Today, I would like to proudly introduce a new writer on the Misfit blog: Amanda, our super intern. (Seriously, this girl is the most talented 18 year old I have ever met in my life!) As Amanda is a fantastic writer herself, she has been tasked with keeping you up to date with happenings at Misfit. Please give her a warm welcome.

Howdy, folks!

As you may know, Twitgift stormed the streets of Austin for a double whammy of the GoToMeeting Surprise and Delight campaign and the official launch of the shiny, new and exciting Twitgift for Everyone.

The Twitgift team opted for the road less traveled and showed up at South by Southwest (SXSW) without an official stand for the big debut. But not to worry anybody who knows AJ knows that he’s a pro at devising unconventional plans. The Misfit crew rented an RV (serious style points) and pulled into a parking spot right on the corner of 4th and Congress. Turns out the Twitgift HQ planted its flag on some real prime real estate, right across from the Dropbox stand (a plot of land that cost the folks at Dropbox quite a few Benjamins).  

AJ found a killer group of bike messengers who made the famous NYC messengers look like amateurs. Huge shoutout to Luke, Davey, Kelly and Sammie.  These guys peddled out to deliver Twitgifts as soon as people accepted @GoToMeeting’s twitgifts. And that meant a lot of peddling, since we Misfits don’t fool around when it comes to the Twitters.

While Melissa, Geni and the GoToMeeting team twitgfited away, Cheese and Mirko hit the streets and rallied people to send out Twitgifts as if the universe depended on it. They got a great response but we can’t claim that is was 100% down to the fabulousness of Twitgift. The nifty duo told everyone that beers were on the house (well, the RV) over at 4th and Congress. Needless to say, fun-seekers, cool peeps, and Misfits of all trades joined in on the Twitgift fun after word of the free brews got around. To the Texas State Legislature, the dudes from Greepeace, and the lady from the British Consulate, we say “L’chiem!” Carmen, who spearheaded the SXSW campaign over at GoToMeeting, found that the Twitgift campaign at SXSW increased brand conversation by 1300%, which is pretty damn cool.  And Twitgift for Everyone was successfully launched and unanimously loved by all.

"But what is Twitgift for Eveyone?” I hear you cry.

Well, Twitgift has done quite a bit of growing up since the last time we’ve mentioned it. Now anyone with a Twitter account can send a gift to a fellow tweeter, and that’s splendid news because it means you get to experience the joy that is social enchantment! You can join in on the awesomeness by visiting twitgift.me, and when you do, be sure to share the receiver’s inherently delightful reactions with us by hashtagging #twitgift (yes, you could use #bestthingever, but #twitgift is shorter).

There’s always room for a little more happiness in life.

Plus, you know you’re going to check your Twitter page after this anyways. So go check it out! And while you’re on twtter, go and say hello to Retweet, the Twitgift bird who runs things over on the @twitgift account. 

On a side note, we’d like to extend a special thanks to some amazing folks who made this event a hit:

- Carol’s Cravings: She baked 300 cupcakes in mason jars for us. You read that right—300 cupcakes. The flavors were Red Velvet, Devil’s Food, and Rum & Bourbon Buttercream. She is a sweetheart!

- StickerMule: They are our “go to” sticker providers and they came through “as usual” this time too.

- Capitol Rubber Stamp: These folks have a store front in Austin. Rachael worked nonstop in the 24 hours leading up to our arrival in Texas and within that time period she had created 4 beautiful custom stamps for us. 

- Bumper Active: Lisa Harr was super nice and unbelievably helpful. They too managed to get our order together within 24 hours.

- Madeline Murnion: Madeline screen-printed shirts for us at lightning speed! USPS dropped the ball in getting our shirts to her, so she didn’t get them until Thursday the 5th. We were wearing them on Friday morning. Oh, did I mention that she is in Fargo, ND? Yeah, she printed them in Fargo and managed to get them out to Austin in time!

Beat the Clock Messengers: The deliverers of the Twitgifts. Super cool, super speedy, and the nicest group of people you’ll ever work with! They even provided us with PBR tallboys to drink while we talked business. Now that’s a fine group of businessmen.


We’d also like to send out a Texas-sized thank to the city of Austin and all of the SXSW attendees for two-stepping your way into our hearts and embracing Twitgift with open arms. Until next time!

If you want to see more photos of unicorns, twitter birds, beautiful gifts and delighted faces, check out Twitgift on Instagram.

Good Misfit was an experiment in social philanthropy which we ran in June of 2013. The idea was to get thirty people to raise $500 each, towards total of $15,000, in 30 days. The Good Misfits absolutely smashed this target and the windmill was built in Gambella, in the Isiolo region of Kenya, two months later.

Good Misfit - a look back from Misfit, Inc. on Vimeo.

Today, I want to revisit that project. But I am going to tell you about a unique part of this story. It is a beautiful story of human development and reconciliation and the Good Misfit windmill is at the very heart of it. This is a part of the narrative that we have not put a real spotlight on thus far - but it is perhaps the most important part of all.

In 2009, the small valley between the villages of Gambella and Attir on which the windmill stands today was the sight of a violent conflict between the two tribes. One of the causes of this conflict was the valley itself. It is one of the few places in the region where, thanks to a seasonal stream, the soil is very fertile. Although the concept of ownership does not exist in this region in the same way as it does in the West, the village of Attir wanted to stake a claim to this valued land. Eight men lost their lives after Attir villagers raided Gambella and the whole region was thrown into a state of shock and turmoil for almost 18 months after that first attack.

Since 2009, GHNI field-workers have worked hard to help bring about a solution to this conflict. They encouraged peace talks between the two tribes in 2011 and also helped to set up an inter-village agricultural co-op. In 2013, Gambella was set to graduate from GHNI’s transformational community development program. The final piece in this five-year journey was the building of a windmill to help irrigate crops in the fertile valley between the villages of Attir and Gambella. This windmill would be the first of its kind in this area; the first owned, operated and maintained by the villagers themselves rather than the national government. Gambella and GHNI decided that this windmill should benefit both Gambella and Attir. Through the agricultural co-op, the tribes would share the maintenance and upkeep of the windmill and both villages would profit from the valley’s increased crop yield.

The Good Misfit project was a huge success thanks to all the incredible people who decided to join us in our social experiment and construction on the windmill was completed by August (which incidentally, is an insanely short amount of time for something of this size in this part of the world.)

This windmill was not just a functional way to get water out of the ground faster; it is a physical symbol of the beautiful things that can be achieved by human co-operation. In a way, the entire Good Misfit project is a symbol of this too - that when people come together, truly incredible things can happen.

However long the night, the dawn will break.” ~ African proverb

image

If you would like to sign up to be involved in Good Misfit 2014, fill in this little form and we’ll hit you up later in the year.

 

We have begun 2014 like we finished 2013 - working harder than Santa’s elves. We find ourselves juggling more projects than ever, and even though we like to think we are Super-People, we only have so many hours in the day. So, we decided to expand our little Misfit family a little. Eight months ago, Geni became an official Misfit and today, I would like to introduce you to the newest member of the Misfit family… Ms Chloe Manosalvas

Chloe is quite possibly the sweetest woman I have ever met and the mysterious person you have been talking to if you have stopped by and said hi to @misfit_inc, @GOODmisfit or @MisfitConf on the Twitters recently.

I have had the utter pleasure of working very closely with Chloe in the last few months and I am so proud of how well she has taken to life at MIsfit. It is pretty crazy when you first start working with us. No one is looking over your shoulder, no one is holding your hand, things are happening at lightning speed and you only have any idea of what the fuck is going on about 57% of the time. It calls for someone who can roll up their sleeves and get stuck in but isn’t afraid to ask for help when they need it and Chloe has taken every single aspect of it in her stride.

I know you will all join me in giving Chloe the warmest of welcomes. Here is a short interview with the lovely lady herself…

How does it feel to be a Misfit?

When AJ asked me to join the Misfit team, I was beyond excited and happy but also nervous. It was a very different role from my previous job and to be honest, I was scared shitless! I have always been drawn to the Misfit ethos and have followed AJ and Melissa’s journey from afar for a number of years. Being part of such an empowering and positive team is a dream come true.

What has been the most fun thing about working with Misfit so far?

The community is so AWESOME! There is so much positivity, so many inspiring people and most importantly, so much love.

I have learnt so much in the past six months and tackled things that I would have never have dreamed myself capable of. At first, it was challenging because it was all so new to me but now I find it so liberating and rewarding to look back on what I’ve achieved. I have even learnt to embrace change and to be spontaneous - as is the Misfit way. I have had long hair for the last 20 years of my life but I always secretly wanted to try a pixie hair style but was too scared to consider actually doing it. Last week, I went to the salon to got all my hair chopped off! I finally have the pixie cut I wanted and I fucking love it! :) This is just one example of the many ways in which working with Misfit has changed me.

I can’t thank Jessie enough for being there for me from the start, she’s so amazing! She patiently showed me the ropes and encouraged me to believe that I can do anything. She’s always there to lend a hand, I love her and her accent rocks!

The whole Misfit team is incredible - we make things happen, everyone is there for each other, collaborating and having fun! We’re a family and it feels great to be a part of that.

How do you plan on using your Social powers for good?

It’s fascinating how people from all over the world connect with Misfit. One of the coolest things about social media is how it allows people from different places to come together, interact and share about things they may not have had the platform for before the internet. For me, meeting and chatting everyday with so many people that share our passion for making a difference in the world is amazing.

I believe that social media has a unique power to connect people, it can be a very powerful tool for change if you use it well - even if that is just sharing a thoughtful post or quote that might make someone smile. I love that I can go to work knowing that I will make someone’s day just a little bit better. :)

image

image

That’s right, kids. It’s that time again.

Now, for those of you thinking Issue three? I haven’t even seen an issue two yet!” - fear not.The second edition of Misfit - formerly known as the Misfit Quarterly - is very much in the pipeline. It will be published, alongside a brand new dedicated website and various other delights, in January of 2014.

But, not being the sorts to rest on our laurels here at Misfit, we are getting ahead of the game. To that end, submissions for Misfit number three are now open. As ever, we want everything: stories, novel excerpts, essays, memoir, creative non-fiction, poetry, artwork, photography. As long as it reflects that Misfit ethos, we want it.

The specifics are more or less the same as the last two times, but details can be found here.

So what are you waiting for, young Misfit! Submit!

Some of you may remember that we launched the world’s first Shakespearean Film Festival last December in partnership with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

From December until July, we received short film entries from all around the world; the only strict rule to entering the festival was that the film must relate to Shakespeare in a meangingful and relevant way. Submissions closed in July and the first round of judging began. I was fortunate enough to be part of the first-round judging team and as I worked my way through the scores of submissions that we received, I was struck by the quality of the filmmaking and the creativity on display from the filmmakers. 


Once the first round of judging was complete, we sent the films off to be viewed and judged by our world-class judges - Kate Fleetwood, Rupert Goold and Jason Wingrove. We can now proudly announce the list of the nine films that made the judges Filming Shakespeare Film Festival shortlist

A huge congratulations to:


Tom Bate: Seven Ages
Jordan McGibney: Richard III: Memoir of a King’s Love
Robert Dukes: Othello: Iago’s Soliloquy
Michael Merriam: King John
Daniel Holzberg: The Tragedy of Othello
Robert Williams: The Crackling Glade
Damien Power: To Be
Joe Spray: The Eternal Not
Agnieszka Slisz: Julia

And a special mention and commendation from the judges for:
Escape Community Arts: The Shakespeare Plague

The next round of judging was extremely difficult. The judges went back and forth for days. Any one of the films that made the shortlist would have been worthy victors. 

After much deliberation, the final three films can now be announced:

Agnieszka Slisz: Julia

Joe Spray: The Eternal Not

Robert Williams: The Crackling Glade

The final three shorts will be screened on October 25 at the Stratford Upon Avon Picturehouse cinema as part of the Shakespeare Film Festival so if you’re anywhere near the area, please do go and see them.


The standard of submissions that we received to Filming Shakespeare was incredibly high. We were all blown away by the quality of the filmmaking on display, as well as the creativity expressed in all of the films.

Every single one of them was a beautiful example of self-expression and we want to say a huge thanks to all who submitted a film to the inaugural Shakespearean Film Festival. We truly hope you will consider submitting again next year.

Check out all of the shortlisted films here.  

Good afternoon from Kuala Lumpur!


The Misfit family began a tradition last year in Thailand. For the first time in four years of working together, we all met up physically for the very first time. That fantastic week we spent together made us realise that this had to be an annual thing from now on.


A year has already come and gone and here we are fulfilling our promise to each other. This time in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is very difficult to describe how special a feeling it is to sit in a room sharing a beer with the people who you work with every single day, and who in many ways are a second family to you, from whom you are usually separated by thousands of miles. It is fucking magical.


Tonight, AJ has been invited to speak at Mindvalley, a company bursting with misfits that is pushing the envelope in so many areas. If there are any misfits in the area and want to come and experience the exceptionally rare occurrence of being able to hang out with the entire Misfit team, here is the link to the event on Eventbrite.

 

https://mindvalleyajleon.eventbrite.com.


Have a fantastic week everybody. :)

Today, I would like to make a very special announcement.


Misfits, please meet Genevieve Spinella (affectionately known to us as Geni), the newest official member of the Misfit Family. Geni is a fucking genius. She has been the voice of Twitgift for the past few months (yep, the hilarious birdy tweets are totally hers) and she has recently come on board in a larger capacity to work her magic on Trendy Misfit: our brand new, awesome design and apparel arm of Misfit Incorporated. Geni went to Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in her younger years, has impeccable taste in everything, ran her own fabulous pasta bar with her husband Mirko and just happens to be that wonderfully rare mix of creative and practical. This basically means she can come up with 10 great ideas on the spot, but she also has the ability to make those ideas a reality. I mean, that’s like AJ and Melissa all rolled up into one person!! Think about that for a second and then worship at the Altar of Geni, as we all already do.


While I could happily chirp on all day about Geni’s many talents, I will instead turn it over to the lady herself. Please join us in giving her the welcome she deserves. We are so honoured to welcome you to the Misfit Family Geni!


Oh my goodness, Jessie! I’m blushing and almost speechless! Thank you so much for the warm welcome.


I am thrilled to be a part of Misfit Inc. and consider myself blessed to be working amongst these incredible “misfits”. I am continuously blown away by the ability of this team to accomplish so many tasks, complete projects, and dream up new ones even though we are all spread across the world and our fearless leaders, AJ and Melissa, are moving targets!


Tweeting for Twitgift as the voice of Bird, Chief Giver of Gifts, and sharing photos of my trusty sidekick, Retweet has been an absolute blast! I’m busting at the seams to share what is coming up next for Twitgift, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy. The secret will be out soon, so I suggest you sign up here to be amongst the first to know.


When AJ first told me about Trendy Misfit, I already knew I wanted to be a part of this project. The concept is genius and the products that are being developed are truly magnificent. The hours of design, research, and development that go into every item is mind boggling, but the final result is the finest quality handcrafted products that you expect from Misfit Inc. I can’t wait for those of you who purchased the Bona Fide Misfit T Shirt to receive your orders. You can keep tabs on the progress of your shirts here and check out this month’s item here.


I take my title of Chief Maker of Magic very seriously and I wear my Misfit badge with pride. My top priority is making sure your experience with Misfit Inc. is always outstanding.


I’m honored to be here, ecstatic to meet all of you, and looking forward to bringing you as much Misfit magic as possible!

 

Written by Jessie White, Princess of Organising Chaos at Misfit Inc

In June of this year, 35 people from all corners of the earth came together and pulled off something truly remarkable. They poured their time and energy into a project which, when it was completed, raised a collective $20,000 - the amount required to enable GHNI to build a brand new windmill in the village of Gambella, Kenya. This windmill signifies the final, glorious step on a five-year journey towards Gambella’s complete self-sustainability. It will allow year-round irrigation of the village’s crops, which will massively increase their yield - enabling them not only to better feed themselves, but also to sell more at the local market. 

This week, AJ, Melissa and Tracy flew out to Gambella and met up with some GHNI folks. The group trekked along the bumpy road to Gambella village in the Isiolo region of Kenya. Despite raising $20,000 from afar, no-one had yet clapped eyes on it. But as they rounded the corner on the final approach to the village, there it was.

image

This marvellous structure represents the culmination of 35 disparate people’s tireless philanthropic efforts. It symbolises what can be achieved when a group of people come together with little more than a hair-brained idea and a whole lot of willpower. Here’s a video of Tracy - one of the Good Misfits involved in this project - talking about how she felt when she first saw the windmill:

It is quite something to look upon a structure like this and know that you had a direct hand in its existence; to know that it will improve the lives of an entire village of people for generations to come. To anyone that was involved in this project at any level - from the Good Misfits who made the decision to be part of our crazy experiment, to their families and friends who supported them in their fundraising, to the people who shared the project with their communities, and of course to GHNI for their tireless, inspirational work - we thank you. And so do the people of Gambella. As you can see from the photo below, the windmill’s completion and Gambella’s graduation from GHNI’s five-year programme was the perfect excuse for a big party. 

image

Villagers celebrating the windmill’s completion and their graduation from the GHNI TCD programme.

Our friends at Jhai Coffee House have almost smashed their Indiegogo target of $10,000 in just 9 days. We are *so* proud of the immensely hard work they have put into this campaign and we wanted to tell you some reasons why we thing you should take 30 seconds to share this post and spread the word about Jhai.

Tyson Adams, Janelle Kaz, Stacy La and other fabulous co-conspiritors have been working their asses off over the past six months to coax their dream of Jhai Coffee House into reality. 

When it is built, Jhai will be the first ever philanthopic coffee roaster in the world located at its source on the Bolaven Plateau in Laos. It will be a social business, following the example of Muhammad Yunus' pioneering technique that he has used to help communities out of abject poverty in Bangladesh. Their model will work through co-investment with the coffee farmers of the region, the coffee will be roasted and served at Jhai Coffee House and Bean to Cup tours will be offered to tourists wanting to experience Laos coffee culture. Every single penny of profit will go back into the communities of the Bolaven Plateu in the form of clean water and santitation projects. If you want to hear more about this process, Jhai has a pretty awesome website you can check out. (We are shamelessly smug about this one!)

We are honoured to be a part of the Jhai campaign and we hope that you will take a second today to share it with your tribe, who know, maybe you’ll be the one to send them over their target within 10 days?

Misfit is staring boldly into the unknown yet again today with the launch of a product line that features Misfit design and apparel. Ladies and gentleman, we give you… Trendy Misfit.

 

Every product on the Trendy Misfit site has been designed with misfits in mind, and every single one of them is beautiful, handcrafted, artisan and scarce. So scarce in fact, that each product line will be on sale for one month only, and then it will be gone. Forever.

 

Today, we are launching a very special piece of Misfit apparel. This product has been in the making since the inception of Misfit Incorporated in 2008. When AJ walked out of his Wall Street office for the final time. Newly jobless and more than a little terrified, AJ wandered home deep in thought about what the future held for him and his new wife, Melissa. When he got back to his apartment, he sat down, took out his notepad and began to draw for the first time in years. He was thinking about defiance, about pressing forward into the disorientating mist even though the odds are stacked against you. What he drew would go on to become not merely the logo for Misfit Incorporated, but the icon for misfits everywhere. He drew an anime version of Shakespeare’s Henry V with his head held high, sword raised and feet firmly planted in the very act of defiance.

 

We have printed this design on beautiful American Apparel 50/50 t-shirt so that misfits around the globe can express their own defiance, whatever form that may take, whilst rocking a fucking cool t-shirt.


 

We would love it if you could help us to spread the word about Trendy Misfit today. A couple of minutes of your day to share a Facebook post or a tweet would make ours.

 

And of course, if you want a tee, be sure to order one before August 30. It will be, quite literally, your only chance.

 

Bona Fide Misfit from Misfit, Inc. on Vimeo.