The arrival of each New Year is greeted with myriad resolutions, from weight loss to professional decisions. Our first BR!NKer of 2011 turned a year-long challenge (that consisted of getting acquainted with an individual from the production chain for everything he purchased) into a full-time position as Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sheepless. The online publication exposes radical small businesses to potential consumers and, of course, to each other. Meet the guy with “the best job in the world.”
Why the name “Sheepless?”
Very basically, it just means doing your own thing and not being a sheep.
Or being the black sheep, right?
Being the black sheep is okay. But not being a sheep at all is even better. [laughs]
Can you guide me through the basic concept of the publication?
Sheepless is an online magazine that focuses on supporting and celebrating small businesses that do something radical and/or sustainable to help their communities. We tell their stories and provide them with exposure to potential customers… and among themselves. Even if those businesses are in different industries, there is a common thread among what they are doing.
The word “radical” is a very strong one often associated with negative images. What do you mean by it – in other words, what does it take for a business to be considered radical?
By radical, I mean unexpected. Untraditional. And making it work. Radical means stepping outside what is traditional capitalism and traditional producer/consumer relations but still making a profit.
What kind of companies can I expect to see on Sheepless?
It’s really neat how diverse the companies we feature are. There’s everything, from local farmers to knitters in Peru or homeowners specializing in energy efficiency.
It’s amazing that you get to meet all of these up-and-coming businesses… One of the main reasons why I love being a part of Daily BR!NK has to do with meeting great folks who might not have gotten the recognition they deserve yet.
Exactly. I have the best job in the world because, as Editor-in-Chief, I get to learn so much about how the world works through these people’s eyes, and am constantly humbled by the individuals I get to meet. There has also been an outpouring of support since we launched.
How did someone like you, with a background in design and literature, get so involved in sustainability issues?
Just before my 30th year, a design professor I loved passed away unexpectedly. He had encouraged me to do things that didn’t fit in design, such as problem solving and storytelling. I was sad I hadn’t done something important to show him where my work was going. I ended up completing a yearlong experiment during which I met someone along the production chain for everything I bought.
Oh my goodness! That is one difficult task…
It was much harder than I thought! Good Magazine and NPR both did a little piece on the project. But they wanted to make it about my personal journey, whereas all I cared about was the small businesses dedicated to making sustainable products. The people who invited me in were so passionate that it really gave me the idea for Sheepless, where I would champion and support these people.
Going back to a previous topic, what do you think is the state of radicalism in the United States? People seem pissed off about lots of issues, but are they doing something about it?
I don’t see a state of complacency at all. There’s a movement we’re tapping into that is representative of a particular state of mind in the U.S. right now. There are a lot of people moving away from corporate lifestyle and making it more sustainable, or just finding alternative ways of making money. Entrepreneurship and activism aren’t new, but the combination of the two is. And it’s growing fast.
How can Daily BR!NK readers contribute to your success?
Very practically, we’d love contributors for Sheepless. Whether you’re a writer, photographer, designer, videographer, or musician, we’d love for you to help us tell the stories of these small businesses. And don’t forget to check out the site!