On a little side street in down town Oklahoma City is a wonderful little community of restaurants and one SHOP GOOD, no really that’s it’s name SHOP GOOD. You may have never heard of the 9th Street District in OKC, or the little shop called SHOP GOOD, but it’s home for these two justice minded shop owners with a passion for good quality products with good quality values.
Meet Justin & Audrey, a husband and wife team and co-creators of SHOP GOOD. With a heart to provide their city with an accessible, eclectic and fun outlet for thoughtful shopping there store is a place where every purchase benefits a deserving community development project. From screen printing their own T’s to fun accessories SHOP GOOD is the place where every purchase truly counts.
We are so pleased to introduce our good friends and FIRST Creatives Near You couple!
Q) How did you get started?
A) The idea to design and create clothing happened on a road trip together—actually the return trip from our honeymoon. Justin was looking for a way to break his creativity out of the behind-the-screen mold, to work a little more with his hands in a more kinesthetic medium. And then, a couple of days later, we were offered a chance to buy some commercial screenprinting equipment at a steal. It was all we needed to take the leap.
The business came about pretty organically after that, starting with us selling subtly-social-justice-themed tee shirts at local events. We added in handmade import items from places like India, Senegal, Kenya, Tibet and Bali whenever we could, mostly sent to us by connections from our days as volunteers at nonprofit organizations.
When we finally took our little pop-up store full-time a few months later, we spent hours on end searching for people- and earth-friendly products with great stories to fill our shelves and walls and tables. And we found some jewels. Some of the products that we feel most attached to—and probably best represent the kinds of items we’re most excited about carrying and promoting—are Sseko Designs lace-up sandals, Article 22 peacebomb bracelets, Warby Parker designer eyewear and Jedidiah clothing.
Q) What has been the best decision you’ve made for your business?
A) Keeping things light-hearted. It can be really tempting to start taking ourselves too seriously, especially after spending an afternoon reading about the orphans who make our jewelry or the widows who crochet our hats. But we’ve found that people really love shopping at our little local business because we very obviously, and genuinely, get a kick out of our work, our causes and our interaction with our customers. No one likes to feel like they’re being guilted into buying a product that they’re not really sure they’ll wear, simply because it supports a good cause, so we’ve worked hard to make sure that our store atmosphere is fun and that we’re not using images or text to emotionally manipulate our shoppers.
We’ve counted heavily on the support of our local community and on developing a wide network of diverse relationships within that community for getting the word out about our business, and it definitely seems like the more happy, optimistic and friendly we are, the more people love to talk about us, write about us and recommend us to their friends.
Q) What advice do you have for creatives wanting to start their own business?
A) Don’t do it alone. Join (or build) a supportive community of other creatives who share your zeal, challenge your paradigms and are willing to bring you coffee when you’ve had a rough day. You’ll feed off of their successes and ideas, learn from their mistakes and be able to throw bigger parties and reach a larger segment of your community by connecting yourself well.
Q) How do you balance a healthy home and running your own business?
A) I don’t know that we balance so much as we integrate. Literally. We live in the apartment space above our first-floor retail store, so there’s about a 30-second stair climb between our home and business.
But on a more metaphysical level, we’re just not big into boundary-setting or compartmentalizing. We try not to put too many constraints on “work” time or “home” time. One often bleeds into the other. But because we are together throughout the day and we communicate well with each other, we are able to pretty much flex from one role to the next without a lot of tension. We frequently take moments throughout the day to talk together, eat a meal together or play together so that we’re sure to connect on a deeper level than business tasking, but we love that our work spills into our home and our home into our work.
Q) How do you use your business and your creativity to give back to the community around you?
A) Being a part of community is really important to us. So we’re committed, as a business, to giving back to our local community with every purchase made in our store—by donating a portion of our sales to local nonprofit organizations and by hosting events that benefit those organizations and raise awareness about their work.
But even more important to us is being a part of many diverse, vibrant, eclectic communities and helping those communities to connect with each other in tangible ways. So we’re also committed, as a business, to sourcing our products from companies or nonprofit organizations that are addressing a social justice issue with their merchandise—thus creating small business opportunities for women in India and Kenya who handmake our shoes and scarves or housing orphans of war in Uganda who handmake our jewelry.
This way, we are connecting in a meaningful way with our local community as they shop and attend our events, as well as helping our local community to participate in giving back to other communities around the world with their purchases. It’s a pretty simple, friendly and feel-good business model, both for us as the business owners and for our patrons.
AND NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF…
Q) What’s your most prized possession?
A) Our bed. Justin’s dad made it by hand out of wood from an oak tree that was part of his inheritance, wood that’s been in his family for years. It’s got amazing storage and an amazing story that we can continue to pass down to our family.
Q) List three ways you keep creativity fresh in your day to day?
A) 1. We talk. A lot. Bouncing ideas off of each other is an enormous source of inspiration. 2. We subscribe to GOOD magazine. Seriously, just do it. 3. We leave room in our day for interruptions. A lot of our creative ideas come from spontaneous outings and a willingness to engage in small talk with someone new, even if we’re busy.
Q) What are your favorite local hangouts?
A) 1. Anywhere in the Plaza District. 2. Coffee Slingers, any of our neighbors on 9th Street (Iguana Mexican Grill, Sara Sara Cupcakes, Pachinko Parlor). 3. The dartboards at McNellie’s Public House. 4. Our back porch.
Q) What websites do you frequent most?
Q) Describe your favorite outfit, why you like it, and where to get it?
A) Audrey: my fair trade, organic skinny jeans (Good Society); our “magnificent rack” handprinted white v-neck (American Apparel print only at SHOP GOOD); my brown boyfriend cardigan and leather moccasins (Urban Outfitters); with my big pocketwatch necklace (Love Nail Tree at SHOP GOOD).
From late night margaritas and Iguana Tacos we’ve shared so much with Justin & Audrey and it’s been such a joy working together as we try and figure out how to run our own businesses. If you’re ever in OKC make sure your stop by and check out some of our products in their lovely store and tell our good friends we said hi!
From the Farm
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