March was an exciting month at TC HQ for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s no longer dark at 3:00 PM. Additionally, Team TC has been involved in an exhilarating, tense battle to determine who will win our office’s March Madness bracket. For those of you whose hobbies don’t include following US college basketball for two weeks every year…well, that is unfortunate. In any case, March Madness describes the 68-team single-elimination tournament that determines the best NCAA Division 1 men’s college basketball team in America. Before the tournament started, we filled out brackets indicating which team we thought would win each game and, as games are played, we’re awarded points for each correct guess (and they are, indeed, guesses). The tournament champion will be crowned on April 2 while we watch with bated breath and plates of pizza from Jess’ apartment and, with three free Friday lunches for the winner on the line, I don’t think I need to emphasize just how much is at stake here.
Basketball aside, the official launch of Spring saw a few other launches at TC this month and we continue to make headway on the projects we introduced to you in last month’s update. It’s hard to believe that March is nearly over, but we’re excited for everything April has in store. Keep reading for information on our progress, and for details about where you can find us at the end of April!
- Gifting Travel launch: Gifting Travel is now LIVE! We are thrilled to announce that, after years of living in Darryl’s head and months of in-house discussion, we’ve launched the project we call Gifting Travel. You can read all about it here, but the most important takeaway is that every time you purchase a TC product, you are helping to fulfill someone’s travel dream; in this case, Fatima’s dream to visit Barcelona with her son Ayat. Darryl met Fatima while on his honeymoon in Morocco last year, and their conversations—often about Fatima’s desire to explore the world outside of Chefchaouen—were the primary catalyst for launching Gifting Travel this month. We’ll be keeping you up to speed on Fatima’s road to Spain through our social media, emails, and on The Collective site, but don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions about the process (we may or may not have the answers now, but we will). Next stop: passports for Fatima and Ayat!
- wais 2.0: One of our primary efforts this month was to obtain feedback about wais, TC’s lil sister. We asked people close to us for no-holds-barred input about wais’ appearance, functionality, and overall usability and the results were telling, and surprisingly repetitive. One of the updates we decided to make right away is to the Current Cities page, specifically its organization: you’ll soon be able to view cities by continent and country rather than having to scroll through the entire page. However, the most significant update is the addition of unique tags that offer information about each recommended spot (think “coffee”, “brunch”, “cocktails”, “Indian food”, etc.). Each city will have its own page where you can click on the tags you’re interested in and only view recommendations that include those tags. These updates are being implemented as I write this sentence and I guarantee that they won’t be the last changes made to wais based on feedback from its most frequent and loyal users.
- New merch and packaging: We noted last month that we’re looking to add some new merch to our online store, and we’re stoked to say that this process is well underway! Winston from Creative Boulevard has stopped by with samples on more than one occasion and our designer Nick is working away on the unique designs for each piece we’ve chosen. I will say that my ability to help imagine clothes for other people is about the same as my ability to predict winners of basketball games played in a different country, but the process has been eye-opening in terms of both the communication required and the talent involved in picking and creating these particularly TC-styled items.
Similarly, it’s been great fun working with Jennifer from Great Little Box Company over the past few weeks to fine-tune our new packaging. We anticipate being able to order thousands of boxes in the coming weeks and, in the meantime, we’re figuring out how assembling said boxes is going to change the way we currently fulfill orders. Luckily, one of us (not naming names!) has previous work experience at a well-known pizza establishment where folding boxes was just a part of the job!
- Upcoming event — Fall For Local: Calling all Vancouver-based Collective members! On April 28 and 29, come find us at the Fall For Local Market in North Vancouver. This will be TC’s market debut and we are super excited to slang our clips, necklaces, and rings at this amazing event. In its own words, FFL is “a one-of-kind 'shop local' event that prides itself on curating high quality modern pop-up ft. independent brands.” So swing by for a chat, shop 85+ brands, and visit the event’s food trucks. That’s right, food trucks. We look forward to seeing you there and will be reflecting on the Market in April’s edition of Our Vancouver—stay tuned!
That’s our March, folks! Please drop us a line at any time and we hope to see some of you at the end of April. If you can’t come visit, a postcard or #ontheroadwithTC photo will do nicely :). And here’s hoping your March finishes the way Graham’s Madness bracket is—STRONG!
Well, it’s been an amazing ride for the past three Projects with TC. Together we’ve been able to raise over $30,000 for clean water and education in Northern Ethiopia. I’ve had the privilege, along with some lucky TC customers, to visit these communities and see firsthand how we’ve all been able to help. Hats off to all of you for making this possible!
Now as we move into our 4th Project, we want to do something a little different. A project that I’ve wanted to do since I started Traveller Collective.
One of the things I enjoy most about travel is the opportunity to meet and interact with locals from around the world. I love to hear about their lives and share what life is like in Canada. In every one of those experiences, I always walk away reminded of how similar we all really are. When it comes down to it, we all want the same thing—to be happy and healthy. However, I’ve found there’s something else that so many of us share and that’s a desire to see the world. It doesn’t matter where you live; we all dream of traveling the world and experiencing far away places and cultures.
Now, I can’t speak for everyone who's a part of Traveller Collective but I live in a country where I have the ability to make my travel dreams come true. Sure, I have to watch my spending and make some sacrifices but, at the end of the day, if I want it enough, I have the ability to save enough money for travel. But it’s just not the same for people in many other countries. They share the same dream of seeing the world but, in their reality, they will likely never get the opportunity. The idea of saving enough money to travel is impossible to comprehend and, unfortunately, their dream of seeing the world will almost certainly remain a dream forever.
I always find myself coming back to these thoughts, especially when the idea of travel comes up in conversations with locals. It makes me feel pretty damn lucky to have the opportunity to travel the world because I know these opportunities aren’t there for everybody.
My wife and I were in Chefchaouen, Morocco for our honeymoon back in November where I met a local woman named Fatima. She’s a friendly, kind-hearted, outgoing person that I really enjoyed getting to know. She told me all about her life in Chefchaouen and what it’s like working at the casa. One of her favourite parts of the job is getting to meet people from all over the world. She loves asking them about where they come from and what it’s like to live there. She has such a thirst for learning about different places and cultures. But Fatima's only been two places in her life: Chefchaouen, where she currently works, and the village where she grew up 80kms away. That’s the biggest trip she’s ever done.
From my time with Fatima, it was abundantly clear that she had dreams of seeing the world and experiencing the places that she only heard about. But, like a lot of people out there, she openly admits her travel dreams will never be a reality in her lifetime. With the amount of money she makes every month, the thought of saving enough to travel is impossible to comprehend. She also spoke to the fact that her 5-year-old son Ayat, who, in her eyes, is the most outgoing and adventurous boy in the world, will in all likelihood never be able to travel outside of his home village either.
Fatima didn't share these things with us as some sad sob story; just that it was their reality. But, I have to admit, it can be tough to hear and really makes me think again of just how privileged I am to have these opportunities to travel. I've also had so many people within the Traveller Collective community reach out to share the same sentiment.
So, after hearing stories just like Fatima’s for years, the timing feel rights to launch Project 4…to help someone less fortunate to fulfill their travel dream. And I can’t think of anyone better to do it with that Fatima and her son Ayat.
We're all unbelievably excited about this project, and have received amazing feedback from The Collective already! It’ll no doubt be a challenge, as there are a lot of moving pieces in order for this project to be a success, but we look forward to making it a reality. Throughout the coming months, we’ll keep everyone updated on the progress of the Project so we can all share in the experience together.
Until then, happy travels!
Like any startup that’s reached toddler maturity, we spend a lot of our time here at TC HQ discussing the various directions that this plucky nearly 3-year-old company can take. As the newest member of a now four-person team, it simultaneously fascinates and terrifies me that I’m part of discussions that concern, literally, the future of the company. From our morning 15 minuters to our weekly strategy sessions to our biweekly one-on-ones with Darryl, TC’s founder, we’re all constantly thinking and asking and brainstorming: what next?
TC was started back in August 2015 with one primary purpose: to create a convenient, easy-to-carry travel memento for people who, like us, love to travel and want to address some of the major social inequalities we’ve encountered while on the road. Since inception, TC has donated 20% of its profits to fund three projects, focusing on education and clean water, in different areas of Ethiopia. No matter what direction we take as a company, our desire to give back will always remain a cornerstone of everything we do at TC.
But in order to give more, we need to continue to grow. So the question remains: what, exactly, do we do now? Although our brainstorming sessions usually involve one of us uttering some variation of the phrase “I’ve got no idea if this will work, but…”, we’ve got a few exciting ideas in the pipeline that we’re really excited to share with you, The Collective. Keep reading for a sneak peek...and, as always, feedback is warmly welcomed!
- New merchandise: Our handmade clips and country rings are still our bread and butter, but the addition of shirts and necklaces in 2017 was an awesome first foray into expanding our online selection. With the help of the team over at Creative Boulevard, Graham has been working hard to source new merch, including crewnecks, hats, totes, and pins, so that you can wear and share your love for TC from head to toe.
- New packaging: Mailing our customers their orders in functional, eye-catching packaging has been a dream of Darryl’s for a while; in his words, “I’d love our packaging to reflect the style and quality of the product inside”. He and Graham have been working with Great Little Box Company here in Vancouver to design multipurpose boxes that can hold a clip or a necklace, as well smaller boxes for rings. You know what that means: our products will be more gift-able than ever! Graham has also been busy figuring out the fastest, cheapest, and most reliable way to ship orders to customers all over the world…but that’s another, more complex story (#shippingstruggles).
- wais: You may have noticed that our social media has recently featured a new kid on the block: wais, TC’s infant sister. wais is an offshoot of an earlier initiative called TC Top 5s that asked locals to recommend their five favourite locations in cities across the globe. Nowadays, Jess is spearheading wais’ effort to highlight the food and beverage aspect of Top 5s because we recognize that locals are a (largely untapped) wealth of information about amazing places to eat and drink on their home turf. Also, when we’re not talking about the company’s future, we are always talking about food. Check out wais’ website for insiders’ insights into food and drinks in 50+ cities (and stay tuned, because new cities are added each week!).
- Gifting Travel: This project has been on Darryl’s mind since launching TC, and its premise is very simple. He explains it best: “There are so many people out there that dream of seeing the world. The reality for myself and for most people I know is that if we tighten our belts and watch our spending, we have the opportunity to make that dream come true. But for so many others, the idea of being able to save enough money for a passport, plane ticket, hotel, and everything else that goes along with travel is simply unrealistic. Almost everyone wants to travel; the difference is that only some of us are able to do it. The goal of Gifting Travel is to fulfill a person’s travel dream; to say to someone, ‘Where in the world have you always wanted to go?’ and then provide them that experience. It will be something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”
- The Collective: If you are reading this article, ta da—you have entered the home of The Collective! The Collective serves as a space where we can share our thoughts, ideas, questions, and feelings (not too many, we promise) with you. We are so incredibly grateful for the generous, supportive, and loyal collective that has sprung up around TC and we want to create a place where we can all interact and connect. You may see yourself or your friends on the site’s pages, and you’ll hopefully get to meet other awesome travelling types, too.
There you have it! February may be a short month, but it’s been productive and fulfilling for our team in Vancouver. Please get in touch with us in any and all ways (are carrier seagulls a thing?), and keep checking this page for more musings about travel, our products, food, Vancouver, our projects, food again, and more.