"The Story of Us" - Chapter 1: Vegan Wraps Join the Khala Cloths Journey

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On Earth Day 2018, Boulder-based Khala Cloths, winner of the 2017 Esprit Venture Challenge by the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, launched an entirely plant-based version of its popular zero waste wrap for food storage. Instead of using beeswax as a main ingredient to produce a washable, reusable, and biodegradable alternative to plastic wrap and bags, Khala Cloths’ new wraps use a blend of six plant-based waxes and oils to produce a food storage wrap now accessible to customers who had been asking for a non-beeswax version for years.

"Since Day One of our company, people have been asking us if we have a vegan version of our wraps,” shares Asa McKee, co-founder and co-CEO of Khala Cloths. “After two years of perfecting our recipe and product testing, we are pleased to say that we’ve done it – and just in time for Earth Day!"

"Yellow Sunflower" by Tamar V.S. McKee 2018 acrylic and paper


This vegan version of Khala Cloths still follows the company’s founding commitment of sourcing only the most natural, organic, and ethically sourced materials, including non-GMO sunflower oil from Colorado Proud companies. Additionally, proceeds from vegan wrap sales will go towards Khala Cloths’ giving program with 1% for the Planet, of which the company is a member and just attended the Global Summit held in Boulder over Earth Week 2018.

Known for collaborating with artists and non-profits to design unique prints for their wraps, the design for the vegan Khala Cloth print came from hand-painted sunflowers by Tamar McKee, also co-founder and co-CEO of the company. 

“Sunflowers have such a beautiful but complicated cultural history,” says McKee, “encompassing both Native American and European colonial production and use. But we decided on them because of the personal meaning and symbolism they hold for our family.”

"Red Sunflower" by Tamar.V.S. McKee 2018 acrylic and paper


Tamar’s grandmother was originally from Kansas, whose state flower is the sunflower. Her grandmother spent her last days admiring the sunflowers Tamar had painted for her and hung on her bedroom wall – the same sunflowers that now adorn Khala Cloths’ new wraps. 

So whether consumers are looking for an alternative to beeswax-based reusable food wraps, or love their beeswax wraps but want to try something new, look no further than the brilliant yellow and red sunflowers of Khala Cloths’ vegan wraps – the first of its kind in North America.

Available online at http://www.khalacloths.com/wax-wraps/ ($12-20) or at various stores around the U.S. (email to inquire: info(at)khalacloths.com).

Esprit Venture Challenged and Rewarded: on delivering the winning pitch for the Boulder Chamber of Commerce

On Wednesday, October 25th, 2017, Asa took his place in front of a 200+ person crowd at the UMC to deliver the last “pitch” of the evening. Before him, a judges’ panel awaited, having been audience to the previous two pitches delivered by the other companies/non-profits vying for the Esprit Venture Challenge victory and $10,000 prize . Asa was there to represent Khala Cloths’ bid, and even though we had been through judging rounds before (that was how we won last year’s “Most Exciting Brand” at the Portland, OR Green Festival), this one was the biggest deal yet. The infusion of the award money would mean so much to us at Khala Cloths – both in terms of monetary and symbolic capital.

The solution to single use plastic is Khala Cloths zero waste food wraps

Did others believe in us as much as we believed in our simple-yet-powerful solution to plastic pollution and food waste?

Asa was about to find out.

2017 Esprit Venture Challenge winners Khala Cloths zero waste food wraps

30 minutes later, Asa was texting Tamar: “We WON!” And Tamar and the kids proceeded to do a victory/disbelief/relief dance.

Even the dog got down!

Since then, things have been an absolute whirlwind: setting up permanent “shop” in Boulder; sharing our brand, product, and message to more and more folks - and thus fulfilling more and more orders! All the while coming up with endless ideas on what artists to work with next to help which charities and causes. In addition to Asa’s tireless mix-master skills, Tamar has been able to dedicate more time to Khala Cloths, amidst spending more time with kids, family, and “dreaming out loud” (to paraphrase an obscure Irish rock band).

Asa McKee is co-founder and owner of Khala Cloths zero waste food wraps

Come say hello!

1/2 of Khala Cloths is Asa McKee, the heart and soul of our operations and family.

Tamar McKee co-founder and owner of Khala Cloths zero waste food wraps

We are family

The other half of Khala Cloths is Dr. Tamar McKee, anthropologist, writer, filmmaker, curator, momma, and small business owner. 

We are so happy and grateful to be able to carve out more space and time to make Khala Cloths become more and more a quintessential Boulder company as well as an essential product for EVERYONE to replace the plastic wraps, bags, and storage in their lives.

Thank you to those of you who voted us through all the rounds, and especially to the EVC judges who made the final call :)

Read more about Khala Cloth's Esprit Venture Challenge award @BizWest:

Khala Cloths named winner of Esprit Venture Challenge - award announcement

"From Passion Project to Start-Up" - interview with Asa and Tamar

Khala Cloths Teams Up with Changing Tides Foundation to Empower Women and Protect the Environment

In May 2017, we connected with Changing Tides Foundation, to explore how we could support each other's commitment to protecting the environment through everyday human empowerment. Upon learning that Changing Tides Foundation (CTF) was heading down to Panama to support and document the Women's Outreach Mentorship Program (WOMP), we sent a bunch of Khala Cloths down with the CTF team to support their efforts to go zero waste wherever they might be. Upon their return from Panama, CTF shared two incredible returns with us: the following blog post AND some awesome photographs of Khala Cloths in use, some of which we share along with this blog post. 

Our partnership with CTF and support of such programs as WOMP are just some of the ways Khala Cloths is more than just a company. We are a cause for good. Every time you purchase and use a Khala Cloth, know you are a part of these efforts. To learn more, please read on!

Honoring her food with Khala Cloths in Bocas del Toro Archipelago in Panama, pro-surfer Leah Dawson gives a toss to some local fruit wrapped in an original line Khala Cloth. Photo courtesy of @barkerfoto

Honoring her food with Khala Cloths in Bocas del Toro Archipelago in Panama, pro-surfer Leah Dawson gives a toss to some local fruit wrapped in an original line Khala Cloth. Photo courtesy of @barkerfoto

The Women’s Outreach Mentorship Program (WOMP) provides underprivileged teenage girls the opportunity to improve their swimming skills, learn how to SUP and eventually surf, encourage them to grow personally and build strong bonds with each other using art and the ocean as tools. The first ever WOMP program has launched in the Afro-Caribbean community of Old Bank on the island Bastimentos located in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago in Panama.  The program lasts 10 weeks, meeting two times a week throughout the Spring and Summer months.

The #WOMPBocas is administered by our local non-profit partner Give and Surf and funded by Changing Tides Foundation. In June 2017, the Changing Tides Foundation Team traveled to Bocas del Toro to participate and engage with the participants of WOMP Bocas along with special guest, Emi Koch from Beyond the Surface International. While in Bocas, Give and Surf, CTF and BTSI collaborated on a 3-day women’s empowerment clinic to address gender inequality, body image and other local issues through art, photography and water sports and to document the WOMP program’s progress

Here is what we knew going into the project: To our knowledge is the first-ever female oriented group formed in Bocas del Toro. The girls in the community are not accustomed to expressing their feelings and showing emotions. They are not generally outgoing and accepting to outsiders.  They are generally self-conscious and shy and pretty private. Also, when it rains, generally everything is cancelled; no one leaves their homes.

Here is what we were able to accomplish in our short time with the WOMP ladies: Through icebreakers and bonding exercises, we made strong connections with the girls almost immediately. We spoke to them about who we are and how we all connected and how the ocean brought us all together. They opened up to us about things that make them happy and expressed what they liked and disliked about their community and the gender stereotypes they would like to break. They talked about how, only 3 weeks into the WOMP program, they had discovered a love for the ocean they never knew possible. The talked about the joy they feel when they’re in the ocean and how their worries, fears and problems were washed away by the sea, which is something we could all relate to. They talked about how, in such a short time, the WOMP program has changed their lives, and how it is the biggest thing they look forward to every week. Then we did a “photo shoot” with their newly donated hats and rash guards and swimsuits from RVCA and The Seea. This really brought them out of their shells from a physical standpoint. They were so happy and felt so pretty and they produced the shots they wanted themselves. 

The next day, Emi Koch led a photography workshop, speaking about perception and how we all perceive things differently and how different angles of the same thing can be so interesting and make something beautiful. We showed them some of the photos from their swimsuit photo shoot the previous day, and they delighted in how beautiful they looked and all cheered each other on. We did a jungle walk and gave all of the girls cameras to use to shoot things in their community. Along the way, we took photos of and talked about the trash problem on the island and offering suggestions on how they could help change that. We ended up at the beach, where we gave them their Patagonia gear bags which were loaded with goodies like masks, snorkels, swimcaps, Mizu water bottles, Spy sunglasses Avasol sunscreen and RVCA towels. The gear bags will remain property of the WOMP program for their continued use and for future participants. Then the girls got on the WOMP Program’s new inflatable SUP’s from Milkshake and XTerra and those donated by Gerry Lopez and other donors and used their Black Fin Paddles and took off paddling for the next island where we met them to snorkel. This time in the water was so amazing! The smiles and giggles were plentiful. Their laughter was so contagious. We were all one in the same, on a level playing field; no class or color to worry about.  It was beautiful. 

On the third day of the program we were scheduled for a field trip to Polo Beach to SUP and snorkel but it rained, so we expected our time with the girls to be cancelled. Much to everyone’s surprise, the girls showed up to the community center right on time to wait for us. They didn’t want to miss more time with us. Because of the rain, in lieu of SUP, the girls decided they wanted to see the pictures from the workshop the previous day. Then they offered to teach us white girls to dance! We proceeded to have the most hilarious, sweaty and fun hour-long dance party, ever using their new EcoX Gear waterproof speakers! This fortified our bond, as they were bringing us into their world as we had brought them into ours. They realized they had something amazing to teach us and again, we were one in the same! We left them with gifts: Avasol reuseable shopping bags filled with Changing Tides Foundation tank tops, Cobian Sandals, Humble Brush bamboo toothbrushes, and lounge pants from Indosole. They were so incredibly grateful and so excited to have new gear for themselves.  This was supposed to be the last day but they invited us back for a few hours one more day, saying they had a surprise for us.

We returned to beautifully painted shells and stones as gifts. We sat with the girls, got henna tattoos and massages and the girls braided our hair. We said very tearful goodbyes and promised to come back to see them and teach them how to surf one day soon. It was bittersweet. We have missed the girls every single day since we have been back. We have some promises to keep and cannot wait to see their beautiful faces again. Our lives have been changed forever through this experience. Thank you so much for being a part of it.


Happy food is honored food. Set it free from plastic and wrap it in a Khala Cloth - the ocean will thank you! Photo courtesy of @barkerfoto

Happy food is honored food. Set it free from plastic and wrap it in a Khala Cloth - the ocean will thank you! Photo courtesy of @barkerfoto