by John Edinger

Tribe of Lambs is a non-profit jewelry brand, which creates opportunities and bright futures for children with HIV. The companyʼs small line of quality, stylish, environmentally-friendly clothing and jewelry is sold online. All products are designed in Canada, where the company is located, and are made ethically (with love) by adult male and female artisans in India. (The company ensures that none of their products are made using child labor.) 100% of the profits go towards education and resources for HIV positive children in India. The company has over 500 contributors, who have touched the lives of hundreds of children. “When asked why they do it, their answer is, “so we can educate, so we can empower, one heart at a time.”

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What is the inspiration for the name of your company, “Tribe of Lambs”?

The name “Tribe of Lambs” was created with these thoughts in mind; The “lambs” depict the children we are working to empower, on their own a lamb is innocent, young, and vulnerable, yet stronger in numbers. We are creating a community, or Tribe for these Lambs, and hence the name!

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Given that HIV is a problem world wide, where did the idea for creating a nonprofit to benefit HIV-positive children in India come from?
“Tribe of Lambs” was created while the founder, Bobbi Paidel, was in India. There is an enormous number of children at-risk and in need in India (plus very talented artisan to produce our designs) so it seemed like the perfect starting point. We completed a few Compassion Projects with orphanages and children from the slums; building libraryʼs, putting on day-camps, installing solar panels for remote locations; before teaming up with Rays Children Home. When we first heard about Rays, and that they are focusing on HIV positive children, it really had us look at where we wanted to focus our efforts, projects, profits. While HIV is a problem world wide, the circumstances are quite different in India than that of say Canada where people are more educated on prevention, treatment, how transmissible, etc. The stigma and discrimination that still exist in India surrounding the disease is appalling. While at-risk children in India are already marginalized, ones the have HIV are even less likely to survive (let alone thrive). HIV+ children cannot go to a normal orphanage, school, playground for fear they will ‘ infect the othersʼ. This was extremely eye opening for us and we have decided to focus our efforts on HIV+ children in India. As we expand and grow we may look into other developing locations and countries, but India is where our attention is for the near future!

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How would you describe your style?
I would say our jewelry is unique, simple, bold and conversation-sparking. Our designs aim to have people comment and ask questions about each piece. We want our customers to feel included in the Tribe, proudly share the story of the piece they are wearing and possibly evoke an interest in others to shop consciously and support social businesses.

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How did you decide to focus on the particular products you are offering?
We looked at many different factors during our initial crowdfunding campaign in 2014 and tried out a few different product avenues, although we still had a terrible time deciding, lol! We put our efforts towards jewelry because we had a great, reliable, ethical producer we wanted to work with. We were confident in our designs and found that jewelry is a very cost effective item to ship globally. We wanted to focus on online sales through our website and have our products available worldwide, so shipping was a big one. The tees & totes are new additions this year as we had quite a few complements on our logo and people expressed the demand, we just carried through on it!

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What kinds of natural material are used in making your products?
This is an area that we are still working on, and are up for suggestions! So far our efforts include; in our jewelry we are using some recycled silver, products that maybe didnʼt sell, or that we want to tweak the design, and even some pieces that our customers donʼt wear any more- we have melted down and reused! In our t-shirts we have been using Organic Cotton and Bamboo, which is so amazingly soft! And with our packaging we are striving to use strictly recycled paper, organic muslin bags, and remembering that ‘less is more!’

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Your website is very engaging. How are you driving traffic to it?
Thanks! I think this is a work in progress for a new and growing company. We drive traffic to our website through word of mouth, people we meet at events, our newsletter, our social media sites, and recently we have started doing some paid ads on social media sites. We also have a wonderful intern who is assisting us with media, public relations and communications to get our name out there a bit more!

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Do you reach out to get business (and support for your cause), or does word of mouth drive your business?
Word of Mouth is amazing, and so is our community! We love reaching out to other businesses to collaborate and work together to accomplish great things. We are all about growing and expanding our Tribe of like-minded people who are out to empower others, shop consciously, live compassionately and make a lasting difference in the lives of children with HIV.

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Assuming that you are planning to expand your line, what types of products would you like to add?
Our 2017 product line will launch later this spring and I am very excited to say that it will not only include ALL your jewelry needs, but also items for men, children and of course women. I donʼt want to give away too much- we are still a Jewelry Brand, but we have included a few more items. And our tees and totes will be revamped in 2017. Stay tuned!

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Where do you see the company a year from now? Five years from now?
Good question! In 2016 we doubled what we accomplished in 2015, and we would be so blessed to do that again for 2017. The more jewelry we sell, the more profits we make, and the more children we get the opportunity to inspire, empower and create brighter futures for! That truly is why we do this. Our big dream that we are working towards is to have our own Tribe of Lambs Jewelry Cooperative in India where we can train and employ HIV+ men and women to produce our designs. We would love to have our own facility where we could 100% ensure the supply chain, integrate even more environmentally friendly practices, and give employment opportunity to HIV+ individuals. Along with this would be a permanent and expanded home for Rays where they could have the capacity to accept more HIV+ children and continue with the same high standard of care they are giving now. In 5 years, having these 2 items fulfilled would be outstanding….
and weʼre clear it will take a TRIBE.

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What sort of an impact do you hope to make on the fashion industry?
The Fashion Industry is huge, there are endless choices for consumers out there! The impact we are out to make is to have consumers aware of their IMPACT. Each time we purchase something it has an impact, whether it be on the economy, the environment, someoneʼs livelihood (or a combination of all 3), remember to make sure your purchases are making positive impacts on the world. Tribe of Lambs is out to bridge that gap between consumerism and compassion, there are so many amazing socially responsible brands out there- it is possible to buy all your fashion wants/needs from companies that make a contribution to our world!

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