TL Made

Building a sustainable endeavor in the Tenderloin, San Francisco

Tucked away on the second floor of a run down building in the heart of the Tenderloin in downtown San Francisco, Al is hard at work cutting and stitching together leather scraps. He’s been honing his craft for decades, just trying to make a living. Day by day. Wallets, bags, and even coats. Al’s been stopping by the local leather shop for years, and is always on the hunt for floor scraps. Late one afternoon, Allen from TL Made joins Al at the leather shop. This time rather than hunting for floor scraps Al is perusing full pieces of the finest leather available. As the sun is setting over the Pacific Al heads out, rolls of leather in hand. The leather shop owner pulls Allen to the side, and tells him this is the first time Al has ever purchased anything.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

TL Made is a social enterprise centered on bringing out creativity, producing quality products, and creating jobs all within the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. They are transforming lives through discipleship relationships, and creating community through art and work, while creating a sustainable business. TL Made partners with local artisans and makers in the Tenderloin, and helps develop their products and craft. They also work with and train individuals interested in developing various skills. TL Made is just getting started, and has great potential. The leadership is visionary, passionate, and truly empathetic in their desire to develop and build a sustainable business.

On a recent trip to San Francisco we had the privilege of meeting Allen Lu, co-founder with his wife, of TL Made. Impressive to say the least! The vision of TL Made is much greater than simply developing consumer products. They are developing a boutique style thrift store, a cafe and restaurant, an outdoor cleaning service, a warehouse and fulfillment service for local businesses, and more. All designed to serve and employ those in the Tenderloin. While in the early stages, they are actively working to develop an integrated, diverse, and holistic approach to developing a micro-economy in the community they are serving. The team is also expanding their operations to another community, East Palo Alto, south of San Francisco.

As consumers we all have the ability and privilege to determine how our purchasing power impacts the world around us.

We’re big fans of TL Made, their model, and their desire to serve the local community. It’s not a hand out, but rather a hand up. The approach is expansive, growing one facet at a time as traction is gained, and leveraging opportunities as the model develops. It is important to realize that nurturing a sustainable model is highly dependent on understanding the root causes of a variety of challenges within the local context, then developing solutions to address those opportunities. At Baker+Brown Co our desire is to identify, understand, and then work to implement sustainable business strategy and practices that generate a multiplicity of impact within local and international communities. Organizations and companies like TL Made are exemplary methods that deserve greater recognition and investment. As consumers we all have the ability and privilege to determine how our purchasing power impacts the world around us. Start today by supporting TL Made and other companies that are focused on developing conscious and sustainable business models that are triple bottom line. The choice belongs to each of us.

We'd be thrilled to hear your thoughts, comments, & feedback!

Jeff Jackson

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