Kristiana Tarnuzzer, The Cause Bar
TITLE: Founder, The Cause Bar
Kristiana Tarnuzzer, founder of The Cause Bar, saw a gap in the market for connecting consumers with tangible ways to live an environmentally and socially good lifestyle. Providing people with forward-thinking brands, people, and events that all point towards impact, The Cause Bar is set up to become the signpost for people who want to do good in a modern manner.
WHAT DOES THE CAUSE BAR HOPE TO HELP PEOPLE ACHIEVE IN THEIR EVERYDAY LIVES?
Inspiration, education and accessible tools and resources to help our readers live a social good lifestyle, beyond an emergency relief or holiday give back basis. We hope they feel empowered by the way we share our elevated content about beautiful brands with a positive impact, fun events, a community who shares in their values, and change makers making a real difference.
WHAT WAS THE IDEA PROCESS OF CREATING SUCH A UNIQUE ENTERPRISE LIKE THE CAUSE BAR? CAN YOU PINPOINT THE TURNING POINT OF WHEN THE CAUSE BAR TURNED FROM AN IDEA INTO AN ‘I’M DOING THIS’?
I’ve come to realize the idea has been hibernating in me for years. When I finally put pen to paper in late 2017, it was after having heard enough times from my own personal network that they would have attended a charity event I went to but didn’t know about it, or loved the story and meaning behind an item I was wearing but had never heard of the brand. There was clearly a gap in the market, and so I tested the idea to a wider audience beyond my personal network. After seeing the traction from doing just the bare minimum on my own for a few months, I realized that I could and should honor the idea by elevating the brand. Thus, our recent relaunch, complete with a new look + feel, a newly designed website, a weekly newsletter, content features written by passionate and talented editors across conscious brands, global causes and industry change makers...and more to come!
CAN YOU GIVE US SOME ADVICE ON SOME EASY WAYS TO LEAD A SOCIALLY GOOD, IMPACTFUL LIFE?
I think, to start, it’s really just being more thoughtful in our decisions. Asking ourselves questions like “Do I really need this item? How, where and/or by whom was the item made and how does that make me feel? I have a sitter, should I go out just anywhere for a date night or select an equally fun event that supports a good cause?” I would also say just being open to listening and learning. It’s important to feel that we don’t have to be experts on everything, or extremists, for that matter. That becomes an uncomfortable and overwhelming space for many, which is why often times, nothing is done, routines are continued and no change is made. We try to make The Cause Bar content accessible and approachable so people will WANT to have a deeper read on something and, in turn, feel inspired to either take action, make a change, or at minimum, just dig a little deeper on a topic in whatever way they choose.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE BRANDS THAT ARE BEING SOCIALLY AND ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE?
There are so many beautiful brands in the market now to choose from. From an environmental standpoint, I really love the RE/DONE model of taking old vintage Levis and repurposing the fabric into modern day cuts. Swedish Stockings produce nylon stockings from recycled yarn - they have some of the prettiest styles too! Veja, Coclico and Rothy’s (so comfortable by the way!) are a few of my favorite ethical and environmentally friendly shoe brands, and I love Matt & Nat’s beautiful vegan leather goods - all with 100% recycled plastic bottle linings!
I really appreciate artisan made items - I’m an avid traveler and I always enjoy seeing the work of local artisans around the world firsthand - but primarily, my appreciation comes from my Ukrainian heritage. My grandmother was an extremely talented seamstress and embroiderer. Like so many ancient and symbolic traditions, I fear it’s becoming a lost art, and so supporting local cultures and traditions is really important to me. Some of my favorite artisan made homeware brands include St Frank, Imani Collective and Indego Africa. For the kids, I especially love Mouse in the Shop, Cabbages & Kings and Coco & Ginger.
Top on my list right now for brands that give back are Paper Culture who plants a tree for every card printed, MiaDonna for supporting the conflict-free diamond industry, Cuyana and their Lean Closet Program for Violence Intervention Program, State Bags who donates backpacks to children in need, Gratitude Collaborations for their unique gifting product that donates a portion to charities, Cuddle + Kind for feeding children in need, and Rialto Jean Project in support of art therapy programs in children’s hospitals.
“I’m positive that I speak for all female entrepreneurs when I say THANK YOU to the women founders who have paved the road for us ahead. By no means are we there yet, but these women had the courage and confidence to set an example…”
“I think, to start, it’s really just being more thoughtful in our decisions. Asking ourselves questions like ‘Do I really need this item? How, where and/or by whom was the item made and how does that make me feel?’”
WHO ARE SOME OTHER FEMALE FOUNDERS, LIKE YOURSELF, THAT INSPIRE YOU AND WHY?
Again...so many! From Caitlyn Crosby, Founder of The Giving Keys, for creating a brand built around a pay-it-forward model while also providing employment opportunities for people transitioning out of homelessness, to Anna Auerbach, Founder of Werk, for recognizing and calling out that the one size fits all workday is a fundamentally broken premise. Rebecca Minkoff has always been a leader in the industry, but most recently, developed the brilliant concept of Female Founder Collective, an initiative supporting businesses run and founded by females and supports women’s growth and success. Nina Farran of FashionKind, AmyAnn Cadwell of The Good Trade, Laura Piety (hello!) of Noble Media - all moving the needle on social good brands and work. I’m positive I speak for all female entrepreneurs when I say THANK YOU to the women founders who have paved the road for us ahead. By no means are we there yet, but these women had the courage and confidence to set an example, and create what will hopefully become the new norm in the workspace.
YOU’VE PARTICIPATED IN AND ORGANIZED INTERNATIONAL MISSION TRIPS WITH THE IDEA THAT EVEN ONE PERSON CAN MAKE AN IMPACT. TELL US ABOUT THESE TRIPS AND WHAT IMPACT THEY HAD ON YOUR PHILANTHROPIC PERSPECTIVE.
The biggest impact physically going and spending time on these trips has had on me was the realization that I (we) need to be long time partners and supporters. I could not return from these trips and ever say “Checked the box! I went to India to build a school for an orphanage - done!” While that trip was extremely helpful to the organization and community we were supporting, you leave knowing how much already went into it before you arrived and how much can still be done upon leaving. That’s when I learned that if we each commit to even just a little bit on an ongoing basis - this is what will drive change.
YOU JUST MOVED FROM NEW YORK TO LOS ANGELES. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY OF EACH OF THESE CITIES ARE INDIVIDUALLY DOING BEST WITHIN THE SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT SPACE?
For such a fast paced, high energy and crowded city, New York has made great strides in creating more green spaces, like parks and pedestrian walks, over the years. While there remains serious traffic congestion, the alternative options are a plenty, from Citi Bikes, ferries, and trains, to The PATH, buses, and, of course, their infamous underground subway system. Most of all, I love and respect New York for always being the country’s cultural melting pot, and accepting and encouraging diversity.
The environment is always top of mind here in LA - I remember when we first moved into our home, a neighbor on our block wanted to be sure we owned a “hybrid” leaf blower. I said I can do you one better - we don’t own any leaf blower because I wasn’t even aware there were leaves here :) In all seriousness, I’ve been so impressed by the environmentally conscious mind frame, multitude of sustainable and locally based LA brands, and organic farm-to-table eateries. Now if we could just figure out the traffic situation causing the air pollution!
All Images courtesy The Cause Bar