Ok, here’s my deep dark secret – I don’t like exercising. I know in this day and age when everyone is talking kale-maca-wheatgrass shakes and how many minutes they can hold a plank, it’s almost sacrilegious to say you don’t like working out, but there it is. That’s not to say I don’t do it. I practice yoga, pilates, barre, and aerial silks. I love seeing my body fit and strong, and feel really good about myself right after a session when my muscles are swollen and achy. But, for some reason, I go through a pointless internal debate before every workout.
Motivated Me: C’mon get changed, you gotta go to the gym.
Lazyass Me: What..? No, why??
Motivated Me: It’s been 4 days. You’re gross and blubbery.
Lazyass Me: Urggh.. but it’s almost dinnertime, I’m hungry.
MM: Have a banana now. You’ll work up an appetite.
LM: But it’s so far away.
MM: It’s 6 blocks.
LM: I can’t…. the couch needs me.
MM: Get your lazy ass up and change, and you can sit in the steamroom and sauna after.
LM: Fiiiiine. <Drags body off couch>
** After workout**
LM: That was AWESOME! I’m going again tomorrow! Make sure you make me.
MM: <Rolls eyes>
At the end of the day, though, I muster the motivation. And I’ve found that one of the things that really helps me get my butt out the door is serious fitnesswear. Let’s face it when you’re going to be sweating and rolling around the ground in all manner of contortions we call “core exercises”, it seems tempting to just wear some daggy ol’ t-shirt and shorts. But I’ve found that when I dress like I’ve stepped out of a Lululemon catalogue, it just motivates me to workout harder (I mean everyone checks everyone else out at the gym, amirite?). All the more so, if the fitnesswear brand supports a cause – then damn it, Lazyass Me, now you really need to get off the couch!
When A Kindness Collective reached out to me to be an ambassador for the brand, I spent some time checking out their collection (those high shine leggings are killer!). But when co-founder Helen told me more about the brand and their mission, I really wanted to support them and their cause.
A Kindness Collective was born out of a desire to help support the Little Loves orphanage in Andhra Pradesh, India. Sisters Helen and Jennifer Kwan had spent some time in November 2017 with the 11 children the non-profit had rescued off the streets and recognised there was a need for the orphanage to have financial sustainability. In fact, 100% of the proceeds go to helping orphans at Little Loves and around the world, to provide them with food, shelter, education, and love.
I figure that there is so much to share about this amazing venture by these two big-hearted sisters, that I’ll let Helen explain it in her own words:
Me: I understand you wanted to support Little Loves in a financially feasible way but why activewear?
Helen: When I was deciding on a product that I wanted to sell to raise money for the Little Love Orphanage, my friend gave me the idea of creating a yoga line. My goal was to create the next popular social enterprise much like Tom’s, Warby Parker, or Love Your Melon to benefit these children. We realized that there was no trending activewear company, at least to my knowledge, that was giving all its proceeds towards a good cause. I also thought about how popular leggings had become in the past few years and thought, why not? Since the Little Loves Orphanage is based in India and the origins of yoga developed in India, it made complete sense to me to start an activewear line to support the orphans in India.
Who does the designs and where do you have AKC made?
My vision for AKC has always been to be as collaborative and as inclusive as possible. If we really want to help the children, then I believe the more people involved who care about this cause the better. With this mindset, we have ongoing collaborations to support our brand. We work with the Apparel Agency, a manufacturing company in Chicago, and Lucky Prints, a screen-printing company also based in Chicago, to build our products. My sister Jennifer has a great eye for fashion and she came up with the vision for our “We wear kindness for Andhra Pradesh” tank. We created this tank in order to inspire people to wear kindness, and Andhra Pradesh is the Indian state in which the orphanage resides. We also work with established activewear companies such as Noli and DYI to sell their clothes on our website. A unique design of AKC’s is the gold orphan handprint that we have screen printed on the back of many of our apparel. We collaborated with Samuel, the Indian-native who runs the orphanage, to give us a blueprint of a handprint of one of the children’s at the orphanage. Samuel had the kids paint their hands and put their handprints on paper to extract this print. So you can imagine why I love seeing the handprint on our pieces because it makes me feel that much closer to the cause, and I hope customers will feel the same way!
Where do you see AKC growing to? What are your future plans for it?
I have many plans to expand AKC. We’ve been asked multiple times about expanding to menswear, and this is actually something we wanted to do from the beginning but we had a hard time partnering with the right people to do this when we first started out. However, now that we have been established for a few months, we are starting talks with a company based in Canada that sells men’s activewear. My hope for this company is to reach as many people out there as possible who want to support these children, so if that means expanding beyond activewear, I would be happy to do that one day.
Tell me about your accountability process, how can customers know that 100% of the proceeds are helping Little Loves?
We just started launched the company in December of last year, so unfortunately we aren’t profitable at this time. However, we work very close with Little Loves since I am on the board of this nonprofit, so I can see which months the orphanage needs more help in which case AKC is able to step in and help. In terms of accountability, we have a professional accountant based in Philadelphia who will audit and review all of our transactions and ensure that the money is being allocated correctly. We have plans to become a certified B Corporation, and if we become certified, that will mean we meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Unfortunately, we can’t become fully certified yet because we have not been in operation for more than 12 months. This is the direction we hope to go down, and I’m really excited about what will happen as we grow as an established brand and what the future will bring.
Do you see AKC as a standalone from Little Loves? Will AKC one day be helping out charities too or is it very tied to the orphanage?
Even though we are only partnering with Little Loves at this time, I do see us supporting other charities in the future. While the heart of Little Loves is supporting orphans in India, AKC has a broader mission to support children across the globe. I’ve had a strong conviction from God for the past few years to help the children of Zimbabwe, and I am hoping that AKC can be an avenue in which I can do that one day. I’ve had conversations with the superintendent of the Harare Children’s Home in Zimbabwe, and she is open to receiving help from us once we become more established. After Zimbabwe, I hope there will be more countries we can support, but every day I am learning to take one step at a time.
How can someone get involved or help in other ways?
For anyone who wants to get involved with A Kindness Collective or Little Loves, please reach out to me directly at email@example.com. As I said earlier, if anyone has a heart to support these kids, I would never want to turn down this extra help. If you have a specific talent that you could bring to the company and to help support the children I would love to hear about it! I am always open for collaboration and especially looking for brand ambassadors that can get the word out about our company.In July, we will be throwing our “Little Loves Run the World” Campaign, which is a virtual 24/7 week-long relay race fundraiser for the orphans in India. Our aim is to have at least one volunteer running somewhere around the world and raising awareness for the orphans for an entire week straight, a total of 168 consecutive hours. We use social media to highly leverage this event, and it has been highly successful in the past. A couple of years ago, we raised about $15,000 in one week, and so we are anticipating great responses for this year as well. Follow us on our social media pages with the handle @akindnesscollective for more information!
For 10% discount on your A Kindness Collective purchases, enter code “thiswanderingeye”.
Outfit: Aria Bra, Mila Legging, Crossback Tank
Outfit: Crossback bra, Highshine Leggings