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How We Got Here

The introduction to this project starts with authentic connection.

My name is Sunny Stefan, and I'm blessed to share my personal experience with you. I love this with all my heart. To share love for something this pure and authentic gives me all the motivation I need to continue this mission. This includes all the tough decisions, lessons, and obstacles/opportunities that come our way.

Authentic Connection

This is exactly what drives every facet of this cycle, "the desire to facilitate meaningful, original, value-enhancing interactions and influence." However, in order to recognize Sunny Life as a socially and environmentally conscious collective, it is important to understand how this started.

Zest for life, desire to travel, and strong vulnerable love seem to have been the combination of factors that led to finding the Hemp Hat. In 2016, I had been working at an IT Service Desk company for 3 years out of college. During this time my lovely partner and I rented a historic (in the full sense) farmhouse and were determined to foster patterns that served us and the environment that we resided

While working with the goal to travel, it was an opportunity to dream while practicing canning/preserving, finding sustainable nesting habits, and building seasonal organic gardens. At the same time, I started playing with website building in support of a love for vintage clothes and for a local crystal store; all in the pursuit of knowledge, not knowing how it would contribute to future experiences. With so many memories of good friends, dinners, and seasonal festivities around the area, we were determined to push-off... Little did I know how much change was upon me.

Promptly landing in New Zealand, I felt like my understanding of the world and my purpose was blown wide open! I was faced with the ending of this relationship that I wasn't ready for! So soon after arriving, it was getting harder and harder to see the presence of nature and love for life that I was so familiar with. My emotions took me for a ride. Feeling quite lost and void of passion, I roamed around sadly without a direction. Of course, things tend to shift and evolve. While walking through melancholy spirits, I was able to find myself accepting the volunteer position at a sustainable community that my partner and I were suppose to attend together.

As I trusted in the Universe and the Earth for the healing I needed, new experience flooded in. I soon became a resident at this sustainable community, Wilderland, living close to the gardens, orchards, estuary, and expanse of wild roaming hills. My heart continued to mend and an eagerness to learn outweighed my hardship; I was even able to attend a Permaculture Design Course! While learning a lot about farming, vermaculture, fermentation, and baking, my contribution shifted to supporting the sale of our goods at markets.

Selling fresh-squeezed juice, honey, tea, and veggies for Wilderland led to my first experience with the Hemp Hat. I had been in the market for a good hat while workin the fields back at 'home,' so I eagerly acquired one. It was in total alignment with my interests, learning about the fairtrade, ecotextile nature of the hat; what a no brainer!! Little did I know, my relationship to this cycle would grow deeper. In fact, over the next 6 months, I ran into the Hemp Hat family so many time that I started to help share the hats at markets myself.

As my connection to the Hemp Hats grew, so did my curiosity and commitment to business values. After giving years to an IT company whose focus was on profits before social advocacy, I wasn't about to commit to a project that didn't fit the bill. I HAD to be convinced that these hats weren't some conveyor-belt, industrially farmed, insensitive corporate machine. In order for me to dedicate my energy into this, it was a requirement to have a firm Earth-minded, community/people serving foundation. Thankfully, my concerns were joyfully mitigated through my understanding of the process as a whole.

Learn More in our Next Blog Post...