“I think the biggest thing for us has really been surrounding yourself with people that care more about your sanity than your creativity. If your constantly pushing each other to the point of burnout, then you’re not going to really build something that’s going to last.”
Shea & Raan Parton – Founders of Apolis Global Citizen; starting a socially conscious company; niche ideas; from surfing to creating a lifestyle brand
Segment 1: (Length :04:00) – General Updates; Introduction to Shea & Raan Parton and their journey as entrepreneurs; their upbringing; starting their company Apolis Global Citizen; sourcing products globally.
Shea & Raan’s finer points:
We kind of have just have a really incredible upbringing.
“Our parents saw that we, growing up in Santa Barbara California, would be kind of typical very narrow minded, ‘California monsters’ if we didn’t have access to a bigger perspective of how the world works.”
“They just really encouraged us to travel a lot when we were younger, with their kind of lead and involvement in the non-profit world.”
“At an early age we got a front row education in a lot of developing countries, cultures and learned to expect a lot of differences.”
We always had an idea of wanting to have some kind of purpose behind our business. It was always something that, organically kind of evolved as we understood better ways to make the business as a more unique brand in the market
“We kind of just saw taking my real interest in the design side as a way to partner with these smaller indigenous supply chains; different co-operatives and co-design products. Doing this gave those communities access to a larger and stronger market, which is how we started this business. It’s been a big education in between.”
“Everyone loves that Proverb, teach someone how to fish rather than giving them fish. What we’ve learned is there is plenty of well trained fishermen in all these developing economies. They often don’t have the right bait or a large enough pond. We’ve seen this opportunity to really anchor it to this world Apolis.”
“We’ve really looked at this world Apolis being a great moniker for all people are created equal and should have equal access to the global market.”
“It really started again with Raan being on the design said, I’m on the business side. He came to me with this idea of this like farmers market bag that I thought was the worst idea in the world. He’s like no, I think this has really got a lot of potential within re-usable bags.”
“I think he has an idea where the market is today, where you’re actually not getting a free bag when you check out at the grocery store. A lot of people are looking for re-usable bags. We started with this group of moms that make each bag, in Northern Bangladesh, like 5 hours North of Docka. They had this really holistic cooperative on reinvesting their profits with each bag that they sell, with their community literacy programs and different forms of savings and job security.”
The story is very in line with the future of what we want to do. We almost see our company as like an idea of social responsibility.
“(Raan) Yeah, I kind of took the lead on that one, but to give credit, I have had plenty of bad ideas that didn’t work that I tried to do the same thing on. He (Shea) gave me a little bit of lead once we got some traction with this one. Some of the other ones that I thought were great ideas didn’t really go so good.”
Segment 2: (Length :04:00) – Talking with Shea & Raan Parton; running with a niche idea
Shea & Raan’s finer points:
On marketing a re-useable bag concept: “Our kind of niche has been fashion and business so we work with a lot of fashion retailers. This product kind of bridged into a different category. It’s kind of from a marketplace standpoint, an unpredictable item that we weren’t really vested into yet. It was more the logistics of how we could really be successful with a product that wasn’t really looked at as a traditional fashion item.”
“This product really expanded our horizons on the marketplace. We work with some of the best stores in the world that carry it, and also some incredible open air food markets, that just has transcended our business outside of the traditional fashion market.”
The other thing we try to focus on, is we try to really get into a single product and scale that single product as opposed to running them around with like 10 different ideas without getting any attraction with a single idea.
“A lot of times you’ll have companies that want to work in the social entrepreneurial space, but they’ll kind of overload the supply chain by trying to get them to do something that’s maybe outside of their bandwidth.”
“I think the layer of how we do these kind of larger development projects and these partnerships within these different social enterprises have kind of allowed people to really take ownership of our brand.”
“I think the conversation starts with whether they like the product. I don’t really want the relationship to start any way other than that. I think we should just sort of really push it with excellence and try to compete with the product being first.”
Segment 3: (Length :04:00) – Who is the better surfer and cyclist; Surfing as a gateway into their interests; work / life balance.
Shea & Raan’s finer points:
“Shea is the better surfer, I’m probably only the better cyclist because I go cycle and Shea kind of gave up on cycling, a few years ago.”
That's where it all kind of started. We grew up in the whole surf industry, surfing competitively when we were younger. I think it has a lot to do with where we are today.
“The surf industry is all about lifestyle brand and I think for us growing up in that world and that industry was kind of like a projected lifestyle that just really resonates very closely with us and any of our friends.”
“That’s where we kind of started really digging into how a product was made, and who the people and hands were that were behind all these products.”
“You have to be nimble to problem solve constantly.”
“We love what we do. I think that also makes it less of a headache if we are distracted by something that’s not opportune. We wouldn’t want to be doing something that was a drag.”
I think it would be a lie if someone told you that was literally owning their own business that they have it figured out, because it's impossible to predict things that are totally out of your control.
“We are really always thinking about ways we can improve and ways that we could be more relevant to the people that appreciate what we’re doing and the people that don’t even know what we’re doing, but want to figure out how to talk to them.”
“When you set out to do something that is really deeply connecting a lot of dots as far as what you’re passionate about and in addition to an occupation, the lines get really blurred, because it’s an enjoyable hustle.”
“I think we’ve sort of signed up for and built a life around the way we work everyday.”
It's definitely a total complete burnout calendar and workload, but because we love it so much it doesn't really feel like it. I think, it's kind of like having your cake and eating it too.
Segment 4: (Length :03:00) – Hustler Thought of the Day:
If you organize your life around your passion, you can turn your passion into your story and then turn your story into something bigger – something that matters. – Blake Mycoskie (Founder of Tom’s Shoes)
Shea & Raan Parton – Founders of Apolis Global Citizen
- Shea & Raan Parton, founders of Apolis, which means “global citizen”, and creators of a socially motivated lifestyle brand (clothing, bags, accessories, etc) that empowers communities worldwide.
- In 2004, brothers Raan and Shea Parton founded Apolis with a simple idea that business can create social change.
- Their travels abroad immersed them in personal stories of struggle and survival and inspired them to create a business model that bridges commerce and economic development.
- Along with their commitment to global advocacy, they also understand the importance of sourcing and manufacturing locally. Whether it means partnering with manufacturers in Uganda, Peru, Bangladesh, or around the corner in Los Angeles, the Partons have used their model of “advocacy through industry” to empower people to determine their own future.
- Shea Parton has run the day-to-day operations of the business in downtown Los Angeles since Apolis became a full-time project in 2007. He controls the master schedule and designates internal roles. Shea also oversees advocacy projects, the journal and key brand relationships. He holds a BA in business with a concentration in entrepreneurial finance from Point Loma University. Shea enjoys spending time with his wife Mary & son Everett, reading, cycling and surfing.
- Raan oversees all branding and creative strategy for Apolis. He also takes care of product development with regard to design, fabric sourcing, and fit. Raan holds a BA in organizational communications from Point Loma University. Raan enjoys traveling with his wife Lindsay, cycling and surfing.