Dynamic Duo: Kind Campaign Co-Founders Are All About Spreading Positivity
Because you can sit with Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson.
Molly Thompson and Lauren Paul (wife of Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul) — the women behind Kind Campaign, an internationally recognized movement aimed to bring awareness and healing to the negative effects of bullying — are no strangers to getting picked on at a young age.
"Middle school was a heartbreaking, traumatic time and I felt like there was no escape from it," explained Paul. Adds Thompson, "We dealt with these experiences and we just want kids to remember they aren’t alone."
Founded in 2009, Kind Campaign is shining a light on the effects of bullying through social media campaigns and in-school assemblies, as well as their documentary, Finding Kind, which you can learn about here. The campaign has directly impacted over 300,000 students across America.
As they embark on their new season of touring across the country, Pret-a-Reporter caught up with the duo to discuss business plans for the next year ("We have a lot of new ideas and dreams that I feel like could come to fruition this year," shares Thompson), and of course, to talk style and go-to shopping spots. Because who says you can't look good while doing good?
Pret-a-Reporter: Did you set any New Year's resolutions — personally, professionally or both?
Thompson: This year I am just really focusing on being present in every moment. And living in the moment and slowing down and being intentional about the things that I say yes to and the things that I say no to. Sometimes I have a hard time saying no to things.
Paul: Mine is to try and not have my phone be a part of special moments. I feel like it is such a constant conversation about how technology is draining and bad for you, yet how great it is and keeps you connected. We use social media in such a beautiful way with Kind Campaign to spread our work and it is fun, but I feel like we have kind of lost private and intimate moments in a lot of ways. Recently I was on a trip with friends and posted a picture of this awesome moment of these musicians playing a set for us and I took it down an hour later because I realized that should have stayed in that room. So I want to be more conscious of that.
What is the most rewarding part about going on the Kind Campaign tours?
Thompson: There is so many things that we love about what we do. One of the things that stands out to me is just is the opportunity that we have to be in schools having conversations with these girls and being able to see them be vulnerable and open themselves up and using their voices to create change in their own school hallways. It is such a privilege and honor. One of my favorite parts is watching a girl stand up with her Kind Apology card and walk to the other side of the room and hand that card to another girl is such a beautiful moment. There are so many moments where Lauren and I look at each other and can’t believe how lucky we are to witness these moments.
Paul: Meeting the communities and families that are really effected by the bulling is such a unique experience. One moment in particular stands out: At the end of each assembly we take a picture with all the participants and post it to social media. We go through the comments and try to make sure we follow up with the participants and if we need to connect them with a counselor or take different steps. We saw a comment from a girl in Utah explaining that morning she had contemplated committing suicide and came to school and went to the assembly and just had a life-changing experience. In that moment she realized the things she was going through weren’t worth her taking her life. We see a lot of comments like that and we are so grateful that we were there to connect with her and change her perspective.
Do you have a day-to-day style uniform when you're working?
Thompson: Primarily, I am a more jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, specifically when we are on the road. When we go into schools we wear a kind campaign tee. What’s fun is over the last few years we have gotten to mix up our tees with some different collaborations so now we get to play around with our outfits a little more. And they are great conversation starters when we are working.
Paul: Day-to-day outside of work varies on how I am feeling that day. I like jeans and an over-sized t-shirt and do it with a pair of heels to dress it up. I tend to wear a lot of black, which I am trying to change but I love creating outfits.
Who is your style inspiration/muse and why?
Thompson: I love people’s street style, whether it is girls I see at our assemblies or someone on the street. It is less about the clothes and more about the sense of confidence someone has when they feel awesome in what they are wearing.
Paul: I love how clothes give people an opportunity to express themselves. I always love the girls that are fully themselves and are different and take risks. But I have to say Blake Lively is an inspiration because she is just a dream. She is beautiful on the outside and such a kind-hearted person and that is why the clothes look so good on her, she is just radiant always.
Where are your go-to shopping spots?
Thompson: Because we travel so much I have become addicted to online shopping. I just love ASOS, it is my go-to place. They just make the whole thing from shopping to returning easy.
Tell us about some the pieces you are wearing today and why you feel like it is a good representation of yourself.
Thompson: Both my top and pants from Zara and my shoes are by ASOS. I have our Keep Collective "you can sit with us" bracelet on my left wrist. I have been wearing this Cartier ring my dad got me for Christmas a lot. It looks like a nail and he got that for me because he always taught me to be "tough as nails" and he wanted me to remember that. That is a new item that is so special to me.
Paul: The top I am wearing is Stone Cold Fox and I love sporting the brand because I actually grew up with two girls that created it. I remember Sydney Dallas in particular always had the coolest outfits at school and was so creative and ahead of the curve. It's no surprise she ended up doing something in fashion. I got these sheet pants from Planet Blue and I love that store because it has so many easy-to-wear, fun pieces. They are so comfortable and super cute too, and can be worn during the day or dressed up at night. I wear these Zara boots all the time. I wish I would have bought more pairs! I love this black Stetson hat my husband just got for me when we were in New York City. Most of my jewelry is from my husband which makes it sentimental and special. Probably most special are my wedding rings and the tiny diamond necklace from Forevermark Aaron got me just a few months after we started dating. I never take it off.
So many people have been wearing the brand's "You Can Sit With Us" t-shirt. How does this make you feel to see such a positive reaction?
Thompson: It has been so fun and really exciting for us to see that logo and message that we put out there go viral. It was the 10th anniversary of Mean Girls when we launched that messaging and we were flying back from a school when we posted the black background with the white words "You Can Sit With Us." We didn’t know people were getting excited and when we landed our Instagram was going crazy. It is such a testament to people's longing for positive messaging like that. Putting out positive messages has become a cool thing to do and we love being a part of that. That led to launching the other shirts and the bracelets through Keep Collective.
Lauren, a lot of the comments on your Instagram are about your hair! What are your go-to products?
Paul: Well thank you! My hairstylist Riawna Capri at Nine Zero One is a dream and she keeps my cuts and colors fresh and makes some wonderful things happen when it comes to my hair. Product wise I really like the Unite 7Seconds spray in conditioner, I put it in right after I get out of the shower and that keeps my hair hydrated. I like Unite texturizing spray since I typically let my hair air dry. I think avoiding the blow dryer is really helpful. My mom really helped me out in that department.
Thompson: They both have some amazing, luscious locks!
What advice would you give the middle school version of yourself about style and also about life?
Thompson: To not be afraid to be yourself and don’t allow peer pressure or anxieties to keep you from doing what feels right for you. When I was in middle school I was trying all sorts of fun, funky, weird things out at the time. Because my mom encouraged me to wear whatever I wanted to I didn’t think anything of it. there were days when I would show up in pajamas pants and there were days I was decked out in all of my cutest things. It built self confidence within me, to not be afraid to be myself. And because I was comfortable being who I was, it transcended into confidence in friendships and other relationships. Be strong and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.
Paul: Knowing that the things that make you unique and different are cool and beautiful. Going to schools and seeing the girl who has gothic style, those girls are so cool and inspiring. I want to encourage girls who dare to be different during that crucial point in life to hold on to that because those are the people end up doing the coolest things in life. Even though people might not get it now, when you get out school you have the opportunity to meet like-minded people and exercise that creativity that you have. Don’t be scared or intimated by the norm. I wish I could tell my younger self that I was going to make it out of my middle school and live a beautiful life full of love and adventure. I just want boys and girls to remember school is just one chapter, your story is not over.