“Becoming emotionally and physically invested in our nations parks is the most effective way to implement park conservation. We energize citizens to take ownership of our public lands. That is the pure purpose of our business and what inspired us to create a collection of outfitter influenced apparel and accessories. And we encourage folks to engage in volunteering for the betterment of the parks.” —Parks Project

If you love a certain place, you’ll take action to take care of that place. That’s the guiding compass resonating at the core of Parks Project, where each product is inspired by and also contributes back to the national park it evokes. From a Yosemite National Park Pine Candle to a Defend Our Parklands Raglan Tee, the range of iconic goods from Parks Project channels the uniqueness and raw beauty of our public lands at a time when they are increasingly under threat.

While the public lands fight is a much larger conversation, here we share some thoughts from Parks Project founders Keith Eshelman and Sevag Kazanci, on their mission and how their products embody it, as well as ways to get involved in conservation efforts.

What motivated you to start Parks Project, and what is its mission? Has that mission changed?

It started in 2013, in the Santa Monica Mountains where Sevag and I were doing a post fire habitat restoration volunteer day. That spurred the idea of trying to get more people connected to the parks and volunteering to chip in support all the ongoing projects we had learned about. The original vision of the Parks Project was to get friends volunteering in our parks so we could make a difference and support our favorite open spaces.  We got out as a group, did work, felt good about it, and would celebrate after a days hard work with a cold one or two.

Then from our experience in apparel and understanding how social enterprise worked after a combined 11 years at TOMS, we thought it would be cool if people could wear this cause. So the idea evolved into creating products that interpreted various projects in the parks and the proceeds could go back to funding them too.  We started reaching out to park conservancies and really learned how much support was needed, and how we could really contribute via funding and advocacy. We identified projects, created collections of clothing, then used the sales proceeds to fund projects. Now, we think it has come full circle because we are still driving volunteer events but using apparel as a way to tell stories that need support across all our favorite national parks. The mission will never change, we are here to support the parks!

In your opinion, what is the most effective way to raise awareness of an issue? How have you gone about it at PP?

The simplest way is to use your social media to get your voice out there! You can also choose to wear things that might spark a conversation such as our Defend our Parklands Tee.

Which little-known parks would you recommend? 

Have had great experiences in Channel islands, Pinnacles, Badlands, Big Bend to name a few…

Which of your products is your favorite? 

Oh that’s a tough one! We’ve been working on expanding our product offering a bit this year with some home goods like the Yosemite candle and some posters. We also have some rad new hats. And the fleece are so soft!

We featured some sweet Parks Project items in our holiday gift guide in The Horizons Issue, as well as in our online sneak peek.

If you’d like to learn more about from Parks Project on how to get involved in public lands conservation and stewardship, check out their pillars below:

  • Learn about the history of our parklands to understand the importance of preservation.
  • Become an ambassador, advocate and agent for park programs.
  • Use social media to share stories, and become a promoter of the parks.
  • Limit your impact. Be sure to reduce, reuse & recycle in the parks. Use low impact modes of transportation where possible.
  • Practice a “leave no trace” policy when visiting parks; lets leave them better than we found them. POLICY
  • Respect habitat & wildlife by leaving native plants and artifacts in their place, and don’t feed the animals.
  • Vote on issues that protect our parks, and write letters to policy makers to take action toward preserving our parklands. TAKE ACTION
  • Make a donation to financially support our parks facing budget crisis. SUPPORT
  • Join a local park conservation group to stay informed on current issues in your area.
We collaborate with park service teams to promote volunteer days and participate in cleanups, trail restorations, invasive plant removals, tree planting, and trail clearings. You too can volunteer to assist in conservation of rivers, trails, open spaces and outdoor recreation places.