Choclo Project is an ethical clothing brand that gives back to underprivileged children.
Creative Freedom is the driving force behind Choclo Project. We love the sense of freedom the children feel when they tap into their imagination and create art. We want our customers to feel the same sense of freedom when they wear our garments, so they too can express themselves without restriction. Every year we travel to Latin America to host creative workshops for poor and homeless children. The objective of these workshops is to nourish their creativity, teach them new artistic techniques and build their confidence. The art that the children create then becomes the inspiration for the graphics on our products. The money raised through the sale of these products is used to build classrooms and pay for their school fees, showing them the value of their own creativity.
The money raised through the sale of our last collection was able to pay for a year’s school fees, uniforms and books for the 18 ex-street children at Mundo de Niños, Peru. To discover how we are able to do this watch our "a year in the making" video.
Today, Choclo Project needs your help to finance a trip to help the abandoned and homeless children of Misión México. Currently 20 million children live in poverty in Mexico. These children often come from dysfunctional families with major economic problems and as a result are far more likely to drop out of school, and are often victims of abuse and violence. Many of these children and adolescents end up living in the streets where they are exposed to drugs, alcohol and crime. In Mexico the streets are often run by the drug cartels making their chance of survival even more limited.
"The idea for the Choclo Project came during a surf trip to South America in 2008. While travelling and surfing along the Chilean and Peruvian coastline I was invited to visit an orphanage in Lima run by a friend of my Peruvian mother. Cristina explained to me how most of these children had been abandoned and some even left for dead in rubbish bins. Having grown up in Australia and having a wonderful childhood this was really hard to imagine and comprehend. Other than the unexplainable joy of the children what really struck me that day were their drawings that had been pinned up on a wall".
It was at this exact moment that Roland Wimbush realized that he had to do something. He decided to use 10 years of design expérience to create a brand that is not only organic and original, but also ethical. The goal of the brand is to provide these children with the education they deserve, thanks to their very own creativity. With the help of some friends Roland created the first collection, using the drawings of the children as inspiration, and organized a fundraiser which allowed him to collect more than 8000€ for Cristina and her children at Nuevo Futuro.
Not only are we focused on creating a sense of freedom for the children as they tap into their imagination and create art but we also want our customers to feel a sense of freedom when they wear our garments, so they too can express themselves without restriction. Even though our garments are essentially created for movement they are also adapted to wear around town, check the surf or just chill out at home. The versatility and comfort of our products also makes them ideal for travel, which is our other great passion.
Our products are either made from organic cotton, certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or recycled plastic bottles. At Choclo Project we are very conscious of the impact of the clothing industry on the environment that we love and appreciate so much. This is why we do our best to support independent cotton farmers, reduce our carbon footprint and have a close relationship with the people that produce our garments.
In 2013 we won the Brand Leader Award at the SOURCE AWARDS, a global event hosted by the Ethical Fashion Network. Held at the House of Lords in London it draws together pioneering fashion businesses, press and key industry figures. The judging panel included: Dolly Jones, editor of Vogue.co.uk; Brigitte Steppitus, Head of Couture at Vivienne Westwood; Summer Rayne Oakes, social activist, eco-model and co-founder of Source4Style; Amber Valletta, American supermodel and sustainable fashion spokesperson. The Source Awards put the spotlight on the most innovative and inspirational businesses, individuals and initiatives in the fashion industry, from field to final product.
In 2012 we won the Social Awareness category of the ISPO Brand New Awards. ISPO is undoubtedly the biggest sports trade show in the world so to have them reward our work with this award is an tremendous honor. The competition aims to give young entrepreneurs and their products a stage where they can introduce themselves to the market. The Jury members come directly from the industry and not only judged us on the Humanitarian aspect but also the product itself in terms of both quality and appeal.
This summer we will travel to Mexico with a clear goal : to use art to transform the lives of the children at Misión México. By nourishing their creative skills, teaching them new artistic techniques and giving value to their work we will present art as a means to improving their situation, by providing them with an education. Aside from building their confidence and self-esteem through art we will also encourage their creativity and self-expression through surfing, skateboarding and yoga. These activities are not only vital in teaching them life skills but also improving their health and well-being. During these sessions they will be able to forget their past and simply enjoy the moment.
Freedom surrounds the Choclo Project. Obviously we are dedicated to providing the children we sponsor with the freedom to express themselves but we also strive to provide them with choices and opportunities.
ROLAND WIMBUSH / founder and creative director of Choclo Project
ROLE: Coordinate the project. Manage the creative workshops and yoga sessions.
HENDRIK THUL / cameraman)
ROLE: Document the journey.
GEORGIA FISH / professional surfer and mentor for Choclo Project.
ROLE: Teach the children to surf and also educate the staff and children about nutrition (Georgia will meet us in Mexico after a surf competition in California. Georgia joined us on our last Mission in Peru).
TONY MARQAIS / sponsored skateboarder and skate teacher for children.
ROLE: Share his passion for skateboarding with the children, provide them with equipment and build a park so they can continue to practice.
Our primary goal is to encourage the creativity of the children in the centers we sponsor. We do this by turning their drawings into graphics on our products, which when sold help generate funds that go back to the centers to finance projects aimed at providing the children with a real education. Without the trip to Latin America each year, there would be no collection, and without the collection, no way of offering these children with the education they deserve so much.
-- Host creative workshops with the children. During the three week period the team will host a series of creative workshops with the children, allowing us to better understand their situation and teach them new artistic techniques. This concept not only gives the children a feeling of freedom as they tap into their imagination but could in time create a way out of their situation as a potential way to make a living.
-- Set up a local artist program. We will set up a program with local artists who can continue to work with the children once we are gone. This way they can continue to grow on a creative level.
-- Brighten up the home of the children. We want to leave the children with a lasting reminder of the value of their creativity. We plan to create a Mural at Misión Mexico bringing life, color and art into their often dull and uninspiring home. This Mural is something that they can be proud of and show to visitors and family (for those that have one).
-- Provide a physical release through sport. Sport is a great way for the children to build confidence and learn important life values. It is also another way for them to express themselves and channel both energy and frustration. With the help of Georgia (surf), Tony (skate) and Roland (yoga) we will be able to offer the children a variety of fun and beneficial activities.
-- Provide the children with an education. Education is key to keeping the children off the streets and so is our main priority. Depending on the immediate needs of the Misión Mexico team we will decide on an educational project that needs financing. This will become the commercial objective of the sale of our collection.
-- Rebuild the children’s self esteem. The most rewarding part of this project by far is showing the samples to the kids. The drawings that they love to do now have value and when they see what has been done with them they feel special. They have real talent but in order for them to benefit from it, it needs to be nurtured and encouraged and this is the objective of the creative workshops that we do with them. When they hear that these products will be sold around the world it does amazing things for their self-confidence and they have a real feeling of accomplishment. If we can help get them to school and get a proper education in the process then we have achieved something.
Unfortunately, children suffer from poverty everywhere in the world. Mexico however is a very extreme case.
A recent study made by the UNO and Unicef revealed that Mexico poverty in Mexico mainly effects children and teenagers. 20 million children are victims of poverty, of which 5 millions are in very dire situations. In the “best cases” amongst the poor families, the children are put to work by their parents so that they can have an additional income for the family. But most of the time, children are left on the streets and approached by drug cartels to do their dirty work: the boys are recruited to be informants, drug couriers, weapon dealers, and even sometimes professional killers. The girls enter prostitution networks from a young age. Unicef has lost track of 73 000 minors in the country already.
This is why we chose to devote ourselves to the children of Mexico this year, offering them the opportunity to share their creativity and culture with the rest of the world. Their art will be featured on our products which when sold around the world will provide them with the education and self esteem they deserve.