The natural environment inspires one fast growing design company to give back
Jade Gedeon had no idea that what started as a project in college would eventually become Massachusetts-based jewelry design studio We Dream in Colour. While studying industrial design at the Pratt Institute, Gedeon played around using the cheap clear plastic Shrinky Dink kits as a medium for bird illustrations. “I was in college, there wasn’t exactly money for diamonds,” she explains.
The illustrations were then strung on a cord and made into a necklace. “It really was some awful stuff,” Gedeon admits. Well the “awful stuff” went onto a website launched by her then-roommate, which was quickly picked up by fashion, beauty and entertainment blog Daily Candy.
“They ran a piece on us and I think they had 2 million subscribers at the time. From there people and bloggers kept finding us, and the whole business has continued to grow in this beautiful, organic way.” Gedeon now employs three women full-time, and brings on additional help during seasonal production upswings.
Evolving from Shrinky Dink kit jewelry to finding her niche in beautiful, rustic, environmentally inspired styles solidly constructed with materials such as reclaimed brass, sterling silver, diamonds and pressed glass, Gedeon has her eye on the environment both as inspiration for her designs but also as a member of 1% for the Planet.
1% For the Planet is a thirteen year old organization dedicated to building, supporting and activating an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet. Founded in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, owner of Blue Ribbon Flies, 1% For the Planet member companies have collaboratively invested over $100 million dollars in positive environmental change.
When asked why We Dream in Colour became a 1% member, Gedeon hands the credit over to her sister, who used to work at Patagonia and now runs the We Dream in Colour office.
“It’s like we are handed this hunk of money every year to give back to the community as we’d like. I know it’s technically money that we have made, but when you’re doing something because it’s right and not because it’s profitable, you really feel the rewards.”
Each year Gedeon and her “team of awesome women” get together and decide where to donate the 1% For the Planet funds. Every year they give to the Essex County Greenbelt, an association right in their hometown that preserves and provides a direct connection with nature. Some other favorite non-profits include Massachusetts Audubon, The Food Project and Surfrider Foundation.
We Dream in Colour’s 1% pledge sees a lot of positive feedback from customers and retailers, which is of course good for business. But Jade Gedeon and her staff seem to have a more deep-seeded reason for giving.
“The natural environment has informed and inspired so much of the work we do here. You make something beautiful, work hard and people appreciate that. So if you can give back, do it. Do it because it’s right, not because it’s profitable.”