Monday, November 25, 2013

Four of the beautiful founders of 31 Bits: Alli Swanson, Anna Toy, Jessie Simonson and Kallie Dovel

If you were told to envision a group of five young women who created a company that had a positive global impact, what would you see? Well, we see 31 Bits! 31 Bits was started by five women, at the young age of 21, who had a vision of creating an organization that is more than just another charity. We can attest to their success and boy do we love their products! You can even find them on our site here and in our Once Upon a Time Winter 2013 Lookbook.

Like us, 31 Bits is a young and lively company that is constantly growing.  Five years into its success and you can find them in 350 retail stores, as well as online. Two of their gorgeous co-founders, Kallie Dovel and Jessie Simonson, gave us the opportunity to get the insiders scoop. Watch our video to learn more!

Pulling up to their building we were greeted by a shabby chic facade, with a beachy feel. The scent of waffles wafted through the air from the nearby waffle house as we were welcomed by Jessie Simonson. Walking into the building, we couldn’t help but notice how reminiscent it was of our very own humble abode. Studio, office, warehouse, storefront… you name it and it was there! Their team, of about ten, sits around two big conference tables, ready for their daily dose of innovative banter. The storefront was decorated with hanging lampshades, globe string lights, display tables hanging on ropes from the ceiling, papier-mâché backdrops, and of course it was covered with gorgeous pieces from their collections. We even left the store with a necklace in tow!

Obviously, we just couldn’t get enough of this awesome company and had to know more! So, we peered a little more into the house of 31 Bits. Read on to find out what we learned!

Tell us a little more about your office environment. 
Our motto at the 31 Bits office is "Work Hard, Play Hard." We aren't experts, but this group is hard-working, creative, and excited about everything we do. Long, challenging work days are broken up with sweet treats and ping pong matches whenever necessary. People stop by to say hi daily and we've found that our friends and customers feel like they're part of the Bits family. And anytime you stop by, you can count on someone handing you a baked good, pulling up a chair for you, or showing you the latest YouTube video that has us cry-laughing.

In 3 words, describe the 31 Bits team.
We're a quirky, compassionate, creative bunch. :)

What is the meaning behind “31 Bits”? 
The “31” comes from Proverbs 31, where it describes a diligent woman providing and caring for her family.  The “bits” comes from what the beads are made out of…bits of paper!

How are the beads made?
The women in our program cut unused posters, advertisements, and text book pages into long strips. They roll the strips tightly and coat them in a water-based varnish. The varnish hardens the beads as well as provides a protective coating. The beads are then strung into a design, or sewn onto one of our embroidered pieces. You’ll also find other materials used in our products like funky printed fabrics and pretty shades of leather. 99% of our materials are sourced in Eastern Africa, supporting local markets.

Some of the Ugandan women at work, creating gorgeous beads.

How many women are in your program in Uganda?
120 and counting!

Is there anything else we should know about the program?
All of the women in our program go through our holistic development programs. They learn everything from how to manage their finances to proper nutrition to how to start their own businesses. After five years in our program, the beneficiaries will graduate with confidence, good health, their own business, and the knowledge they need to be self-sustainable.

Tell us about your store front! When can people stop by to shop?
Our shop is filled with lots of great designs and gift ideas. We're open Monday through Friday from 9am-5pm at 1663 A Superior Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. You can reach us at 949-612-7295

A big thank you to the women of 31 Bits for sharing your story with us! Your mission serves as an inspiration for us to create positive change through fashion and design. You can find a few of their wonderful pieces from their holiday collection, featuring Julia Engel from Gal Meets Glam, on our site here.

For more 31 Bits love, you can also follow them on their: Blog, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.