The Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards show is this weekend. If you have children, or if you recently were one yourself, you know all about this…unique awards show, with teenage stars like iCarly’s Jennette McCurdy getting louder screams than older, more classically trained actors. For those of us who watch the Oscars, it is certainly an interesting change of pace. Yesterday GBK (formerly GBK Productions) put together a fun, age-appropriate gifting lounge at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, and while I enjoyed watching some young actors and actresses get the royal treatment, I was especially happy to find some featured products that were either relevant as travel gear, or that help eco-friendly sustainable tourism.
This was my second experience being invited as a travel writer to cover a gift lounge hosted by GBK, the first being a pre-Oscars gifting suite. It was a fun break from the everyday to be able to talk with those reps and share in the excitement on the young stars’ faces. Thanks to my own kids’ affection for live action children’s programs, I even recognized quite a few of the child and young adult actors and actresses. I’m impressed that GBK ensured relevancy and age-appropriateness for the invited young actors and actresses (no wine-in-a-box this time!) and with the exhibitors’ geniality and excitement to represent their product. What I appreciated most, though, was a focus on charity (the American Red Cross had a featured booth), environmentally friendly gifts and their impact on some popular travel destinations’ local populations.
Nahui Ollin – The Mayan art of folding, sewing and weaving pieces of paper together is combined with old, used (but clean!) candy wrappers to make purses, handbags, gifts and accessories from those 100% recycled materials. I really like my keychain fob; it’s made from old Twizzler wrappers! This environmentally conscious company employs women and men in Mexico under the Fair Trade and Sweatshop Free practices that guide Nahui Ollin’s philosophy of providing positive, sustainable employment. Each bag, being handmade, is a unique one-of-a-kind piece.
Pura Vida Bracelets – I genuinely loved talking to the two reps from Pura Vida Bracelets. They were traveling in Costa Rica when they met someone selling handmade bracelets. One thing led to another, and now these simple, handsome thread-and-beads bracelets support many formerly impoverished families in Costa Rica. In the States, the Pura Vida Bracelets are popular with college students and the surf culture (I’ve seen them on dudes in Venice and Malibu, but never knew the backstory until now). Like Nahui Ollin, Costa Rica Bracelets provides for the local economy in a positive, eco-friendly way. The company also donate 1% of profits to The Surfrider Organization.
Gabrielle Alexandra Shoes – These are very snazzy, fashionable sandals, yes, and they’re perfectly easy to pack and take on vacation. They’re also super sturdy; Gabrielle Alexandra Shoes are made from recycled tires (the soles) and leather (the uppers). Believe me; these are comfortable eco-friendly sandals. As with Nahui Ollin and Pura Vida Bracelets, Gabrielle Alexandra provides jobs for “the poorest of the poor” in Lima, Peru. These shoes are more than comfortable, and attractive, in other words. The company uses sustainable resources and has created job opportunities in a city that most travelers pass through en route to Cusco and Machu Picchu.
Sure, there were plenty of other great products and gift items at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards gift lounge. The actors and actresses accepted them gracefully — it’s refreshing to see these young people, successful from such an early age, handle the gifting suite with such aplomb. The three companies I’ve chosen to highlight didn’t have the most luxurious or pampering of the gifts on display, but they did have great travel-related products that help people in other countries live better lives. Supporting them means supporting hard-working but fairly treated people in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Peru…and perhaps getting a pretty awesome handbag too. I hope those young stars appreciate the good these companies do in the world, this weekend when they’re getting “slimed” at the Kids’ Choice Awards!
Disclaimer: At the invitation of GBK Productions, I attended and received a bunch of products at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards gifting lounge in the SLS Hotel, Beverly Hills.