We wanted to go beyond our brand and showcase other change-makers, tell the story of inspiring people with like-minded businesses also reaching for big things. We wanted to showcase the real, the raw and often humble, messy or rocky beginnings. Because those big inspiring, change-making businesses that inspire us all are so much more than their polished presence. And the messy middle is where all the juicy inspiration lies, which is where we plan to focus on this new series as much as possible.
Kicking off this new IRL series we interviewed the incredibly inspiring Bobbi Paidel who co-founded Tribe of Lambs with her equalling inspiring business partner Phil Haley. If you have yet to hear of Tribe of Lambs then you're in for a real treat. Tribe of Lambs hand makes beautiful sterling silver jewellery in India. They then use the profits from that perfectly minimal jewellery to help support and house children in India who are living with HIV. Everything they do is filled with deep love and beauty, we are so inspired by Tribe of Lambs and hope you love Bobbi's story as much as we do.
What was your inspiration behind Tribe of Lambs?
After becoming disillusioned with the fashion industry, I spent 7 months in northern India really thinking about the contribution I wanted to make in the world & was super inspired to connect folks back home with the issues I was faced with in India, specifically around children living in poverty. While I had no other skills than a few years of experience as a wardrobe stylist, I had an eye for style & saw some incredible products being produced by very skilled artisans. It initially gave me the idea to use ethically made goods to bring funds back to support two children’s orphanages I was volunteering in at the time. From there, we launched a crowdfunding campaign and just kept going. From day one the main focus has been, how can we maximize our impact to help those in need? The WHY has been the inspiration and continues to be the fuel for us to carry on.
Looking back on your past experiences, can you see a path that ultimately brought you to Tribe of Lambs?
My path has never been "normal”, I went from semi-professional dancer and instructor to the fashion industry, to social entrepreneurship. I’ve moved cities 10 times in my adult life and lived in 4 different countries. Adventure excites me, and following that intuition has been the wild path to Tribe of Lambs. Like I mentioned above, the negative side of the fashion industry was really starting to weigh on me. The waste, the consumerism, the superficiality of it was the initial pull to seek something more from my work life. But I’m grateful I had those 3 intense years in the Toronto fashion scene to get clear that it wasn’t for me. I’ve always had the courage to try new things so when I was in India, I was super inspired by two friends who were living there and operating their online business from the foothills of the Himalayas. They really showed me that a nonconventional life is possible, and with their support, helped me take Tribe from a dream into a reality. But the path to get to that point was definitely not direct. Although once in India, it all became clear to me.
Has there been one breakthrough moment in your business so far that has stuck with you?
Coming to the realization that failure really is only an opportunity and that learning through making mistakes is the best way to learn anything. We’re not an overnight success and to be honest, it’s been 5 years of challenges I wouldn’t have anticipated, but we always manage to grow through it and come out a little bit wiser on the other side. And I don’t think we’ve had one big moment but rather a series of little successes and moments that have given us the strength to keep going. Whether it’s a teary-eyed connection with a new customer at the yoga festival, or being present at our kids (beneficiaries) annual school day in India or each step we finish to attaining charitable status…all these moments are worth celebrating because we feel the value of what we’re creating.
How do you keep that momentum/motivation going?
Continually connecting to our WHY, which is our beneficiaries in India, the incredible children who are so much more than the HIV stigma that lingers over them because of their status. When things get difficult for us, we remind each other and remember that it will never be as difficult as the challenges faced daily by an HIV+ child in India. And when things are going well, we are humbled and reminded that it isn’t about us as individuals or “entrepreneurs”, it’s about being a part of something bigger than ourselves. We are just a tiny drop in the endless possibilities of a brighter, healthier, more connected world that we’re working to be a part of.
"...the realization that failure really is only an opportunity and that learning through making mistakes is the best way to learn anything. " Bobbi Padiel
Short and sweet tell us about your personal style - how you decide which items to add to your closet?
My personal look has evolved to include comfort as much as style. I’m travelling often which means my wardrobe needs to be wrinkle-free, easy to wash, and interchangeable. I LOVE thrifting & finding vintage treasures that can splash up my basics.
What is one thing that you do for your self every day that is non-negotiable?
If you could teach one thing to a young person what would that be?
Be easy on yourself and others, life doesn’t need to be so serious.
What are your top five life must-haves?
- Coconut oil
- iphone & headphones
- Comfortable (and fly) running shoes
- A slick & functional bag
Who in your world do you find to be the most inspiring?
Rich Roll, I LOVE what he’s created and I think he’s what the world needs more of. The Rich Roll podcast has been a constant source of inspiration and information for me over the past 4 years. He’s continually bringing in guests who are changing the world in limitless ways. And I always tune in if I’m feeling isolated in my own community and need to hear the perspective of someone who also values compassionate, healthy and conscious living the way I do.
What is one book that you think every person should read that changed your perspective on life?
For me, the book that changed my view of life was the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita which I learned in India. It was the distilled essence of these teachings which led me to meditation, compassionate living & ultimately gave me the personal insight to recognize my true purpose.
And lastly, what are you working on next?
Tribe of Lambs is in the midst of a transformation! We’re leaning into what we love about the Tribe - which is maximizing our impact for our kids in India & connecting people to our cause.
Check out Tribe of Lambs and if you have any questions or comments for Bobbi, make sure to leave them below.