It’s a privilege to feature Keith Eshelman with Park Projects. They are making some serious waves in our National Parks. We are grateful for the work they do and for their continued to efforts to keep our National Parks beautiful for generations to come. Enjoy!
The original vision was to get friends around volunteering in our parks so we could make a difference and support our favorite places. We got out as a group, did work, felt good about it, and would celebrate after a hard day’s work with a cold one or two. From our experience in the field coupled with our background in apparel, we thought it would be cool if people could wear the cause. Enter Parks Project! The Project has come full circle as we are driving volunteer events but using apparel as a way to tell stories that channel support across our favorite national parks.
Our goal is to identify projects in the parks, and fix em’! One of our favorites that is close to home for us is the Muir Woods project. We learned how many of the redwoods are having a hard time propagating in the park because non-native species are stealing “real estate” in the park. Many redwood seeds aren’t making it to the ground because some of the Scottish bloom and other shrubs blossom earlier in the year and catch the redwood seeds before they have a chance. Our project there is to support the nursery where they get seedlings going to plant in the park. The tee graphic has redwoods next to one another to tell that story. We also hosted a volunteer day months ago up there and got involved first hand.
There are so many amazing stories out there and the best thing about our approach is that hopefully we can find a project, promote it, fund it, then move onto a new one. So really, we will be able to keep innovating via new projects that need our support. And, we can keep learning about various interesting initiatives in the parks while helping resolve them with the support of our followers. We would like to think that this is a way for us to make an impact for the long term sustainability of the park.
We also do more behind the scenes to support the Parks. We are working on a big partnership with the National Park Foundation to celebrate the centennial at the moment. One of our projects is also to support various conservancies and park foundations, and we have become an official partner going into this year’s 100 year celebration of the parks.
On the other hand, we also collaborate with unique creatives every quarter, and into the fall we will launch a collaboration with LA based artist Steven Harrington. He went up to Big Sur and developed some super special art for us which, looks amazing on a tee. It will give back to art programs in Big Sur, full circle!
Over the course of two years as a startup we have learned a lot about riding the crazy wave of building a business from the ground up. First comes proof of concept, then comes a sprint, sweat/tears, then infrastructure and investment. We learned about failing, and making sure that if we do, fail fast, fail hard and never give up, do it again. We have to push the envelope and try new things, we are aiming to pioneer a new brand in unchartered territory. Combining the retail business and fashion with a public entity like the National Parks is no easy feat. It takes time, determination, and much collaboration. Also, we learned sometimes big business opportunities might not be the best long term strategy to grow your company. We are becoming more patient, and thinking longer term strategy while of course staying true to our goal to fund projects in our parks.
We hope to look back in 10 years at some serious impact. We will be able to say through people supporting our business, Parks Project built native plant nurseries in parks, funded animal conservation efforts, engaged countless first time volunteers who look at their relationship with the parks differently now, and that we have made a lot of friends along the way.
Connect with Parks Project