By Kristen Cook The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "Swaggy Monkey" -- offers bra tops, leggings, headbands and sweatshirts with cheeky sayings like "heavily meditated" and "namaste in bed today." Swaggy Monkey items are sold at "The Green Monkey" boutique which supports "The Haven", a nonprofit that helps women recovering from substance abuse.
The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson
This is a very 21st century story, hatched on the most 21st century of gadgets -- a cell phone.
So of course it starts with a text message.
Julie Burdick -- who owns The Green Monkey consignment boutique -- needed a logo for her jewelry line, something she does on the side she jokes, as therapy. The working name: Swaggy Monkey. She fired off a text to Jennifer Senger, The Green Monkey's former manager and self-taught artist who handles the shop's social media.
In 10 minutes, Senger sent over a pic of a black Sharpie sketch of a monkey head wearing a crown of gold lettering that spelled "Swaggy Monkey." The crown, naturally, was jauntily perched at an angle.
Immediately, the wheels started turning.
"That's so cool," Burdick, who's also a residential real estate appraiser, shot back. "We need to do more."
Senger continued to sketch and send, and Burdick came up with more products that the logo could adorn.
That was Sept. 24. By the end of October, Swaggy Monkey was more than a backdrop for Burdick's dangly beaded earrings, it was emblazoned on home accessories as well as yoga wear, including T-shirts and tank tops, along with cheeky sayings like "heavily meditated" and "namaste in bed today."
"I think it's limitless," says Senger, who manages upscale women's Shoe Boutique in St. Philip's Plaza.
So Swaggy Monkey -- available at the boutique, 5575 E. River Road, and freshly launched online at swaggymonkeyapparel.com -- is steamrolling ahead with bra tops, leggings, a lightweight wrap, headbands and fluffy-as-a-cloud sweatshirts that range from $12-$81. While Burdick and Senger buy from an L.A.-based manufacturer -- they hope to one day manufacture themselves -- it's local Puffin Screen Printing that adds that stately simian.
While the logo might be just a head, Swaggy Monkey is quickly evolving into a business with a heart.
"There's so much negativity out there," says Burdick.
Part of that is our current cultural climate, but it really hit close to home when Burdick's 11-year-old niece in Jackson, Michigan, recently complained about problems in her sixth-grade class. The girl's teacher had already been planning a session on bullying, so Burdick issued a challenge to the class to come up with a T-shirt slogan to promote kindness. The just-selected winner: "Respect is like a boomerang; throw it out there and it'll come back to you."
The snappy phrase will be emblazoned onto shirts that the students can sell, with proceeds going back to the class for a party.
Already in the works are Swaggy Monkey shirts aimed at pre-teens with positive mantras like "It's about kindness" and "It's about respect."
Burdick and Senger plan to present their kindness challenge to local schools, too.
A philanthropic bent has long been a part of The Green Monkey's M.O. The boutique, which opened in 2008, supports The Haven, a nonprofit that helps women recovering from substance abuse. The Green Monkey donates its gently used, unclaimed items which stock the program's boutique that outfits the women for job interviews. It's not just a wardrobe boost but one for their self esteem, too.
"For them it's wonderful -- it's like someone said you can go to the store and shop for free," says Joyce Morgan, The Haven's chief of clinical services. "You act how you dress. It really helps them change their mannerisms and approach. We find a huge, dramatic change. They look great."
Burdick says she loves helping a good cause.
"That's what it's all about -- giving back."
Agreed, Senger says. "It's just really important to give back to the community we live in."