The Blog

This Earth Day, Sword & Plough Takes Sustainable Business to the Next Level!

Posted on April 22, 2018 by Emily Nunez | 0 Comments

At Sword & Plough, we celebrate Earth Day every day! This Earth Day weekend and just one week after the five-year anniversary of our Kickstarter launch, we're particularly excited to officially announce our B Corp CertificationLimited Edition Uniform Tote, and our Uniform Donation & Recycling Program!

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Posted in earth day, Military, Veteran, Veteran Owned Business

Breaking News: Sword & Plough is a Certified B Corp!!!

Posted on April 07, 2018 by Emily Nunez | 1 Comment

We could not be more excited to announce that Sword & Plough is a Certified B Corp!!!

After an intensive evaluation assessment of over 250 questions about our business practices, Sword & Plough met rigorous standards that measure our commitment and impact to our community (that’s you!), employees, suppliers, and the environment. This B Corp Certification is an acknowledgement of our commitment to social and environmental impact, ethics, transparency, and accountability.

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Posted in B Corp, Certified B Corp, Veteran Owned Business

Sword & Plough Notes from the Field: February 2018

Posted on March 10, 2018 by Sword & Plough | 0 Comments

 

February was full of love here at Sword & Plough! Check out this past month’s notes from the field to get the insider scoop!

For the first time ever, we released a limited edition Wool Crossbody Bag in Burgundy Leather in celebration of Valentine’s Day. The response was so overwhelming that our team was hand packing boxes to make sure everyone received their order as quickly as possible!

Just before that new product release, our leadership team visited Los Angeles and one of our giving partners and veteran-run manufacturing partners, GreenVetsLA. GreenVetsLA is a non-profit vocational rehabilitation program that provides sewing focused job training for returning veterans. Working closely with the local VA hospital, veterans are offered a wide variety of job training in this program with a focus on sewing. While Emily, Betsy and Haik were on site, they met with GreenVetsLA founder and U.S. Army veteran, Jim Cragg, as well as several inspiring GreenVetsLA veterans and sewers. We can’t wait to share their stories with you through a soon to be released video!

Green Vets LA

Just before Emily and Betsy returned to Colorado, they received a exciting invitation to be interviewed LIVE on Fox & Friends in NYC! During the February 13th Fox & Friends segment, Emily & Betsy shared Sword & Plough’s story, mission, and products, as well as our newest giving partnership with veteran non-profit organization Purple Hearts United, Inc. Purple Hearts Reunited locates lost or stolen medals and returns them to the veterans who earned them or their families. These service medals are cherished by veterans and their families because it helps them commemorate their loved one's service. We’re excited that Sword & Plough’s donations to Purple Hearts Reunited will help fund these meaningful service medal return ceremonies. 10% of the profits generated on February 13th and February 14th benefited Purple Hearts Reunited. You can continue to support Purple Hearts Reunited through Sword & Plough’s Wool Crossbody Bag in Burgundy Leather,

Fox & Friends

We love our community so much that we hosted not just one, but two swag giveaways in February and one is still going on now! In the first contest, we asked you to snap and share a photo of one of the 1,800 Sword & Plough posters that are featured in every FedEx Office store across the country! We loved every single photo and story that our incredible community shared!

FedEx

Sword & Plough recently teamed up with some amazing brands for an unprecedented giveaway - “The Ultimate Veteran Owned Business Giveaway”! We are thrilled to partner with GORUCK, Bottle Breacher, Combat Flip Flops, and Nine Line Apparel to give away over $2,000 worth of products! Each participating company is not only veteran owned, but offers products of exceptional quality and durability. We’re grateful to partner with such like-minded businesses whose missions are aligned with ours. All of these brands are actively creating positive change in the veteran community and raising awareness about the incredible value that veterans bring to business. We look forward to announcing the giveaway winner on March 15th! If you haven’t entered the giveaway yet, be sure to enter here!


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Posted in Field Notes, Military, Veteran, Veteran Owned, Veteran Owned Business

Sword & Plough Notes from the Field: January 2018

Posted on February 08, 2018 by Sword & Plough | 0 Comments

 

We are only a month into the new year and we have so much to tell you already!

We held our first photo shoot of the year in January in Colorado’s mile high city and gorgeous Rocky Mountains! We can’t wait to share the photos! Check out a sneak peek below. The Sword & Plough products and models were turning heads left and right.

We held two exciting community contests this month. Our first contest was in anticipation of Valentine’s Day. It was was won by Alicia Wallace, who will be taking her special someone to dinner with a $200 gift certificate from OpenTable. Even if you didn’t win the gift certificate, there is still time to order something special for the people you love. We are currently offering a promotion of 20% off all jewelry and wallets until Feb 11, 2018 with discount code BEMINE.

Our second contest is still happening right now! Sword & Plough won the 2017 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest and now there is a Sword & Plough poster in over 1,800 FedEx stores in America. We need your help seeing all those posters! For the month of February, follow Sword & Plough on Instagram, post a picture of yourself with a Sword & Plough poster in a FedEx store, tag Sword & Plough and FedEx on Instagram, and use the hashtags #SwordandPlough #FedEx #Repurposedforapurpose. We will be selecting our favorite photo and giving away a Sword & Plough Screen Printed Tote! The winner will be announced March 1, 2018.

We grew our team this month and welcomed Kate Sullivan! Kate Sullivan is Sword & Plough's resident blogger. Kate is driven by a passion for service and storytelling. She served as an active duty United States Marine Corps officer for four years before transitioning to the Marine Corps Reserve. During her time on active duty, Kate served as a Logistics Officer and Motor Transport Company Commander. Prior to joining the military, Kate was a creative writer and journalist for the New York Daily News. In joining the Sword & Plough team, she is excited to use her passion for storytelling to advance the S&P mission. Kate holds a B.A. in Psychology and English from Dartmouth College, where she was the recipient of the Johnson Award for Journalism and the Erskine Caldwell Prize for short story writing.

We also celebrated Jennifer Flickinger as our January Brand Champion of the month. Congrats Jennifer! We encourage you to read more about Jennifer and her accomplishments here.

Lastly, we continued our giving initiatives by donating to six different veteran Giving Partners. One of the donation recipients was The Fort Leavenworth Spouses' Club, which is hosting their 1st annual Scholarship Scramble this year! All proceeds from this fundraiser will go towards scholarships and welfare grants to military spouses and children.

Thank you for all your support! Can’t to wait to share our next update from the field with you soon!


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Posted in Field Notes, Military, Veteran, Veteran Owned, Veteran Owned Business

Brand Champion of the Month - Jennifer Flickinger

Posted on February 03, 2018 by Sword & Plough | 0 Comments

Brand Champion of the Month

This month we recognize Jennifer Flickinger's dedication and outstanding work as an S&P Brand Champion.

Jennifer Flickinger

**This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.** 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

I grew up in Washington in a town famous for its daffodil bulb fields. It really is beautiful there with the mountains and trees. I also lived in California for several years and really miss being able to drive to the beach.

But, I’ve spent the last 15 years making my home in Minnesota with my husband and our kids. I beg them every winter to move somewhere warmer but this is their home.

What three words would describe you and why?

A tad unorganized although I pretend I am not. I put things “away” all the time only I can never remember where “away” is. It drives my family crazy. I don’t like clutter, even if it is important clutter, so I tend hide the clutter and then it’s a lost cause trying to find it.

I don’t know a way to describe this - maybe good natured? I can take a joke, but also like to dish out some sarcasm. Life is better with a funny narrative. I don’t mind laughing at myself, as long as I can laugh with someone.

Learner. I will never stop. I waited until I had 2 kids in diapers, an elementary aged child, and a full time job, to finish my BS and Masters degrees. I love learning about new things, different cultures, religions, and people. I get on a topic and read up on it and then move on to the next.

Do you work another job in addition to Sword & Plough? If so, what job is that? What is it like to manage both responsibilities?

I work full time for a medical company, I volunteer several hours a month, and I have 3 kids who keep me incredibly busy. S&P doesn’t feel like a “responsibility” because it is easy to share a good story.

What made you decide to be a Sword & Plough Brand Champion? What is it about the products/brand you love?  

I loved the look of the bags and the message behind them hit home to me. My husband was (and always will be) a Marine and he has spent the past 6 years serving in the Army National Guard. Instead of being annoyed by some questions he and I have been asked, I realized it was more about lack of awareness. If the military is confusing to me, I can only imagine how confusing it is to people who have no ties to military life. The products speak for themselves, but they also open up a dialogue about what it means to serve, in whatever capacity that may be. The products are high quality and functional while still cool to look at. I love knowing that each product helps employ veterans, that they are made in the USA, and that we give back to organizations who help veterans even further.

What has been the most rewarding experience of being a Sword & Plough Brand Champion?

Hearing stories from older generation veterans, or children/grandchildren of older generation veterans, are always my favorite. Growing up with my own grandpa’s story of being a POW and surviving has always been a tremendous source of pride for our family. I love getting to see that pride in others when they tell their family hero’s story.

One of the hopes for the Community Brand Champions program is that each member will leverage their own entrepreneurial spirit. What creative ways have you employed to reach customers?

I am truly an introvert, so approaching people and initiating the conversation is not my favorite thing to do. If someone comments on something I am wearing or carrying, I am happy to share. If someone brings up the military or veterans or jobs, I am happy to talk about S & P. I mostly use social media platforms to share our products and mission. I find it to be easy and fast, and the introvert in me can be completely outgoing in an online post. I would be more uncomfortable interacting face to face.

Who is the most interesting veteran you know and why?

My husband will want me to say him! But there are so many veterans in our family and we are so proud of each of them, I can’t pick just one.

Sword & Plough recently announced their Giving Partners. What Giving Partner is your favorite and why?

All of the Giving Partners are doing such tremendous work, but as a dog lover and an owner of a rescue dog, I really love Pets for Vets. Pets for Vets gives second chances to shelter dogs, matching them with veterans, saving both the veteran and the dog. The increasing research that supports the use of dogs as therapy animals is awesome and I love supporting their cause.

What Sword & Plough product is your favorite and why?

My personal favorite is the blue mini tote. It’s the perfect size for me to carry my laptop, my smaller handbag, several files, sunglasses and a ton of other “stuff” I tend to carry around daily. I love the material and hardware. I am so hard on my bags, and this one has stood up to all the abuse I put it through. I also love that the blue fabric is used to make American flags.

Tell us about the service members in your life and your connection to them.

I met my husband shortly after his honorable discharge from the Marines. We met at work. Don’t tell him this, but I honestly hadn’t paid much attention to him until 9/11 happened. We were at a work meeting, watching the news unfold on the big screen in the conference room. He suddenly left. Later, I found out it was to go make sure his info was all up to date, in case he needed to be pulled back up. I didn’t realize at the time that he was in his 4 years inactive period after discharge, where he could be pulled back up.

He did not end up serving again during that time, but he later enlisted in the National Guard, where he has served the last 6 years.

I am incredibly proud of his service, and the service of all the veterans in our family.

What, if any, experience did you have that made you feel like the Brand Champion program was a good fit for you? What advice would you give to someone who is just starting as a Brand Champion or thinking about applying?

Go for it. If you love the product and the mission, it’s easy to share the story. Although we are spread out all over country, the home office does a great job making sure we all feel like we are integral to the momentum of the company. Everyone is willing to help and share.


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Posted in Brand Champion, Brand Champion of the Month, Brand Champion Program, Military, Veteran, Veteran Owned Business

Sword & Plough Notes from the Field: December 2017

Posted on January 04, 2018 by Sword & Plough | 0 Comments

 

As much as the Sword & Plough team is excited to jump into 2018, we took a few days at the end of December to celebrate and give thanks for all the amazing memories of 2017. We were inspired by our community on a daily basis and were overwhelmed by the growth we experienced.

We hit some incredible milestones this past year!

  • + $90,000 - Total value of financial and product donations given to high impact veteran organizations.
  • + 30,000 - Number of pounds of military surplus repurposed. (And counting!)
  • + 65 - Veteran jobs supported!
  • + 50,000,000 - Number of people who have heard Sword & Plough mission!

In addition to these impact metrics, we also are thrilled to celebrate the following achievements!

  1. FedEx Small Business Grant Winner
  2. Giving Partners collaboration
  3. New product launches
  4. 100+ Brand Champions in the first year
  5. Collaborations

Despite a busy year, the busiest time for our team was the last few weeks of December. The Sword & Plough team worked incredibly hard to ensure our community had all the gifts they needed during the holiday season. We were thrilled to be recognized in several holiday gift giving guides and media features such as Fox News, Authenticity 50, American Manufacturing, Great Lakes Boating, Maker’s Row, and CauseArtist. Each of these features illuminates how Sword & Plough offers a unique and impactful product that is unrivaled by other brands. 

Be sure to catch our FOX News: Mornings with Maria feature below!

 

Sword & Plough Brand Champions were also active in communities around the country throughout the entire year and especially in November and December! We hope you were able to visit them as they hosted pop up shops in Pennsylvania, Vermont, Ohio, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Wyoming. We’re excited to celebrate Megan Zelinski who was recognized as the December Brand Champion of the Month!

As we say farewell to 2017 and welcome 2018, we thank you, our enthusiastic community, for your never ending support. We can’t wait to embark on another year with you!

 


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Posted in Field Notes, Military, social mission, Veteran, Veteran Owned Business, Veteran-Owned Clothing Company

Brand Champion of the Month - Megan Zelinski

Posted on December 29, 2017 by Sword & Plough | 0 Comments

Brand Champion of the Month

This month we recognize Megan Zelinski's dedication and outstanding work as an S&P Brand Champion.

Megan Zelinski

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

I grew up on a farm near Ann Arbor, Michigan. I attended Northern Michigan University for their zoology program, and it was there I met my husband, Simon. The Upper Peninsula is also where we adopted our 5-year-old Pitador, Bentley. He brings so much happiness into my life. After graduating from NMU in 2013, we got stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington. There, I worked at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in the Rocky Shores/Tundra area. Currently, we are stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and will be transitioning to Fort Bragg, North Carolina within the month!

What three words would describe you and why?

Hard-working: My Father instilled a hard work ethic in me at an early age. I define my goals, and find the challenges rewarding. One of my favorite aspects of being a Brand Champion is the initiative afforded to me to be successful.

Passionate: Animal science has always been my thing. Working at Point Defiance Zoo has been a life changing experience for me. I am so thankful for the knowledge I gained in marine mammal conservation and husbandry. I would do anything for those animals and I will forever be teaching others what we can do to help out our planet.

Thoughtful: I have always been empathetic towards others and I enjoy listening to what they have to say. I believe everyone has the right to their own opinions.

Do you work another job in addition to Sword & Plough? If so, what job is that? What is it like to manage both responsibilities?

Currently, I work at an animal hospital as a Veterinarian Assistant. I have also spent time over the past few months volunteering at the Endangered Wolf Center near St. Louis, Missouri. Managing both requires a lot of planning and time management but I enjoy the variety!

What made you decide to be a Sword & Plough Brand Champion? What is it about the products/brand you love?  

I first heard about Sword and Plough on the NBC news. Immediately, I knew I had to be a part of such an amazing organization that not only empowers veteran employment but repurposes material! I absolutely adore the environmental impact of reducing waste and our carbon footprint on the world.

What has been the most rewarding experience of being a Sword & Plough Brand Champion?

It is most rewarding to see how people respond to our mission and how it relates to their life. I’ve had many people share their military experiences as well as those who explain what they do in their lives to repurpose or conserve. It’s all about seeing faces light up and knowing that people will tell others about Sword and Plough’s mission. Communicating ways we can make a positive change is imperative.

One of the hopes for the Community Brand Champions program is that each member will leverage their own entrepreneurial spirit. What creative ways have you employed to reach customers?

Whenever I am out and about, I always have my wool crossbody; people love hearing what it’s made of. In addition, I make sure to carry my business cards with me, so that it’s easy for others to go online later and see all of our products.

Who is the most interesting veteran you know and why?

My grandfather is the most interesting veteran I know. He was born in 1918 and grew up with 10 siblings. I admire him because he has always had strong principles. He taught me that in life it’s important to work hard and always be honest. His laugh is contagious, and he tells the best stories. Most importantly, I love the kind of partner he has been to my grandmother 75+ years.

Sword & Plough recently announced their Giving Partners. What Giving Partner is your favorite and why?

My favorite giving partner is Paws for Vets (bet you didn’t see that one coming). Canines add a quantifiable degree of quality and purpose to the lives of the humans they share their lives with. You can never truly have a bad day when you come home to a dog. Training shelter dogs to assist veterans as they make their way through the world, is an honorable mission.

What Sword & Plough product is your favorite and why?

Currently, the signature zip top tote bag is my absolute favorite product! You could fit your whole house in it if you wanted to. It’s durable and versatile; ideal for any adventure!

Tell us about the service members in your life and your connection to them.

Harold, my grandfather served in the Army during WWII as a technician 5th class in the Pacific Coastal Frontier Defense under the Western Defense Command.

Simon, my husband is a prior service medic, currently an Army captain with 9 years in service.

Rudy, my brother-in-law spent 4 years active duty in Fort Lewis and is now a Sergeant in the Michigan Army National Guard while completing his business degree at Northern Michigan University.

George, my brother-in-law is a specialist with 3 years currently stationed in Germany.

Frances, my sister-in-law is a Private First Class serving in the Michigan Army National Guard while getting her degree in nursing at Northern Michigan University.

What, if any, experience did you have that made you feel like the Brand Champion program was a good fit for you? What advice would you give to someone who is just starting as a Brand Champion or thinking about applying?

Honestly, this has been a whole new experience for me which has made it exciting. I feel blessed to be able to represent a company that has such inspiring team members and a positive mission. I would advise those who might be thinking of joining our family to reach out for inspiration. The whole team is always willing to help!

Megan Zelinski


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Posted in Brand Champion, Brand Champion of the Month, Brand Champion Program, Military, Veteran, Veteran Owned Business

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