August Update

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Lauren Makin

September 3/18 - 4 min. read

As the end of summer nears, it’s safe to say that August has been a bit of a blur! I feel like I’m constantly repeating myself on this topic but it really is crazy how fast time passes, particularly as the year goes on. Here at TC HQ we’re really glad we followed through on our hiring goals and added two more people to our team because we’ve rarely had a day in August when at least one team member hasn’t been away. I travelled to Whistler, Jess roadtripped from San Francisco to Big Sur, Stew returned home to Northern Ireland for a family wedding, and Graham is heading off to Italy as the month draws to a close. Even more importantly, though, Darryl was able to enjoy a bit of time at home with his newborn son! August has definitely brought some big changes to Team TC and we are all looking ahead with a bunch of excitement and, as is always the case with a growing business, some butterflies and question marks!

Keep reading below for details about what we’ve been up to and where we’re headed as the weather changes and we prepare for the year’s last quarter and the busy Christmas season!

  1. More new hires: As promised in the June/July update, we’re super excited to confirm that we’ve added two new hires to our team. That’s right, Team TC is now a team of eight! Rebecca hails from Liverpool and had literally just arrived in Vancouver when she joined our team as a Fulfillment Assistant. She comes with glowing recommendations from one of the UK’s leading headwear producers and brings her hands-on approach and fabulously dry humour to our team.

Erin is originally from Saskatchewan and is an incredibly talented singer and songwriterwe know because we’ve been listening to her tunes while we fulfill your orders (check out the band Rah Rah and you’ll see what I mean)! Erin has taken to the role of Fulfillment Assistant like a natural thanks to her passion for teamwork and her many years in logistics and warehousing.

It feels great to round out our team with two more women, both of whom bring unique experience and brand-new lunch spot recommendations to the group. Welcome aboard, Erin and Rebecca!

  1. Gifting Travel 002: Now that Gifting Travel 001 is officially wrapped, we’re working on launching Gifting Travel 002, which we anticipate taking place sometime in 2019. The cool part about 002 is that we’ll be able to take what we learned during 001—everything from the best way to translate WhatsApp messages to tips on applying for visitor visas—and use it for GT 002, all while learning completely new lessons as we plan a new trip for a different person from another country.

 With Stew at the helm, we’re also working on a 10 minute or so video recap of the first trip. Stay tuned for updates on the video as well as on GT 002!

  1. wais update: Those of you who have been following wais, TC’s sister company that asks trustworthy locals in cities around the world for their five favourite spots for food and drinks, will have noticed that we haven’t added new spots to the site throughout much of August. The reason for this is because we are taking time to gather feedback about wais so we can improve the site for users. We’re developing a short survey that wais users can complete based on their experience and are hoping to solicit in-depth feedback from any users who are willing to participate. Does this sound like you?! Then please raise your hand and reach out to lauren@travellercollective.comso we can arrange a chat via email, phone, or Skype!

We always talk about how important feedback is to us and we’re hoping that this purposeful, structured effort to hear what you think shows that we mean business! We chat about wais all the time in our office but can only make it better when we know what it’s missing based on user experience. That’s where you come in!

  1. Necklaces and more necklaces: We’ve noticed a significant spike in the number of necklaces you’ve been ordering in recent months, which is both awesome and surprising given how popular the Brown Clip has always been! The Gunmetal Necklace is certainly our most popular style while the Dainty Silver and Classic Silver usually come in fairly evenly behind it. The Dainty Brass was our least popular necklace by a large margin and so, after switching suppliers to a company that didn’t offer a brass option, we decided to stop selling Dainty Brass altogether. The good news is that, a) our new supplier is keeping our current necklaces well-stocked and we’re really happy with both their quality and appearance and b) we are always looking to expand our necklace line based on customer input so there’s nothing to say that we won’t have a brass, or gold, or rose gold necklace option in the future.

That’s all for August, folks! Thank you for all of your summertime support and wishing you a happy September, whether that means back to school, back to sweaters, or back to planning your next travel adventure :).

June & July Update

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Lauren Makin

August 1/18 - 4 min. read

And just like that, it’s August! You’ll notice we’ve been awfully quiet from TC HQ in recent months, but we swear it’s for good reasons, many of which are described below. Summer is officially in full swing around these parts: we’ve BBQed for Friday lunch, we’ve acquired two new office fans, and some of us have even foregone socks and shoes given the recent heatwave. 

We also spent our first Friday evening as a team of six (plus a few special guests) outside the office enjoying a favourite summer pastime: watching the Vancouver Canadians baseball team beat the Eugene Emeralds 5-1 at Nat Bailey Stadium. It was really awesome to spend time together away from our computers and hammers, and these kinds of socials will be an increasingly important part of TC’s culture as our team grows (more on that below!).

For now, we’re spending most of our time making your orders and the rest of the time doing fun stuff like wrapping up Gifting Travel 001, launching new merch, and tweaking the website. Keep reading for details and, as always, please get in touch to say hey whenever the urge strikes :). 

  1. Gifting Travel 001 WRAPPED!: If you were following along on Instagram, you’ll know that Jess and Darryl spent 10 amazing days overseas for Gifting Travel 001. They flew to Morocco to pick up Fatima and Ayatollah and then soaked up everything that Istanbul, Turkey, had to offer. Highlights included visiting the Blue Mosque and the Istanbul Aquarium, taking Fatima and Ayat on a boat for the first time, and watching Fatima revel in moments like getting her first receipt and eating her first McDonald’s cheeseburger.

To commemorate Gifting Travel 001, and in preparation for Gifting Travel 002, we’ve put together a short film that features highlights from the trip. We’re working on a longer piece that will include interviews with Darryl and Fatima and more footage of their time together but, for now, check out the GT video and feel free to share widely within your network!

  1. New hire(s) continued: We really lucked out when we welcomed Stewart onto the team as our second Production and Fulfillment Coordinator back in June. Stew hails from Belfast, Ireland, and is an incredibly talented actor and director (he worked on Game of Thrones, sooo…). Stew’s knowledge of film, television, theatre, and music is unparalleled, and he’s a welcome addition to my discussions with TC team member Matt about celebrity news and the newest Netflix must-watch. Speaking of watching videos, Stew’s filmmaking abilities are showcased in the Gifting Travel short film so go WATCH IT NOW if you haven’t already!

We are currently in the process of hiring TWO Fulfillment Assistants to help Stew and Matt cut the leather and engrave the rings that are integral to your handmade orders. Fingers crossed that by August’s update, we’ll be a team of eight (plus Cleo, of course!).

  1. White Tee launch: Just in time for summer, we introduced our Classic White Pocket Tee last week. We worked with our designer pal Nick to decide on colours and style and are really happy with how this beauty turned out! It’s versatile, comfortable, and classicview it here and stay tuned for more merch dropping soon.
  1. Fulfillment (and more fulfillment): Fulfillment is our term for our process of completing your orders and getting them out the door to you, our wonderful Collective! It’s been a fulfillment-heavy summer for us and the amount of time we’re spending over in the “workshop” area of our space definitely proves it. That’s why we’re working to build out our team, improve our efficiencies, track metrics and set goals, and strengthen all of our abilities (from box folding to ring engraving) to ensure that your order is built to our standards and on its way to you within 8 business days. We’re all learning what fulfillment looks like as a team of six, soon to be eight, and it’s always exciting and always a work in progress :).

So, with that said, thank you so much for your patience this summer and for communicating with us as often as you do. Whether it’s to tell us what you want on your Custom 3-Letter Ring, to pass on suggestions for products you’d love to see, or to share the story behind your order, we LOVE hearing from you. Happy August, everyone :)!

May '18 Update

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Lauren Makin

June 3/18 - 4 min. read

Happy June, everyone! May was an exciting, productive month here at TC HQ in Vancouver. May was also the first month this year that we experienced a few brief, albeit noticeable, absences on our team as we all embark on a bit of pre-summer travel. Darryl played tourist in New York City for the first time, I spent a few days in the sun in Arizona, Jess checked out a surf competition in Tofino, and Graham is currently in Barcelona en route to Mallorca for some seaside adventures. We know that we are so, so lucky to be able to take off and see these amazingly diverse, special places in the world. I’ll also be so bold as to speak for all of us when I say how rewarding it is to return from a trip feeling invigorated, inspired, and wanting to come back to work, catch up with your colleagues, and find out what’s happening at TC and with you, our Collective.

Okay, enough sappy stuff! Keep reading to find out what happened here this month and where we’re headed going into the first official month of summer :)!

  1. Gifting Travel update: ALL SYSTEMS GO, people! That’s rightin case you missed the email with the latest Gifting Travel update, flights and accommodations are booked and Fatima, Ayat, and Team TC’s Darryl and Jess are headed out on June 16 (less than two weeks from now!). There’s been a slight change of plans, though, and due to complexities associated with Fatima and Ayat obtaining tourist visas for Spain, the group is now off to beautiful Turkey! All four are extremely excited, and all are visiting the country for the first time. 

There is a ton to be done in terms of finalizing the group’s itinerary for Istanbul and ensuring everyone has the necessary luggage and supplies for the trip, but we’ll be sharing the entire adventure with you via our social media and in email blasts. Keep your eyes peeled!

  1. New hire(s): We are THRILLED to announce that we’ve added a fifth member to our team! We warmly welcome Matt to the group as the first of two Production and Fulfillment Coordinators. Matt brings a boatload of experience in logistics and project management to the group thanks to his long history in retail. He can quote “Friends” with the best of them and isn’t afraid of a post-work patio beverage. Needless to say, we are so excited to have him on the team to help make our fulfillment process faster and more efficient!

We’re also looking for a sixth hire, a second Production and Fulfillment Coordinator, to add to the group. This person must be based in Vancouver, so give us a shout if this sounds like you or someone you know!

  1. Fall For Local recap: We had a blast at our first-ever Fall For Local Market at the end of April, slangin’ clips + rings and interacting with locals and likeminded business owners. There were SO many awesome vendors at the Market; a few of our favourites were City and She, Konisa Studio, and NutMeg Mylk. It was a really impressive event with a great turnout on both Saturday and Sunday.

One of our most interesting takeaways from the event—and both Darryl/Graham and Jess/I noted this on our respective days at the TC booth—was the realization that our products require some explanation in a face-to-face environment. That is to say, it isn’t entirely evident in personto people unfamiliar with our product, despite our sign proclaiming “All Your Travels. One Place”, what exactly the clips and rings signify. Of course, to us, that’s part of the appeal: the clip and ring combo is a subtle, personal reminder of your travels without being too flashy or in your face. However, in a market setting, the product requires a degree of clarification that it just doesn’t online or on social media, which are our primary means of sharing the product. Having to speak to the rings’ purpose was a first for most of us and it was a lot of fun seeing the looks of comprehension and excitement dawn on peoples’ faces when they realized what we were displaying!

Overall, the experience was worthwhile on so many levels (not to mention the fact that Jess and I won a market-related contest against Graham and Darryl…there’s always a contest). It also served as a testament to the power of community building and of good ol’ word of mouth advertising, which we have so many of you to thank for.

So thank you for everything you do for TC and for being so invested in contributing to our causes. Please follow along with Gifting Travel throughout June and send good wishes to the four travellers! May their flights be on time and their adventures be many! And happy pre-summer travels to all of you :).

Gifting Travel Update #2

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Lauren Makin

May 29/18 - 2 min. read

Passports are in, plane tickets have been purchased, and accommodations are booked! We are thrilled to announce that Fatima, her son Ayat, and Darryl and Jess from Team TC are counting down the days until they depart on the inaugural Gifting Travel trip.

However, due to the complexities associated with obtaining a tourist visa for Spain (which we discussed in more detail in the last Gifting Travel update), there has been a change of plans and the group is now travelling to a different country: Turkey! Moroccan passport holders don’t require tourist visas for Turkey so, while Jess and Darryl will need to complete paperwork to obtain visas for Turkey with their Canadian passports, Fatima and Ayat will not. This means significantly less work for them to undertake in Morocco and ensures peace of mind for all involved.

Fatima is, of course, a little disappointed that she won’t be visiting Barcelona this year and we’re disappointed too. But in Fatima’s words, it is more the experience of leaving Morocco and exploring somewhere completely new that she’s most excited about! Turkey is somewhere she has always dreamed of going and the trip will be full of new and exciting things for her and her son. From the first time seeing the ocean and taking a plane to experiencing a new culture and language.

We’ll be sending out another update as the group’s departure date, June 16, approaches. Stay tuned, and thank you so much for your ongoing support of this project!

April '18 Update

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Lauren Makin

April 27/18 - 6 min. read

Earlier this month, Team TC had our first quarterly meeting of 2018 and followed it up with breakfast at a diner on Commercial Drive. And now, writing this, the first third of the year is over. How is that even possible?

April completely whizzed by and it is with increasingly less trepidation about the temperature (on my part) that we’re finally able to open the office doors and enjoy the sun while we work. Our plants and Cleo the Dog certainly are happy, and I’m already nervous about the proximity of Earnest Ice Cream to our desks come the long hot days of summer…

As promised back in February, all of the projects we introduced then and touched on in last month's update continue to roll along. Keep reading to see what we’re workin’ on and wrappin’ up in the first month of Q2!

1. Gifting Travel update: I’m talking Gifting Travel in more detail here, but April saw some significant strides made toward our goal of sending Fatima and Ayat to Barcelona. It also presented some unforeseen challenges, particularly as we continued looking into the requirements Fatima needs to meet to obtain a tourist visa for Spain. The good news is that Fatima and Ayat have completed their passport applications! This means they’re one step closer to their trip becoming a reality.

2. wais: After launching wais 2.0 last month, we’re excited to keep adding new cities to the site alongside relevant tags for each recommendation (examples of tags include “French”, “baked goods”, and “dessert”). Some of the cities we’re most excited about adding to the site include Dublin and Rome, as well as new spots from locals in Toronto and Nashville. We’re continuing to make changes to the site, primarily relating to its appearance and usability. It’s interesting, though, how wais’ purpose—what we believe it should do—continues to shift and, in some ways, evolve into what we believe it could do. We want wais to serve as a tool for travel inspiration—and believe it does in its current picture-centric incarnation—but improving its functionality, which will allow users to interact easily with wais when they’re in an unfamiliar city, is a top priority. The feedback we’ve obtained so far has been invaluable, so please check out the latest site updates and pass on your thoughts!

3. New merch: I’m hopeful that you’ve already received an email containing all of the juicy details but, in case you missed it, TC now offers Dated Country Rings! Our customer service guru Graham notes that customers have really been clamouring for numbered rings in recent months so we’re proud to have expanded our stamp collection to include the numbers 0 through 9 as well as the symbols + , ’ - and, my personal favourite, a heart! You can add numbers to any new Country Rings you order to show the year you visited (in the format of ‘XX). See this item’s product page for more details!

In addition, we are all very stoked on the new apparel we’ve been working on in partnership with our supplier and our designer. We’ve been fine-tuning a few key pieces to bulk up the shop and we’re happy to announce that, in the coming weeks, the first item we’ve ordered will be rolled out! You heard it here first: we’ll be adding a fresh white t-shirt to the shop. The shirt is unisex, super comfy, and features a brand new design that was our unquestionable favourite. Next up: a canvas tote so that you can carry all of your beach day essentials, whether that’s a book, a towel, or a growler of beer (or all three!).

4. New packaging: On Monday, April 16, we had the privilege of taking a field trip to the impressive facility that is Great Little Box Company just outside of Vancouver. There is definitely nothing “little” about the place and its many employees were cheerful and extremely knowledgeable. Jennifer, our tour guide and faithful GLBC liaison, showed us where all of the box-related magic happens and we were able to give the thumbs up to our box design right before it went to press. Talk about getting the adrenaline going on a Monday morning!

Now, moments before typing this, the new boxes have just been delivered (!!!) and we’re going to engage in a team folding session before launching them at the Fall For Local Market in Vancouver this weekend.

For all of the Collective members that we don’t see this weekend at FFL in North Van, you can expect to get up close and personal with the boxes any time you order a clip or necklace going forward.We hope you, and the pals you gift them to, love them as much as we do!

Until next month, bring on the sun…or whatever kind of weather is customary for your home this time of the year :). Happy travels!

Gifting Travel Update #1

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Lauren Makin

April 27/18 - 3 min. read

It’s been just over a month since we launched Gifting Travel and it’s already been a wild ride. We’re learning a lot and really, truly appreciate all of the support from you, our Collective, so far! 

Next up on our Gifting Travel checklist is Fatima’s application for a tourist visa to Spain. To be honest, this particular part of the process has been the most eye-opening step so far for our team in Vancouver. As we continue to work through the visa process with Fatima, we’ve realized that we were somewhat naïve to the fact that obtaining a tourist visa with a passport other than a Canadian one is not as easy as we, all Canadians, anticipated.

According to the website TravelFreedom, a Moroccan passport holder can enter 59 countries without a visa but requires a visa for 155 countries. Canadian passport holders, on the other hand, can enter 172 countries visa-free and only require visas for 41 countries. The Moroccan passport is ranked 69thin the world in terms of the number of destinations its holders can visit with various kinds of supporting documents, if any. Conversely, Canada comes in at 5th; this means, of course, that it’s considerably easier to travel as a Canadian than as a Moroccan. While this might seem obvious to some readers, the extent to which this is true is becoming clearer as we make progress with Gifting Travel.

In order to obtain a tourist visa for Spain, specifically, Fatima needs to submit her application in person to the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in Morocco up to eight weeks before her departure date. In addition to the visa application form, she’s also required to: obtain medical insurance that includes international coverage; provide a cover letter explaining, in detail, the purpose of her visit; prove that she has a return trip to Morocco booked; and provide a travel itinerary and proof of hotel for the entire duration of her stay. According to the Spanish government website, a foreigner may also be required to demonstrate that they have sufficient means of financial support (i.e. money in their bank account) in order to enter Spain. While the members of Team TC who accompany Fatima on her trip will certainly have to meet some requirements as well, they’re not nearly as stringent—or as personal—as the extensive list outlined above. 

All of this is to say that we, as Canadians (even relatively well-travelled ones), weren’t fully aware of these particular challenges when we launched Gifting Travel. We anticipated stumbling blocks, sure, and knew that there were risks associated with offering someone from an unfamiliar country a trip to another, potentially equally unfamiliar, country, but the particular nature and degree of these risks is something we’re learning as we go. The biggest risk at this point in the journey is that Fatima could apply, and pay, for a visa and then be denied. If she couldn’t obtain a visa, Fatima couldn’t go to Barcelona.  

Of course, all is not lost! In fact, we remain quite confident that Fatima’s application will go through and we’re really excited about the progress we’ve made together thus far :). We’ll continue to keep our Collective up to speed and update the timeline accordingly. Stay tuned, and thank you again for following along on our journey with Fatima! 


March '18 Update

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Lauren Makin

Mar. 26/18 - 7 min. read

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!

  1. 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! 
  1. 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. 
  1. 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!

  1. 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!

Gifting Travel

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Darryl McIvor

Mar. 19/18 - 3 min. read

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!

February '18 Update

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Lauren Makin

Feb. 20/18 - 7 min. read

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!

  1. 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.
  1. 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).
  1. 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!).
  1. 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.” 
  1. 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.