Friendly Friday: 31 Bits

In the world we live in today, we are faced with a multitude of decisions. The decision to get out of bed, the decision to engage or disengage with the people around us, the decision to make the purchase. Between purchasing basic necessities (food & water) or luxuries (quality clothing or higher education), we make decisions based on purchases every single day. What to buy, what not to buy. What we have the money to invest in, what we don't. But in the midst of our purchases...we stop asking a really huge question: what is the impact of all of these purchases?

Many of us may think there is no impact at all. Buying a pair of shoes just impacts the buyer (you) and the seller (DSW) - right? Wrong. The impact of our purchases ripples far beyond what we see. Consider the makers of each shoe, the materials, the shipper, the warehouse location and on and on. With each purchase, we are effecting a lot more people than just the buyer and seller. 

What does this mean? Our purchases, when made thoughtfully, really can make a difference for good. The clothing, shoes, and jewelry we buy can empower, liberate, and catalyze incredible change—without the sacrifice of quality or style. And we couldn't think of a better example of a company who is doing this right than 31 bits. 

31 Bits: using fashion and design as a method of empowerment, helping individuals rise above poverty. 

31 Bits recognizes the power of the individual woman and the impact she can have on her family and community when given the opportunity. Empowering others at the very core of 31 Bits, working to equally benefit the purchaser of each piece of jewelry (you + me) with a quality, fashion forward product, while also caring and attending to the creator of each piece of jewelry  (women in Uganda). The beneficiaries don't only earn a sustainable income, they also receive counseling, health education, finance training and business mentorships. And its ALL funded by product sales.

Rewind to the very beginning—it all started when these girls were juniors in college. It only took a single trip to Uganda for Kallie Dovel to realize the stark differences between the 20-somethings in the United States and the 20-somethings in Uganda. To say that their lives were drastically different is the understatement of the century. From living situations to family life to education to everything in between—the women Kallie met in Uganda faced incredibly different situations, but possessed incredible drive, skill, and will to succeed. Above all else, these women were resourceful. They made jewelry out of old posters and bits of that is now sold in over 300 stores across the United States - thanks to the vision of Kallie Dovel, Alli Swanson, Anna Toy, Brooke Hodges, and Jessie Simonson!

These 31 bits founders have taken the art of jewelry making, and transformed it into a process that does GOOD - giving us (the consumer) the opportunity to change a life with every purchase. Their jewelry is phenomenal and a fashion statement to say the least.

This thing called "conscious consumerism" is a movement, challenging you and I to be education on where the products we purchase are coming from, and it involves every one of us. It means knowing your purchase makes an impact one way or another, why not make it a good one?  Whether you’re buying jewelry, a backpack, or your morning coffee—we challenge you to think about where your money is going. If you're looking to change the world, or invest in some really great jewelry, support 31 bits. They are truly doing it right.



Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern 


March 27, 2015 by Oliver Shuttlesworth

Wildcard Wednesday: Spring Break Explorers

Spring Break: two of the most prized words in the English language for those between the ages of 15 - 22 years old. For me (Grace), spring break is code for relax, travel, put down the books, SLEEP and explore!! Last week, our intern adventurers got to carry hope in some pretty cool places. From New York to Los Angeles to Chicago - here are some of the #esperosinterns doing some major exploring during their week off!

Erin ➳ New York City 



Gina ➳ Chicago 



Grace ➳ Los Angeles 


Hope everyone had an incredible spring break and got some major rest -- now back to reality!


Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern 



March 25, 2015 by Oliver Shuttlesworth

Monday Muses: Nina Van Bree & Brian Davenport

Nina Van Bree + Brian Davenport!

Congrats Nina and Brian - these newlyweds tied the knot just two days ago! If I could tell you one thing about Nina and Brian, let me tell you that they are quite the power couple. With backgrounds in painting, modeling and dancing, it almost seems like there is nothing that they haven't done. They are an inspiration to ESPEROS for many reasons, one of them being the way they beautifully conquer the world as a team. Carrying hope reaches an entirely new level when two great minds are used together. 

                                                                                                                                  Photo: Chris Craymer 

What/who inspires you? 

Happy people. True, genuine, happy people. You can recognize them: it's contagious. 

What kind of an artist are you?

B: Painter, model, dancer, poet, etc…

N: A model based out of NYC. 

How long have you each been practicing your craft? 

Both: About 10 years!

How did you meet your each other? Do you share a passion for something together?

We met while traveling in Tokyo. Both still modeling, we lived in NYC for over 5 years. We realized we both needed a change of lifestyle and bought a house with some land in Austin, TX, where we are creating our own sustainable living  environment - completely opposite from the commercialized scene in NYC! We love being outdoors. Sunshine is my passion, being outside, free, able to smell the air, build things, learn about nature and gardening and to try new things, and even accomplishing some I never thought I could. Great confidence booster! And doing all this together makes us a better team.    

Photo: Chris Craymer

What does "carry hope" mean to you? 

Always stay positive. You choose your response to situations. View life with an open mind.


Photo: Jennifer Livingston

Do you think education is important? Do you think it always comes in the form of formal training?

I think education is a very important thing. It’s not only fun to learn, but the best part about it (should be) freedom in education of your choice. Sadly, people with full time jobs don’t get to educate themselves on many aspects but their job skill.  Formal training is a tricky thing nowadays because it’s expensive and almost anything you can imagine learning/doing is available on the internet. I've always believed there are sooooo many things to know about and learn about that you will never be taught in school.

Do you have a song you cant stop listening to?

Not one song, I’m trying to gather good music for our wedding coming up! 

Where do you live, why?

Austin, TX. For one because it’s awesome. I love good food and Austin has a lot of it. Nice weather and lots of sunshine. Great music, and laid back vibe all around the city.  

Any random talents, hobbies, things we should highlight about who you are and what you want the public to know about you?

I’m still trying to find out what all my skills are, expanding my hobbies. Right now I love learning about better way of living, spend time on our new homestead and take care of our chickens. 


We stopped by the sustainable farm Nina and Brian are building, met their adorable pups and checked out the veggie gardens. Here are our photos:


Thanks for hanging out with us, Nina and Brian. And, again, congratulations on #marriage!


Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern

March 23, 2015 by Oliver Shuttlesworth

Friendly Friday: The Nobelity Project

“See every child in school. Improve Quality. Foster Global Citizenship.”

Three goals—for a changed world. A world where not a single child goes through life without a high quality education. The Nobelity Project has dreamt up something beautiful, and we are excited to feature their organization on our blog today.  


The Nobelity Project is an Austin-based non-profit, bridging gaps in education in communities around then globe to help bring an education to all. They’re looking for a better way - and really taking strides to make an impact around the world, focused in Kenya, Honduras, Nepal, and the US. As mentioned above, the three goals in which their organization operates to reach are to see every child in school, improve the quality of education (providing libraries, computers, study materials etc.), and foster global citizenship, raising awareness on global issues and moving people to action. 


They build schools, change lives, and are transparent about the work that they are doing and exactly where each donation goes. Taking transparency a step further, the Nobelity Project has three feature documentaries about global problems, solutions and the real work that they are doing. The latest documentary, titled Building Hope, tells the story of a rural Kenyan community that gets its first ever high school, built by the Nobelity Project. Founder and director of the documentaries, Turk Pipkin, has received many film festival awards such as Best Directing (My Hero Fast) and the White Lotus Humanitarian Award (Macao). These documentaries mean more than just a story told, they are a vision shared, a presentation of critical issues, and an illustration of potential solutions. Additionally, Founder & Executive Director Christy Pipkin works to maintain oversight on development projects around the world as well as creating motivating documentaries and short films. 


Check out their YouTube Channel for free access to Short Films + BIG CHANGES series that highlights global issues and programs. Warning: don’t watch the film unless you’re ready for some serious emotional impact, have tissues ready! Its incredible the work that can be done with such good hearts behind an organization like the Nobelity Project.  

Check out The Nobility Project's Twitter @NobelityProject, & Turk Pipkin's Instagram @turkpipkin!  Happy Friday, everyone! 


*all photos from

Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern

March 20, 2015 by Oliver Shuttlesworth

Monday Muses: The Color Condition

Photo by: itsKalan

Meet The Color Condition !! A collaboration and experiment between Sunny Sliger and Marianne Newsom, two women who are using color, pattern and movement in an entirely new way.  Sunny and Marianna met in 2010 through their association with The Shamrock Studios in Dallas, Texas - today they are Color Condition! 

Photo: Stanton J. Stevens

We are currently partnering with The Color Condition on a project for a GSD&M SXSW event tonight, the photos below capture the back drop they are working on! We feel incredibly lucky to get to work with Sunny & Marianne and we can't wait to see the final product tonight. Please continue to get to know them through today's Monday Muses interview, and enjoy their phenomenal work as well! 


When did you start working together? 
We started working together in 2010. 
What is your craft? Model, painter, dancer, etc....
Installation art that is driven by pattern , movement , and color ..  
What type of materials do you use?
Anything and everything, we can cut up.  When we started we scrounge everything we could, but lately we have been sticking with plastics and rip stop nylons
Who (or what) inspires you guys?
We are inspired by the ordinary and extraordinary. Anything from car lot flags to bugsby berkley
What does "carry hope" mean to you?
Hope is the most precious thing to have , it keeps you driven towards what the future can bring with hard work and passion ..  
You are partnering with ESPEROS for the GSD&M SXSW party. Why was/is our brand of any interest to you?
We are inspired by Esperos because of the core mission of this brand , which is to build community and support and provide education , bringing community together through our work is something we love about what we do . So naturally we are drawn towards a company that makes beautiful products and gives back as well as builds community. Photo by: itsKalan

Photo by: itsKalan
Why is education important? Do you think it always comes in the form of formal schooling?
Education comes is so many forms , not just formal schooling but also through community and 
experiences . We have done several events and camps where we work with kids teaching them about our values as a collaborative art duo , teaching them about the importance of comprise ,idea sharing  , and team work . Education is definitely a foundation to growth and finding your lifes path.
Any hidden talents or hobbies you want the world to know about? 
Ha, well we are also on a Show Ski team together, The Metroplex Mavericks Show Ski Team.  We worked on a project together with the team before we were the Color Condition and joined pretty much on the spot, it has really solidified our team work abilities.  When you are climbing a pyramid with someone, you really learn how to set everything aside in your mind and get it done! 
Photo by: itsKalan
Ha!! That's awesome. Is there a song you cant stop listening to? 
There are so many! Here are a few...
Harry Belafonte's "Jump in the Line", Shovels and Rope, Eagles of Death Metal, Link Wray, Julietta Venegas, Willie Nelson, & James Brown.
Follow them on Instagram (@thecolorcondition), Facebook, & Twitter (@ColorCondition) to stay up to date on their latest projects! We can't wait to see what they come up with for the GSD&M event tonight. Pictures will be up on the blog this Wednesday!
See you tonight, Sunny & Marianne!
Photo by: itsKalan
Written by Grace Mueller
Spring 2015 Intern 

Friendly Friday: Dominican Joe Coffee Shop

In Austin, TX—we do coffee well. I can (almost) guarantee that you wont find a single human in this town who doesn't appreciate the quality of coffee we have here. In order to fully enjoy a good cup of joe, however, there are a number of factors that go into creating an exceptional coffee shop. From the actual location, to the baristas, to the number of accessible outlets (can I get a RT) - quality coffee drinking doesn't stop with the bean. 

Luckily, most Austin coffee shops (@atxcoffee_localsonly) have mastered these factors - so how do they stand apart from one another? With there being so many great coffee spots in Austin, it seems like coffee shops have to literally be changing the world in order to stand out.....

So - let me personally introduce you to Dominican Joe Coffee Shop.


Dominican Joe Coffee Shop in as one of a kind Austin coffee shop, successfully supporting coffee farmers in the Dominican Republic while also providing education for children and alleviating impoverished families, one by one. How does this happen? Through a win-win-win partnership with local non-profit, Makarios.


Makarios, meaning “blessed” in ancient Greek, is a non-profit dedicated to meeting the spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of impoverished people in the developing world through Christ-centered, sustainable and educational outreach programs. Makarios works directly with coffee farmers in the DR, who are growing some dang good coffee but just aren't getting paid enough for it. Makarios then buys and sells this home-grown coffee, in all of its Dominican goodness, to Dominican Joe Coffee Shop. Hence the name “Dominican” Joe — make sense? 

Mehul Patel and Sharla Megilligan formed this partnership in early 2005, and have been providing caffeine-addicts with high quality coffee and life-changing service ever since. There are children all over the world living in poverty who need a way out through education, and the Dominican Joe + Makarios tag team is making that happen!! 


If you like what you see, or are dozing off due to a lack of sleep and/or caffeine deficiency, head over to Dominican Joe (at 515 South CongressAve.) to enjoy a cup of joe and be a world changer!!!

Additionally, just because we love all of our local coffee shops, check out this Instagram account that features local Austin coffee shops (@atxcoffee_localsonly)! Stay caffeinated, friends !

*all photos courtesy of Makarios & Dominican Joe Coffee Shop


Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern 

March 13, 2015 by Oliver Shuttlesworth

SXSW: the Epic Madness Begins!

If you are an entrepreneur, a college student who loves free things, or a human living on planet Earth (other than my Grandma…who actually reads this blog - sorry Grandma!) then you know what SXSW means and how huge of a deal it is. We have some awesome things in-store for the week, and are PUMPED for it to finally be here!!

In less than 24 hours, Austin will be filled with thousands of men and women who are eager to hear, see, and experience all that this years SXSW extravaganza has to offer. Names like Jimmy Kimmel, Al Gore, Melissa McCarthy, Kevin Hart, Al Pacino, Steve Carell, and Russell Brand will make appearances along with hundreds of other talented speakers and performers! From inspirational talks, to film sessions, to trade shows, to food and more food…you can see why we are excited.

So, we've had something up our sleeve for a little while now that we want to let you in on. We aren't revealing exact locations and times quite yet - but lean in really close on this one. For the next week, we've got a surprise and it goes like this:

☮ ♥ & #carryhope , introducing...

The #SXSWagon

This VW will be our funky fresh store front for the next week, bringing ESPEROS right to your doorstep. Keep checking our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram (@esperosbags) for updates on locations and times - we might just throw in a discount, who knows! Stay tuned.  

You can definitely find us...

  • March 14th, 12:00 pm: Pop Up at Whole Foods Lamar
  • March 18th & 19th, 11-2pm: Whole Foods Lamar parking garage (near food court)
  • March 20th & 21st, 4-8pm: Parked next door to Moss on S Lamar 

Also - if you're looking to learn more about the social enterprise industry - be sure to see the SXSW Groupe SOS seminar on Friday, March 13th at 3:30 PM in the Hilton Austin Downtown. Groupe SOS is one of Europe's foremost social undertakings, acting to develop innovative solutions focused on five key areas: youth, employment, housing, health and elderly people. Led by Brian Walsh, Nicolas Hazard, and Penelope Douglas -- it's going to be a good one! 


☮ ♥ & #carryhope,

Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern


Monday Muses: Gabriela Salvadó


                                      {   Kevin White Photography    Daniel Gabbay Photography  Kevin White Photography    }
Meet Gabriela Salvadó, our muse on this lovely Monday! Gabby is an international fashion model, originally from Guatemala based in New York City. She  lives a pretty rad life in the Big Apple and you can find her in ads and on billboards all over the world from Gap Body to Land's End. What we really love about Gabby is her heart for education and giving back, she carries hope with her Olive Classic Backpack! Gabby is our muse today for obvious reasons -- we share in her heart for Guatemala   & we are thankful that she chooses to support causes that really matter! 

Hey Gabby! Where do you call home? 

New York and Guatemala.

What does carry hope mean to you?

It means a world with a better future. 

Why is education important to you?

Because it empowers you. 

What is your favorite place to take the bag?

Everywhere! I love that it's not only practical but also helps makes a difference in the world. 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Exactly where I live now, New York !!

Favorite type of social media?

Person to person communication. I love a great conversation. 

How long have you been a model?

I have been modeling for over a decade :)

Favorite place you have visited?

Capetown, South Africa - where my husband is from!

What is your favorite song at the moment? Paradise by Coldplay 


We're you're biggest fans, Gabby! To the left, Gabby is pictured in Dubai and also with her husband, David Miller. Even though she loves face to face communication the best, you can still follow her on Instagram @gabrielasalvado. We also heard she's a fan of Tamales...we've got some pretty great places you might like in Austin (hint hint) - come visit soon! 



Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015

March 09, 2015 by Oliver Shuttlesworth

Friendly Friday: Miriam Designs


a.k.a Nashville a.k.a. Music City USA, Athens of the South, home to the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry, THE Frothy Monkey, and a ton of social businesses looking to make a difference in the world.

What type of awesome companies, you say? Funny you should ask. 

Today's Friendly Friday is featuring...Miriam Designs !

Way back in the day (March 2013), Gracie Moakler founded Miriam Designs with the hope to see restoration merge with creativity in her community. Two years later, Miriam Designs is a successful fashion brand in Nashville, TN that creates quality women’s clothing + accessories. By employing women who are looking to transition away from addictions and homelessness, Miriam Designs does more than just offer a job—they invite each employee to step into something greater. For these women, having a loving environment to enter into means everything - hope, safety and a second chance.

Who is Miriam?

That’s a great question. A question I asked too, until I stumbled upon this beautifully written blog post by Miriam Designs: 

Miriam Designs is a fashion brand focused on excellence and rooted in faith, hope, and love. She is a dreamer, who looks at the world through the lens of a faith that embraces conflict and expects growth. She holds steadfast hope to leave the world a better place than she found it, as she endlessly loves without bounds.
Miriam is an adventurer, who does not fear the dreams stirring in her heart, knowing that God is her biggest advocate and her passions are purposeful.
Miriam is a family, who encourages and believes in one another through all details of life, living a lifestyle of love that extends beyond the barriers of a studio space. Miriam clings to mercy and always chooses grace over guilt, insisting that vulnerability and bravery are the only prerequisites for beauty.


Ready to drop out of school and go work for Miriam…? Yep, us too.


Their jewelry is incredible, incredibly affordable, and simply beautiful. On top of necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings, Miriam also offers sweaters and clutches that are literally to die for (okay maybe not literally…but seriously close).

Here's what Melissa has to say about her job at Miriam: "I get to see my strengths put to work, and I love having a job where I come in and know I'm supported and know that everyone loves me." Thanks for all that you do, Melissa. And everyone at Miriam Designs! 

Support Miriam at or follow them on Instagram @miriamdesigns!! 

Also make sure to check out these Nashville-based companies doing incredible things as well: Everly, Nisolo Shoes, and Mocha Club! Happy Friday, everyone! 


Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015

Wildcard Wednesday: We have Interns?

Things you don't hear very often: when I grow up…I want to be an intern. 

Maybe that’s because most little kids don't know what an internship is, but it also could be because kids don't know what it’s like to intern for ESPEROS. And that’s a shame…I think that they should know, and I think that you should know, because ESPEROS is changing the game when it comes to internships and here’s why: 

  • you get to wear converse/funky jeans
  • there are dogs to play with at all times
  • people call you by your real name, not “intern”
  • there is a mini fridge 
  • education is seen as an urgent need around the globe (as it should be)
  • you get to play a part in changing the world


My name is Grace and I get the privilege of writing for ESPEROS. I think one of the reasons people might laugh at the idea of dreaming to be an intern, is because intern duties are typically busy work. Fetching coffee, filing papers, doing research…and on and on. One of the things that sets ESPEROS apart in this sense, is the work we get to do as interns. We get to learn from the ESPEROS team, talk with them and live life with them for the months that we are here. They grow us professionally and personally as we witness first had what it looks like to operate a start up gone nation-wide company. In the day-to-day, we aren't taking out the trash (though I think that needs to be done…*cough Ilya*)—we’re making a difference. On top of all of this, what is incredible about interning at ESPEROS is that it all seems like such a privilege. To get to be around the people we are around, and do the things we get to do. Working for a company whose mission is as impactful as ESPEROS’, I really couldn't imagine there being an internship in the world that is a better fit for me. 

By the way…when we say changing the world, we really mean it. In my time with ESPEROS, I have gotten to learn a lot about our partnering non profit, Pencils of Promise. I can really say that I have never felt more inspired by an organization striving to provide education than I have with this organization.

Photo Credit: Nick Onken

Pencils of Promise began with a question and a small boy begging in the streets of India…

“What do you want most in the world?”

“A pencil,” he replied.

I reached into my backpack, handed him my pencil, and watched as a wave of possibility washed over him.

Since this moment, starting with just a $25 deposit, Pencils of Promise has now built more than 200 schools. They believe that a day will come when every single child will have access to quality education…and they are taking real steps to get there. This is what I mean when I talk about changing the world! 

So shoutout to every intern at ESPEROS, and all of you interns around the world. You’re doing great things. And if you feel like you aren't….come to ESPEROS!



Peace, love & intern pride ~

Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern 



March 04, 2015 by Oliver Shuttlesworth