Manifesting a New Writing Destination
There are times when I say to myself, Why didn't I ask for a million dollars?
Today I awoke with outlines spilling out of my head faster than I could capture them in words... But they would have to wait. There were emails, text messages, and phone calls to answer. I would need a shower... and then I would quest for a new place to park myself to write.
Freshly washed, dressed, and primped; I biked south from my Northern Liberties home. Where were those coffee shops I had meant to visit so many times? I wandered around South Street, over to Head House Square... Then backtracked. Cafe Ole was overflowing with people- One more small circle, then maybe I'll head back there.
That is when I found it... on 2nd Street, just south of the restaurant equipment wholesalers, United By Blue (UBB); Coffee and Retail, under one roof. The long, tall-ceiling space housing a coffee bar on one side and a retail display of tasteful, fun print t-shirts and an array of totes and bags was screaming, "Welcome".
As I ordered a soy cafe au lait (reasonably priced at $3), I asked, "Two questions; Do you have wifi, and do you accept credit?" Yes, indeed.
I parked myself on the big comfy leather couch in the back, trying to avoid the temptation of looking at my retail weakness- bags! That was when Brian Linton, founder of the United By Blue team introduced himself and showed me the full line. He explained to me that it was their opening today. "Enjoy- This is only the beginning. There will be more stuff coming in. Feel free to hang out and write! We run our offices upstairs."
The local United By Blue brand has made its home in Philadelphia, up until recently residing at 12th and Callowhill. Linton founded UBB in 2010, after ending other unsatisfactory attempts to create retail ventures that would benefit the environment. "When you give money to a nonprofit, you don't know how much of the money is actually being put to use and how much is going into someone's pocket," Linton stated, "Some nonprofit head honchos make six figures." This time, rather than giving proceeds to a third party, Linton created a way to put his profits into direct efforts, "For every product sold, UBB removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways through company organized and hosted cleanups... We have organized volunteers, transportation, and media coverage for cleanups across twenty-two states, so far."
Linton sites the importance of media coverage to increase awareness of the cause. It is not just about cleaning up. It is about encouraging people to make better decisions. "The materials of cigarette carton discarded on the ground in North Dakota is going to go into a creek, into a river, into the ocean. All water leads back to the ocean... Water is life. It is what connects everything. It is why people chose to settle where they did, when this country was founded. It is what we look for on other planets."
United by Blue is excelling in spreading its message with its brand and products, already featured on the Today Show, Redbook, as well as many local Philadelphia publications.
Linton's enthusiasm for clean water started in his childhood. Growing up on a small island in Singapore, he developed a deep appreciation for marine biology and originally considered a career teaching the subject. However, combining his passion for the environment with his knack for business, he found himself creating a new concept for his livelihood.
Products are designed in-house. Most of the manufacturing is done in India and Nepal, out of small companies that have undergone rigorous examination for fair treatment of their employees and quality assurance of the organic cotton they use. "We are also releasing some new items soon that are made here in Philadelphia," Linton smiled. "This is only the soft opening. Our grand opening will be September 25th."
Clothing items from $30 to $80, with new locally manufactured items to arrive shortly. Canvas bags range from $40 to $180. Not a bad bargain, considering that this savvy retail shopper knows the same quality canvas bags are being sold in Center City for at least 10-20% more, with no environmental benefit offered.
Linton explained that many customers purchase products unaware of UBB's greater mission. "We design and create apparel that appeals to everyone, not just the environmentally conscious,"
So, why a coffee shop?
"Because we want to be part of this community. We don't want to pressure people to buy anything," Linton clarified, adding, "We do a monthly clean up, every first Tuesday in Philadelphia- until the weather doesn't allow."
While this customer is not retail shopping today, I am really excited to have found an inspiring new wifi spot, within walking distance, where I can write posts like this one... about how everyday there is a new reason to fall in love with the city of Philadelphia.
Visit the United By Blue shop at 144 N 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106 and online at http://www.unitedbyblue.com/