Buy A T-Shirt, Change the World

In this edition of Who’s Impressing Me Now, I bring you two charitable chaps with an eye for fashion—David Zoppi, 27, and Ken Swain, 29, are the wonder twins behind Chico’s own Young Love Outfitters. Check out their website at www.younglove.co and remember that the holidays are always upon us before we know it, and the best part of buying from Young Love Outfitters is that a portion of your purchase will go to a charity of your choosing. I’d like an eco-fleece Worldwide Hoodie please! 

How’d this collaboration come about? 

Ken: How did this come about…we were working together in the mall at a retail store, Aeropostale. We were just kind of over it, over the whole corporate game. We kind of just wanted to branch out and do something on our own. We had a little electronic band together for a moment.

Of course you did! What was the name of your band? 

David: L.A.M.E.—Lights and Music, Etc. David

Ken: [laughing] We were pretty big on MySpace. We had a couple hundred followers back in the day.

You have an awesome social element to your business; how did you connect that piece? 

David: Yeah, we just kind of gravitated toward it; we knew we wanted to have a business but make it a little different and help people if we could. So we came up with the concept of working with different organizations and letting people choose which [organization] they wanted to help out with their purchase.

You’re geniuses. People love making choices and pushing buttons. 

Ken: It’s kind of funny, we didn’t know anything like this existed but there are other brands that do similar things. Once we started going we realized there are a ton of brands. It’s interesting, businesses are moving toward that socially-conscious, socially-responsible area.

Especially younger entrepreneurs it seems like.

Ken: Now we have a platform where we can really help more people and it feels good.

David: Right now we’re working with Plant With Purpose— they plant trees in reforested areas and help communities that rely on agriculture as a way of income. Every dollar that we raise plants a tree.

Ken: We feature three charities and then we set up a goal for each one. We set a price point that would fulfill a certain goal. So a dollar plants a tree, a hundred dollars plants a forest; so we chose to do five [hundred] to plant five forests.

David: 15% of a purchase goes toward the charity. So $500 will plant 500 trees. So that’s that goal. And we’re working with charity:water, which is a huge organization. That’s our biggest goal: $5000 to build a well. And then Leaping Stone is a local charity that builds schools in West Africa.

Ken: And that one is $2000. We can equip three classrooms with desks and chairs.

David: We’d like to eventually go on missions with these charities.

Ken: That’s the ultimate goal.

What happens when you reach a goal? 

KenKen: We switch it out with a new charity.

David: We’d like to work with a bunch of different causes.

So, how’s biz? 

David: The past year’s definitely been about learning and growing.

Ken: Finding ourselves.

David: I think our mission has stayed the same but our priorities have changed. Now we’re trying to focus more on [items] made in America.

Ken: Yeah and staying close to the product so we can oversee the quality.

David: We’ve started printing our own shirts. We were going through a screenprinter but no one around here does water-based inks. So we decided just to do it ourselves. So now we’re printing our own shirts.

How do you come up with the designs? 

David: We go off our individual influences; we like classic Americana, California culture style…

Ken: Vintage. Old cigar boxes, old labeling, we love that.

What’s next? 

Ken: Next is getting into stores; so far we’ve just been online. Now that we’ve launched our new shirts that are totally made in America, designed by us, made in small batches, they’re a lot more personal and we want to get them into stores and see where that goes.

David: We feel like we finally have a product that we can really stand behind, you know? We’re ready to take it to the next level. We’re working out of the house. We have a small office right now and we’re looking for another space.

Ken: Now that we’re doing our own screenprinting we need a bigger place…with better ventilation. [Laughs]

Are you guys from Chico? 

David: I’m from Corning.

Ken: I’m from Los Angeles but I’ve been here for almost 12 years now. My Mom lived in Paradise. I was getting into trouble down there and moved up here when I was 17 or 18.

David: I went to school at Butte and worked in the Mall; I finished my degree online.

Ken: I met my wife from Red Bluff, 10 years [ago] in December. I’ve been up here ever since; I fell in love with the place, it’s awesome.

David: But we’re together so often that some people think we’re together. Ken, you gotta tell the story.

Ken: Yeah we had an office in the Waterman-Breslauer building where KZFR is across from the park. And there’s like this sweet little massage therapist next to us and we’d see her in the hallways and stuff. And then we saw her at this teriyaki place a couple of weeks ago and she’s like, “Oh my gosh are you guys together yet? Have you married? Tied the knot?

David: You know, now that the Supreme Court ruled.

Ken: I said, “Oh, I’m married.” And she was like, “To a….?” I was like “To a….my wife?” And she was like, “Who’s a….?” And then I said, and he’s in a relationship [points to David] and she said, “To a….?” It was funny.

David: It was too much.

Ken: Sweet little lady. Hilarious though. “And you’re….?” [laughing] She was digging for the dirt.

How do people find out about you? 

David: We’ve had some success with blogs. We’ve been on MTV’s blog, and Details magazine.

Ken: We’ll do markets in San Francisco, like the Treasure Island Market.

David: We haven’t done any this year in Chico, but we’re hoping next year. We like the pop-up shop idea.

How did you come up with the name Young Love Outfitters? 

David: There’s not really a big story around it.

Ken: There was a song we both liked called “Young Love” by the Mystery Jets. We just liked it, it’s just unfiltered, unjaded love.

Follow Young Love Outfitters at 

http://instagram.com/yloutfitters 

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