February 28, 2022

Uncommon Threads

HOW OUR NEW PARTNER, EVENT NETWORK, IS WORKING
TO REDEFINE RESPONSIBLE RETAIL AT KIBONGI MARKET

 

If you haven’t been to Kibongi Market recently, you’re in for a WILD surprise! Thanks to our new retail partner, Event Network, the official Denver Zoo gift shop has enjoyed some exciting upgrades of late—including an all-new merchandise assortment and an eye-catching cabin dedicated to our conservation work with the American pika.

Of course, as one of Denver’s most-visited cultural institutions, we want to make sure ALL the animal-lovers who pass through our gates have a vibrant spectrum of souvenirs to peruse. But it’s also important to us that these purchases are sustainable in multiple ways. Here are just a few things Event Network is doing to redefine "responsible retail" at Denver Zoo.

SUSTAINABILITY: Low-Impact Products + Production

While you might initially be drawn to the snazzy design and high-quality construction of our new apparel assortment, its beauty is SO much more than skin deep. We’re proud to carry eco-friendly products from local designer Kastlfel, including garments made from recycled plastic bottles and 100% organic cotton farmed without GMOs, pesticides or other chemicals—and printed with environmentally friendly water-based inks. Later this month, we’ll be branching out with TenTree: the brand that pledges to plant 10 new trees for each item sold.

And those plush critters your kids can’t get enough of? There’s finally a reason for YOU to feel good about them, too. Each cozy cutie is filled with stuffing made from 8–10 post-consumer recycled plastic bottles; the smaller plushes are 100% sustainable, inside and out! We’ve even transitioned from wasteful tags and stickers to electronic pricing screens—and our reusable bags are made from 100% post-consumer plastic that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

CONSERVATION: Products that Educate + Advocate

We’re thrilled to feature sellers like Mulberry Mongoose, a fair-trade workshop based in South Luangwa, Zambia. This program enables local craftswomen to turn found objects—reclaimed wood, vintage coins and snare wire collected by anti-poaching patrols—into jewelry before these materials can harm wildlife. Every purchase supports both the artists’ families and the brave rangers who collect these illegal traps.

Another Zambian fair-trade partner, Little N’daba, creates colorful, hand-stitched cotton animals depicting the iconic species of the African savanna—many of which are represented at Denver Zoo. Proceeds from these purchases not only support the protection of these species, many of which are endangered, but also foster financial health for the families of the 102 craftswomen who made them.

DEIA: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion + Access Start HERE

Denver Zoo was intentional in selecting a retail partner that shares our core values about people as well as animals—and the result is a vendor community every bit as dynamic and diverse as the natural world. Currently, 60% of Kibongi Market sales highlight this incredible breadth of human experience, including 34% Minority Business Enterprise, 13% LGBT Business Enterprise and 11% Women-Owned Business Enterprise.

COMMUNITY + LOCAL: Denver Made, Colorado Proud

As a global conservation organization with more than 25 years of fieldwork under our belts, Denver Zoo has a proven history of protecting wildlife and wild places around the world. But we’re also lucky to live in a state blessed with deep diversity—both ecological and intellectual. So, in addition to a vendor community that spotlights the cultural narratives surrounding the ecosystems that support (for example) our iconic African species, it’s just as important that we represent the beautiful place we call home.

By working with Denver-based companies such as Kastlfel and Aksels, we can flex our Colorado pride while also reducing our shipping footprint. And by featuring products by local artists—like the upcoming Armando Silva Collection, launching later this year—we lift up the people and points of view that make Denver the colorful cultural tapestry it is today.

Thanks to Event Network for its dedication and attention to detail. Be sure to stop by during your next visit to Denver Zoo, as new merch arrives often! Every product tells a story—and every purchase supports our wildlife conservation efforts in Colorado and worldwide.

 

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