers we choose to work with make a world of difference too. Learn more about our eco materials and certifications.

 

We’re all in this together

To our Toad&Co family and friends,
There’s a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s changing day by day. In times like these the health and well-being of our Toad&Co family (that includes you) is our highest priority. To keep our employees and customers safe we have closed our Toad&Co store in Freeport, ME and Lizard Lounge store in Portland, OR until at least March 28th; our employees at HQ are working from home; and our warehouse has implemented all CDC health and sanitization requirements, which we encourage you to do as well.
While we acknowledge the severity of this global situation, we also believe that you might need a break from the news. As you know we’re all about good vibes, finding joy in the little things and celebrating the beauty that surrounds us (even if it starts to feel and look the same). So in these challenging times we’re going to do our best to bring you content that is upbeat and hopefully useful…you can likely expect some pictures of dogs, closet organizing tips, great WFH stretches and things you can talk to your plants about.
We’re also about everyone playing their part to help us move through this difficult time as quickly as possible, so we may lace in a few reminders to keep you and your community safe. If you have something you’d love to see from us, let us know via Instagram or send a note to info@toadandco.com.
We’re all in this together, and glad to have you by our side.
Toad&Co

5 Questions for Kate Larramendy

Kate Larramendy is the mother of all things sustainable at Toad. In the early 2000s, Kate took over as Director of Design back when we were still called “Horny Toad” and e-commerce wasn’t really a thing (so the name wasn’t really a problem…but we digress…) For almost two decades, Kate was the force behind our sustainability achievements: our switch to only organic or recycled cotton, ending our use of Angora and using non-mulesed merino wool, pushing suppliers for more recycled options, and even demanding we have an office compost bin (to name just a few). Kate and her teams established a sustainability criteria that we’d measure everything against. First it started as “50% of the line had to be made with eco-friendly materials and practices.” Then it was 70%. Then 85%. Now, 100% of our line has to be sustainably made. In the words of Kate, “If it’s not worthy of the resources to make it, we won’t make it at all.” 

Kate retired from Toad in 2018, but sustainable stewardship is a habit that never fades. Now, Kate serves as a board member for the Conservation Alliance, and of course, pops in to Toad HQ to drop off a bottle of of signature salad dressing (this stuff is seriously GOOD) and give us the latest sustainability news. 

1. What does the Conservation Alliance do? 

KL: The Conservation Alliance is the leading coalition of businesses that fund and partner with grassroots conservation groups working to protect North America’s wild places. The Conservation Alliance has the ability to bring together voices and actions that support thriving outdoor businesses, thriving outdoor communities and the possibility of a thriving planet into the future by protecting wild places and wildlife.

2. What do you love about the Conservation Alliance? 

When I was ready to transition from a career of making clothing and gear (even though it was beautiful, useful and mostly sustainably optimized), I was happy to swap commerce for conservation. I had been active with the Conservation Alliance for many years so joining the Board was exactly what I wanted next.

3. What’s the most gratifying part of your work with the CA? 

I especially love the advocacy aspect of our work that includes regular trips to Washington, D.C to lobby representatives on behalf of our public lands. Most people do not realize that the outdoor recreation economy generated $887M in revenues, provided 7.6 million jobs and accounted for 2.2% of the national GDP (2017 stats). There is a lot of power in those numbers –– and they’re growing. By last stats, the outdoor recreation economy is actually growing faster than the overall U.S. economy! 

4. What is your favorite quote regarding conservation? 

“I hope the United States of America is not so rich that she can afford to let these wildernesses pass by, or so poor she cannot afford to keep them. Wilderness itself is the basis of all our civilization.” – Mardie Murie

5. What’s your #1 sustainability tip?

Don’t buy, take or use anything that is disposable or can’t be reused many times, if not indefinitely.

A History of Empowering People with Disabilities

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and it’s a cause that is near and dear to our hearts (and our triple bottom line business). Since 1997, we’ve partnered with Search, Inc – a Chicago-based non-profit – to support and inspire people with disabilities to live their fullest lives. Here’s a brief history on our long and fruitful friendship. 

1968 – Search, Inc. opens its first program for 8 kids with developmental disabilities in a Chicago suburb. It’s a grassroots movement started by parents advocating for the inclusion of their children into the public school system. Their vision is of a world where all people livelearnwork and play alongside one another, bringing their unique abilities to the community.

1972 – The Earth Child Emporium is established, Search’s first adult learning program for individuals at its school who are aging out of services.

1988 – Search opens it first supported Living Program, a home for residents in Chicago.

1995 – Horny Toad, now Toad&Co, opens its first store in downtown Telluride. Our HQ is Chicago where Gordon Seabury, Toad&Co CEO, meets John Lipscomb, Search President. They start hatching a plan.  

1996 – Search buys, renovates, furnishes and staffs 9 new homes for 56 individuals – all in a span of 6 months.

1997 – Toad&Co and Search link up to co-found Planet Access Company, a third-party logistics warehouse in Chicago that trains and employs adults with disabilities. The original concept was for Search clients to make camping pillows using fleece scraps from Toad’s production. This idea ultimately gives way to the Planet Access Company (PAC) warehouse. Toad becomes their first client.

SONY DSC

2000 – Visibility Arts established, a comprehensive visual arts program is launched to provide Search clients opportunities for self-expression, creativity and achievement.

2004 – Toad&Co and Search partner to launch Search for Adventure, a program to take individuals with developmental disabilities on their first outdoor adventure experiences. Trips are fully paid for and fully inclusive. The first trip is to Graceland in Memphis, TN.

SFA_Blog

2008 – Visibility Arts moves into its flagship gallery and studio space in Mt. Prospect, Chicago.

VisibilityArts_Blog

2010 – The Planet Access Co. Store opens in Lincoln Square in Chicago. It’s a retail store with a mission: 100% of the proceeds from purchases help over 500 people with disabilities live more independent lives. The store only carries brands that make sustainable and socially responsible clothing, jewelry and décor.

2012 – Search’s Hop on the Bus to Independence hosts their first free workshops to help people with disabilities build skills to independently and safely use public transportation.

2013 –  Search successfully merges with JJ’s List, a smaller grassroots organization. This expands Search’s opportunities for self-advocacy and disability awareness training. The plucky acting-turned-teaching troupe, the Disability Awareness Players, is formed.

2015 – PAC Warehouse upgrades into a new 63,000 sq. ft. space to house its growing enterprise. More brands, more units, more employees, more good. Each year the company generates over 20,000 hours of paid, train-to-work opportunities, allowing individuals with disabilities to earn a wage while they gain valuable work experience. 

SONY DSC

2016 – Visibility Arts expands again with the opening of a second studio space and gallery.

2017 – Toad&Co sends the inclusive Canoemobile around the US to connect 1000 adults with disabilities to various National Parks across the US for their first time.

DSC06520
Our CEO Gordon and our Search, Inc. partners canoe through the Santa Barbara Harbor

 

2020 – As of today…

180 individuals live at 30 independent and supported residences throughout the Chicagoland area.

385 individuals have participated in training and paid work opportunities through PAC since 2003. 

500 individuals with developmental disabilities are thriving as members of Search, Inc.

700 people have gone on 104 Search for Adventure trips that have included hiking the historic Appalachian Trail, experiencing the majesty of the Grand Canyon, and riding the range at the Powderhorn Dude Ranch in Colorado.

4,500 students and adults with disabilities have built their public transportation skills.

11,000 people at more than 150 organizations have received a Disability Awareness Training for disability-aware customer service.

Millions of units shipped out of PAC warehouse (including 100% of Toad&Co’s inventory!).

Every Toad&Co purchase contributes to a bright future for adults with disabilities. Thank you for being part of this movement – more to come in 2020 and beyond!

 

The Benefits of Dogs in the Office

For the last 10 years, Paige (our head designer) has come to work every day with Norman, a scruffy salt and pepper pup, no bigger than a gallon of milk. He’s present at all design meetings, fit sessions, and final approvals. He’s made his way into photoshoots, been used as design inspiration, and even had his portrait painted at a giant tradeshow.

Norman is just one of many great dogs take up residence at the Toad offices. Over the years we’ve had Lucy the lunch lady, Leo the cuddle bug, Lincoln the scaredy cat, Sunny the tornado, Lana the starlet, Grom the snaggletooth, Bea the sleepy puggle, Truffle the Big Bird, and her little sister, Sophie.  

Creating a dog-friendly work environment is part of our culture. Sure, sometimes they sleep on the job, but our canine colleagues make us better employees and happier people. Here are some of the benefits of having dogs in the office:

  • Creates a positive, flexible, uplifting setting 

  • Promotes a work-life balance (hey there, afternoon walk!) 

  • Less stress = happier employees = more productivity  

  • Dogs can create camaraderie and trigger interactions that may not have happened without them (remember your class hamster in 1st grade? Same thing). 

  • They clean the kitchen floors 

  • They make the workplace fun (and awesome people want to work at fun places!)

  • They make excellent Instagram models 

  • And it’s even good for the pups – they learn to socialize with other humans and animals (and mail carriers)  

So here’s to letting this place to go the dogs. We think we’ll keep it that way. 

 

Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

By: Natalie, Sustainable Materials Manager and Toad’s resident meditation expert

In its simplest form, meditation is the process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. A meditation practice depends on the individual and can take many forms – some people sit and clear their minds, others go for a hike in nature, and others even cook or do chores. Anything done with complete mindfulness and intention can become a form of meditation.

I started meditating about 15 years ago when I stopped skipping out on Savasana (aka: corpse pose) at the end of my yoga classes. I realized that those 3 minutes of post-yoga quietness made me feel calmer, happier, and helped integrate all the physical activity into my body and mind. 

Natalie crop

It took another 10 more years of dabbling before I committed to a morning sitting meditation practice. At the time, I was caretaking for my grandpa at the end of his life and needed a way to keep myself centered and grounded so that I could show up for him and the rest of my family. I needed something for me and meditation became the solution.

For me, the goal of meditation isn’t to clear my mind or count my breath. It’s about consciously focusing and redirecting my mind to the positive. Instead of noticing how tight my hips feel, I focused my attention on how lucky I am that all of my organs are healthy and my muscles strong. I focus on how lucky I am to be able to run and surf and rock climb. Or even just how fortunate I am just to breathe. Focusing on gratitude for my physical body rather than the parts I struggle with brings about a sense of deep inner peace. Once I figured out how to tap into it, I can access that inner peace any time I need it. Here are a few of my suggestions on how to get started: 

1. Start off with quick guided meditations from a mindfulness app like Headspace or Daily Shine. You can select topics to focus on that you want to work on – like increasing gratitude or celebrating positivity.

lesly-juarez-DFtjXYd5Pto-unsplash_crop

2. Shoot for a consistent routine. I like first thing in the morning, but a lot of people find right before bed works better for them. It doesn’t matter when you choose, the important thing is to establish a routine that you can stick to.

3. Explore different types of meditation (yes, there are different types). I like loving kindness meditation, breathing meditations, moving meditations like Tai Chi or walking or hiking, daily task meditation, Yoga Nidra, guided body scan relaxation meditation, and reiki meditation. There are so many options. Find the one that feels right for you. And know that what’s right might vary from day to day. I integrate all kinds of meditation into my life now depending on what I need for that day.

B5CA5FB5-E259-466B-835E-4BDF8F3D93BB_crop

4. Build slowly over time. Yes, some amazing people like Oprah meditate for 30 minutes twice a day, but the reality is that you can gain benefits of meditation with as little as 3 minutes a day and it takes time to train your mind. You wouldn’t try to summit Everest if you’ve never hiked before… small steps will lead to the greatest success. Start with just 1 minute a day to build the habit. You’ll be successful (and you can do anything for 60 seconds!). Notice the impact one minute can have on you for the next 5-10 minutes. This is what increases your motivation to meditate for longer!

5. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. It’s ok if you hear your meditation timer go off and you realize you just spent the last 5 minutes thinking about breakfast…it happens. Just come back and try again tomorrow. Like anything in life, learning to focus your mind takes time.

patrick-schneider-yw1y-alKGrg-unsplash_crop

Now go forth and conquer your own mind, body and soul connections! Remember: There is no “right” way to meditate. There is no perfection you are striving for. One version is no better or worse than any other version. Just be yourself and use your mindfulness practice (whatever that looks like) to show up for your life as the best version of you. 

The Ultimate Aprés Guide

Who says the aprés life is only for skiing? Sure there’s skiing and snowboarding and cross country, but snow bocce, curling, and Winter ‘Minton deserve their rightful place at the aprés counter. Here’s our guide to winter’s aprés alternatives. 

Ski Ballet & Champagne on Ice 

A favorite sport from the 1970s, ski ballet is everything you love about ballet (the jumps, the drama, the sophistication), just on skis. Get your interpretive dance on then pop some bottles. 

Polar Bear Plunge & Hot Toddies

Seems self exlpantory. Take the plunge, then warm up as fast as you can. 

Yukigassen & Shotskis

The Japanese art of epic snowball fights. Two teams, seven players each, 90 snow balls, one flag on each side. It’s capture the flag meets dodgeball meets snowballs – better wear your helmets. Shake hands and share a shotski when you’re done. 

Bandy & Brandy

Though it never officially made it into the Olympics, Bandy is a hugely popular winter sport because it’s just like ice hockey but instead of a puck, it’s a ball. Brandy, is a hugely popular winter spirit. The two seem to go hand in hand. 

Wok Races & Sake Bombs

Like sledding, but with greased up woks. (The pros swear by it). Follow it up with a round of sake bombs. Ichi, ni, san! 

Kite Skiing & Eggnog Coladas

Trade the surfboards for skis and you’ve got kite skiing. Same goes for the seasonal change-up in the eggnog colada. Bonus points for following-up with karaoke…. “If you like eggnog coladas, and getting caught in the rain…” 

Winter Minton & Whiskey Smash 

Like summer badminton, but, you guessed it, in snow. A match consists of the best of 3 games of 21 points. After every match, recoup with a Whiskey Smash (Like a Whiskey Sour but with clementine and cinnamon. YUM). 

via GIPHY

Need leisure sport wear? Shop our Men’s and Women’s winter styles.