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Aloetree Blog

  • Working together to end child trafficking

    At Aloetree, we believe all kids deserve a joyful childhood.  We make organic, fair and joyful kids products to empower kids and families to give back.  

    For every item purchased, Aloetree will donate funds to a non-profit fighting child trafficking.  

     What is trafficking?

    Human trafficking is the transport, harboring, and receipt of persons through coercion for the purpose of exploitation. Trafficking victims are found in many industries worldwide, working in factories, farms, and brothels. Human trafficking itself has become an industry worth billions of dollars.

    The number of people estimated to be victims of trafficking varies greatly, from anywhere between 4 million to 27 million. Because it is an illicit industry, data is difficult to gather. It is clear, however, that millions of people worldwide are being exploited everyday.

    Trafficking in Cambodia in particular is a widespread problem. Not only is Cambodia a destination for trafficking, but also a source and transit country, resulting in strong trafficking networks. There are many causes of trafficking in Cambodia which all are interwoven to paint a complex picture of trafficking. The main causes are poverty, lack of education, and large socio-economic gaps among different groups in Cambodia. At-risk groups in Cambodia include ethnic minorities, women, and children. These groups are more vulnerable to being trafficked.

    See our resources page for more information on trafficking.

    What we do


    The 4 P's of Trafficking

    The 4 P's of trafficking framework was developed to help organizations combat trafficking.

    Prevention: address the causes of trafficking and find ways to stop trafficking before it happens
    Protection: protect victims through the 3 R's - rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration
    Prosecution: hold traffickers responsible for trafficking and ensure justice is achieved for victims
    Partnerships: ensure all the different groups fighting trafficking are working together

    What does Aloetree do?
    Aloetree's approach to do social good is two-fold!
    First, Aloetree has partnered with Chab Dai, a coaltion of anti-trafficking organizations, with projects in Cambodia, the US, and Canada. For every item we sell we give a fixed donation to Chab Dai. We are dedicated to supporting Chab Dai and their work to protect at-risk children from exploitation and trafficking.
    Second, we educate children about social issues and inspire them through our Square characters andSquare blog. Our characters share stories about giving, caring, and building good character, and our blog features monthly ideas on how kids can take opportunities to be grateful and care for others via kid-friendly campaigns, volunteer projects, and fundraisers. We hope that through engaging with social issues, these children will grow up with a can-do attitude which can change the world!
    What does Chab Dai do?
    Chab Dai logoChab Dai, which translates to "joining hands", is dedicated to raising awareness about trafficking and partnering with grassroots organizations to preventprotect, andprosecute. In Cambodia, Chab Dai funds projects which train social workers and counselors, provides legal support and social services to victims of trafficking, and works with local community leaders to prevent trafficking and protect children. They have also began a 10-year research study looking at economic integration of survivors of trafficking, to help them evaluate their programs and plan for the future.
    See our resources page and our donate page for more information on Chab Dai and how you can contribute to their cause.

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    Chab Dai educating communities about trafficking prevention

  • Knox the Fox for Fall!

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    Hujambo from Knox the African fennec fox, hailing all the way from the Serengeti region of Tanzania! His name means “living on a hilltop,” and we at Aloetree think it captures Knox’s insatiable, irresistible spirit.

    Knox is a speed demon. He’s into roller coasters, race cars, motorcycles, and anything else that moves fast (like the Grumeti River). He is sharp and active, always digging holes, building something new, and memorizing fast facts. If Knox ever stops to take a rest, you’ll find him chowing down on fresh berries and gearing up for the next adventure… though he may be reclining in the sun, don’t be fooled! His mind is always moving, hence the catchphrase “Think Fast.”

    Despite what you may think, Knox’s enthusiasm is not reckless – far from it! His pours his energy into volunteer work and community building, because he knows that the best adventures are the ones that benefit the wider public. You can learn so much about yourself and others while working at a canned food drive, a homeless shelter, or a soup kitchen… how could Knox ever resist? By giving back tirelessly, Knox keeps both himself and his community sharp as a tack.

    Want to be as proactive and active as Knox? It’s so easy, so fun, and so so important. Aloetree has a list of kid-friendly volunteer opportunities in the DC area, and even if you’re from far away you can use it to get general ideas about family-oriented service work (animal shelters, Meals on Wheels, park clean ups, and public libraries are good places to start looking). VolunteerMatch is also a great resource to help you find nearby volunteer opportunities perfectly tailored to your skills and interests. Don’t be afraid to get out there – muster up some of that Knox-like moxie and catch the volunteering bug!


    Did you know that fennec foxes…

    Have such large ears in order to relieve them quickly of the hot desert heat

    Usually weigh from 1.5-3.5 pounds… fennecs are the smallest of all the foxes!

    Are monogamous and become very protective of each other – the male takes extra good care of the female when she’s pregnant

    Can live without water for an indefinite period of time

    Live in underground dens that they in burrow into the desert sand

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  • Kofi the Owl "Have Vision"


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    Meet another Aloetree character: Kofi the Owl! He is a hoot. The name “Kofi” comes from Ghana and is generally given to boys born on a Friday, but our feathery friend’s name was primarily inspired by Ghanaian diplomat and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Kofi Annan.

    With a name and a hero like that, is it any surprise that little Kofi has big dreams? His catchphrase is “Have Vision,” and he makes plans to better his world while cruising the North American skies from Yosemite National Park to Jackson Hole. Like any dreamer would, Kofi stops his journey often to photograph or draw any beautiful sights along the way. He is constantly munching on nuts and contemplating his latest project. Kofi’s goals are always realistic and achievable: organize a bake sale for charity! Start and run a book club to bring the neighborhood closer together! Study an extra few hours each week, and get into that dream college!

    Kofi is well aware that wasting away the day is easy (and fun). Most of his owl friends pass the time by fiddling with smart phones, catching up on Netflix, and updating Facebook. What makes Kofi different is that he knows his full, brainy potential, and he doesn’t dare waste it. He enjoys setting and working towards achievable goals that will make a difference for himself and others, little by little. It’s people like Kofi, dreamers and planners, who change the world with their individual efforts.

    What have you been dreaming about recently? Want to improve something for yourself, for your community, or for your world? Have vision, make a plan, and get to it! Check out the internet’s plethora of tools to help you set and achieve goals if you’re curious, and maybe pick up an inspiring book – there are stirring options for kids and adults alike.

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    Did you know that owls…

    + Often have asymmetrical ears, of different sizes and differing heights on each side of the head… this actually gives them better hearing!

    + Can’t move their eyes in their sockets, but make up for it by being able to rotate their head up to 270 degrees

    + Can be heard up to a mile away

    + Are called a “parliament” when in a flockScreen Shot 2014-09-02 at 12.07.30 PM

    + Have been found in the fossil record to have existed 58 million years ago

    + Are not closely related to hawks, eagles, or falcons – taxonomy ranks them as being far more similar to hummingbirds!


  • Jaq the Whale Dives Deep!

    Jaq the WhaleHappy summer from Jaq the blue whale, Aloetree’s enthusiastic friend from the depths of the Pacific Ocean!  Jaq spends his days splashing and surfing around Maui, the second largest Hawaiian island.

    Jaq is Aloetree’s most passionate character, always ready take on a new challenge or begin another exciting adventure. He has a big heart (literally! Blue whales are the largest animals to ever have lived on earth), and an even bigger sense of curiosity. Jaq loves reading any book he can get his fins on and collecting glow in the dark plankton. His catch phrase is “Dive Deep,” which refers to his cool aquatic lifestyle, but more importantly references his undeniable love for learning.

    Jaq knows that knowledge is power, and his passion for reading makes him unstoppable. Thanks to reading, he has visited far away lands, traveled through literary time, and met all kinds of wonderful characters. Sometimes, Jaq is troubled by what he reads – and he is most worried when he reads about those who never have the chance to achieve literacy. Researchers estimate that, as of 2013, 774 million adults (15 and up) are illiterate worldwide. Two thirds of that population (493 million) are women.

     We at Aloetree worry about illiteracy, too. Reading truly a gift, to the literate individual and to the world that gets to benefit from that individual’s smarts. We want Aloetree kids to appreciate their education, and to put it to use by extending the same opportunity to others across the world. Kids (and adults!) that are passionate about raising global literacy rates can donate books or school supplies to Global Literacy Project, Inc., and learn more about the literacy crisis from World Literacy Foundation.


    Did you know that blue whales…?

    Are, on average, twice as heavy as the largest known dinosaur of the Mesozoic Era

    Can be in contact with each other across 620+ miles of ocean, because of their booming voices

    Have not one but two blowholes on top of their heads to spout water

    Tend to eat nothing for the entire four months of their summer migration period

    Were hunted to near-extinction, until the species was protected by law in 1966

    Are fairly solitary – usually they live alone or with one other whale


  • Aloetree - A D.C. Benefit Corporation

    What is a benefit corporation?

    You’ve probably heard us talk about how Aloetree is “Washington DC’s first benefit corporation!”,and I’m sure you’ve wondered what exactly that means.

    A benefit corporation is a corporate form available to businesses in 24 states which allows businesses to pursue social and environmental goals. If a business is incorporated as a benefit corporation, the directors and officers must pursue a “general public benefit” in all decision-making processes. This means that benefit corporations are legally obligated to take into account the wellbeing of their stakeholders - employees, customers, and supplies - not only shareholders (to whom traditional businesses are typically solely responsible).

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    “Public benefit” is defined quite loosely in the legislation. It can vary from state to state, but generally is defined as some form of positive impact on society and/or the environment. Businesses are able  to decide what “public benefit” they will pursue, and pick a third-party standard to which to hold themselves accountable. At Aloetree, for example, it is important to us that we pursue socially responsible business practices, to source ethically, and to give back to charity. For our third-party standard, we chose the B Impact Assessment, a leading source of benefit corporation resources. It assessed our policies, transparency, and accountability, along four lines - governance, workers, community, and environment. It does not matter which standard a business uses, so long as it is “comprehensive, independent, transparent, and credible.”

    At Aloetree, we wrote a 2013 Benefit Report to discuss our general public benefit, our B Impact Assessment, and also areas where we would like to grow in social responsibility.

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    Being a benefit corporation differs from being a B Corp. A B Corp is not a legal entity, but instead a certificate - much like a Fair Trade certificate or an “organic” certificate. B Corp certification is sponsored by B Lab, a nonprofit which coincidentally is also responsible for spearheading the benefit corporation legislation drive and the B Impact Assessment.

    Some famous B Corps

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    In the end, whether a business pursues benefit corporation incorporation or B Corp certification, is a decision that signals to the market the businesses’ priority to responsibly and progressively engage in social and environmental causes.

    Aloetree hopes one day soon to be a certified B Corp as well, and to encourage other businesses to pursue social and environmental awareness in their own business practices!

    Please read our 2013 Benefit Report for more information about how Aloetree makes a difference.

  • Aloetree at the World Bank: “Voice and Agency”


    Aloetree loves to learn. It’s important to us to continually educate ourselves about the world around us, about social justice, about things larger than ourselves.

    Several weeks ago, Anbinh and Antonia had the opportunity to hear Hillary Clinton, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and Jeni Klugman speak at the World Bank.

    The talk was titled, “Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity”, based on a recent World Bank report on women and development. The panel jumped around from topic to topic - from social norms and inequality to big data and the role of international organizations. Having such expertise on the panel made for exciting discussion.

    The heartbeat of the talk was the simple fact that people need access to resources, information, and institutions to be able to change their lives. As Dr. Klugman emphasized at the beginning of the talk, many people - and in particular women and girls - are denied the chance to be heard, and thus have no say over their bodies or communities. It is vital that the international community work together to help people participate and make decisions on issues that affect them.

    l-r Clinton, Mlambo-Ngcuka, Kim, and Coleman l-r Clinton, Mlambo-Ngcuka, Kim, and Coleman

    These key points - voice, agency, and access to resources - exemplify exactly why Aloetree partners with Chab Dai. Chab Dai works with local organizations in Cambodia, providing them with resources to engage with and empower their communities. It’s all about returning power to groups and individuals, enabling them to speak for themselves and deal with problems in their own communities.

    Chab Dai at work in Cambodia Chab Dai at work in Cambodia

    Attending this event was a great experience. It’s important to be reminded of the work that needs to be done to achieve social justice in our world. The speakers have such a great collective experience working in international development and it was inspiring to hear about all the work they have accomplished thus far - and the work that is still yet to be done.



  • Behind the Scenes at Aloetree: Mei-Tian the Panda

    Each Aloetree character is designed with imagination and creativity.  More importantly than how they look, each character has a unique inspiration and is carefully crafted to introduce kids to different ideas.  We’ll be introducing what each animal represents in a new “Meet the Characters” blog series. First up is Mei-Tian the Panda.



    PandaMei-Tian’s name comes from the giant pandas at the National Zoo (Mei Xiang and Tian Tian) in our home base of Washington DC. If we ever need a bit of inspiration, we stop by the National Zoo’s Panda Cams – pandas are so playful and fun-loving. Our hope is that Mei-Tian will spread some of that joy to Aloetree customers.

    “Go wild,” Mei-Tian’s catchphrase, is certainly about having fun and being yourself, but it’s also about habitat conservation. Giant pandas are some of the rarest animals in the world – the National Zoo’s website says, “As few as 1,600 giant pandas survive in the mountain forests of central China.” This is because of massive habitat destruction, bamboo depletion, and low birth rates.  We love the zoo for providing the public with a connection to these beautiful animals, but we worry that Giant Pandas, as beloved as they are, have less and less of a chance to survive outside of captivity.

    Animal conservation is important to Aloetree.  The decreasing number of wild animals, such in the decline in big cats, elephants and pandas, indicates that without care we could lose our precious companions on earth.  We want even the littlest kids to understand that animals can be hurt from the effects of our own actions – living consciously, carefully, and lovingly is so important. Everyone should be able to enjoy going wild once in a while!




    Did you know that Giant pandas…?

    Survive 99 percent off of bamboo shoots and leaves
    Eat for 12 hours a day
    After the age of six, female pandas begin to have cubs
    Are generally solitary, and only come together to mate
    Weigh between 165 and 300 pounds
    Baby pandas weigh between 3 and 4 oz or 1/900 of their mother’s weight
    Are found only in the wild in the mountainous regions of Southwestern China (though they used to roam in Myanmar and North Vietnam)




    Like Mei-Tian and want to learn even more about pandas? Here are some great resources:

    World Wildlife Fund - You can learn about the Giant Panda and even symbolically adopt one ($50 will get you an adoption certificate, a photo of your panda, a stuffed panda to stay with you always, and a gift bag).
    Defenders of Wildlife – Defenders of Wildlife has a great fact sheet on Giant Pandas and gives passionate readers a suggestion or to on how to help.
    National Geographic Kids – This resource is perfect for children – easy to read facts, photos, videos, maps, and even an e-card. 


    Bao Bao April 4th: Bao Bao was perched high up in a tree, where he'd spent the whole day. He seemed happy there and his mom wasn't worried, but the zoo-keepers were desperate to get him down so that they could go home!




  • Here's to the Parents

    The very idea of love is first introduced to us by those who care about us most – our parents! In honor of Valentine’s Day, we at Aloetree Kids wanted to take a second to honor those deeply loving relationships and reflect upon our memories of bonding with our parents. We’ll share those reflections with you now:


    ANBINH PHAN, Founder and Chief Planter of Aloetree Kids

    One summer night when I was five years old, my family decided to walk to the park across the street from our apartment.  The park had a large grassy area that was situated between two baseball fields and a playground.  The weather was warm, but breezy and the moon shone exceptionally brightly against the night sky.  The cars buzzing on Artesia Blvd. and the people walking around helped our neighborhood to feel safe.  I had never been out walking this late before and enjoyed holding both my parents hands as we crossed the street at the crosswalk.

    Sitting on a mat on top of the grass, my parents, cousin, uncle and I split a watermelon.   It was so juicy and red.  That night my mother played patti-cake as we sat cross legged.  We all talked and laughed.  The park was filled with families and everyone was enjoying the summer night lit by the moonlight.

    Since my parents were immigrants they worked very hard in multiple jobs and in going back to school; they did not have much free time.  This summer night is one of my favorite memories because everyone was relaxed and breathed easily.  This quality time together helped me to experience peace, the joy of childhood, and the love of my family.


    Anbinh and her parents 


    ANTONIA ESCODA BROOKS, Aloetree Kids Operations & Sales Intern

    My dad and I have the same birthday, and we've always made an effort to spend that day together. My dad travels a lot during the year, and I have two other siblings to share attention with, so one-on-one bonding time was scarce. Our birthday gives us a chance to catch up! I always know it's our day, and always know he'll set aside as much time as we need to have a great day. Even though it's only once a year, we still are able to build memories around the day and spend the rest of the year planning our next adventure.


    EMLYN CRENSHAW, Aloetree Kids Marketing & Media Intern

    I have a horrible memory, but one of the things I remember very clearly about being a child is how my mom made sure to fill my life with stories. While I was falling asleep at night, she’d sit beside my bed in the dark and make up bizarre tales about an imaginary kid named “Herman Shnurtle.” I followed those stories more raptly than the most avid General Hospital fan watching a new episode.

    When I got a bit older (but not so old that I could read chapter books by myself), we’d curl up under a soft blue blanket and she would read the early Harry Potter books aloud to me. With my mom’s voice as narrator, the magical world materialized in my head like a mini-movie. After an afternoon of reading we’d talk about how we envisioned the characters to look and sound, comparing our imaginations.

    Even later in my childhood, she drove me to auditions at my request and supported my fascination with the world of theatre. When, as a 5th grader, I was cast as Scout in a production of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” she closely read the book with me in the weeks before the start of rehearsals and made sure I understood all of the novel’s deeper themes. She always helped me to memorize lines, taught me how to do stage makeup, and sat in the audience every single opening night. Out of an audience of hundreds, I could usually pick out my mom’s laugh. She gave me a vibrant childhood and I’m so happy for that.

    unnamedEmlyn, her sister, and her mom

  • JANUARY: Setting Goals

    January is about new beginnings, and there’s no better time to talk with your children about the importance of setting and achieving goals. Identifying something you need to be better at and then going after it is a lifelong skill that applies to every part of your life, so why not learn it early?

    Goal setting for kids is clearly going to be a little differently paced than for adults, but the basic concept is the same. Be realistic about where you’re going, track your progress, and reward yourself along the way – it’s as simple as that! Kids usually get a kick out of visual aids, like sticker charts or ‘goal board games.’ Check out this blogpost on Simple Kids about easy goal-setting charts for children… they provide some really fun examples.


    While we’re on the topic of goal setting – why not set some of your own? Resolving to show your kids that adults, too, need to work at self improvement could help keep you motivated. You can even use a sticker chart if you like, although we at Aloetree Kids find that good lattes or a deserved nap are more enticing rewards at this age. Just remember: as a busy parent, you won’t always reach your goals. Kids aiming to take out the trash every other day or keep their room clean can, most of the time, achieve their goals with persistence, but as you know life tends to get in the way more often as you get older. Be patient and realistic with yourself – sometimes failure teaches us as much as winning!

  • Slowing Down for the Holidays

    Children tend to focus on the getting part of holidays, and you really can’t blame them. Every commercial is flashing toys and prices on the screen, every conversation is about what’s on their wish list, and every moment of the season seems to be leading up to present time. Encouraging your kids to take a break and refocus is SO important , because no matter your religious beliefs, the holidays should be about more than just yourself. Here are some ideas to take a break from the madness:


    • Write thank you letters. Communicating gratitude and love in a heartfelt way is a great skill to have, and you can never start practicing that too early. The older the child, the more in-depth these thank yous can be – not just an expression of gratitude, but an explanation of  why they are thankful for the gift and what they plan to use it for. Grandparents tend to especially love thank you letters.
    • Put an emphasis on giving. Recruit your kids to help deliver gifts to your neighbors and family members. Teach them how to wrap presents beautifully. Ask for their help in brainstorming gift ideas for your spouse or other family members.  Give them extra money to hand to the cashier at a drive-thru, paying for the car behind you. Giving can be exhilarating, even more so than getting!
    • Make, make, make. Enlist your children’s help in baking cookies, cooking Christmas dinner, and doing holiday crafts.  This is a fantastic way to spend time together, and will ensure that their holiday memories are about more than just opening gifts.
    • Get rid of what you don’t need. Either before opening gifts or in the lull between the holidays and New Year’s Eve, ask your children to pick out toys that they don’t use anymore. You can donate them to a toy drive or pass them down to friends having a tougher Christmas. Less clutter in the house AND more toys to children who need them! It’s a win-win.
    • Talk about what the holiday means to you. Everyone always acknowledges that the holidays aren’t about the gifts, but take the time to explain this to your children – they may not have heard it before! You can talk about the religious significance of the season, the importance of the downtime for families and friends, or your childhood memories of the season.


    If you're in the DC area like we are, check out the following:

    Any other ideas? Let us know in the comments below. Happy holidays!

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