Happy Birthday America

Summer is in full swing and you may think gifting season is on the down-low. However, Fourth of July is right around the corner and there is no better time than now to give a gift back to America itself!

Photo from the giftUP team hiking the Vernal Falls Trail in Yosemite Valley 

Photo from the giftUP team hiking the Vernal Falls Trail in Yosemite Valley 

Parks Project is an innovative new company that will help you do just that while also gaining a few trendy pieces for your wardrobe! Parks Project carries a variety of clothing and accessories to help raise awareness and support for the National Parks across America. “Each product purchased contributes directly to one of over 30 different conservancies across the USA, providing vital funding for the ongoing care of National Parks.”

As a big fan of  the breathtaking beauty within our National Parks, I was super excited to have the opportunity to talk with the company and learn more about what inspired them to create such a phenomenal product.

Photo by  @prarksproject

GU: What year was Parks Project founded? How long did it take Parks Project to transition from a dream to a reality?

PP: The idea for Parks Project was born in 2013 when company founders Keith and Sevag were doing some post-fire habitat restoration work and there weren’t many folks around. They were both working for TOMS shoes, and they wanted to use their experience in social enterprise and apparel to build a company based on giving back to National Parks. The company was officially founded in 2014, and when we started we were all tagging, bagging, and shipping the products manually. We were working out of Keith’s garage until 2017, when we finally moved into a one-room office. We’re still a very small company (9 on staff), and our dreams are always growing bigger!

GU: What do you believe has been one of Parks Project’s proudest moments/biggest accomplishments so far?

PP: In the beginning, the small accomplishments were so important to us, so it’s hard to compare today. We were the smallest company ever to get the official NPS license, so that was a huge one for us in the beginning. More recently, we were awarded an Innovative Product Award at this past winter’s Public Lands Alliance Conference, and we are super proud and humbled to be recognized by the non-profit community.

Photo by  @jmeschneids  featured on  @  parksproject

Photo by @jmeschneids featured on @parksproject

GU: I love the look and style of your t-shirts! How do you come up with all the different designs?

PP: We try to break away from the traditional iconography and aesthetic of National Parks apparel. To do so, we draw on inspiration from urban artists (we’re based out of LA), the music scene, and vintage styles. We do some design in house, and we also work with many freelance designers so we can always bring in fresh ideas and looks.

GU:  What is one of your goals for the future of Parks Project?

PP: One big goal we’re shooting for is 100,000 volunteer hours logged by 2024. We are currently at a little over 1000 volunteer hours mobilized, so we’ve got a ways to go to reach that goal, but it’s definitely still achievable. Our vision is that as our business grows, our capacity to facilitate volunteer events will grow as well. Our hope is that if we can mobilize volunteer leaders, they can recruit more volunteer leaders, and the efforts will continue to expand organically and arithmetically.

We also want to expand our support of Parks beyond our financial contribution and our volunteer work. Some of our greatest strengths are the creative ones- media production, product design, user experience, events, etc. As we build our relationships with our non-profit partners, we want to leverage those skills to support them in their own digital and creative worlds to help them engage young audiences and be relevant to urban communities.

Photo by  @parksproject

So whether you have aspirations to hike the infamous Half Dome at Yosemite or prefer a drive through Rocky Mountain National Park’s winding roadway, there is a park and a Parks Project t-shirt for you!