#TheGoodTribe Interview with Bobbi Paidel, founder of Tribe of Lambs
What does being ethical mean if there is no transparency from an organization? Transparency is super important to The Good Tee and we even go as far as providing full transparency about our supply chain on our website. We’re always on the lookout for good humans who feel and do the same. No matter what company you are supporting, transparency is key.
Enter Bobbi Paidel, the founder of Tribe Of Lambs. From selling cute and ethical jewelry to transforming Tribe of Lambs to a recognized charity, Bobbi is incredibly inspiring. She has helped raise over $175 000 to date which has changed the lives of 500+ children! Tribe of Lambs sticks around for all their projects to make sure all beneficiaries are still supported and their work is still standing and of value.
Every dollar Tribe of Lambs receives helps support children and women that are infected and affected with HIV in India. The work Tribe of Lambs has done is amazing and there’s also 100% transparency on where the money is going on their website.
This week on #TheGoodBlog, we got the amazing opportunity to talk to Bobbi Paidel. She’s authentic and someone to truly look up to. Check out this week’s must read as Bobbi tells us more about the story of Tribe of Lambs.
- Tell us about your journey and how Tribe of Lambs began
Tribe of Lambs began in 2014 as a small crowdfunding campaign to raise capital to begin a social venture employing local artisans to make handicrafts (bags, knitwear, jewelry) with the profits circulating back to children in need.
It was born from the simple intention to ‘do more, do better’. I was coming from an intense and unfulfilling career as a wardrobe stylist and struggling to find meaning in my life. After coming to northern India and feeling compelled to somehow use my privilege, energy, and connections to offer some support to the many, many marginalized children - I created the vision of Tribe of Lambs.
Although, I had a long long way to go as I knew nothing about doing business in India (or Canada), working with nonprofits and charities, designing, producing or marketing any kind of products. But the intention was pure, albeit quite naïve, and the response from folks in the west was quite positive. So I was charged and enlisted my best friends Phil and Dani to come on the adventure with me.
2. How did you come up with the name Tribe of Lambs?
The name comes from the idea of ‘strength in numbers’....a lamb, just like a child, is weak and vulnerable on their own. When we come together, when we support each other, we lift each other. The word Tribe is not intended to be exclusive.
3. Why did you decide to focus on HIV+ children in India as your main cause when creating Tribe of Lambs?
In 2016 I was experiencing burn out from the travel to and from India, and in India working with different projects and producers in central and northern India. We decided it would be best to streamline our products and projects to be in one central area to be more efficient with our very limited time and resources.
Our main revenue source was turning out to be silver jewelry, so we decided to switch our product line there and focus our efforts. I knew I had to find a new project in the region where the jewelry was produced, which was Pushkar and Jaipur, both in Rajasthan. Up to this point we were working with any small, grassroots organization serving marginalized youth so I was visiting orphanages, NGO’s, and homes in this vein.
I came across an organization and home called Rays Aasha Ki Ek Kiran. I had an immediate connection with the founder, Gurinder, a retired army captain and business man older than my father - he illuminated the issues children and persons living with HIV in India face. I was appalled, I had no idea such discrimination, stigma, and outdated information was still so rampant. His story of starting the home touched me deeply. I spent a week with the children and getting to know the women (HIV positive widows) working in the home. It was clear that this cause was underserved and that the home was doing good work. It was then that we decided to streamline our charitable efforts to HIV positive children.
4. I know you used to sell ethical jewelry as a way of raising funds for your projects! Why was making sure your jewelry was ethically made important to you?
It was a no-brainer from the beginning - if we were going to try and do good with the profits, we had to ensure every aspect of the business model was operating with an ethos of empowerment and ‘do no harm’. The artisans I initially met in 2014 inspired me with their incredible skill and craft. After coming out of the fashion industry I was jaded and disillusioned with fast fashion and the complete disregard for the makers, the planet, and even the consumers. We wanted to provide a special product, handcrafted with a story.
5. Can you tell us a little about the good humans that made your ethical jewelry or any stories you can share?
Our jewelry was made in small batches in Jaipur with a small family workshop. We worked together to make all the samples by hand with our signature Lamb stamped on each piece. We were present for every aspect of production. We went into the city to see the molds be made and to meet all the wonderful folks who touched our products each step of the way. It was an eye opener to see factory work in India.
6. Why/how did you decide to shift your focus primarily on your charitable efforts instead?
After 5 solid years of pushing jewelry through online sales, markets, small shops, and yoga festivals - we were not able to create enough of a profit to pay ourselves and the business model was not working for us. There were a few hoops we just could not jump through and we got tired. People loved our product and ethos, it was hard to close the jewelry side as I loved it and it was a vision I had a difficult time letting go of. But after a certain amount of time pushing uphill, I realized it's okay, no it's better, to step aside to something different.
We went back to our ‘why’ - we wanted to help the kids at Rays home who we’d grown to love and love to watch grow. We had a large base of customers and donors at this point so after Christmas 2019, we closed shop and the timing could not have been more divinely planned as we all know what happened in March 2020. I know for sure, that at this point I was at a breaking point with my own mental health so I’m very grateful how it turned out. The generosity we continued to receive by customers turned donors proved that it wasn’t our product which people were drawn to the most - it was the sense of impact and purpose with their money.
Tribe of Lambs is a small organization - 2 operating directors/co-founds, myself and Phil Haley and a board of 6 more incredible friends. People feel good donating to Tribe of Lambs because they trust that their money goes directly to those it’s promised. In July 2021 we received charitable status in Canada, which was a long and complicated process in itself. We’re consistently being reassured that we made the best choice to shift our resources and efforts to the cause we are advocating for. Now we look ahead to expanding our reach and impact, whereas before we were struggling to keep our heads above water.
7. Can you tell us more about your partner organization, Rays Home in Jaipur, and how you decided they were the right fit for you to partner with?
Like I mentioned above, the co-founders Gurinder (and Rashmi) inspired us with their absolute commitment to the quality of care they offer to the kids. One would think a home for HIV positive children would be a dire place - it’s not. It’s filled with happy, healthy, bright children who would have otherwise faced a different fate. In India there is a lot of corruption with charities and nongovernmental organizations so there is much vetting that needs to be done, and trusting relationships need to be built and maintained. Rays is a family to us, many of the children we met back in 2016 are now finished college - and it is completely rewarding to share these stories with our donors and friends who’ve helped us pay for their education these past years.
8. It’s amazing that you stick around for all your projects even after they’re done! What projects does Tribe of Lambs have planned beyond 2021 you would like readers to know about?
World Aids Day is December 1st and we’ll be hosting our annual ‘Yoga to End’ fundraiser - offering yoga and wellness classes from teachers around the world. In 2022 we’ll be launching a new educational project with a new home, a partnership of which we’re still building. We now have big visions for Tribe of Lambs and the support we can offer to partners in India doing the tireless work for children living with HIV.
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