elope Inc. has designed, manufactured, and distributed fun and innovative hats, sunglasses and accessories worldwide for over 22 years. In particular, “Nepal has a special meaning to elope,” says Franzi Fu, Chief Fun Officer. Fu is CFO and co-founder of the family-owned and operated company located in Colorado Springs with a quality assurance and factory logistics office in Guangzhou, China. “We started making our first hats in Nepal.”
The company’s origins trace back to the global travels of Franzi’s husband Keith Johnson and his brother Kevin Johnson. In 1988, Kevin and Keith Johnson embarked on a journey “to the far corners of planet Earth” collecting and designing hats that made everybody laugh. In 1993, the brothers and Fu founded elope with a mission to make everybody laugh on planet earth by offering whimsical wearables through fanatical service while being a socially responsible business.
From the start, elope took ethical sourcing seriously and invested years in creating relationships with their overseas partners. Says Fu, “Keith lived in the Nepal factory for one year. He lived, collaborated, and ate with the family who ran the factory, and we were very close to the people he worked with.”
Keith Johnson adds that the early days of the company’s import and distribution operations were heavily influenced by the partnership in Nepal. “We basically learned the business together,” he said.
As a tribe of world travelers, mountain lovers, and compassionate people, elopians are moved by the recent earthquake in Nepal. When Fu and her family learned about the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal last Saturday and watched the reports of widespread destruction and increasing challenges for survivors in the region, they felt compelled to take action. The death toll is above 5200 people now with millions affected or displaced, and survivors are battling illness from contaminated water and exposure.
elope will donate $10,000 to the Red Cross Nepal disaster relief fund and urges others to contribute what they can to the effort, as the extent of the full destruction is still not yet known.
As the Red Cross identified in its announcement:
Countless families are living out in the open, having either lost their homes or being fearful of going home due to the many aftershocks. The Nepal Red Cross Society is leading the relief effort, providing first aid and search and rescue support, blood to medical facilities and support to first responders. A priority for the Nepal Red Cross has been to distribute emergency tarpaulins which provide basic shelter.
The scale of the devastation is still being uncovered and getting to some of the most severely affected areas is not easy. Due to Nepal’s mountainous terrain and poor road infrastructure, reaching affected villages often means using Sherpa’s to carry the materials on foot up narrow mountain paths.
“We are very sorry for all the sorrows Nepal people are suffering now,” wrote Fu in message to the global elope team. “Hopefully our humble support, joining with aid from all over the world, could help Nepal recover from this catastrophe in the near future.”