From Vintage Tees to Park Conservation, This Apparel & Homeware Company is Raising Awareness and Funds to Preserve Our Beloved National Parks.
It all started with a day at the park. From a ragtag team of cleanup volunteers to a modern grassroots movement of vigilante park rangers, Parks Project is a brand built and backed by people who love nature and want to see her looking and feeling her best for generations to come. Enlisting one outdoor enthusiast at a time, the company got its start at local trade show booths, grabbing the attention of nature lovers with its educational platform and impeccable, on-trend styles. The company has since built an empire of park-loyalists ready to get their hands dirty and join the cause. Sign up for one of their nation-wide volunteer days or pick up a vintage-inspired park-themed tee, hoodie, or calendar to earn your park-champion status.
Not Just Any Day At the Park
Our National Parks are not just for pretty Instagram photos. In fact, the growing parks crisis, which has recently been exacerbated by more visitors, less funding, and a rapidly changing climate that all amount to devastating impacts – has received surprisingly absent media coverage. Did America forget about our coveted parklands at a time when they need us the most?
For Parks Project co-founders Keith Eshelman and Sevag Kazanci, they witnessed the problem and the opportunity first-hand starting in 2014. While volunteering to clean up state parks in the Californian Santa Monica Mountains, the two looked around to find themselves surrounded by a sparse but dedicated group of retirees. Here were the last remnants of a generation of park recreationalists and protectors, but where was their legacy, the next cadre of outdoor enthusiasts willing to get their hands dirty to preserve our natural icons?
Eshelman and Kazanci knew that there had to be a group of untapped nature-lovers out there who just needed to know how they could get involved.
From Park Enthusiasts to Park Champions
Powered by a motto of “leave it better than you found it,” Parks Project was born to put out the call and lead the way in transforming a nation-wide group of park enthusiasts into a movement of park champions. Since it started, the company has hosted over 86 community volunteering events which have logged more than 5,522 volunteer hours, and donated $1,044,423 to over 50 park conservancy partners.
And for those who don’t live near one of our nation’s infamous parks, the company has made it more accessible for everyone to play a part. Parks Project donates a portion of their fun and colorful clothing and homeware proceeds to support a diverse range of parks projects. Whether it’s preserving parklands, restoring trails, or educating visitors, customers can link their purchase to these specific projects, giving them their park champion status.
Clothing + Merch to Channel Your Inner Park Ranger
Parks Project has made our beloved national landmarks more accessible not only through their nation-wide volunteer days and donations for parks projects, but also through their fun, eye-catching graphics that feature designs such as silhouettes of Yosemite, Badlands, and Yellowstone Parks.
Their online shop feels like a much cooler version of a traditional National Parks souvenir shop, stocked with clothing and stationary that is at the same time educational, memorable, and stylish. Cozy vintage and organic cotton t-shirts reminiscent of the ones you might have stolen from your parents’ closet can be your new daily uniform and your own purpose-filled hand-me-downs to inspire and educate future generations about the great outdoors.
When creating the vision for Parks Project, founders Eshelman and Kazanci knew that park merch needed a serious upgrade. So they enlisted the help of graphic artists with a passion for nature to dream up bigger and better designs. The result is original artwork and wearable tributes that honor the beauty and essence of each beloved park. Over time, the brand has established a signature look that also mirrors the community it has brought together – an up-and-coming generation of grassroots park rangers who wear their love for parklands on their sleeves.
In addition to their rotating list of artists and graphic designers, Parks Project does ongoing collaborations with other outdoor powerhouses. In 2018, the company teamed up with National Geographic to release a capsule collection of hoodies, socks and tees called “Forever Exploring” that was so popular it stuck around. The collab propelled them to success, and helped them give back more than 100x the donations they raised in the 3 years prior. Among a range of apparel including socks, beanies, and hoodies, Parks Project translated the publication’s iconic yellow bordered layout into a best-selling vintage magazine cover tee that commemorates their legacy of contributions to and passion for parks.
Parks for All, All for Parks
As the company continues to grow, so does its capacity to champion its mission, which extends beyond care for parklands into a deep respect for the environment and a belief that access to the outdoors and all of nature’s best landscapes is a fundamental right.
Inspired by the latest wave in the Black Lives Matter movement, Parks Project recently adopted a social mission to make parks more equitable for all. The company now counts Black and POC owned organizations among its benefitting partners including Outdoor Afro, the Ron Finley Project, PGM ONE, and Destination Crenshaw, having donated a total of $20K to these projects this year alone.
With its exponential growth, the company is also setting its sights on developing more sustainable practices that minimize environmental impact, including moving to compostable packaging.
And with Americans seeking to spend time outdoors now more than ever, Parks Project is helping us all enjoy the natural beauty and use our newfound extra time to leave the Earth a little better than we found it.
As Featured In
Men’s Journal covered The Parks Project’s commitment to maintaining National Parks.
Where to Find
Parks Project can be found at Retail Partners such as Free People and REI. Click here to find a store near you.