Sunday, April 10, 2011

Grateful Tree and the Fashion of Gratitude

Last year, I had the opportunity to interview Brett Clouser (of the reality show Survivor) and Courtney Schreiber of The Monument of Our Hearts (TMOOH). I was so impressed by their clothing company and their mission to "design apparel that creates conversations and empowers people to feel beautiful." In addition, they donate a percentage of their profits to different organizations that promote healthy body image. You can check out that post here (and their merchandise here)While I believe that fashion is generally created with the intention to inspire conversations about beauty, perhaps it is designers like Brett who are trying to empower people by starting different kinds of conversations that are counter-intuitive to the fashion industry's definition of beauty. 

Michelle, me, Karen- grad school friends!
It is rare to find socially conscious clothing lines, which is why I was super excited to hear that one of my friends from graduate school recently started such a clothing line- The Grateful Tree!! But the most exciting part about it is that the clothing company she started is focused on gratitude and helping others. Karen Thiel, the designer, started this company as a way to raise money for her favorite charities. In addition, when any product is sold, a tree is planted through their partner organization Trees for the Future. You can read more about that here. Karen and I met while we were both graduate students at Arizona State University studying counseling psychology- we endured some long study sessions together but have fun memories of Phoenix Suns games and taking a girls trip to Vegas! While we were in school, Karen was volunteering and doing her internship at Healthy Futures, a practice in Scottsdale that specializes in treating eating disorders. (In fact, one of the charities that she donates to is NEDA! The National Eating Disorders Association- more on that below..). Anyways, she got a job there after graduation and worked for awhile before taking a break to launch her clothing line. I had a chance to ask her some questions and wanted to share more with you about what she is doing!!

Q: What inspired you to start Grateful Tree? And where did the name come from? 

Karen: Grateful Tree is a combination of things I love: Positivity, apparel with a cause, comfortable clothing, helping others, & the fashion of gratitude. Last year I was going through much work stress. I craved a creative outlet and something that was light hearted and fun. It felt right to have giving as a key component. The name- “Grateful” came because I wanted to promote the fashion of gratitude; that a shift in thoughts and perspective towards finding appreciation is powerful in times of distress and crucial for finding enjoyment in life. I chose a virtual “Tree” due to my liking of metaphor and symbolism. Trees encompass meaning from so many things; growth, nature, yoga, strength, stability, and beauty. 

Q: Tell me about your shirt that raises money for NEDA!
Karen: I’ve dedicated the Grateful “Hope” shirt to NEDA. Grateful Tree will donate 30% of proceeds from sales of this tee to help support their endeavors. The shirt is turquoise, vintage soft, and made in the U.S.A.
The Grateful 'Hope' Shirt

Q: Why did you choose NEDA as a charity to give to? 

Karen: I’ve been familiar with the work of NEDA for the last few years while working as a clinician in a counseling clinic specializing in the treatment of eating disorders. I admire their creative ventures that bring hope and awareness to communities. Societally, I think that eating disorders are misunderstood and underdiagnosed. Having frequently witnessed the strife that they can have on individuals and families, I feel tremendous compassion for the cause.

I am so proud of Karen for all that she is doing to raise awareness of eating disorders and donating time and money to such a great cause. Beyond that, it's exciting to see someone pursuing creative and unique avenues to impact the lives of others in positive ways. I would encourage you all to check out the website, which is located at  --you can access it by clicking here. Karen also has a blog that you can check out here! If you are interested in updates and new products, you can also follow The Grateful Tree on Facebook! 

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