Interview with Aloe Tree founder Anbinh Phan and her company’s mission “To make joyful and modern products for little global citizens that are green and give back to kids around the world” (Aloe Tree). Written under maiden name Emily Harris. (Original Post)
INTRODUCING ALOE TREE
By Emily Harris
At Franklin Goose, our goal is to provide families with quality clothes, toys, and other items. We enjoy finding new products that are organic and sustainable so that parents can have peace of mind when they shop with us, knowing that we support healthy families and a healthy earth.
We also enjoy working with companies who not only care about their customers but who also give back to their communities and our world. One such company new to the Franklin Goose family is Aloe Tree, an organic clothing company who makes the cutest baby clothes, and who works with Chab Dai, an organization combating human trafficking in Cambodia. Chab Dai works to prevent trafficking as well as providing ways to help and protect human trafficking survivors.
Based in Washington, D.C., Aloe Tree’s baby and kids clothes feature lovely original characters who share inspiring messages for families about making a difference in a world. A proceed of all profits goes to Chab Dai, and Aloe Tree also works closely with Freeset, an organization that employs human trafficking survivors.
Recently I had the chance to speak to Anbinh Phan, the founder of Aloe Tree, about her company and her mission. I was surprised to hear that the original idea for Aloe Tree came when she was studying law at Georgetown. An international trade economist, Anbinh had an interest in fair trade organizations, but it was an academic research trip to Southeast Asia during her time at Georgetown that would change the direction of her life. While visiting Cambodia, Anbinh was shown the harsh realities of human trafficking. “My life is so positive, and I have had so many opportunities,” she said, “and these children were so vulnerable.” Anbinh knew many trafficked children were kidnapped, but she hadn’t realized that in some cases children were sold by their own family members into slavery. Often these families were minorities living in poverty.
Anbinh felt the need to help communities and children at risk for trafficking. As a Vietnamese American, she felt a connection to these children and began to consider ways that she could help. She wanted to create something that would bring joy to children all around the world. With her trade background, Anbinh decided to go into retail.
Anbinh was drawn to baby products because they were “so fun and so colorful—just like kids!” She decided her products were to be organic, durable, and fair trade. “A shirt is just a shirt to most [people],” she said, but she was determined to make sure that her products would be safe for the children wearing them and the people making them. In addition, Anbinh decided that a portion of all Aloe Tree proceeds would be given to Chab Dai.
Anbinh wanted to create something that was fun and modern. Since “the modern world is full of apps,” Anbinh gave herself the constraint of a square app shape for each of her characters. She sketched them on the backs of manila folders, cut them out of construction paper, and gave each character a name and personality. She said she was “so happy with each one,” and described the creative process as akin to giving birth. “They remind me of people,” she said, “with different moods and qualities.”
Each Aloe Tree character has it’s own motto to inspire children and families. When you purchase an Aloe Tree item, you’ll discover on the tag a short bio about the featured character as well as ways to encourage children to embrace the character’s motto. For example, Yuki the Koala is from Australia. Her motto is to “climb high” by doing her very best in everything. Pele the Penguin from Alaska encourages kids to “break the ice” by being friendly and adventurous. Tanzania’s Knox the Fox likes to “think fast” and help those in need around him. Vaca the Cow is from Argentina, and she loves to dance and “keep moo-ving.” She encourages children to finish what they start.
Like her characters, Anbinh believes that change starts with the individual. “We can all work together [and] help in some small way,” she said. She believes in her company and hopes Aloe Tree’s clothes and characters will inspire joy in children. “I want to have a good brand [that can] be positive” in children’s lives. Anbinh would like to see families take the joy in their lives and spread it through helping others and changing their communities for good.
While Aloe Tree is focusing on Cambodia right now, Anbinh has plans to expand to help other countries. She enjoys hearing how the message of Aloe Tree is spreading, and she hopes Aloe Tree’s clothes will inspire families to give back to their communities and to their world.
If you and your family are interested in finding ways to change your community for the better, Franklin Goose encourages you to get involved in volunteer programs in your area. An excellent place to start is Volunteer Match, which asks what you’re passionate about and matches you to volunteer opportunities near you. Aloe Tree suggests organizations such as Lucky Dog Animal Rescue and Meals on Wheels.
For those of you in Franklin Goose’s hometown of Richmond, VA, we recommend Hands On RVA for specific opportunities in Richmond.