Karolina Arija Ax is one of those unsung heroes who quietly goes about her business whilst changing the world around her bit by bit, day by day. Her way? T-shirts.
In 2011 Arija founded Peludos (‘hairy’ in Spanish), the Madrid-based t-shirt brand. Together with partners Álvaro Ortiz and Maria Serret de Ena, Peludos has enlisted the help of numerous talented creatives to design apparel which benefit not only the wearer, but countless others as well. Arija explains “The market needs more socially committed brands. If you sell something, sell something with real values, something people can relate to, something that fills important gaps or helps society in some way. If you’re going to consume, whatever it is, the best feeling is knowing that you made a good choice and you contributed to a better living for whom it may concern (and not only the CEO).”
Each t-shirt is 100% cotton, screen printed locally in Madrid with all factory employees operating under appropriate working conditions. Each edition is printed in limited numbers and once the t-shirts are sold, all proceeds are donated to an animal shelter. The first run raised $700 and benefited the Madrid-based ANAA shelter.
Says Arija of her chosen beneficiaries, “I noticed that a lot of pet lovers knew nothing about animal shelters nor about adoption, and that they were willing to help but didn’t know how. I really admire the work animal shelters do; rescuing, caring for, housing and giving infinite love to these poor animals that have had such bad luck. As far as I know, all animal shelters are financed by private donors and the people who work there are volunteers who give their lives for the cause. It’s incredible.”
Each time a collection is produced, the Peludos team looks for new ways to improve the quality and essence of the product, such as switching to non-toxic ink, and screen-printing all garments by hand. The designs are modern and fresh, in a rainbow of colours and are as varied as the artists who have made their mark on them. As well as the designers, all those responsible for the brand, graphics and visuals are conscious of making a positive change, and many have an adopted dog of their own. “I love culture and think it’s necessary for our existence, so I started the brand motivated by offering great products designed by people that were culturally involved.”
Arija has her hands full with several other dog and community-skewed projects, including a workshop for kids who sang for a dog that had been in a shelter for a year to appease his loneliness (he was adopted two weeks later!), and a festival for dogs in Malmö, Sweden, giving dog owners a reward for their endless love replete with concerts, art and workshops.