Buying Lifestock on Behalf of JustZen’s Customers

Yes, you read that right – JustZen bought some livestock.

A Cow

A Goat

and some Chicks

How did this come about?

A few years ago JustZen started to offer free hairbands in exchange for a donation – any donation – towards a group of foster children JustZen supports around the world in developing countries. These donations were to fund some extra boost for the holidays.

This was such a successful action that it became permanent. Now, any donation wins the donor an entry to a raffle for a free mudmee tie-dye. The drawing for the free item happens when the donations reach two hundred dollars.

Just in time for the holidays that happened again. But this time it was possible to actually decide that these extra donations would go and thinking this over, what would do the greatest good, it was decided that it’s a cow for milk, a goat for the other kind of milk and chicks to grow up and lay eggs.

Thus – JustZen bought livestock on behalf of their customers.

The drawing for the free item will happen in a few day and the cycle will start over – and we will see how fast the $200-goal can be reached now.


Mountaineer Day and New T-Shirts

The last email that went out to JustZen’s customers and fans…

I might have mentioned it once or twice (or 100) times that part of JustZen’s operation – the corporate head-quarters – are up in the mountains high above Los Angeles. But don’t think of shiny chrome and glass sky-scrapers when you hear ‘corporate head-quarters’ – we are a very small mountain community of about 5000 and the highest things around here are the mountains.
Little bit of completely irrelevant trivia: we are at 5980 feet elevation which makes it just a bit over a foot per person 🙂
So, but why do I tell you this? This weekend, leading up to the forth of July, we have the Mountaineer days here in town with a fair and carnival, lots of food vendor and the whole town is in a festive mood.
This is the first time we take the opportunity to show our town that we exist and what we have to offer.
In order to have something new for the summer, we worked hard to get our new item – flared t-shirts with cap sleeves – ready.
And we even managed to get quite a few ready for the web site, so that not only Wrightwood can have them.
So, here’s how they look…

We sure hope you like them – we do  🙂
You can either click on the image above to get to the page for all our t-shirts (including the men’s t-shirts) or, as usual, you can View all New Items we added since the last update.
So, if you are in the greater Los Angeles area, it might be a good opportunity to learn about this little gem in the mountains. If you are a skier or snow-boarder in this area, I am sure you know about it – Mountain High is just around the corner.


PS: If you should manage to come up, swing by Gigi’s booth and tell her I sent you, I might get some nice treat later for dinner.

Season’s Greetings

With great appreciating for all of you who made our Wearable Art Tie-Dye such a big success, we are grateful that you gave us the opportunity to create something that we like to do and you like to have. We are specifically thankful that this also allows us to support our foster children in the developing world.

Thank you,
Merlin, Gigi and Zen

Yard Sale Frenzy

(reprint of an email sent out to our mailing list on memorial weekend)

Hope you are enjoying the long weekend!

Hi and hello – it’s Merlin from JustZen – today with a little report about the traditional yard and garage sale frenzy we experience here in our little mountain cummunity – the home of the JustZen coporate head quarter (I like to say that ‘coporate head quarter’ thingy because that makes our little tie-dye enterprize look so important.)  😉

Every year, on the long memorial weekend, the natives of our little community get into a frenzy – garages and storage spaces are emtied into the drive way. And the amazing situation is that the surrounding communities know about it!

Where you normally see the occasional car driving through a residsential street, now you have a traffic jam of predetors on the prowl for loot – the crap-hound is on the loose.

Sometimes you find some really good deal. On our first experience of this frenzy two years ago, for example, we found an 18 speed mountain bike for our son, Zen, for 15 bucks. Another 30 or 40 to fix minor things and he was all set, so that he never had to ask his parents to drive him somewhere again. (That, by the way, was withful thinking only.)

This year it was different for our son – he wanted to participate in the frenzy in an active role. He collected things, he could let go, over the last few month, got up really early on the first day of the frenzy and was ready for the crap-hounds.

It did not quite work as well as hoped for but at the end of the second day he off-loaded some of his ‘stuff’ and is some 20 bucks richer.

One interesting and comforting lesson we all learned: I encouraged him to believe in the honesty of potential customers and he set up a self service yard sale. The problem was that he was absolutely itching to go around and find good deals also, so he could not remain in his own yard all the time to watch his ‘stuff.’ Obviously he first wanted to hire me to sit and be his sales person while he was on the prowl.

I was not too eager to do that so we came up with the solution that he made a sign with the prices and a note to go up to the door and pay when they found something – and that worked great!

The next morning our son had to solve another problem – his dad – me – had worked very late and was still sleeping when the frenzy started and Zen also wanted to prowl – in other words, dad was not available to accept any payments. So Zen came up with the idea to just have a big box with a slot where buyers could leave their money for stuff they wanted.

And it worked! When hunger finally drove me out of bed, there was money in the box – not much, but enough to convince us, people in general are cool and honest.

Pity that Gigi missed the frenzy but she is at a show up in central California, at the Strawberry Festival in Arroyo Grande (Booth# A 31) – so skilful, how I weaved in this bit of information, yes? But should you be up there and plan to go only to see her, check with me first please. As I write this, late at night between Saturday and Sunday, it is not quite clear if she will still be there on Sunday. Normally at shows of more than one day, the participants just close up the booth and security is provided to watch. But in Arroyo Grande the city made everybody tear down and put up the display again in the morning. Gigi might not want to do this – it’s too tough.

So I thought that instead I will offer free shipping to everybody in the area up there. But hold on, that would not be fair to everybody who is not in Central CA – – – OK, free shipping for everybody for this long weekend  <grin>.

Peace-Up and Cheers,


PS: to get free shipping this weekend please use the rebate code prs88708 on checkout.

PPS: I really have to go to bed now, so excuse any spelling errors still in this email – – good night!

To all of you who have a mother…

(reprint of the newsletter send out mother’s day weekend 2011)

Happy Mother’s Day – Merlin here with something to say this time…

I know, the subject line is more or less pointless, because, let’s be honest, how many of you don’t have a mother? However I wanted to stress how easily they can be taken for granted when they are certainly not.

I thought about what would be an appropriate picture for today and decided to show you the image that Shelli sent in for our customer gallery.


Don’t you think this is a nice picture for mother’s day – working together with the daughter, to help her becoming proud and confident?

Now let me tell you a bit about my mom, and a little bit of a miracle that happened about and with her. If you are not interested, stop here, I promise there is no other  important information down there…

My mom has passed on long ago, and I am not sad about that, as she had had a good and fulfilled life when she said good-bye after about 80 years.

I can say that I was very lucky with her as she was not only my mom, but also a friend. We did not necessarily love each other all the time (she might have though) but we always had great respect for each other. Funny enough, my respect was firmly established when she told me that I was being kicked out should I not stop being such a disturbance to the family. Yup, the threat of being kicked out did that!

And why? Because that was the biggest display of personal integrity that I could imagine. She sure loved me, but she would not compromise her own reality that the basis for a good family was the security and sanity of that family. And I was spreading unrest during this time of growing up. So despite her love she would kick me out – – obviously it worked – I mended my evil ways and could stay. I then started to contribute to the family instead of bringing turmoil.

And now the bit of a miracle I promised in the beginning. My mom had not always been the oh, so positive and stable person. Just the opposite, until I was 13 or 14, she had actually been controlled, to a big degree, by her fears – that something bad would happen – to the kids, to my dad (who had a dangerous job) and to any or all – nothing in particular.

And then one summer, she had to go away on a trip with my dad for a few weeks while aunt Elsa baby-sat my sister and I.

She came back a totally different person. On her trip, she had met this old lady, a retired nurse, who apparently found just the right words and information mom needed, to get a new slant on life. From that moment on she was a very positive person, seeing no danger around her any more, even in (apparently) negative situations, saw the good that would come out of it.

Sure, she annoyed the pessimists and nay-Sayers, but we considered this a small price to pay. This experience gave me the confidence that instant changes to the positive are possible to such a big extent as to call them miracles.

In this sense, if you are a mother, my deepest respect to you, and if you are not, please say ‘hi’ to your mom from me.

Peace-Up and Cheers,

PS: OK, so I lied above when I said there would be no more important information – I do have some info that I want to pass on – Gigi is at the Sunset Beach Art Festival, close to Huntington Beach in California (Booth# 517corner) this weekend.

Released into the Wild

This is the time of the year where we usually get very busy and no time is left to sit back for just a moment and look at all the things we can be happy and grateful for.

But I just made the time anyway and it makes me warm and tingly all over. You might know that we here at JustZen strongly believe in the flow of things – good things can only come if we first create and give out good things. One of those positive things we put out is the support of foster children around the world. You might have read a bit about that on the page where we talk about the philosophy of

Supporting foster children around the world through first ChildReach and then PlanUSA predates JustZen by many years. It all started with my (Merlin’s) Father when I myself was only a child. He started to sponsor some foster children and I just grew up having ‘siblings’ around the world. When my father passed away, many, many years ago, it was clear that I would continue the obligation he had entered into and I continued his sponsorship until his two foster children graduated from the program.

Similarly natural was the decision to get more foster children after that graduation and then later, through the great love and appreciation we get through our tie-dye clothing, we were then able to adopt even more children in more parts of our planet.

It is always a great moment when we get letters from, and progress reports about, ‘our’ children, but what, just today, gave me this moment of deep love and appreciation was stumbling over the folder of one of our ‘graduates.’

Arnad from Thailand came into our family when he was seven years old.

Over the years we got many letters and pictures from him and we learned about progress and improvements in his life as well as his family’s and  his village’s. PlanUSA does not pick a single child and gives it money. In following Lao Tzu’s wise remark “Give a Man a Fish, Feed Him For a Day. Teach a Man to Fish, Feed Him For a Lifetime” they help to improve the whole situation in an area through infrastructure and education. If an area has improved so that the changes are stable and don’t need any pampering any longer the participants in the area graduate from the program and resources can be funneled into different parts of the world.

That means, learning that one of our foster children has graduated from the program is always a great moment. But it is also a bit like releasing them into the wild, probably not to be seen again. This is never connected with any sensation of loss, just the opposite – it’s pride that we were able to help others to stand on their own.

Arnad recently graduated from the program at the age of 16. He is now in tenth grade and in this picture he is (I believe) working on some home work or perhaps getting his home work checked out.

You can imagine that an event like this creates just more urge to do more. We thought about how we can do this and we though of all our customers that might be able to pitch in a bit. So we came up with an idea we consider a win-win situation. In past years we had always free hairbands before the holiday – and we want to do this again this year, but with a twist.

We want to hear from you that you want one and you do this by donating something towards our growing family of foster children. It does not matter how much – make it one penny, make it a dollar or make it ten. As long as we get any donation from you we will add a hairband (or if you prefer, a scrunchy.) You can leave us a message in the notes section under the shipping info what you like and what color you prefer.


I guess I should tell you where to go – just in case you came here not from our main web site. You find us at and I have added a ‘Donation for our foster Children’ field at the end of the shipping info, just below the ‘Notes and Instructions’.

UPDATE Feb 9, 2011: It was really great to see the generosity of some of you! “Free Hair Band for a Donation” was intended as a pre-Christmas action but we just let it run a month longer, until we finally stopped and sent out our check to PlanUSA – not without first matching each and every of your donations because we did not want to be short of your generosity.

The holidays are over now and we ended this action, but somehow we felt there should be some way for you to continue to help us out with our foster children. So, here is what we came up with: You can still make a donation on checkout and we enter all your names into a raffle and whenever we reach $200 in donations we have a drawing for one items. We get in touch with the winner and let him or her choose a piece from our website.

How does that idea sound?

More About Gigi’s Thailand Trip

(Newsletter reprint)

In response to our last newsletter some of you told us that you enjoyed the report about Gigi’s Thailand trip and that you wanted to hear more about it.

Obviously the big news was, as reported previously, that Gigi got to do an internship with the owner of our studio in Bangkok, Thailand, who is one of the very few people in the world with this great mastery of the traditional Mudmee tie-dye art.

Gigi had left Thailand many years ago to live in the US and now she had to re-learn what citizens of Bangkok have to do most every day – battling traffic. Since Gigi had left, Bangkok has expanded immensely. The increase in car traffic had brought it nearly to a stand-still. Often traffic is just grid-locked and you get faster from one place to another by walking.

But Thais are creative and inventive and solutions on different levels have been implemented to get a grip on the situation. On the private level are the operators of motor cycle taxis! Unimaginable for us here in the US, but a viable means of getting around cheaply in Bangkok.

One of the city-wide solutions for the traffic grid-lock has been the construction of the Sky-Train lines. These are (often elevated) city trains that quickly connect main points of the city, a very big city with estimates of size range from 7 to 20 million people.

When Gigi had to learn to commute to her internship, she had to employ several of the new means of transportation. Taking a normal taxi or private car would have just taken too long.

So, leaving the house of her friend, where she lived during her stay in Bangkok, she had to walk only a short distance until she could flag down one of the motor cycle taxis. The very low fare bought her a seat on the back and a short and sometimes scary ride to the next sky train station. After that it was half an hour on the train and then another ride with either a regular cab or another motor cycle taxi.

The whole trip took her between 60 and 90 minutes – not too bad for a commute in Bangkok. Then she put on her student hat and went to work. In the last newsletter we showed Gigi working on one piece being tied. I found this picture showing one element completed…

One part of a tie-dye piece finished tied

You can clearly see how tightly rubber bands are used to create resistant areas in the garment. When the whole piece is prepared like this – and HOW it is prepared that is the artistry – then it’s time for the bath in the dye.

There are many different dyes and methods, the one depicted here uses dye that is heated up pretty high to accomplish a fast and thorough setting of the color…

heated tie-dye bathes

You can see here that each of the baths has it own burner with a gas supply line to keep the dyes at the required temperature.

OK, this was another interruption of your busy day and now we let you get back to your other activities.

Christmas is approaching in giant step now and if you still need that one special present fo a friend, loved one – or yourself, there is still time (although little) to get something from as we are shipping the same day by priority mail.

Our tie-dye bags make great presents as do the cotton jersey tie-dye scarves.

We are glad that you stayed with us to the very end of this letter and will see you at the tie-dye website

PS: Right after Christmas we are planning to set up a little show-case, you sending us pictures wearing out tie-dye pieces with the chance to win a free hoodie – would you be interested, please let us know. Send us an email or leave a comment – thanks!

Back from Thailand

(Newsletter reprint)

The time before the holidays is always very busy for us at
But who isn’t busy, right, getting everything ready?

In addition to the usual hectic this time we send our very own Gigi back to Thailand in order to get more ideas for some really unique tie-dye items for you for the holidays. And not only did she come back with great ideas for scarves and bags, we will tell you about later, but she also gained some incredible knowledge.

Here is what happened…

We might have mentioned that the studio in Thailand, where Gigi was first exposed the mudmee tie-dye, kept their process very confidential. No spies were allowed in the studio to witness the process of creating these traditional mudmee designs.

Gigi and the owner had become friends and so Gigi was allowed to learn the basics of mudmee tie-dye.

The trust developed to a degree that during this last visit Gigi was offered to take an apprenticeship in the studio to learn mudmee tie-dye from the ground up. You better believe that she took that opportunity with her full heart. Here you can see her working on tying a piece of fabric during her private class…

Gigi working on tie-dye

and here one of her pieces she did towards the end of her training…

Gigi's first tie-dye

Isn’t this amazing?

So, yes, this was the one big surprise that we did not expect in any form or fashion (pun intended). But equipped with all this new skill we will now be able to bring even better mudmee tie-dye.

The new items we can now offer due to all these events are soft and warm knit jersey scarves

Tie-dye scarf collection

and gorgeous and practical shoulder bags

tie-dye shoulder bag collection

OK, this was a little bit of an interruption of your day and I’m glad you stayed with me to the end of this post but now we let you get back to your other activities – we are certainly grateful that you took the time to read our news letter and will see you at the tie-dye website