No one would argue that technology has become a mainstay in all of our lives. From the second we wake up to the moment we go right back to bed, we’re attached to one device or another. And it’s not just adults, it’s kids too. All of this started to really upset one Mama Bear in particular. Emily, AKA Mama Bear of American Bear Cub®, wanted to make a real difference and with that came a clothing company with a clear purpose. We talked with Emily about how American Bear Cub® got its start, how many ways its helping change the world around us, and what’s to come.
Kendra: Obviously today we’re all glued to our phones and other devices, but when did you really start to first notice the problem and when did you then realize you wanted to try and combat it?
Emily: There was a time back in 2013 when I broke my cell phone. So I had to be without a smartphone for a few months. During that time I went out to lunch with some coworkers of mine. While we sat at the restaurant everyone was on their phones besides me. Our table, other tables, even waitstaff; it didn’t matter. Everyone was face down in a phone and not communicating with the people directly in front of them.
Then there was another instance while in line at the grocery store a mom in front of me had a little boy who had to be about one-year-old in the cart. This mom was deep face down into her phone on social media, meanwhile, the little boy kept begging for her attention. It was an eye-opening experience because there have been times before that I was that mom. I realized we’re missing parts of our children’s childhoods. We’re missing those special connections in the grocery line, and every other situation where our attention is on our phones and not our little ones.
Being without my face in my phone was so freeing. I found a freedom that I hadn’t before realized I needed. We as adults need #ChildhoodUnplugged just as much as our kids. I wanted to bring light to this issue and open others eyes to it as well. You just don’t see it until you’re out of it.
Kendra: What’s the first thing you like to say to a kid when they say, “I’m bored?”
Emily: “Let’s go on an adventure!” Adventures can be had any and everywhere: your backyard, the local park, even in your own living room. Kids imaginations don’t need much to go on. You’ve just got to spark the curiosity and excitement and they run wild with the rest. At our house we’re big into adventures; building forts with blankets and pillows, dress up with old clothes or Halloween costumes, making a band with pots and pans from the kitchen or playing with the water hose outside.
Kendra: Being that your brand revolves around #ChildhoodUnplugged and getting kids interested in actually playing again, was fashion always the route you wanted to travel with that mission?
Emily: My background is graphic design. I’ve always been super into art and designing. I never thought I’d be creating fashion for a living. It really felt like my calling once the idea of American Bear Cub® dawned on me though. This was a great opportunity to create a company that helped my mission of #ChildhoodUnplugged and helping the environment while giving me that creative outlet I crave and need.
Kendra: How do you feel clothing delivers that sentiment to kids?
Emily: Everybody wears clothes. Whether you’re big into well-known labels or even wear handmade items, you’re wearing clothes. What you wear represents how you feel and sends your message to the world, especially kids who are so impressionable. Creating a line of clothing dedicated to having kids (and adults) connect with each other and the environment around them face to face helps drive home that message. The clothing promotes an active, fun and adventurous lifestyle where kids can have the freedom to think outside the tablet or smartphone.
Kendra: You’ve been on Etsy for a couple of years now. Was that when American Bear Club all started?
Emily: American Bear Cub® was an idea I’ve had since that time in 2013 when I went without a phone. The name came to me in a dream one night a few years later and it was a perfect fit. The next day I drew the logo out on paper and started working towards my dream of this company and its mission. I researched, learned what I needed to do to get everything going and just went with it. We officially opened for business on Etsy in September of 2017 and shortly launched our website thereafter. We’ve been growing more and more since, and have already beaten our quarterly goal for the beginning of this year. It’s so exciting to see where this is going and the awareness we’re bringing to peoples lives. I’m really excited and motivated for what’s to come.
Kendra: Do you have plans to head into retail or is being online the way to go for you?
Emily: We’ve recently started doing wholesale orders for boutiques and stores. We’d love to continue to create relationships with other like-minded businesses and get our message out to as many people as possible with every avenue available. I’d love to have our own retail store one day, too.
Kendra: Not only are you encouraging kids to play again, but you’re also helping bees along the way. What about the Planet Bee Foundation stood out as a worthy cause to help out with?
Emily: I searched for a few years to find the perfect non-profit organization to partner with. Saving the Bees has always been a huge passion of mine. It’s such an important environmental issue that others need more education about. And who better to educate on this issue than the next generation?
Planet Bee Foundation works with schools, nonprofits, summer camps, environmental centers, community gardens and businesses to build long-lasting care of the struggling honey bee and the environment by presenting hands-on, educational workshops on location. Planet Bee is working towards a future in which children and adults are exposed to global environmental issues, and given the tools to combat them.
Today the American child spends an average of seven hours a day in front of a screen inside; away from nature. Planet Bee’s educational programs take students outside. That plays a crucial role in connecting children with the earth at the time when they are developing the values which will steer the course of their lives. Outdoor education not only brightens our planet’s future but also improves students’ performance in school. Planet Bee Foundation envisions a world in which all students feel empowered to take action for their planet, regardless of race, gender, class or location.
Through our work, students will learn to love our planet and the importance of individual action in global movements. So they will become more equipped to tackle environmental problems in the future.
American Bear Cub® donates $5 of each sale of our “Bee Line” products to the Planet Bee Foundation. Every $10 donated provides an educational program of beekeeping for one child.
Kendra: What’s next from American Bear Club as we get ready for spring and summer?
Emily: Our “Bee Line” of products is set to launch on April 1st – which is really exciting. Continuing our efforts for #ChildhoodUnplugged and helping the environment. Also starting April 1st we are planting five trees for every item purchased. We’re also going to start hosting on-going environmental cleanups at our local parks, neighborhoods, and beaches while encouraging the need to reduce, reuse and recycle.