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“Everyone has heard the proverb, ‘teach someone to fish rather than give a person fish,'” Shea and Raan Parton of Apolis told us. “But what we have learned over the years of traveling is that there are plenty of well-trained fisherman, but often they don’t have the right bait or a large enough pond.”
Their observations from their personal travels over the years lead them to develop the business model “advocacy through industry.” They noticed an opportunity to to empower those well-trained individuals to sustain themselves. For example, the creation of their well-known canvas market bags provides jobs for women in Bangladesh. “Our goal has always been to empower people through the development of our collection, while providing a durable and travel-focused range of products perfect for people on the move,” the brothers explained.
The latest addition to their collection was a few styles of swim trunks, designed in collaboration with J. Crew. As for other exciting partnerships, they’ve teamed up with Seattle-based Filson to to craft their “Philanthropist Briefcase.”
While manufacturing is done in America, the cotton used for the bag was sourced from Uganda, supporting the Apolis’ Uganda Project.The project, “employes former displaced Ugandans to become stakeholders in the rebuilding of the Uganda cotton business,” Raan and Shea told us.
Their open-air space in the Los Angeles Arts District carries their own Apolis projects, and a handful of items from other brands and designers (including one of our favorite reads, Kinfolk). After graduating from college in 2007, they moved to the neighborhood for its’ creative culture.
“It’s inspiring to work within a community that constantly has dynamic projects occurring,” they explained. They’ve happily opened their doors to the community to host gallery shows, dinners and keynote speakers. To them, their store serves as a community center, where they can connect global advocacy to their neighbors.
Photos by Collin Hughes