Category: Good Company

Wearing Our Pride on Our Sleeves

By dweb247 on June 5th 2019

This is Kyle – our fearless VP of Design, Merchandising and Supply Chain, and unsurprisingly, the best dressed person in our office. He’s been at Toad for a little over a year and he’s already shaking things up (in the best way). Like creating our first ever Pride Tee. We sat down with Kyle to talk inspiration, the outdoors, and what’s on any respectable Pride playlist.

Let’s just start big: Why did you decide to make this T-shirt?

KYLE: Our first Pride Tee is about continuing to raise awareness about inclusivity and openness in the outdoors. Obviously, these T-shirts are making an actual impact with dollars (100% of the proceeds are donated!), but more so it’s about showing Toad&Co’s support for inclusivity everywhere.

100% of proceeds are going to the Venture Out Project. Why did you choose to work with this non-profit?

KYLE: We knew we wanted to partner with an organization that was working with LGBTQ+ youth to build their confidence. Getting kids comfortable with themselves and with nature is so important. I grew up in Northern Idaho and found a lot of confidence in the outdoors and sports. The Venture Out Project is a fantastic organization that brings together all ages of the queer community to experience the outdoors. It’s so inspiring, and frankly, so necessary.

The outdoor industry isn’t known for inclusivity and diversity (though it’s starting to turn around!). What do you think outdoor companies can do to be more inclusive to all groups, especially LGBTQ+ communities?
KYLE: Show up. Outdoor companies need to show up at events and break down the walls about what the “outdoors” are and who “belongs” there. Spending time outdoors is about connecting with yourself, with friends, with nature… There’s no reason there should be barriers to anyone in the outdoors.

History pop-quiz: Do you know the origins of the rainbow flag?
KYLE: I do! It started in the wake of Stonewall and it was a symbol to invite all walks of life to feel like they’re part of the greater community. It was designed as a flag to inspire people to rally together.

*Editors note: Woo, 10 points to Kyle! The first rainbow flag is attributed to Gilbert Baker – an Army vet and drag performer living in San Francisco in the 70s – who teamed up with Harvey Milk in the wake of the Stonewall Riots to create a flag for the LGBTQ+ “nation.” The most common LGBTQ+ flag has six colors: red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, royal blue for art, and violet for spirit. There are many variations of the classic rainbow flag and dozens of other flags associated with the LGBTQ+ community. Hopefully you’ll see them all flying high at local Pride events this summer.

What does Pride mean to you?
KYLE: For me, it’s about community and letting people be who they are. Celebrate what makes you uniquely you.

How are you planning to celebrate Pride this year?
KYLE: I’m traveling back to Ohio to spend time reconnecting with family and friends. My husband and I started a whiskey distillery in Columbus so we’re having a big party. As for Toad, I’m excited for us as a company to show up at local Pride events this summer (Pride celebrations go well beyond June in California…). At the end of the day, Pride is just a celebration of people who care about people. It’s about supporting the good stuff out there.

Final question – name 5 tracks (or artists) on repeat during Pride:

Dance Yrself Clean – LCD Soundsystem

Mr. Blue Sky – Electric Light Orchestra

I Want Your Love – CHIC

Take Your Mama – Scissor Sisters

Together Again – Janet Jackson

Here’s the full playlist.

Summer To-Do: Shakespeare in the Park

By cwiesendanger on May 15th 2019

A warm summer breeze, an open bottle of wine, men in tights… it’s a midsummer night’s dream, or, Shakespeare in the Park. Whether you’re a longtime fan of The Bard or have fuzzy memories of that one high school English class, get thee to this summer tradition. The tradition goes back to 1954 (well, 1599 if you want to get technical), when a few New York visionaries wanted to make Shakespeare theater as free and accessible as library books. Well, turns out people love free stuff and outdoor drinking, so the idea was a hit and has since caught on with communities all over the world. So without further ado, here’s our list of the best FREE 2019 Shakespeare in the Park festivals in the US. Pack a picnic and bring your kin.

New York, NY – The grand dame of Shakespeare in the park and the one that started it all. Since 1962, over five million people have enjoyed more than 150 free productions of Shakespeare at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The New York Shakespeare Festival runs May through August and offers two shows: May/June catch Much Ado About Nothing staged with an incredible all black cast! and July/August is Coriolanus, a riveting political epic of democracy and demagoguery. Ah, art imitating life.

Asheville, NC – On a campy-but-lovable Olde English stage,The Montford Park Players put on North Carolina’s longest running free Shakespeare Festival. Prepare with bug spray or our new Debug clothes.

Kansas City, MO – Does it get better than sonnets and BBQ? Kansas’ City’s Heart of America Shakespeare Festival knows how to party. This season’s show is Shakespeare in Love (we’re sensing a pattern…) and you can reserve your seating online beforehand.

Boston, MA – The 24th season of Boston’s Commonwealth Shakespeare Company goes off at the Parkman Bandstand 6 days a week. This year’s show is the little known mystical dramedy, Cymbeline, about the fates of King Cymbeline’s family. Expect mistaken identities, twists and turns, and the all-consuming quest for true love.

Louisville, KY – Coming in at the most ambitious company, The Kentucky Shakespeare Festival is putting on no less that 7 different productions. No tickets required, and dogs are welcome. All of Louisville’s a stage…

Buffalo, NY – Mark your cal for June 20th when the 44th summer season of Shakespeare in Delaware Park kicks off. The first half of the summer will bring The Tempest and late July switches to Love’s Labour’s Lost (the story of a king and his comrades who swear off women for three years… hilarity ensues.)

Dallas, TX – Park your lawn chairs at Shakespeare Dallas’s series at Samuell Grand Park, now in its 48th season. Catch Shakespeare in Love (not technically by Shakespeare but hey, it’s on theme) and As You Like It, a classic rom com where “Love is merely a madness…”

San Francisco, CA – A little different than the traditional set-up, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival actually travels to 5 different venues throughout the Bay Area. This year they’re toting a musical version of As You Like It from June – September.

Los Angeles area, CA – From San Pedro to Hermosa Beach to Torrance to Venice (and many stops in between), Shakespeare by the Sea makes the rounds. This season catch The Comedy of Errors (two young visitors arrive in the city unaware that their long-lost twins already live there), and Henry V (Shakespeare’s most patriotic and inspiring play tells of a young King Henry V who seeks to unite his beloved England). Gird your loins and your flip flops.

Seattle, WA – In the mood for some hormone-induced teen romance? Romeo & Juliet is calling your name. Love the idea of love triangle in Elizabethan drag? Twelfth Night is for you. Get your fill as the Seattle Shakespeare Company tours the Puget Sound region all summer.

But what will you wear?!

Earth Day Tips: 10 Ways to Fight Climate Change Today (and Every Day)

By cwiesendanger on April 18th 2019

When you live on Earth (which 99.9% of us do…), every day is Earth Day. Since every action we take affects our Mothership (hello Butterfly Effect), a little positive change can go a long way. Here are 10 easy ways you can help fight climate change, because we’re all earthlings and we’d like to keep it that way.

1. No more single-use plastic ever.

You’ve heard it before but we’ll say it again for the kids in the back: single-use plastic is a REAL bummer. Bad news: Humans buy about 1,000,000 plastic bottles per minute and only 23% of plastic bottles are recycled within the U.S. Good news: There are SO many great reusable options for water bottles, sandwich bags, grocery and produce bags, metal straws, silverware, alternatives to Saran Wrap like Bee’s Wrap – the possibilities are endless, and they’ve gotten really easy to find.

2. Shop brands that give back.

When everyone’s selling something, it can be tough to know who’s doing it in a responsible way. A few tips: Look for brands that are part of 1% for the Planet (that’s us), Conservation Alliance (us too), or are B-Corp Certified (workin’ on it). These are all signs that brands are doing their part to help save the planet.

3. Look for energycredits.

Lots of U.S. states offer tax credits for things like installing solar panels, making energy-efficient improvements to your home, or driving energy-efficient cars. Check out all the incentives your state offers here.

4. Reduce and Reuse.

Obviously recycling is important (fun fact: recycled fibers are the gold standard for conscious clothing), but Reducing and Reusing resources will have the biggest positive impact. Reuse the basics (pst: here’s our guide to 20 Reusable Everyday Items), and for goodness sakes attempt to FIX things before you replace them (here’s the 101 on how to sew a button). If you must, donate unwanted clothes to a program like The Renewal Workshop.

5. Support your local farmers.

Most food in the US travels an average of 1,500 miles to get from “field to plate.” It takes 435 fossil-fuel calories to fly a 5-calorie strawberry from California to New York. Shopping locally-grown food cuts that down to basically ZERO. More bonuses to buying from local farmers: It’s generally organic (ie: doesn’t rely on synthetic or petroleum-based chemicals), it fosters a healthy ecosystem in your own backyard, and small farms help keep the natural balance between humans and wildlife (and many farms even act as Certified Wildlife Habitats).

6. Bike, walk, run, skate….

Get that heart pumping and get moving the Flinstone way! Across the world, the longest-living people are the ones who have incorporated movement into their life daily. Walk to visit friend, ride your bike to the grocery store, get outside for a hike. Do things the old fashioned way (ie: without gasoline) and you’ll do right by the earth and the body.

7. Volunteer.

What’s better than getting your hands a little dirty in the name of Planet Earth? Plant a tree. Pick up trash on the beach. Maintain trails. Do it with a friend and it’ll have twice the impact. Get your kids involved and you’ll have a Steward of the Earth for life. Here’s a great site called VolunteerMatch that will hook you up with local orgs doing cool things in your community.

8. Make it official.

Take your dedication one step further and become a member of 1% for the Planet, a network of brands, organizations and individuals that are committed to giving back to the earth by supporting key issues related to climate, land, food, pollution, water and wildlife. Businesses commit to giving 1% of sales each year, and individuals (that’s you) can commit 1% of their salary or volunteer hours to approved nonprofits. If the karma points aren’t incentive enough, you’ll get exclusive discounts and prizes from the 1% network of brands (like Toad&Co!) who are committed to being better.

9. Vote.

Flex those democratic muscles and vote for candidates and policies that care, especially local politicians who are making decisions about your own backyard. Look for measures and representatives who are bike and pedestrian-friendly, protect natural areas, focus on waste management, and advocate for clean water.

10. Wear sustainable.

The apparel industry is the 4th largest polluter of air and water on Earth. The way we see it, you can either go nude or wear sustainable. (Shameless plug: we’re traversing the country in our sustainably-built “Go Nude” trailer to spread the word). Nudity isn’t always an option, but sustainable clothing is! 100% of our clothing is made with sustainable fibers and fabrics that are 3rd party certified for responsible manufacturing.

Shop Men’s and Women’s sustainable spring styles. Your Mother will approve.

7th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown

By cwiesendanger on April 9th 2019

Melted, gooey cheese. Golden toasty bread. Maybe some roasted jalapeño, a healthy heap of pork belly, a fig jam spread, perfectly crisped bacon. Yes, we’re talking about the grilled cheese sandwich and yes, the possibilities are endless.

There’s no better place to show off the versatility of this practically-perfect-in-every-way sandwich than at our annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown – a battle among Toads, family, friends, and community members for the coveted Golden Spatula Award.

This year at our seventh annual, competition was tougher than ever. Here’s how it works: Everyone gathers in the Toad office backyard to watch our competing teams duke it out by whipping up their tastiest recipes. First sandwich off the grill goes to the judging table and the rest go to the salivating crowd (there’s a Peoples’ Choice Award too, so feeding the audience is equally as important!). If you can’t wait for the chefs’ creations, you can tide yourself over at the Make-Your-Own-GC station. And because nothing pairs with a grilled cheese like tomato soup and a cold one (or two, or three), we’re lucky that longtime partners Organic Soup Kitchen always show up with the soup and local fave Topa Topawas there to keep the beer flowing.

This year’s lineup consisted of 4 Toad teams, plus teams from our friends at Alpha Resource Center, Luno Life, Los Padres Forest Watch, Ontraport, Topa Topa, The Sandbox, SB Fire Department, and UCSB Bren School. A few masterpieces included “You Are Bacon Me Crazy,” “The Hogfather,” and “The Cubano.” Mouth watering yet? Us too.

When the sun sets, and panini presses are turned off, there can only be one Golden Spatula winner (OK, and a few runners up because we love to spread the celebrations). Congrats to the following teams!

All That Jazz: UCSB Bren School, Kimcheeze for Sheezy

Best Solo Act: Toad’s Ian, The Big Cheesy

Most Balanced: Los Padres Forest Watch, Gourmet Girls on Fire Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Peoples’ Choice: Alpha Resource Center, Pesto So Gouda

Golden Spatula (Best Overall): Toad’s Guin and Helena, Frankenfromage

AND we asked realllyyy nicely and got Guin and Helena to share their mouthwatering secret recipe with us. Get your aprons ready (and fair warning, this is some seriously gourmet stuff)!

What you’ll need:

  • -Equal parts Gouda and Gruyere
  • -Parmesan
  • -5 sweet white onions (we used Vidalia)
  • -Beef stock
  • -Sherry
  • -White wine (mostly for the cooks)
  • -Kerrygold butter (It’s the fancy-pants kind and so worth it)
  • -Milk
  • -Half and half (or cream)
  • -Flour
  • -Bay leaf
  • -Fresh thyme
  • -Fresh flat leaf parsley
  • -French bread

 

Chop, and then caramelize the heck outta the onions in a pot. Simmer 2 hours, de-glaze with 1/2 cup sherry and 1/2 cup white wine (the rest is for drinking, remember?). Cook down for 2 minutes, add a splash of beef stock, and a few thyme springs. Remove 2/3 of cooked onions (should be super brown for maximum tastiness), add to blender, and blend into a puree. Set aside.

Pour remaining beef stock into onion pot, add bay leaf, leave to reduce and simmer for a good long while. Salt and pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile –

Grate all that cheese. Make a roux out of 1/2 stick butter and 1/2 cup flour, slowly add milk and half and half, (3 parts milk x 1 part half and half) until your reach nappe consistency. Teamwork really helps here—one whisking furiously while the other adds ingredients. Next, a handful at a time, add grated cheese until incorporated. Keep whisking until creamy and salt to taste. Add onion puree to cheese mixture. Once combined, pour mixture into a loaf pan lined with parchment. Allow to cool then toss in the refrigerator until solidified (most likely overnight).

Next, chop parsley. Slice bread (we like the slices thick), butter the outside like there’s no tomorrow, crust outside of bread with parmesan, cook parm-side down on in a buttered pan using low heat. Remove chilled cheese loaf from fridge, slice 1/2 inch thick, place on top of bread, and sprinkle with parsley. Top with a second slice of parm-crusted bread and wait until it gets super golden brown and tasty tasty looking on both sides. Don’t flip it too early. Here’s how you’ll know it’s done: It should be a rich brown color, and if you tap the bread and it makes a low hollow noise, you’re good to go.

Remember the beef stock we set aside? Pour into cute little bowls and use as au jus for your cheese masterpiece!

And while we’ve got you in that grilled cheese spirit, we asked two of our esteemed Toad judges for their favorite full belly-approved Toad items to wear while chowing down on the good stuff.

“I’m a big fan of the Mission Ridge Lean Pant. They’re so comfortable you’ll think you’re eating your grilled cheese at home on the couch. And if I’m grilled cheesing it up in the summertime, I’m all about the Lounge-Out Cord Short—because classics like cords and a tasty grilled cheese were meant for each other. And also, stretchy draw-cord waist. Enough said.” – Danny, Sr. Sales Ops

“Nothing screams summertime grilled cheeses like some 4-way stretch shorts, so the Cetacean Block Board Short is my go-to. I like to keep it classy on top with the Mattock II Short Sleeve Shirt, which also looks surprisingly good with a napkin bib.” -Neil, Sr. Ops Manager

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month: Q&A with Artist Jazmin Harms

By cwiesendanger on March 8th 2019

There’s no such thing as a “disability” when it comes to creativity or work ethic. A sense of purpose runs through all of us, and that force is strong with Jazmin Harms. Jazmin is a resident artist at the SlingShot Art Studio and Gallery in our hometown of Santa Barbara.

We’re big fans of SlingShot since it’s not your typical gallery: The art on the walls is created by 40 in-house artists with intellectual disabilities. A branch of the mission-driven Alpha Resource Center, SlingShot provides a sunny, open studio space to encourage creative expression and a modern gallery for artists to sell their art in the heart of downtown.

Jazmin Harms is this month’s featured artist at SlingShot’s latest gallery show, ROAR. Her use of graphite on paper brings life to the animals she loves. SlingShot Teaching Artist Mike Blaha sat down with Jazmin to ask her about some of her favorite things.

Where is your favorite place in nature?

Jelly Bowl in Carpenteria. I walk to the Beach. It takes about 20+ minutes but I like the journey to the beach. I bring my phone to take pictures. My favorite subject is the sunset. I look for the “golden hour” when the sun just disappears and there are dolphins.

What kind of art do you create?

I draw only animals all the time. I pick pictures that I can depict honestly and are true to their forms. Big predatory animals are the most interesting and big cats are my favorite.

What medium do you use?

I use graphite because I like the way the shades of graphite renders the animals.

What time of year is your favorite?

I like summer evenings the best because I can stay at the beach for longer. I time my arrival to catch the “golden hour.”

Taking photographs of the sunset seems challenging, how do you do it?

I like using foreground objects like rocks, driftwood and surf to accentuate the sunsets. I love seeing whales and dolphins. My favorite colors are the oranges and yellows.

What else do you like about the beach?

I like to go alone to feel a strong sense of nature. I hike up and down the beach to collect sea glass. Finding blue is my favorite. I have quite a large collection of sea glass. I get a calming effect that lasts the rest of the evening. I go as often as I can.

To see Jazmin’s amazing work, check out the ROAR show at the SlingShot Studio. We held a pop-up fundraiser for March First Thursday (which is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, btw), and we can say firsthand that all the art is stellar!

For more on our mission to create and support opportunities for people with disabilities, check out this letter from our CEO. A portion of every Toad&Co purchase directly contributes to our mission.