DESCRIBE TRIBE ALIVE TO US.
Carly and Ashley: Tribe Alive is a socially conscious lifestyle brand utilizing a passion for fashion and responsible commerce as a platform to alleviate poverty among women. We work with artisan partners all over the world, to help employ impoverished women at fair trade wages to give them access to a safe job, sustainable income and a chance to determine their own future, if you need some help getting employees for your brand, see here the Utah County recruiting agency services. We strive to create positive change in the lives of women by providing market place access through the fair production and sale of our beautiful and unique pieces. Our business is built on a belief that every purchase should be made with a purpose and that giving back is the real fashion statement.
HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN? AND, HOW DID IT GET TO WHERE IT IS TODAY?
Carly: Creating a platform to help women has always been on my heart. I started working and volunteering with my aunt and uncle in the third world when I was fairly young, and felt a strong desire to impact the injustice that exists among marginalized women. I always dreamt of finding a way to utilize my career and experience in fashion as a way to help women. On my last trip to Honduras, I developed the concept of Tribe Alive. The idea was strongly inspired by a non-profit called Mi Esperanza that provides micro-finance business loans, which is similar to a no credit check payday loan, and free skill training to women living in extreme poverty. They’ve opened up my eyes to a new way of giving, which is rooted in the idea of helping women help themselves. I immediately saw how the fashion industry could serve as a catalyst in providing opportunity for women.
Tribe Alive has grown so much in the past few months, and has far exceeded my expectations. We started with the intent to produce one collection out of Honduras, and now have production underway in Honduras, Guatemala and Ethiopia and we’re in conversation with groups in Mexico and West Africa.
Ashley: For me the business began very differently than it did for Carly. One day Carly and I grabbed coffee after she’d returned from one of her many trips to Honduras. She told me of her Aunt Lori, Mi Esperanza and all of the amazing things that were happening in the community because of their work. Carly shared with me the concept of Tribe Alive and initially just wanted to pick my brain. I ran a business for a living and she felt that I could have some great input. The moment I heard what she wanted to do, I was totally hooked. I cried like a baby and told her that I would do ANYTHING to help… about 3 weeks later Carly and I were business partners and we were up to our noses in ideas and emotions.
WHAT DROVE YOU TO BEGIN YOUR BUSINESS AND INVEST IN IT?
Carly: The adoption of my daughter changed everything for me. I always dreamt of starting a purposeful business that would serve as an avenue for social change, but never seemed ready to take a leap of faith. As soon as I brought Elie home I was overwhelmed with the realization that someone born to another woman would call me ‘mom.’ It is an incredible gift and at the same time a complete tragedy. The injustice that plagues women in the developing world will never be lost on me, and I can’t help but think of Elie’s birth mother and wonder what her story could have been had she had access to an education, a job and health care. I want to be a part of something that gives women hope, and empowers them to care for themselves and their family. I want to make my daughter proud and for her to grow up knowing that women like her birth mother matter deeply, and that our job is to help lift each other up.
WHEN DID THE DREAM OF BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS HAPPEN?
Carly: It all came to fruition on my last trip to Honduras. I spent some time working with an organization called Mi Esperanza, and recognized that education and opportunity is the only way to lift women out of poverty. I wanted to be a part of providing meaningful employment for women living in extreme poverty and saw how my career in fashion could serve as a platform to do just that.
Ashley: After that first conversation with Carly in the coffee shop, I was dreaming about all of the awesome things that Tribe Alive could do… at that moment I didn’t realize I was dreaming of our business though, I wanted to contribute in any way that I could. I lay awake at night, taking mental notes of all of these ideas that I couldn’t wait to share with Carly. I was determined to help her make Tribe Alive be amazing.
WHAT RISKS DID YOU TAKE ALONG THE WAY THAT WERE HARD?
Carly and Ashley: There are so many risks involved with starting your own business (time, money reputation, etc.), but the biggest risk for us is taking time away from our families. We are both working mothers, so the time we spend with our families is precious. Each of us have children, and our husbands tend to take on more than their fair share at home. Our husbands are great and support us. We know we can’t get moments back, but we both have faith that the time spent away will be well worth it.
WHAT WAS THE SPECIFIC MOMENT THAT TRIGGERED YOU TO DECIDE TO MAKE YOUR DREAM A REALITY AND TO VALUE THE OUTCOME OVER THE RISK?
Carly: On my last trip to Honduras I came home feeling incredibly full and struggled to find motivation to go back to my job. It was a difficult reentry for me, and I remember thinking ‘I wish my everyday work could be focused on empowering women.’ I talked with my husband often about my lack of fulfillment in my job and my desire to do more. I remember him looking at me and saying ‘then do more.’ And since that moment I’ve never looked back.
Ashley: About a month after Tribe Alive came into my life, I was having a conversation with a friend and business owner here locally. She was very successful in her day job, but had dreams of doing something else. She took a leap of faith and has been wildly successful. I’ll never forget it… she said, “Do it!!! You’ll never regret trying. You’ll only regret NOT trying!!!” She was right.
WHAT ALONG THE WAY DO YOU SEE NOW AS BEING MAJOR PIECES TO YOUR STORY?
Carly and Ashley: We have had the opportunity to connect with so many amazing individuals who have offered their time, support and encouragement in our success, and have never asked for anything in return. The fact that Tribe Alive has already brought so many people together in creating a movement of hope is something we never expected, and something that I feel is part of the bigger story. If we can inspire even just one person to go out into the world and help someone, well then this has all been worth it.
DURING THE PROCESS OF GROWING AND DREAMING UP YOUR BUSINESS DID YOU FEEL ANY RESERVATION? IF SO, WHAT MADE YOU QUESTION YOUR DECISION?
Carly: The fear of failure weighs heavily on me. I have finally found a way to connect my everyday work with my passion in life, and the thought of my dream not becoming a reality is terrifying. I think most of us allow ourselves to become paralyzed by fear and it keeps us from truly becoming who we’re meant to be. I finally took a leap of faith, and though it scares me, I refuse to look back knowing that there are women whose lives I could be a part of changing.
Ashley: In the beginning I felt reservations everyday. I wondered if I was making the right decision for my family, for my career, for my future. I always saw myself owning my own business, but I can honestly say that I was blindsided by my passion for this business and it’s not where I’d originally imagined myself. Everyone has these ideas of how they think their future will turn out…. I’m a planner, so to me they’re my “plans.” Tribe Alive wasn’t in my 30-year planner, so it very much freaked me out in the beginning. But I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and I’ve never had more faith that this is what I’m supposed to be doing.
NOW THAT YOU ARE IN THE PROCESS OF MAKING THIS DREAM BECOME A REALITY, WHAT DO YOU SEE NOW THAT WASN’T WORTH THE WORRY? FOR OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE DREAMING OF TAKING A LEAP TO CHASE THEIR DREAM, WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO THEM?
Carly:Take the leap! We are all capable of so much more. If we’d just let go of our fears and follow our dreams this world would be a much more inspiring place. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and find the encouragement and support you need to continue to push forward.
WHAT LESSON HAVE YOU LEARNED IN THE PROCESS THAT YOU WISH YOU KNEW BEFORE YOU BEGAN?
Carly and Ashley: We would both tell you that patience is a virtue and that nothing happens overnight. Slow and steady always wins the race.
WHAT ARE THE NEXT BIG DREAMS FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
Carly and Ashley: Along with reaching as many women as we can, we want to continue to educate the world on the fashion industry. We hope to be a part of building upon a movement where conscious consumerism should be our only option, and to open people’s eyes to the fact that they can change the world through the purchases they make.