What is Inclusivi-tee?
Inclusivi-tee is a Public Benefit Corporation whose mission is supporting kindness and justice through the sale of ecofriendly clothing, the organiztion of community events, and the donation of time and money to non-profits doing work we support. We recently launched a new collection, Shareables, that we believe can help move the fashion world in the direction of sustainability.
I want to ask you more about your company and how you got here, but first, I heard you have an auction coming up, Artists Who Share, and it sounds pretty spectacular. Can you please tell us about that?
I am really excited to share this news. Artists Who Share is an online auction raising money for artists and nonprofits who are helping with recovery. For us, the auction has become a ray of hope for inclusion, diversity, community, and love in what has become a sometimes dark landscape.
When we first launched the project, the recovery focused on the Coronavirus. Since that time, we have shifted to also include recovery related to the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Artists are from nine states and 6 countries, range in age from 8-91, and bring different perspectives, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, gender identities, sexual orientations, and abilities to their work. Some artists are professional artists and others simply love creating. What every artist shares is a deep desire to help others.
We believe in supporting people fighting oppression and struggling to be heard. We are pleased to have artists who are creating work that inspires and challenges us. Two of our artists helped create a mural honoring George Floyd. Other artists are members of the LGBTQ community and are using their art to inspire inclusion and acceptance. One of our artists is 91 and has been an artist throughout her life. Two of our artists have Down Syndrome. All of these artists remind us that we are better and stronger and more beautiful together, without exception.
We know that art, in all its forms, can help heal us. Art can also shine a light on what needs to change and inspire us to make changes. That is what the auction means to me.
I understand you are a psychologist by training. What led you to start a company?
Inclusivi-tee is really a business built on passion and beliefs. Around November, 2016, I recognized that the world was going in a direction I did not support. I saw people’s rights being challenged and taken away and realized that the environment was at increasing risk. Prior to that, I thought we would continue moving in a positive direction, with increased equity and greater environmental protections being implemented. I love my job as a geriatric psychologist and planned to stay where I was. Suddenly, however, I was at an uncomfortable crossroads and knew that I had to either pretend there was not a problem or jump in and find a way to help.
Thanks in large part to my parents, I have never been able to comfortably ignore a problem once I am aware it exists. So, November 12, while my partner slept, I contacted my best friend, Negebe, and, with her encouragement, Inclusivi-tee was hatched. I knew I wanted to support non-profits, so 50% of our profits go to 10 national nonprofits. I knew I wanted to involve artists, so we decided to ask artists to create our designs. I knew I wanted our products to be affordable so we started with t-shirts. Finally, I knew I wanted to support the local community so we immediately began organizing communtiy events.
I have been running ever since.
You mentioned your parents, what would you say are the most important lessons they taught you?
My parents taught me a host of important lessons. Foremost, I would say they taught me that it is my responsibility as a human to look out for other people. They taught me that there should be no “us and them,” that we are all in this together. They taught me that kindness is a powerful force. They taught me that being present in the world, that making a difference, and that following my passion and beliefs often demands radical action and leaping from tall buildings without a net. They taught me that my actions matter.
How has your work as a psychologist informed your work as a business owner?
I honestly think my core beliefs, even before I was a psychologist inform both my psychology work and my business model and goals. I believe that people are worthwhilte. I believe that people’s stories matter and that everyone ultimately wants to be heard. I believe in listening. I believe that we can change and learn and grow.
Part of Inclusivi-tee’s work, promoting justice and kindness, rests on the belief that people want to help each other and make the world better. I find when I speak on kindness, I echo the same things I have said as a psychologist. Now, with my new podcast, I get to help people tell their stories, much as I do in my clinical work. Different stories, but stories none-the-less.
What has been the most difficult part of starting a business?
I think just how much I did not know. The learning curve was steep and I did not always understand what needed to get done or who should be doing it. I did not know just how long everything would take. I was not always good at finding the right people for the jobs at hand. Now I have a strong and powerful team around me but it took three years to get me here.
How did you come up with Shareables?
I literally woke up with the idea for Shareables in my head. Now, I know it was just the next step in the natural progression of the company. When I started the company, we were going to sell t-shirts designed by artists. That seemed like the right path, but over time I realized a few things. First, people had way too many t-shirts. Second, even if I was selling ecofriendly t-shirts, the t-shirt market in general was taking a high environmental toll. Finally, I realized t-shirts were just not the answer if I wanted to create the most eco-friendly fashion.
How does Shareables address the high environmental impact of fashion?
Shareables is a collection of clothing and accessories with removable, interchangealbe panels that can be decorated with limitless graphics and designs. No longer does the wearer need a jacket or a bag to match every outfit. Instead, the jacket or bag can be tailor made for each outfit simply by changing the panel.
Panels are small, easily stored, and made of biodegradable material. The clothing and accessories are smart, attractive, innovative, fun, and also crafted of biodegradable materials. Our goal is to trace all our products to the source and work with companies that promote healthy work environments and protect the earth. Every purchase helps support the environment. On top of that, by continuing to offer graphics that promote social and ecological justice, we further our mission. By encouraging people to create their own designs, we enhance community spirit and creativity.
You just started a podcast. If you had to describe the podcast in a few sentences, what would you say?
I would say our podcast, Inclusivi-TALKS, is as diverse as we are. We interview artists, musicans, sustainability experts, and others; talk about kindness and social and earth justice; share self-care strategies; and encourage our guests to tell personal stories about their lives. We are passionate about many topics and we plan to share that passion with our viewers.
If your readers want to check out one interview, we recently had Graham Russell from Air Supply, on the show. Graham was gracious and kind, shared stories about writing and self-disovery, and read some of his poems. Since then, we have released numerous podcasts with a variety of artists and musicians.
Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?
I guess I would just like to ask your readers to care. Notice what is going on and try to make it better. Understand that your life will be richer and you will be happier if you are kinder. Listen to other people and try to open your hearts. Those are really the only things that can keep the world going and protect us all.
“Inclusivi-tee” Contact Information:
Customer Service and Questions: information@inclusivi–tee.com
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