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:
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.
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).
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.
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.
There’s no such thing as a “disability” when it comes to creativity or work ethic. A sense of purpose runs through all of us, and that force is strong with Jazmin Harms. Jazmin is a resident artist at the SlingShot Art Studio and Gallery in our hometown of Santa Barbara.
We’re big fans of SlingShot since it’s not your typical gallery: The art on the walls is created by 40 in-house artists with intellectual disabilities. A branch of the mission-driven Alpha Resource Center, SlingShot provides a sunny, open studio space to encourage creative expression and a modern gallery for artists to sell their art in the heart of downtown.
Jazmin Harms is this month’s featured artist at SlingShot’s latest gallery show, ROAR. Her use of graphite on paper brings life to the animals she loves. SlingShot Teaching Artist Mike Blaha sat down with Jazmin to ask her about some of her favorite things.
Where is your favorite place in nature?
Jelly Bowl in Carpenteria. I walk to the Beach. It takes about 20+ minutes but I like the journey to the beach. I bring my phone to take pictures. My favorite subject is the sunset. I look for the “golden hour” when the sun just disappears and there are dolphins.
What kind of art do you create?
I draw only animals all the time. I pick pictures that I can depict honestly and are true to their forms. Big predatory animals are the most interesting and big cats are my favorite.
What medium do you use?
I use graphite because I like the way the shades of graphite renders the animals.
What time of year is your favorite?
I like summer evenings the best because I can stay at the beach for longer. I time my arrival to catch the “golden hour.”
Taking photographs of the sunset seems challenging, how do you do it?
I like using foreground objects like rocks, driftwood and surf to accentuate the sunsets. I love seeing whales and dolphins. My favorite colors are the oranges and yellows.
What else do you like about the beach?
I like to go alone to feel a strong sense of nature. I hike up and down the beach to collect sea glass. Finding blue is my favorite. I have quite a large collection of sea glass. I get a calming effect that lasts the rest of the evening. I go as often as I can.
To see Jazmin’s amazing work, check out the ROAR show at the SlingShot Studio. We held a pop-up fundraiser for March First Thursday (which is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, btw), and we can say firsthand that all the art is stellar!
For more on our mission to create and support opportunities for people with disabilities, check out this letter from our CEO. A portion of every Toad&Co purchase directly contributes to our mission.
When was the last time you did something for the first time? The last time you experienced something that made you see things a little differently? The last time you stood in a new place and felt an overwhelming sense of awe? That’s the feeling we set out to find. We grabbed some friends, packed up our bags and set out for Great Basin National Park – one of the least visited parks in the Lower 48 with some of the oldest trees and the darkest skies.
We left Salt Lake City after work on Friday (later than planned, of course), headed southwest toward the Nevada/Utah border. Joel was driving Rita Jean, a semi-trusty ’86 Westfalia vanagon, with Brandon riding shotgun and Crystal and Hannah in the back. Van Morrison was also along for the ride.
240 miles later, we rolled into Wheeler Peak campground around 10pm, hungry but happy. We paid the fee and went to start up the van and snapped off the gear shaft right then and there. After 4 hours of climbing 10,000 ft, Rita Jean had had enough. We tinkered for an hour then finally pushed Rita to an open site and whipped up some 11pm campside tacos. We all agreed they were the best tacos we’d ever had.
The closest “big” town to Great Basin National Park is Ely, Nevada – 70 miles north of the park. Deny and Trudy from Ely showed up the next morning with a flat bed truck to haul Rita back to Ely for fixing over the weekend. Carless but prepared with a cooler full of bacon and bourbon, we got our day started.
We spent the next two days exploring Wheeler Peak. With a height of 13, 065 ft, the summit is covered with snow most of the year – an ideal climate for the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine, an ancient pine species that’s been thriving for thousands of years (yes, thousands). These pines are truly mind blowing. Huge, car-sized trunks give way to twisty bark, looking like a lightning bolt that’s been carved from wood. It’s gnarled and split as sections of the tree die off and peel over the centuries. But these mangled trees are alive and kicking, sometimes with only a narrow strip of living tissue connecting the roots to a handful of branches. And those needles that are sprouting out? Those same needles live for an average of 45 years. The oldest tree in the Western Hemisphere is a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine, still going strong at 5,062 years old. Those are some deep roots.
Along with ancient pines, we’d always heard about Great Basin’s killer stargazing. They say “Half the Park is After Dark”, and now we know why. Low humidity, minimal light pollution and high elevation give Great Basin the edge when it comes to stargazing. Combine that with Earth’s location deep within the spiral arms of the Milky Way and you’ve got a primo view from the inside looking out. Thousands of stars, five of the eight planets, 88 summer constellations, the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies – all with the naked eye. With binoculars we could easily see Saturn’s rings. Yes, Saturn.
On Monday morning Denny and Trudy picked us up and hauled us to Ely, Nevada. We reunited with a souped-up Rita Jean and hit the road back to Salt Lake City, taking the Northeast route via US-93. We took our sweet time, picnicking at a neat rest stop somewhere outside of Ely. Just across the Utah border, we took a detour off the I-80 to spend an hour cooling off at the Salt Spring Management Water Area , a marshland with natural salt springs and watering holes. Two hours and one roadside diner later, we made it back to SLC – full of memories and ready for our next first experience.
What exactly is the Canoemobile? Well it’s just what it sounds like – it’s a van that pulls a fleet of 24-foot Voyager canoes across the country. In celebration of the National Park System’s centennial, the Canoemobile, operated by Wilderness Inquiry, will connect folks to the national parks by getting them into canoes and out onto America’s great rivers and lakes. Purple Mountains Majesty for all!
The tour kicks off on March 1, 2016 and runs through November 2016. The Canoemobile will be making stops across the country all summer, so keep an eye out for them. We’ve already got a handful of stops scheduled – places like Big Thicket National Park, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Golden Gate National Recreational Area– but we’ll be adding many more stops as we get rolling.
Stay tuned for updates on the Canoemobile’s whereabouts and tour schedule!
Every holiday season we reflect on the folks in our lives who make our days merry and futures bright. We give thanks for friends and family, co-workers, neighbors, four-legged friends… and the Delivery Guy! Whether it’s the holidays or not, these men and women are there every day bringing boxes and spreading good cheer. We should know – we get a lot of boxes around here, and for the past few years we saw Brett the UPS Guy on the daily. He ran this same route for 11 years, so he got to know the Toads (and really became acquainted with our guard dogs) and we got to know him. Brett retired a few weeks ago after 29 years at UPS, but it all started back in Thanksgiving of ’86 when he was a Holiday Helper…
Start with the beginning.
Brett: I was living in Long Beach working in an office and I was just feeling so cooped up inside. My brother worked for UPS and mentioned that they were looking for part time help during the holidays. I thought, “Hey – it’s outside!” so I just signed on for the holidays and ended up really liking it.
What was the best part about the job?
Brett: Being outside all day, getting to meet loads of different people – I became friends with a lot of my customers – and really getting to know the town when I moved here in ’94.
Have any favorite routes?
Brett: The one you guys are on! Most of the UPS guys don’t like that route because it’s got those narrow, windy streets in the hills, but it’s the only route with a constant ocean view! And really nice folks on that route. That’s when you really get to know people, when you see them almost every day for 11 years. Even if it’s just a few minutes a day it starts to add up.
Any crazy stories from your routes over the years?
Brett: Well I worked through two El Niños and dealt with some crazy flooding, there were a few flashes of nudity over the years (I walked into a pool situation once, that was strange…), and then there’s always the dogs – you never know what you’re gunna get.
Well you’re the dog whisperer at Toad! What’s the secret?
Brett: Treats! Always have treats.
Aside from Team Toad, any favorite people you met along the way?
Brett: Oh ya, lots of great customers! One of my good friends I met because he was the shipping and receiving guy at a tech company on my route – he’s my concert buddy. And actually just last weekend a family I’ve known for years took me to a Kings hockey game down in LA. Really nice people, I was lucky.
So we know you’re a big music guy since you’ve always got a new album recommendation. Seen any good shows lately?
Brett: Lots of great shows this year! Saw Florence and the Machine and the Alabama Shakes most recently, took my stepdaughter to see Katy Perry at the Staples Center (and I have to say, I was pretty entertained). The Avett Brothers were really great and the Foo Fighters are always awesome – I saw them in 1993 and was in the mosh pit, so it was a slightly different experience this time… But I think the best show of the year was Aerosmith. I was all the way in the nosebleeds but it didn’t even matter – they’re just legendary.
So you’re enjoying retirement then?
Brett: Definitely, but I’m going through clothes like crazy! Now that I don’t wear a uniform everyday I feel like I’m constantly having to look at my closet!
Thanks for the good company over the years, Brett. We miss seeing you on the daily so pop in any time. We always need a good music suggestion!
It’s springtime, which means it’s Spring-cleaning-time, which means the annual Backyard Collective! The Backyard Collective is the day we close our doors and clean up the public lands in our own backyard with other like-minded companies who support the Conservation Alliance. In it’s 6th year, the BYC partnered with Ventura Hillsides Conservancy for the third time to continue work on the Ventura River Restoration Project.
It was another hard working day, joining forces with local volunteers from Patagonia, Deckers, Elemental Herbs & REI. We got our hands dirty, garnered a few scrapes, removed trash, and spent the better half of a day eradicating the invasive plant species, Arundo Donax, from the Ventura River habitat.
Just a stone’s throw away in our backyard, the Ventura River supplies Ventura County, CA with much of it’s drinking water and much of it flows directly to the ocean. It’s a pivotal habitat to the vitality of Ventura County and especially important during this severe drought. Through the Conservation Alliance and other social and environmental “imunipacts”, the Ventura Hillside Conservancy has received over $1 million in grants to keep the river habitat clean and thriving. And when paired with a little bit of elbow grease, those efforts go a long way. Since phase 1 of this project, volunteers have chopped 7 acres of Arundo, removed 3 tons of trash and fostered regrowth of native species.
Be sure to check out the great things the Conservation Alliance is doing nation-wide and learn more about the amazing regional work Ventura Hillside Conservancy is doing too!
Good luck not tappin’ your foot and bobbin’ your head the moment you hear the good vibes of Reverend Tall Tree.Born out of late night jam seshes in a small saloon in East Los Angeles, Reverend Tall Tree serves up a piping hot helping of smoky rhythm and blues with a swingin’ beat and healthy dose of rocking chair harmonica. It’s a sound that begs to be listened to in the presence of good company and front man Chris Pierce knows just how to set the tone.
Chris is an old friend of the Toads. With a voice like hot buttered rum and a disposition like Southern sweet tea, we knew we liked Chris from day one. We met him back in the early 2000’s on the beach in Venice, CA when we were shooting our first brand video – a mutual friend brought him along to provide some background beach jams and he ended up scoring our theme song, “Everyday is an Adventure” in 15 minutes. He’s represented Toad at various musics festivals and played over the years at the Lizard Loungein Portland, bringing the spirit of Toad to the stage. He’s hit the road as an accomplished solo act, toured with big names in the biz, and crooned his way through a TedxTalk on the healing power of music. In a nutshell, Chris is one cool dude.
Reverend Tall Tree is Chris’ latest creative endeavor, and naturally we can’t get enough of it. In early 2013, Pierce wandered into the Sassafras Saloon, a new blues bar that opened just a few blocks from his house. Word on the street was the Sassafras was looking for a new house band to kick things off. So with a few old buddies, a dusty harmonica and a songbook of standards, Chris and the gang started performing as Reverend Tall Tree on Saturday nights. The rest, as they say, is history.
With Professor Lovejoy on the drums, Old Parker on guitar, Dr. Cooper on double bass and Pierce himself laying down the vocals and harmonica, Reverend Tall Tree’s self titled debut album is all about good company. “Music is a way to celebrate togetherness,” Pierce says, “a congregation, a connection. It lends itself to inclusion and adds to the overall rhythm.”
And that’s obvious in both their live shows and their studio album. They recorded the LP in the gritty style of the old viynl greats like Bo Diddley and Sam Cooke – one take, no headphones, no individual mics, recorded live to 2” thick tape and mixed on the spot with a 1956 tape machine. Or as Pierce describes, “We let the vibe roll and we let the tape roll.”
When asked what kind of dish Reverend Tall Tree’s music would be, Pierce said, “A Reverend Tall Tree experience is like a pot luck – everyone brings something to share.” So shout, stomp, moan, shuffle, whoop and holler because Reverend Tall Tree is certainly bringin’ something to the table.
We’re generally a pretty laid back bunch, but we take our grilled cheese very seriously. It all started in 2011 as a modest celebration for National Grilled Cheese Month when a handful of Toads claimed they could make the best grilled cheese. The results were downright delicious!
With a fire in our bellies and a hunger for more (and let’s face it, any excuse for a party), we decided to kick it up a notch: We forged the Golden Spatula Award – the highest honor to be bestowed upon a gourmand – and invited local businesses and non–profits to show us what they were cookin’ with. Boy, did they bring the heat. From Mac n’ Cheese filled ciabattas, to waffle ironed Monte Cristos, to a sandwich who’s popularity was only eclipsed by some very scandalous aprons, we’ve seen some serious chops displayed at the GCSD over the years.
And like a fine cheddar, the Grilled Cheese Smackdown is just getting better with age. This year’s 3rd Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown was the best yet: Our friends at The Organic Soup Kitchenset up a grilled cheese and tomato soup station, we whet our whistles with beer from our favorite local brewery, Telegraph Brewing Company, and we gathered around to watch 10 local teams throw down their gooiest, cheesiest, tastiest grilled cheeses in the battle for the coveted Golden Spatula.
Outside under the twinkle lights, friends popped from station to station sampling the award winning sammies, picking up tips and leaving high fives, while our team of esteemed judges had their hands (and mouths) full tasting creations from return competitors and a handful of rookies:
All said, it was a battle of epic proportions of cheese, pitting mozzarella vs. Munster, goat vs. Gouda, provolone vs. parmesan. Teams wowed with home grown veggies and perfectly golden crust, and we saw the most multicultural selection of grilled cheeses yet (Indian grilled cheese, anyone?). The competition was fierce but in the end there could only be one winner… reigning champs, Ian and Nina’s appropriately named El Jefe Chees-urito! Let’s see if they’ll make it a three-peat at the 4th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown, or will a new victor be crowned?
Thanks to all the participants, judges, and spectators who made this year’s Smackdown such a success – we can’t wait for next year! In the meantime, here are a few recipes to tide you over…
C’est Cheese’s Breakfast Grilled Cheese – The “Fancy Pants Award”
Makes 1 sandwich:
1 grilled ancho chile cut in strips
Thin sliced ham
Aged white cheddar
2 slices sourdough bread
1. Butter the outside and inside of the bread. On the inside of one slice, layer ham and ancho chile strips (the more the spicier!)
2. Add one layer of mild cheddar then a layer of aged white cheddar. Top with other slice of bread and grill until cheese is melted. Meanwhile, poach an egg in boiling water.
3. Top perfectly grilled sandwich with a small handful of arugula and place poached egg in a nest of arugula. Yum!
Ian & Nina’s El Jefe Chees-urito – The “Two Time Champ” Award
Makes 5 sandwiches:
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 lb marinated Carne asada, cooked
1 cup of Dubliner cheese, shredded
1 cup of Irish cheddar
1 cup of jalapeño jack cheese, shredded
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/4 carmelized onions
1 can red enchilada sauce
1/4 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
sliced radishes soaked in an ice bath
sourdough bread, sliced
1 jar pickled carrots*
2 cups avocado whip**
1 bag cantina style tortilla chips
Limes cut in quarters
*To make Pickled Carrots: 5 carrots – peeled and sliced diagonally, 1.5 cups rice wine vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, and a pinch of ginger, cumin, garlic powder and salt. Mix in a bowl, cover and let sit overnight.
** To make Avocado Whip: 3 avocados, 3 cloves of garlic and a pinch of salt. Toss into a food processor and mix until it’s light and airy.
1. Mix butter, caramelized onions, parmesan and chopped garlic. Slather the butter mixture on the outside of the sourdough bread slices.
2. On the bottom slice stack a handful of the dubliner, the cheddar and the jack. Next a layer of the Carne asada,then another handful of all three cheeses on top of that and top with about 5 crispy chips. Add the top slice of bread with the buttered side up.
3. Stick the sandwich in the back of a panini press and leave for about 6 minutes or until the bread is nice and crispy without being burned.
4. Let cool for two minutes and then cut in half diagonally. Drizzle with red enchilada sauce and top with cotija cheese. Serve with extra chips, avacado whip, pickled carrots, radishes and a lime wedge. Muy bien!
Direct Relief’s Deliver a World of Gouda – The “Best Use of Branding Award”
Makes 4 sandwiches:
4 brioche rolls
1 cup cilantro butter**
1 cup BBQ Sauce (your favorite or homemade)
Smoked gouda cheese, sliced
2 cups BBQ Pulled Pork, cooked
1 jar Hooper’s Chili-Style Pickles
4 Direct Relief mozzeralla logos**
4 small square slices of Extra Sharp Cheddar
4 small square slices of Sharp Cheddar
4 small square slices of Gouda
*To make cilantro butter, combine in a food processor: 1 stick softened unsalted butter, 6 cloves chopped garlic, 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, 2 tbsp fresh lime juice, a pinch of salt and pepper.
**On a wide, thin slice of mozzarella, cut out the Direct Relief caduceus logo with a sharp knife (just be careful!)
1. Slice brioche rolls in half and coat the whole thing with cilantro butter.
2. Liberally Lather the bottom piece with BBQ sauce, then a layer of sliced gouda, then a handful of pulled pork, then a layer of sliced pickles, then another layer of gouda, and top with other half of the bun. Press in griddle until cheese is melted.
3. On the top of each grilled cheese, make the Direct Relief logo: A square of extra sharp cheddar in the top left, a square of sharp cheddar in the top right, a square of gouda in the bottom right, a square of sharp cheddar in the bottom left, and lay the mozzarella caduceus right in the middle. Hover the grill over the sandwich to broil the cheese until it melts!
Daisy & Isabel’s The Darcheesling – The “New Age Award”
Makes 2 sandwiches:
Fresh mozzarella log, sliced into 1/4″ thick rounds
2 cups spinach
1 sweet onion, sliced
4 slices of naan bread
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 jar masala sauce
1 jar mango chutney
1 jar spicy mint sauce*
To make spicy mint sauce, place in a food processor: 2 handfuls of mint, 2 handfuls of cilantro, juice from 2 limes, 3 serrano peppers, a pinch of salt for taste, and if it seems thick add a splash of water to loosen it up.
1. Mix the melted bunter and chopped garlic and spread on both sides of two pieces of naan bread.
2. In a skillet, saute onions and spinach with a splash of masala sauce.
3. on the inside of one naan, spread a layer of spicy mint sauce, then layer all the sautéed veggies. Top with a layer of mozzarella.
4. On the inside of the other naan spread a liberal amount of mango chutney. Place on top of the mozzarella and panini press until naan is crispy.
5. Warm up the masala sauce and pour into a ramekin. Pour remaining mango chutney and masala into ramekins. Cut sandwich in half and serve with the three dipping sauces.