I’m writing this month’s update from an office that feels very much like Santa’s workshop! The Christmas movies have been playing and the advent calendars have been opened – it’s December, everyone!
So, in the spirit of the holidays, I’ve decided to tweak a portion of a classic Christmas poem to share the joy of order fulfillment with our Collective. Read on, Dasher, on Prancer, to find out a bit about what we’re doing yesterday, today, and every day until Christmas…
‘Twas the month that has Christmas, and all through TC,
We’re building your orders, and smiling with glee;
The leather’s been cut and the Rings have been stamped,
Postcards have been written ‘til our hands have cramped;
It’s Darryl and Graham and sweet Jessica, too,
Don’t forget Veronica…wait, is she new?;
Plus Matt, Lauren, Erin, and Rebecca in tow,
And then there is Stewart, and our dear dog Cleo;
We’re building your Clips and we’re mailing your Tees,
In hopes you’ll find TC under your Christmas trees;
It means so much to us that you’ve decided to share,
The things we create for you to carry and wear;
So as the year closes we’re sending you cheer,
And shipping your packages with love from right here;
May your holiday season be a warm cozy dream,
Happy December to all from the whole TC team!
- NEW Toques: We launched our first-ever toques a few weeks back and are stoked to see them heading out the door already. This season’s toques come in Light Grey and Charcoal; they’re extremely soft and cozy and very un-itchy, which is a huge bonus! You’re able to wear the toques with or without a cuff because the small white TC tag is reversible. More info and photos of the toques can be found here and please let us know if you have any questions about them!
- Meet Veronica!: November was a super exciting month for us because we welcomed aboard our 9thteam member. We are THRILLED to introduce The Collective to Veronica, who has jumped in with both feet as TC’s Social Media Coordinator. Veronica hails from Calgary, Alberta, and is a seasoned travel veteran despite being the youngest member of the squad (by, um, just a few years!). We immediately fell in love with “Ron’s” energy and enthusiasm and she’s already keeping us entertained during order fulfillment (she’s got some pretty unique dance moves!). We look forward to V keeping us up to speed on what the kids are doin’ these days! Welcome to Team TC, Veronica :).
- TC Open House recap: We’ve been talking about hosting a small friends and family night here at TC HQ for some time and finally decided that we’d waited long enough! On November 22, Team TC invited about 35 of our nearest and dearest local pals to mix and mingle, eat pizza, and drink a few beers at our office. We also premiered the full-length Gifting Travel 001 video to this group (which you can watch here on our YouTube channel!). It was an awesome night and a real pleasure to share our space, and our story, with this small but extremely receptive group. We always appreciate the chance to talk about Gifting Travel and the evening allowed us to spread awareness about this important project to some of the people in our lives.
As you’d expect, Stew was on-hand at the Open House to film the night’s events. Check out Open House recap vid here!
Now seems like a great time to remind you that we love visitors so, if you’re ever in the area, please stop by for a chat and to check out our space! Maybe we’ll be watching Elf or an episode of Friends or, if you wait a few months, we might just have the BBQ fired up!
That’s all for November – back to the workshop I go! Happy holidays, Collective! See you in 2019!
Welcome to November, all! We’re comfortable here in the year’s penultimate month and continuing to gear up for the holiday season, TC style (meaning inventory prep and plenty of tea). Daylight Savings Time ended in BC on November 4, which means that while we did get an extra hour of sleep on Sunday, it’s getting darker and darker when we leave the office every day.
No tears here, though, as October was an unseasonably beautiful, unrainy month for us Vancouverites. Team TC is determined to soak up the last of the sun while we can (and some of us are better at this than others). Rebecca went on an epic hike to Garibaldi Lake that ended in plenty of snow and Jess continues to play outdoor soccer with no prospect of weather delays. However, Graham has moved from beach volleyball to hockey, a sure sign that #winteriscoming…
October was another productive, thought-provoking month here at TC HQ. A lot of our discussions these days center around inventory and products: do we have enough stock to fulfill holiday orders? How many boxes should we fold from week to week? What new products are Collective members absolutely desperate for?! The exciting news is that, with an increasingly well-rounded fulfillment team, we’re able to answer these kinds of questions with more and more accuracy and to plan effectively for the upcoming days, weeks, and months. We’re also able to devote time to product development so now (and always) is a great time for your feedback. On that note, keep reading below for some exciting hints about the items you can expect to see online this year!
- NEW Decals in stock: That’s right, we now have new decals live on our website! Darryl designed the decals with a fresh look and we’re stoked to see these versatile waterproof pieces back online. Even better: they come in a 3-pack for $5.00 USD.
- New products on order: Speaking of that new new, there are a couple of products coming down the pipe that we’re extra excited about. The reason? A few of these products have been on our Collective’s minds (and in your comments on our social) for a while, meaning that we’re taking your ideas and making them HAPPEN. We love seeing your product suggestions come to life in our store; that’s how our Necklaces, State Rings, and Dated Country Rings came to be, after all! While these upcoming products aren’t actually in-house yet, they are on order…and let’s just say that your Clips and Necklaces are going to look prettyyyy flashy. Okay, I’ve already said too much…
- TC x Wholesale: Did you know that TC also fulfills wholesale orders? Businesses occasionally reach out to us about ordering bulk Clips, Necklaces, and Rings for their employees, customers, or partners…and, needless to say, we’re thrilled to oblige! In October we had the privilege of creating two co-branded Clips for different companies who wanted to give members of their communities leather Clips stamped with their logo in addition to ours. It’s such a privilege to get to work with likeminded brands who aspire to shop Canadian and who love giving back!
Looking to purchase TC products in bulk for your business or interested in a different wholesale opportunity or collaboration with TC? Reach out to our very own Graham “Handsome Graham” Stan at email@example.com for more information. And thank you for thinking of us!
That’s it for October, Collective! Signing off now as your secretive-but-always-happy-to-help-TC team member :). Cheers to YOU!
Happy October, Collective! As the year’s spookiest month rolls on, we’re looking forward to carving pumpkins, watching scary movies, and, of course, drinking pumpkin-flavoured beer at the office in a few weeks. While I’m unlikely to don a costume on October 31, I’ll be more than happy to eat any Halloween candy that comes my way...mini chocolate bars, anyone?!
Now back to last month: as is typical of most retail right after summer, we saw September slow down enough for us to catch our breaths and ensure your orders were on their way to you within 8 business days. The colder weather brought some respite from the smoky heat we’d gotten used to in August, but the sun did come out right at the end of the month so we could throw a final BBQ for Darryl’s birthday. Burgers, chips, and potato salad are always a good time!
We also had our last quarterly meeting of the year in September; these meetings always leave me invigorated and inspired and I think the rest of the team would agree! We’re primed and ready for Q4 and are making some exciting changes internally to ensure that we’re well-equipped to execute everything that’s in the pipeline. In addition, we’re already preparing to the best of our ability for the upcoming holiday season; we want to ensure we have sufficient inventory and people-power to allow for a successful gifting season for you! Because TC is still a young company, it’s really hard to know what our holiday season will look like. One thing I know for sure: I’ll be buying eggnog prettttyyy quickly and requesting Christmas music while we fulfill orders. November 1, it’s all goin’ down!
To read more about what we got up to in September and where we’re headed next, take a peek below…
- Crewneck sweater launch: On the last day of September, we were super excited to officially launch TC crewneck sweaters. Just in time for the cold weather (at least in our part of the world), these crews are warm, soft, and ultra comfortable. And yes, I’m speaking from personal experience, as both crews have already become an important staple in my wardrobe. We’re pumped about the two colours we’re currently offering and would welcome any feedback about other colours you’d like to see (Black? White? Red? Get at us!).
We believe crewnecks are an important addition to the TC apparel lineup, and they’re one of many items we want to be able offer in addition to our Clips, Necklaces, and Rings. Like our tee shirts, they’re unisex and come in sizes XS to Large. Despite being fleece-lined, they’re not overly bulky so they’re easy to shove in your suitcase for trips to colder climates.
- TC x Sofar Sounds: On September 23, we were incredibly privileged to host a Sofar Sounds event at our space in Vancouver. For those unfamiliar with Sofar Sounds—I was until I attended this show!—it’s a global movement whose mission is to bring the magic back to live music. Sofar accomplishes this by transforming everyday spaces (like our office or someone’s backyard) into venues for intimate, secret live shows. As hosts of the event, along with the 60 or so guests who’d won tickets through Sofar’s lottery system, we were treated to performances by three amazing BC-based artists: Abraham, Friday Night Fires, and Devours. Each act was unique, captivating, and unbelievably talented; it was by far the coolest concert I’ve ever been to. We also all agreed that we’d never been part of a more respectful, attentive audience (a nice change from the noisy movie theatres I frequent). Our participation in the whole event was made possible by Stew, our resident Sofar expert and TC employee since June. Stew’s been involved in music scenes around the world and has attended Sofar events in four different cities. I would HIGHLY recommend checking out Sofar’s website and signing up for your city or a city you plan on visiting – I’m sure your experience will be worthwhile!
This collaboration with Sofar represents the first of, hopefully, a bunch of events we’d like to take part in or organize in conjunction with other groups, Vancouver-based or otherwise. One of the most wonderful and unexpected benefits of growing our team (you’ll remember we’ve doubled in size since February!) is that our network of friends keeps growing and, as a result, we’re meeting more people doing really cool things. It was a pleasure to share our space with likeminded Vancouverites and I know it won’t be the last time.
That’s all for now, Collective! Enjoy October and, as always, please reach out to us with anything you need from your friends here at TC :)!
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!
- 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 songwriter—we 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!
- 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!
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
- 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 :).
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 :).
- 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!
- 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!).
- 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 classic—view it here and stay tuned for more merch dropping soon.
- 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 :)!
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 :)!
- Gifting Travel update: ALL SYSTEMS GO, people! That’s right—in 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!
- 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!
- 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 :).
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!
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!
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 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!