October 21, 2014

A Boutique with a Mission: Shop Savvy, Change Lives. {Photos}

Behind the Scenes before the Green Carpet Fashion Show at the Boulder Green Streets Ciclovia
Behind the Scenes before the Green Carpet Fashion Show at the Boulder Green Streets Ciclovia.

Recently I helped out with the Boulder Green Streets Ciclovia, a community event opening miles of car-free streets for play. My very minor role in the event, but were happy to help in MCing the Green Carpet Fashion Show.

The show featured several local and national brands with eco or active lifestyle apparel. One brand stood out to us, Ramble on Pearl-–a boutique with a mission. Ramble on Pearl is an income generating arm for the non-profit organization Boulder Treasures. Revenue from the retail sales of Ramble on Pearl fund Boulder Treasures’ Apprentice Program, which teaches real-life training and work experiences for individuals with developmental disabilities. As explained on the Apprentice Program Page,

“Apprentices receive coaching and regular performance assessments throughout their participation in the program. And, once they have demonstrated a sufficient degree of independence and proficiency, CLS’s job coaches continue to support our apprentices as they seek employment in the competitive job market. Apprentices successfully complete our training program when they demonstrate mastery of job skills and a robust work ethic.”


Ramble on Pearl’s Boutique in Boulder, CO


Why do I love this?

1. Business Model.

We love nonprofits, they do amazing work, but there is one major issue: most nonprofits don’t have an income stream beyond that of donations or grants.

Why is this a problem? We live in a capitalist economy designed to facilitate the exchange of goods and services for payment. Without an income stream, nonprofits are forced to spend massive amounts of money and time fundraising, which may leave the hard-working employees of nonprofits on the road to burnout.

Over and over I have seen high-quality employees leave nonprofits because they can’t take the huge workload for lower wages—especially when they are spending time on fundraising for their nonprofit as opposed to enacting programming. The integrated for-profit/non-profit model or hybrid non-profit model just makes more sense.

2. Apprenticeship Program. 

Regardless of whether you have a developmental disability or not, in our opinions real-life learning through apprenticeship is the best learning experience you can have. Learning through real-life action is just smart.

3. Underutilized Employment Population.

Adults with developmental disabilities often have been an overlooked population, especially when it comes to participating in a thriving business economy. As Tom D’Eri explains in his Unreasonable Institute Launch Pad Talk from this past summer, certain positions may be better suited for adults with developmental disabilities. D’Eri founded Rising Tide Carwash, which employs adults with autism to provide excellent car cleaning service.

Launchpad 2014: Tom D’Eri, Rising Tide Carwash from Unreasonable Media on Vimeo.


Kendra an Apprentice at Ramble on Pearl


Kate an Apprentice at Ramble on Pearl


Asa of Ramble on Pearl also showing off a necklace from his Social Venture Beyond Gear


Adrianna of Ramble on Pearl



Ramble on Pearl’s Boutique in Boulder, CO

So if you are local, swing by Ramble on Pearl and support the good work they are doing. What are other savvy nonprofits doing to help support their missions?


Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!

Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Courtesy of Tanya Dueri Photography © All rights reserved 

Read 1 Comment and Reply

Read 1 comment and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Jeanne Eisenhaure  |  Contribution: 5,900