Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Active and Catalyst - Activyst!

Do you ever meet those people and think, “Wow! Someday they are going to do something great!” Well, this wasn’t my first impression of my freshman roommate. Sorry Leigh, but it wasn’t; she could definitely say the same for me. Eighteen-year-old girls sometimes need some shell breaking! Leigh and I never had truly philosophical talks in our dorm room, unless it was comparing Philosophy 101 homework (Gonzaga required 4 years of Philosophy classes). We did our homework, played our sports, and went to class. We also went to basketball games, parties, and fun things on campus - typical college freshman stuff. Leigh and I met in August 2000, she was on the tennis team at GU and I was on the golf team. We were friends, but not best friends. We lived together again sophomore year, but after I studied abroad junior year, we drifted apart, as you kind of do in college, but were still close enough on small campus. Years later, Leigh called me up when she was visiting Seattle – married to a fellow Gonzaga Bulldog and finishing up her MBA in Ohio, they were looking for a new city to settle down. As we chatted, sipped our beers, and caught up on life over the past decade, Leigh told me about this new business plan she and her tennis teammate, Katie, were working on. I was immediately intrigued. The concept was fairly simple: sell bags using material made by women in other countries and use a portion of the profit to help girls in those countries play sports. I knew with the hard work, talent, and energy these girls had, the company would become a success. I was lucky enough to watch from its concept stage to the company launch. The information below is from their website and their Indiegogo fundraising page. Check them out!

Activyst is a combination of two words we love - active and catalyst - because when girls are active, it's a catalyst for change in their lives. Our mission is to change the world by helping girls play sports. We do this by creating bold, functional athletic bags that generate funding for girls’ sports organizations worldwide.
We're on a mission: to help more girls play sports by creating bold, functional athletic bags for women. Many girls in the word are suffering – teen pregnancy, abuse, chronic disease, illiteracy, depression, and the list goes on.
We’ve spent over a year designing and prototyping to create a bag that meets active women's needs. Collaborating with a former designer for Betsey Johnson and a bagmaker who spent decades at Quiksilver, we focused on functionality and simple, yet fashion-forward design.
Our first line is made of macen, used in Activyst’s birthplace of Nicaragua for everything from hammocks, to harvesting coffee, to transporting goods. It's the "material of the people" and we're excited to use it in a new way. Activyst bags are durable, waterproof, have awesome features, and are pretty cute to boot, so you can rock them during all adventures in your everyday active life.
Through bag sales, we fund non-profits providing sports opportunities to girls worldwide. Having worked in international development, we know that each non-profit partner will have unique needs and goals; so we structure bag sales around meeting those specific needs. Their first two projects will partner with Soccer Without Borders.
In other exciting Activyst news, they have just announced their CUSTOM BAG CONTEST. If 4 people from a community (gym/yoga studio/run club/tri team/etc) buy a bag, they will be entered into the contest. The winning team will get to help design a new bag (fabric, color, print) and the bags are named after your studio or team. Activyst will even sell a limited edition of your line on their website. You can read more about it here. I've already entered my triathlon team into the contest and am keeping my fingers crossed for a PauoleSport team bag.
Make sure you check them out, especially the touching video on their Indiegogo site. I just watched it for the at least the tenth time and I still love it. I think sometimes we forget how lucky we are to grow up in an environment where it's common and encouraged to run around and play or bike or swim with friends - girlfriends. I'm surrounded by athletic women everywhere - at work, my closest friends, teammates, my family, my college roommates. And because of that, I believe, I live a more fulfilling and inspired life. Please help spread the word about this budding new company. You can visit their website here.  

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