Amy from The Dream Stream Mobile Fair Trade Boutique
You can also listen to our podcast on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, and Spotify.
Intro: Welcome to the Simple Switch Podcast where you'll join me, Rachel the founder of Simple Switch to talk about conscious consumerism and positive impact purchasing. Spending our money in a way that helps our planet and the people on it can be complicated and frustrating and we're passionate about bringing ease to your journey. Join us as we demystify big ideas about conscious consumerism and hear from amazing business owners using their work for positive change. Thanks for being here and enjoy the show.
Rachel: Hey listeners, welcome back to the Simple Switch Podcast. Today on the podcast I have Amy Chadwick. She runs an amazing local company called the Dream Stream. They have a lot in common values aligned with Simple Switch and they actually sell a lot of our similar partners.
But my goal today is a little bit different than usual. I wanted to give you guys some examples of amazing ways that you can support positive impact purchasing, not through Simple Switch. We want to make sure that you guys are able to do your convenient online shopping with us, but also that you know that there are great ways in your own community to get involved with this kind of thing. So thank you so much for being here with us, Amy.
Amy: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Rachel: So very first simple question, just tell us a little bit about yourself and how Dream Stream got started and what it is. I didn't say too much about that.
Amy: Yeah, so Dream Stream is a mobile shop in a renovated Airstream trailer. So it's a 1975 Airstream that carries ethically sourced and fair trade items.
Rachel: That so cool.
Amy: It’s just got done in September. So this is my first like full year with the actual trailer.
Rachel: Nice. That's amazing. Yeah. Yeah. So I got to meet Amy, because recently in my hometown there is a big festival where all of these members come Boulder Creek Fest. And I was so drawn to the Airstream just because it's so beautiful and very well curated and then got so excited when I went in and realized that we obviously have so much in common.
Amy: It’s all fair trade.
Rachel: Yeah, absolutely very cool. Yeah. So tell us a little bit about fair trade. Why are you passionate about that? Why do you think it's important?
Amy: So I have been in the Fairtrade world actually since I was in college. And so I studied art history and religious studies. And what I was noticing was that, I really liked ancient art a lot and so it's a lot of traditional craft techniques and craft forms that I was seeing, in the fair trade world. So one of my favourite things about fair trade is that it preserves, you know, traditional and historical artistic traditions and just helping preserve like traditional cultures, because I'm just so interested in that because I feel like you can learn so much from it. And so through my studies in college, I started volunteering with an organization called 10,000 Villages. So that was kind of how I entered in the whole fair trade, global goods, ethically sourced world. And I'm originally from Virginia, so I worked at the 10,000 Villages in Virginia in Richmond, and then four years ago moved to Denver to work at the one in Denver.
Amy: But in 2017, it closed down, which was so sad. The store had been in Denver for like 35 years.
Amy: Because it was really….
Rachel: What was the reason for closing?
Amy: It's a lot of reasons actually. And I mean I'm sure this kind of connects to like what you're doing with online purchasing. I think that retail is just changing, like the way people are consuming things is completely different. Probably in connection to the 2008, you know, a financial crisis.
Amy: A lot of people just shifted the way that they think about their lives financially and then whatever they are wanting to buy. So I think online purchasing was really affecting Brick and Mortar sales. The area that we were in, it was called Cherry Creek North and it's becoming more high end. So it's brands that are bringing just a different type of customer.
And so we lost a lot of foot traffic mainly because they're doing a lot of construction in the area. So we were just blocked by the construction for probably a good year, so that led to it. And then, which, and I think this is a good thing, but the presence of ethically made, like conscious consumer global goods, fair trade items is becoming more prevalent. Which is great because if we can start to transition, you know, how things are made using those types of values, it's just all for the good. And so I think that 10,000 villages, you know, they were the first ones to really put this sort of model out there. And I think people maybe they were just finding products from different, outlets. So, you know, it was just market access I think.
Rachel: Totally, wow. So you transitioned from that straight into fair trade industry?
Amy: So I found out that the store was closing January 2017 and I was like, well, what am I going to do? I love Fairtrade and I couldn't give it up. So I was like, I will just make my own store. But like having to go through the whole process of closing a Brick and Mortar store and it was really sad because we had just moved to a new location around the corner and I set it all up and then I had to tear it all down. So it was really heavy, for me.
So the idea of having another Brick and Mortar store seemed financially terrifying. And then, so that's why I was like, oh, well maybe I should go mobile. And actually I kind of followed in the footsteps of a really good friend from Virginia. She and I worked at 10,000 Villages in Richmond and she left to start an Airstream mobile shop too. But she has since had to just a couple months ago, had to close her a little airstrip shop. But she was like my mentor and so I reached out to her and she was like, this is great. I want you to do well. Like this is how I did this and she really helps me. So yeah.
Rachel: That's so cool man. Okay. So we sell a lot of the same things, have a lot of the same values, but our business models look totally different. So what is your kind of day to day look like? Where usually selling with the Dream Stream, how often are you out there?
Amy: So typically on weekends, just because a lot of the like places that I sell is either craft markets or festivals or fairs. So they're always on the weekends. Like next weekend I have three different markets. That's a little nuts.
Amy: But it's really great because I'm so excited that the Airstream is finally done. For 2018 I was selling like I was at different events, but I just had a tent. And so during that timeframe, the Airstream was being renovated. So I'm just so excited that I can actually get out there with the trailer because that's kind of what my brand is all about, the Dream Stream.
But it's connected to the Airstream, but it's also you know connected to the ideals and the reason I have a fulfilling like me being more self-sufficient. That's like a dream I have. And then also helping artisans achieve their dreams of a better life too.
Rachel: Yeah. Amazing. So this isn't one that I told you I was going to ask, but where can people find you? I mean if listeners are like, man, that'd be so fun to go and find the shop. Where should they hunt you down?
Amy: So definitely on Instagram. So handle is a dream stream shop. And still in the process of putting all the events and online store on my website, so that's still in the process. I just started this doing this full time.
Amy: So there's still a lot on the to-do list.
Rachel: That's so exciting. I definitely know the feeling. Great. I'm following you on Instagram right now, I can't believe I hadn't yet. Guys, it is seriously so fun. You will be so drawn to this the minute that you see it, I'm sure just like I was. But yeah, if you're local in Colorado, go and then find them. Okay. Amy, tell me we usually ask this to our partners and it also makes sense for you. Tell me a favourite story, from the impact side of what you do. You’ve talked a little bit about why fair trade is important and why you like it what have you seen it?
Amy: Yes. So this is a huge part of my journey, I think so. And it's kind of two parts. So when I was working with 10,000 Villages, I was able to go on what they call a learning tour. So every year, managers from different stores could apply on these trips. And so you go and visit artisans to, you know, meet them, see how fair trade really impacts their lives, visit their communities, their families.
And in 2013 I was able to go to Indonesia and visit artists and partners there. And now it's, Oh, it's just my special place, like I love it so much. And I was actually fortunate enough to go back in February of this year. And I it's just so surreal and like magical, because I went with 10,000 Villages in 2013 and then I went with Dream Stream in February.
Amy: So to be able to like go back to a place that like touched me so much and now to like visit the same people with Dream Stream Shop, It was so cool.
Amy: So one group that really stuck out, it's called Mitra Bali, Fairtrade, and so they're in Bali and they have about probably over 150, 200 artisans. Wow. But just visiting their workshop, and then just meeting, so Agung Alit are the founders, and they have this gorgeous workshop space. It's like in the jungle. It's so beautiful. I love just meeting them, hearing their story, why they're passionate about fair trade. It's like their whole life. They're so committed to it. So meeting people halfway around the world that are so committed to something that I value so much is just so special.
Rachel: Yeah. And I mean, as you're selling those products, I don't know, I am so with you that when you get to go and be with them, it brings so much more depth and joy to what, to what we get to do. Every time someone---I just got back from Guatemala visiting one of our partners that we saw and now, you know, those people are my friends now. And so now anything that's sold through them, it's cool to know kind of the impact that it's having on them. Also, just the love and the care that they put into what they're making. That's very cool.
Amy: I'm super jealous about Indonesia. We have a new partner from Indonesia and I am trying to figure out how I can get out there, right now we're working on the budget to make it a reality.
Rachel: Oh, you have to go it’s such a special place.
Amy: Yeah, it sounds like it. And you know, one of their big goals through the business is just some education surrounding Indonesia. And it's so interesting because I know very, very little. I know more now that I'm working with them. But I also think what you were saying about fair trade playing into those ancient artists and practices keeping those alive. Just the education that we get about our world is also incredible through these partners I’m really thankful for that.
Yeah. I love how like thinking about how Fairtrade can act as like a vehicle to educate people about, hey, this is what makes this culture so special. This is like what makes it so like intriguing, but how then it connects into like the modern world. Like how a product can reflect like that feeling and that like interest of like a person or a product.
Rachel: Absolutely. Oh man. So we kind of know that this relationship goes both ways, right? Like, I get to see the amazing stuff happening with our artisan but also just the change of ,or the excitement from the customers who are working with. Do you have any favourite stories about a customer that you've had?
Amy: Yeah, so it was, I think it was, when was this last fall? I think it was. So I was popped up in Rhino. The Airstream was parked in Rhino, which is like a neighbourhood in Denver. And I had actually asked to leave the Airstream in the same spot just for like a day. Like no other vendors were around me because I was part of an event that was Friday and Saturday. And then I was like, Hey, can I just leave the Airstream here on Sunday? So, you know, it was kind of just like random people who just were walking by. I came into the Airstream and like wasn't connected to an event or anything. So this woman comes in and she lives in Cambodia. And I carry a line of jewellery from 10,000 Villages and it's called, the group is called Rajana. And they dig up old bombs from the Cambodian war and make these beautiful brass pieces of jewellery.
Amy: And it's so cool because it's something that was used, you know, this item that was used for destruction. Like it was just terrible and they're turning it into something beautiful. And so she found a pair of earrings and then we got to talking and it was like, Oh, well you're from Cambodia, like, or you know, she's living there. I think she was originally from Australia, but she was living in Cambodia. And just like her being in the U S finding something that was made in Cambodia that like, she's now living there and just like that connection is just really cool. And then just, we got talking even more. There's another group, [unclear14:05] and they, I don't actually carry any other products, but she knows the cofounder. And I had just met the cofounder at the fair trade Federation conference in Broomfield earlier that year. So it was kind of just need to make all those connections.
Rachel: That's a good reminder, I think that we were looking into working with them. So I will follow that. It’s so fun I love hearing that I was, I got to spend a month in Cambodia and just the incredible way that they have resource themselves after just such a traumatic, traumatic history as of late. so I love hearing that story and that, I mean, that's exactly what we were just talking about, that, not only does Fairtrade get to give education, but how cool is it that she was coming from a place where she already knew that and it helped her feel more at home here as well. That's very special. Love it. Yup.
Rachel: Man, I wish every listener could have the experience of walking into your store so they would have the same visual that I do when you say that. Hopefully some people----I'm looking forward to some people walking into your Airstream and saying, “Hey, I heard you on the podcast.”
Amy: Yeah, I know I want that too. A lot of people are just really interested in the Airstream and then when they come and then they see all the products and then they learn about [unclear15:23] that’s so cool.
Rachel: Well, I mean that's what happened to me, you know. To give you guys an idea, Boulder Creek Fest is like tenths upon tenths upon tenths, right? So we were just wandering looking at all these things. A lot of times I actually find great partners for Simple Switch at these kinds of things. But I just love Airstream I think that they are so beautiful and I have a dear friend who lives in one. And so I was like, Hmm, I wonder what's in here? So yeah, I think you're right it has its own draw, even without knowing your story or what's inside.
Amy: Yeah. It's like very nostalgic and so I, you know, I just love history. So connecting that to, you know what I love, it's just really funny.
Rachel: Yeah. Oh so cool okay. What do you wish that people knew about-----What do you wish people knew about what you do and then about as your industry as a whole, maybe about fair trade or
Amy: Like I guess in terms of the Airstream, and it's a lot to actually maneuverer that thing. I'm still kind of getting used to driving it. So last night I was in a neighbourhood called Park Hill for a Thursday night market, and it was the first one. But it went from four to nine and so I had to drive the Airstream back to where I park it, which is in an RV lot. It's up in Arvada, which is a little west of Denver. But just driving that by yourself it's a lot.
Amy: I don't know, I'm getting used to it. It feels really cool that I can do it all by myself.
Rachel: Yeah, it’s amazing.
Amy: It's just a really good feeling. Like I can back the truck up and hitch it and then haul it, and toll it, because it's like 50 feet. So like my truck is like 25 feet and then the Airstream is 25 feet. So it's a lot that I have to maneuverer. And like every time I do something right, it's like, yes. Like every time I turn the corner without like, yeah. Like I could see the Airstream and like I make it around like the curb. It's like, Oh my God, I did it.
Rachel: Yeah. That's a cool accomplishment. Really fun that you get to like, I mean carry your work wherever you go. Where's the farthest place where you've brought it?
Amy: Well, it'll actually be tonight because I'm driving it to Port Collins.
Rachel: Wow, cool.
Amy: That will, that's like an hour and a half. So that'll be the farthest I've taken it. But this summer I actually got accepted into-----there's these markets called Renegade Craft and they host markets around the country. I think they're based in Chicago. There's one in Denver, but I got accepted into the Seattle and Portland ones.
Amy: So I am going to drive the trailer out there.
Rachel: Amazing. Very cool. Okay, well if you guys are following Renegade then you guys should go and see her there. That's so exciting, that's a huge step.
Amy: Yup. I need to like plan out the route and yeah. I want to really enjoy it. Like I don't want to be constantly like worried about, well, okay. Just need to make sure that I like----there seems fine, I really want to try it and enjoy it. So, yeah.
Rachel: Oh, that's so cool. Nice, and anything that you wish that people knew kind of about the industry as a whole, maybe from your time at 10,000 Villages?
Amy: Yeah. So I think that because, and this is kind of what I talked about earlier maybe why 10,000 Villages the Denver store close. I think that predominant, like historically speaking, fair trade. Like I think you thought about it as like, Oh, your grandma's like closet full of things It's like she bought from her church sale. So I think that what's really cool about this sort of sustainable ethically made movement is that it's actually more prevalent than you think. So even brands, like I'm completely obsessed with Prana. I bought all my clothes from them. They are even using Fairtrade.
Rachel: very cool.
Amy: Like they have a fair trade workshop. So I think that when you think about the industry and then the whole world of like consumer like made goods, it kind of goes beyond just gifts. Like I think it can reach all types of product categories that you can think about. Okay. Well I'll say I want to buy like a towel that I want to be made ethically. Like it's more available than it was, I think 10 years ago, which is really cool.
Rachel: Yeah, absolutely. That's like a huge part of why I started Simple Switch was because I felt like there was, to your point, a lot of kind of kitschy things available. Yeah. You know, in your grandma's closet thinks that you're, you know,
Amy: Just sit on the shelves and get dusty.
Rachel: yeah, there's little trinkets or there's clothes but you don't actually want to wear them. And I started seeing so many awesome social enterprises. I'm working socially and environmentally that were making really great stuff. I mean, even where I'm sitting now in my office, I have tons of stuff from, you know, just very on trend items, like home goods and clothes that are available that make this kind of awesome impact. So I love to hear you say that and I agree it's becoming more and more prevalent. We always talk about our big hairy odious goal for Simple Switch would be to be able to have the infrastructure to reach down to companies that are too small to be doing what we're doing and help them to grow.
But also to reach up to companies that are quite large but don't have this kind of, you know, value alignment and help them move towards that. So I agree with you. I mean it's, it's exciting to see how much more mainstream a lot [unclear21: 11]
Amy: And like one of our values as a company is that change doesn't have to happen overnight, but if it does that's okay too because, I mean, things are happening so fast now because everything, I don't know, just the digital----we're in this digital age, it's like things can change in a second. But all good things take time. And so I think that, you know, even one little change that you make can really effect long term.
Rachel: Yeah, that feels really encouraging. Thanks for saying that. Yup. Cool. Awesome. Well, Amy, thank you so much for being here with us and yeah, we will put your website and your Instagram in the show notes and everyone should go and try and them spot the Dream Stream if you're from Colorado.
Outro: Thanks so much for joining me today. If you'd like this episode, you can support us by leaving a great review, sharing with your friends and subscribing. Thanks for caring about our planet and the people on it. We'll see you again soon.