Despite the still sizzling temperatures here in Arizona, I can’t help but longingly dream of sweaters, jeans, and boots. But whether you’re enjoying cool fall weather or suffering in the heat, you’ll love the fair trade and humanitarian shops I’m going to introduce you to today!
Beautiful and Beloved Boutique
“Beautiful & Beloved’s vision is to make a simple path for you to support individuals freed from slavery who are now empowered to earn a living in a safe, clean and just way.
Not only is our merchandise beautifully made and unique, but each purchase will dignify a survivor of human trafficking or living in extreme poverty…
Each item is hand crafted by someone who is now free to earn and create.”
Find out more on Beautiful and Beloved’s About Us page. Here’s some of my favorite items:
For each bracelet purchased, Give Bracelets feeds one child for one week (21 meals).
“Bracelets with purpose. Give Jewelry is a sustainable movement to provide food for children in orphanages throughout Indonesia. The vision is simple: every bracelet purchased directly benefits kids in need. So no matter what type of bracelet you choose; friendship,charm, leather, beaded, cuff or any of our other bracelets, you’re really choosing to make a difference.”
This shop sells fair trade tees, dresses, accessories, and jewelry from artisans in India, Uganda, Peru, and Thailand.
4 All Humanity is an online private label that offers a finely curated and designed assortment of women’s apparel and accessories from artisans around the world. 4 All Humanity believes in the beauty of helping others, living fully, dreaming big dreams and loving what you do.
Buying glasses online is not for the faint of heart.
When I finally got a new prescription, I couldn’t wait to start glasses shopping. My first choice was Warby Parker, a company I’ve talked about before. For $95, you get a pair of high quality frames, including special coatings, and unlike companies with similar prices (BonLook and Rivet and Sway) for each pair you buy, one pair of glasses goes to someone in need. They’ve given 500,000 pairs of glasses!
Instead of just donating the glasses, however, Warby Parker partners with non-profits that train low-income entrepreneurs to start their own businesses selling glasses. Instead of creating a culture of dependence, they’re creating jobs and encouraging the local economies.
Although several websites, including Warby Parker, allow you to upload your photo to virtually try on glasses, it’s just not the same. So, Warby Parker actually allows you to pick five frames and try them on at home for five days, with free shipping.
I picked the Leigh, Sims, Marshall, Finn, and Wilkie. They’re all so similar, and yet so different. You’ve got to help me decide! I apologize in advance for the poor photo quality, I was in a hurry to get this post up so we could get to deciding.
My Old Glasses:
Similar shape to my old glasses, but more square and little darker.
A little bigger frames, which I like, because then I’m not always looking over or under them.
These are the biggest frames. It might be just me, but I think I look like I’m playing dress up with someone else’s glasses!
Finn is a little smaller, a nice tortoise color, and not quite as square as some of the others.
The Wilkie is the most square shaped of all of them, and also the darkest color.
This is going to be a tough decision. I’m leaning toward the Finn or the Wilkie right now, but I could be swayed. So weigh in in the comments: what ones do you like best?
Ever since I started learning about ethical fashion, I wanted to participate in a clothing swap. A clothing swap works like this: everyone brings clothes from their closet that they no longer want, and swaps. You get to shop the closets of your friends!
Clothing swaps vary in structure from getting a ticket for each item you bring, which you can then use on items you want to take home, to going section by section and giving each person a turn to pick first, going for as many rounds as possible, until there’s not much left. The one I went to Friday was more of a free for all, no one kept track of how many items you brought, and many people, like me, brought much more than they intended to bring home.
Some clothing swaps are small and intimate at around four or five people, others are upwards of twenty. The quality of items can vary, depending on what the rules of the swap are.
One of the benefits of a swap is getting to see your clothes go to good homes. For instance, I had a jacket that I’d bought from an online designer outlet that at retail, cost around $300. Since the measurements were in Italian, I didn’t get the right size, so I never wore it. Even though I didn’t pay that much for it and it didn’t fit me, I just couldn’t seem to donate it to Goodwill. Swapping it just felt much better!
And unlike just donating to Goodwill, you get something back for the things you donate. I find it frustrating when I have piles of clothes to donate each season, because I know I’ll never get that money back. It’s motivating to be more careful of what I buy in the future!
So why would you need some tips? Well, it can be overwhelming. I consider myself a pretty experienced thrift shopper, but even I felt overwhelmed at times. So, if you’re considering attending one or hosting one, here’s a few things to keep in mind.
1. Bring Good Stuff
If it has holes, stains, buttons missing, or broken zippers, don’t take it to a swap – put it in the trash. If it’s from two decades ago and is clearly NOT coming back in style, don’t take it. Older clothes in good condition are fine if you have a mix of generations at your swap, but those MC Hammer pants are probably not a good idea. Just take those kinds of things to Goodwill. A good rule to follow: don’t bring something you wouldn’t want to take home yourself.
2. Know What You Want
It defeats the purpose if you take a bunch of clothes you don’t like, and bring home a new bunch of clothes that don’t fit well, aren’t a good color, or don’t match anything you have. This tip applies to thrift shopping too – know what shapes, colors, and even fabrics flatter you and make you feel good, and what doesn’t.
I hoped to find some business casual clothes, specifically a pencil skirt, blazer, and button up. I did find a blazer, I didn’t find any button ups that I really loved, but I did find a great pair of black pants. To keep from getting overwhelmed by all the options, know what you need or want, and feel free to skip sections.
3. Keep An Open Mind
Even though I was looking for business casual clothes, I didn’t ignore the rest. As a result, I found a fantastic ring and a great pair of jeans. You never know what you might find, so when in doubt, try it on! Sizing varies so much from brand to brand, you really never know until you try.
4. Ask For Help
When you try something on and you’re just not sure, go ask for your friend’s opinions. They might be more objective, and have some tips to make it work, like adding a belt. If you really want a specific item to go with something, ask around. Maybe someone saw the perfect top for those pants, and they can take you right to it.
5. Plan To Stay Awhile
I thought I’d be in and swapped in an hour. I actually stayed three hours. It took longer than I expected to sort through piles of clothes and find my size, or, since sizing varies so much, something that looked close, and then to try things on, and make a decision, and going back for the next round. Plus, there’s lots of talking and eating going on too. Plan for plenty of time so that you don’t feel rushed.
And have fun! That’s it! If you’ve been to a clothing swap, what tips would you add?
In short – it was awesome! Several people pitched in to help organize, sort, and prepare for the two day affair. My friend hosting the event is super creative, as you can tell from the “Swap ’til You Drop” decor.
I got to be chief cupcake baker! For three hours before the swap started, I baked and frosted about 125 mini-cupcakes!
I also forgot the last batch in the oven… which we discovered some time later. Woops. The ones that I didn’t forget about were both cute and delicious with the little paper shoes on top!
We had purses and bags in the kitchen; shirts of all sleeve lengths as well as some assorted things like decor and craft supplies in the family room; coats, blazers, sweaters, dresses, and skirts in the hallway; jeans, pants, and shoes in the living room.
And that was only the stuff they decided to put out for the first day. There was lots more for day two!
I donated about 29 items total, including jewelry sets, tops, and bottoms. I didn’t want to bring that much home, and because of the way the swap was structured as a free-for-all, I didn’t have to. So I brought home seven items, including two composition notebooks I didn’t take photos of.
This ring! It fits me perfectly, and I love, love, love the color!
These Old Navy bootcut jeans, like new.
This boxy gray sweatshirt, perfect for a “slouchy Saturday” look, as one of the ladies said.
Even though it’s casual, I love that it has sequins on the shoulders!
A pair of White House Black Market pants, and this cream blazer with the tag still on it!
There were many, many things I could have gone either way on, but in the end, I’m happy with the things I decided to bring home. Since clothing swaps are growing in popularity, I’m planning another post with a few of the things I learned that you might find helpful if you decide to go to one, or host one yourself!
Since we all knew each other, there was lots of: “What do you think of this?” “Is this a good color for me?” “You should try this on!” “Put that belt with it.” “This didn’t fit me, but I think it would be great for you!” And we had a blast!
Have you ever gone to a clothing swap, or would you like to go to one? Share your experience in the comments!
Last week, a friend we hadn’t seen all summer dropped by to catch up with us. We sat around the living room and talked; actually, we listened, our friend did most of the talking. We knew there were major, difficult changes going on in their life, but that’s not what they talked about. Lots of “Remember when…” but nothing deep. When they left, in a way I felt like we hadn’t really caught up at all.
Which I totally understand. I’m in a similar place – there’s so much going on inside my head and heart, I’m struggling to put words to it. Hence, I’ve been a little light on the blogging here lately. I’ll be back to three times a week soon, I promise. I have so much to say that I haven’t had time or energy to say, I might actually post more than that!
Even though I feel like I haven’t caught you up here, I have been busy talking about other things elsewhere. I was interviewed on Sage Grayson Coaching and I wrote an article for Sweet and Sage, and this next week, I have a guest post by Alana of Sparrow and Grace here on Monday and I’ll be on her blog on Wednesday. She is sharing here about how she finds beauty in everyday, and I’m sharing there about contentment and my confidence journey. You won’t want to miss next week!
This week was hard, emotionally and mentally, so yesterday I decided to do something just for fun. I haven’t gone thrifting for ages! It was the perfect cure.
I’ve seen dozens of DIY tutorials for making these macrame plant holders. Unfortunately, I don’t have plants, and so, no use for it.
Someone decided to get rid of their NSYNC posters. Is that Justin Timberlake?!
Aladdin slippers! These are the real deal. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a flying carpet to go with them. I’ll have to try again next week.
I brought home a navy blue Banana Republic tee, a GAP black and white tee, and a fold-over clutch. The tees were $5 each, and the clutch was 70 cents! I wanted to make my own fold-over clutch when they first became super popular using A Beautiful Mess’s tutorial, but you just can’t beat that price!
By the way, Brian is recovering well from having his wisdom teeth removed. He’s eating solid food again!
Next weekend, I’m going to a clothing swap for the first time! I’m getting rid of 18 tops, four bottoms, and seven accessories, and I’m not planning to bring that much home with me. I’ll have to do an outfit post before too long to show you what I find!
Speaking of finds, have you discovered any treasures thrifting lately? Let me know what you found in the comments so I can ooh and ahh with you!
Since I’ve been all about the beach lately, I thought I’d show you what I carry in my beach bag today!
Starting left to right: my sunglasses. These are from Target, purchased almost immediately when we first arrived in Arizona, almost three years ago. They’ve served me well. More about my sunglasses pouch in this post. I’ll bring my wallet, and also a colorful zippered pouch for holding make up. For the beach, it will probably just hold chapstick with SPF.
I’ll also bring some cocoa butter lotion. This tube is from Target, and I love that it’s small enough to carry onto planes. Cocoa butter has a lovely light scent, and there’s nothing better for maintaining a tan. Seriously, it will make it last for weeks.
Headphones, for plugging into my iphone and listening to beachy background music. Sunscreen, SPF 30. A bottle of water, and my sandals, which I actually bought at Disneyland.
My trusty beach towel, which matches my swim suit. I love to bring reading material, and also a notebook and pen to jot down any ideas that come to me while relaxing. My swimsuit is from Ron Jon’s Surf Shack, and I love it. The shorts are great for people like me who are self-conscious about their legs. Plus, for youth group swimming activies, the girls usually wear shorts and tees over their swimsuits, so these surf shorts are perfect.
That’s that! It all fits into this beach bag.
This bag has a story behind it. It’s handmade by the artisan business partners of Indego Africa, a social enterprise that lifts women-owned businesses in Rwanda toward sustainable economic independence through access to markets and education. They partner with over 400 women-owned business to give them access to markets for their jewelry, accessories, and home decor on their online store and over 80 retail locations. They also collaborate with major design brands like J.Crew, Madewell, and Nicole Miller.
Indego Africa’s profits go to fund training programs for their artisans taught by Rwandan university students on business management, entrepreneurship, literacy, technology, and health.
Many of these women are survivors of the 1994 genocide, which not only destroyed their country, but left them widowed. Many are the sole providers for approximately 5.5 dependents, and many struggle with HIV/AIDS. With little education, these women made less than $2 a day.
Indego Africa has several objectives for their artisan partners:
WOMEN GENERATING SUSTAINABLE INCOME. Women consistently earn more than $2 per day through their own initiative and oversee households that are entirely free of hunger, inadequate housing, and school absenteeism.
WOMEN LEVERAGING VALUABLE LONG-TERM SKILLS. Women deploy new high-value skills to earn supplemental income in their own community – whether at a cooperative, another employer, or their own business.
WOMEN RUNNING PROFITABLE EXPORT BUSINESSES. Women manage cooperatives that are fiscally responsible, effective in product design and delivery, and dynamic contributors to the community – all while engaging the global export market on their own terms.
WOMEN FEELING HOPEFUL AND CONFIDENT. Women translate their experiences of financial success and increased productivity into a lasting sense of self-worth and pride, knowing that anything can be accomplished by working together with others and relying on their own strength.
Indego sent me this Color Weave Beach Bag to review, and I can’t recommend it enough. It came signed by the woman who made it! Not only is it beautiful, it’s huge! I’m amazed by how much I can fit comfortably inside. Plus, the handles are the perfect length to carry it all comfortably on your sholder, regardless of how full it is, and it’s extremely sturdy.
Today, Indego Africa is giving away $50 to one of you lucky readers towards anything in their online shop! To enter, visit Indego’s shop and leave a comment about your favorite handmade item. After that, there’s several more ways to enter to increase your chances. The giveaway ends Friday at Midnight!
I’ve come to the conclusion that the beach is addicting.
If’ you’ve ever decided to vacation there once, you might know what I mean. Every summer since that vacation, the memory of smooth, warm, sandy beaches, salty breeze, tan lines, cool blue waves, weathered wood docks, shady palm trees, and fruity drinks awakens the almost irresistible desire to return this year.
Since I’ve had the privilege of visting LA often over the past three years, I think the addiction is worse for me. Brian has the bug too; lately we’ve both been talking about how we can squeeze in a visit.
Until then, I’ll keep browsing beach inspired DIYs and style inspiration. Case in point, Warby Parker’s new beach inspired collection of frames and sunglasses, Ocean Avenue.
Ocean Avenue has a retro 70’s vibe inspired by “broadwalk truants, amateur spongers, and aspiring beach bums.” The video accompanying the collection is like a West Side Story Coney Island edition dance off.
If you didn’t know, for every pair of glasses sold, Warby Parker gives a pair to someone in need. Well, they don’t just give them, to avoid creating a dependent culture, they partner with non-profits to train low-income entrepreneurs to sell affordable glasses, as this video explains:
One day last October I walked down a long, dusty road into a poor Guatemalan village to wash the dirt off little feet. As the children came through the line, one by one, the grime was washed off their shoeless feet and replaced with a new, clean pair of TOMS shoes.
When Emily asked me to share why fair trade matters to me, it didn’t take much thought to bring me right back to these little feet. TOMS shoes is one example of a company that not only produces fashionable products in fair working conditions, but goes a step further to give back to the very people who have so often been exploited by fashion: the poor and destitute of third world countries.
I’ve shared before on my blog that I definitely do not have this fair trade thing down 100%. I am a mother with not only myself to shop for, but three little ones that grow quickly and change sizes often. It’s certainly not simple and my life would definitely be easier if shopping fair trade did not matter to me. As Emily has written about here and last week at my place, learning to shop ethically is a process and involves intentional decisions and hard choices.
And yet thinking of my own three little people really makes fair trade matter that much more: when I think of how our life might look if we weren’t born in this country, if I had to make the choice to starve or send my children to work in degrading and abusive conditions for next to no money. Fair trade matters because children matter, because people matter and the work of their hands matters and has value that is worth a fair wage.
I also cannot escape the Biblical mandates for ethical treatment of workers, the poor, and orphans:
You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. (James 5:3-4)
Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees,to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. (Isaiah 10:1-2)
Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 82:3-4
Strong wording, isn’t it?
We could excuse ourselves from these verses and say that we’re not the ones making the laws or treating people unfairly, but ultimately, as long as we are consuming the products, we’re giving our nod to the oppression.
Finally as a small business owner and handmade shop owner myself, I value the time and care that goes into crafting a product. I value the person behind the product and believe they should be compensated fairly for their work. Can you imagine if I spent all day, every day working on prints for my shop, and got paid pennies on the hour for my work? Or if I were a single mom and worked in a retail store, say stocking shelves for 10 hours a day, and brought home a $1 for the week’s work? It would be cause for a lawsuit in America.
Fair trade matters to me because people matter to me. As a mother, as a worker, as a believer, and as a human being, I making the hard but totally worth it choice for fair.
What are your thoughts on fair trade? Why does it matter to you?
Lauren is a young mom of three, Jesus follower, and wife of a youth pastor. She is proponent for all things fair trade + handmade and blogs at MERCY iNK as a passionate advocate for the least of these. Lauren designs Scripture prints for the mercy(iNK) print shop. > > > connect with Lauren on twitter or facebook.
This week’s Beauty Find Friday is a real look what it looks like for me to shop ethically. If you don’t like to think about how your actions affect others, stop reading now. But, if on some level, you want to be a world changer, keep reading. If you’ve ever wondered how an ordinary person like you could make a difference, keep reading.
By now, you’ve probably seen a few dozen blog posts/magazine articles about the spring fashion trends. I’m a little late to the party, but here’s my spin on it: ethical ways to wear the trends.
You’ll see lots of lace this spring, and since my style is a mix of classic and romantic, I’m super happy about it. The light and airy lacy tops shown above by Zara and Massimo Dutti are perfect for spring.
2. Black and White
A back to basics trend, black and white is everywhere. The good news is, it’s classic, and will always be in style. Black and white polka dots or stripes are a great way to go.
Speaking of stripes, this is another major trend this spring. A classic boat neck top or sheath dress are easy to accessorize, and add some nautical flair.
4. Peekaboo Pieces
I have mixed feelings about this trend. Peekaboo pieces like the white Zara top in the lower left corner, cutouts, and sheer panels are going to be popular for the warmer months this year.
5. Tribal Prints and Patterns
This trend is perfect for fair trade pieces. Local artisans employ the native techniques of their regions and provide the world with beautiful, unique artwork to wear.
6. Florals and Pastels
What’s spring without florals and pastels? Punch it up this season with some neon accessories!
Why Zara and Massimo Dutti? This post isn’t sponsored, but I discovered while searching the internet for ethical fashion that was actually trendy was hard to find. Zara and Massimo Dutti have Free2Work grades of A-, which means they’re just a step behind fair trade companies like Good and Fair. Another great place to shop right now is H&M. They have launched a line of sustainable clothing and are encouraging shoppers to donate their old clothes at their stores to be recycled. Very cool! And for trendy fair trade accessories, you can’t go wrong with Noonday Collection.