What’s In My Beach Bag {Giveaway!}

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!

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STYLE: Ocean Avenue, Summer Style

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.

1. Jasper in Orange Fiz, Warby Parker 2. Cocoki dress, Indego Africa 3. Festival Necklace, Noonday Collection 4. Delicias Sandal, Nisolo Shoes

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:

The other summery picks I included in my collages from Noonday Collection, Nisolo Shoes, Indego Africa, and Threads for Thought are also doing good in the world through fair trade fashion. That’s style that looks good on everyone!

What’s your go to outfit for summer style? Share in the comments!

Why Fair Trade Matters to Me, By Mercy Ink

foot washing guatemala

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.

 

shoe drop guatemala

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?

 

photo credit: Michele Lyn Ault

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.

Beauty Find Friday: How I Ethically Shop

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.

My edited closet
But keep reading over on Mercy Ink, because that’s where you’ll find the rest of this post! 

Beauty Find Friday: Spring Fashion Trends, Fair Trade Edition

Spring Trends

Massimo Dutti striped dress / Zara embroidered dress / Zara long dress / Zara organic cotton t shirt / Zara printed shirt / Zara top / Zara top / Zara blouse / Zara see through top / Zara lace top / Massimo Dutti long sleeve shirt / Zara boat neck top

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.

1. Lace

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.

3. Stripes

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.

Where are you shopping this spring? For tons of other ideas, follow my Fashion for Freedom Pinterest board! Share any great finds with us in the comments!

P.S. This is your last chance to subscribe to the Scribbles Newsletter to get your free birthday card printable! The newsletter will go out this evening!

Fair Trade Fashion: Changing the World

The issues surrounding human trafficking and ethical fashion can be overwhelming at times. It’s so important to remember the “why,” that where you shop really does make a difference.

Today I’m excited to share my story about how I discovered fair trade fashion, and four tips for shopping ethically at A New Kind Of Normal! Check out the full post.

Also, Jamee had a blog series about endometriosis this past month. If you or someone you know deals with endo, you’ll definitely want to read it! You can find all the posts here.

In other news, the first edition of Scribbles Newsletter was supposed to launch today, but I think I’ll wait until the end of the week to give you a few more days to subscribe. Remember, if you subscribe via that little box on the sidebar, you’ll get a code for 15% off your first purchase right away, and then in this edition of the newsletter, you’ll also get a free printable birthday card. What are you waiting for?! Subscribe!

Beauty Find Friday: Spring Giveaway!

Today the sun’s peeking in an out of rain clouds, and right now the wind is whistling around the apartment. This definitely feels like spring! On Sunday afternoon, Brian and I enjoyed the weather with a stroll ’round the park. 

lipstick c/o Radiant Cosmetics, necklace c/o Noonday Collection, tee:Lof,  sweater: old, Forever21
The main reason we were at this particular park is to check out the field. Brian got the job of head coach for the baseball team of a local Christian school! I couldn’t be more proud. I know he’s going to do a great job, and he’ll really love it. I also asked Brian to take a few pictures of me modeling my new necklace. 
jeans: Old Navy, shoes: GAP
From looking at it, you would never guess that this necklace is made from paper beads! The beads are rolled and painted by hand by artisans in Uganda. Because of the opportunity to work for Noonday Collection, these artistans are earning enough to provide for their families, send their kids to school, and leave lives of exploitation on the streets. 
I was thrilled to receive a hard copy version of Noonday’s lookbook along with this Shalom necklace, which also comes in yellow. As you know from the Fashion for Freedom series, this is a company I absolutely love.
Noonday Collection’s Spring Lookbook features stunning photos of their trendy, stylish fair trade products, but also intersperses true stories of how fair trade employment has changed the lives of the artisans. I was especially touched by Ruth’s story. 

One of our artisans, Ruth, is resilient and full of joy. She was orphaned at age 6 and sent to be a servant in her oldest stepsister’s home. Her step sister died when Ruth was 10, and Ruth became the caretaker of her sister’s three small children. After several years, she left for the city to try and find a new life. Sadly, she met a life of exploitation. Her reality changed when she went to church for the first time and the pastor told Ruth she could come live with their family. This same pastoer helped solidify her new job with our Ugandan group.  

This necklace might have been made by Ruth.

If you really want to get choked up, look at the back page of the lookbook. Pictures of some of the families’ whose adoptions have been aided through the 10% of trunk show sales from Noonday cover the back! Noonday advocates for orphans by: 
  • “Providing jobs that create a pathway out of poverty for families. A stable income means a family is less likely to abandon their child.
  • Help families raise money for their own adoptions. We give 10% of trunk show sales directly to the adoptive family when they host a trunk show.
  • Aside from donating 10% towards qualified adoptive families, Noonday Collection also gives towards orphan care and prevention. Watch the video to see one of our beneficiaries.
  • The dream: Take YOU on a trip to visit artisans and visit orphans in their distress.”

Giveaway

Noonday Collection is a fair trade company with a passion for style and people. I’m so excited to be able to give away $50 toward any Noonday products today!
Here’s a few of their products on my wishlist: 
Many Ways bag. Clutch, cross body, and reversible!
Are you ready to win?! Enter using the raffelcopter widget below (email subscribers, you’ll have to click over to the blog to enter). 

This giveaway ends next Friday. I’ll contact the winner by email, and they’ll have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. 
Check out the entire gorgeous lookbook for ideas for that spending money!

Where to Buy Ethical Shoes, Accessories, Underwear, and Children’s Clothes

Last Friday we discussed Where to Buy Ethical Casual Clothing, yesterday I shared links to Where to Buy Special Occasion Clothing, Jewelry, and Cosmetics, and today I’m going to list resources for “everything else.” Not quite everything, but children’s clothes, accessories, underwear, and shoes.

But first, I read something today that touches on the question most of us are thinking: how can we afford to buy fair trade items? A reader asked the author of Seven, An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (a book that greatly influenced this month’s series) Jen Hatmaker, this question:

How do you balance purchasing organic / local / made in America items versus the higher cost of those items? We want to be eating and purchasing the quality items but what I spend on them in a month (not even in excess) is what someone in a third world country could live on for a year.

Agreed. I honestly found a balance, because though organic and Fair Trade is more costly, I also quit buying a bunch of other garbage (and some I continue to purchase, because, you know, FOR THE MOST PART). I find “Made in America” not so cost-prohibitive at places like Old Navy and several Target brands. And again, if we buy in equal quantity as we ever have but with high-integrity brands, we might go into the poorhouse. This is where “lower consumption” comes into play. Buy less, buy better.

Read the rest of the Q&A with Jen here. 

Jen summed up nicely my new approach to buying clothing. Buy less, buy better!

Children’s Clothing

Matilda Jane Clothing

Shabby Apple: I mentioned this in the last post, but Shabby Apple also sells adorable little girls dresses*, and is expending to pre-teen clothes.

War Chest: the War Chest Boutique sells fun purses, bibs, aprons, dolls and toys for children, and also adult aprons, some apparel, scarves, and jewelry.

Matilda Jane Clothing: For unique, whimsical dresses, tops, skirts and bottoms, and accessories, this is the place. Right now they only have clothing for little girls, but boys are on the agenda, and they also have some fun pieces for moms. Matilda Jane recently partnered with our friend Noonday Collections!

Thrift Stores: Since kids grow fast, shopping at your local thrift stores is a great budget friendly way to shop ethically and support your local community!

Accessories

Raven + Lily

There are just so many companies that sell scarves, purses, hats, and that sort of thing, I’m going to keep this list simple:

 

Underwear

Good and Fair Clothing

Shoes

Toms– Tom’s shoes are fair trade, and each purchase provides a pair of shoes to someone in need. Toms sells shoes in womens, mens, youth (5+ years) and tiny (0-5 years) sizes. Besides the classic canvas Toms, they sell special occasion varieties, and even a line of campus colors to show your school pride.
Groobs– Groobs also gives a pair to a child in need, but they take a step further and allow you to pick a charity to give 50% of the proceeds to! They also come in sizes for the whole family.
* affiliate link
Whew! This is the last of the “where to buy” posts, but I will continue to update the Fashion for Freedom Pinterest board, so if you’re on pinterest, check it out!
Also, this week only, Sevenly is selling tees and totes to fund an undercover brothel rescue! Find out more and see the tees here. 
And another reminder, this FRIDAY is the Fashion for Freedom Charity Auction, where you’ll be able to bid on items from my closet and 100% of the proceeds will go to anti-trafficking organizations, Polaris Project and 4 the 1. Mark it on your calendars!
Of course, you won’t want to miss our super-awesome-mega giveaway after that! Be sure to follow on Facebook, Twitter, or email so you don’t miss it. Tomorrow and the day after I’m going to share ideas for shopping ethically: refashioning what you already have, and how to shop at thrift stores.
Do you know of any other resources I didn’t mention in this post? Share them with us in the comments!

Where to Buy Ethical Special Occasion Clothing, Jewelry, and Cosmetics

Ethical Special Occasion Clothes

 

Did you enjoy yesterday’s post, Where to Buy Ethical Casual Clothing? Now that we know what modern slavery is, how ethical fashion fights it, and the fair trade difference, and we’re excited to make small changes to make a big difference, we’re discussing practical questions: Where can I buy a fair trade tee? Where can I buy ethical jeans? Dresses? Scarves? And how much is this going to cost me?

Today I’m going to share links for dressy, special occasion clothing and accessories.  Note that you don’t always have to spend a fortune to look good while doing good, although some classic, high quality items are what I consider “investment pieces.”

Read More

Where to Buy Casual Ethical Clothing

Can you believe it’s already the 18th? Thanks for sticking with me this far of Fashion for Freedom! Now that we know what modern slavery is, how ethical fashion fights it, and the fair trade difference, and we’re excited to make small changes to make a big difference, let’s get to the super practical questions: Where can I buy a fair trade tee? Where can I buy ethical jeans? Dresses? Scarves? And how much is this going to cost me?

I’m going to break it down by categories within categories, so within “Casual Clothing,” lets look at tees and tops, jeans and bottoms, and casual dresses. Note that you don’t have to spend a fortune to look good while doing good, although some classic, high quality items are great investment pieces.

Fall Ethical Fashion

Ethical Tees, Tops, and Dresses

Stop Traffick Fashion: Support women freed from slavery with these tees! Several designs available. Budget Friendly.
Sevenly– each week, a new design with a new cause! Both men’s and womens, short sleeved, dolman style tops, and sweatshirts. Moderately Priced.
Good and Fair– Good and fair only offers short sleeved tees, but they have several designs as well as solid, and both men and women’s. Budget friendly.
Maggies Organics: camis, tanks, short, three-fourth, and long sleeved tees in a plenty of colors, as well as casual dresses and skirts, all fair trade and made from organic cotton. Maggie’s carries clothes for both men and women. I especially love the hoodies, which are only $25! Budget friendly. 
Global Girlfriend: One of the largest selections of fair trade tops I’ve seen, with several different tee designs, styles, sweaters, and skirts in a rainbow of colors. I’m definitely adding this adorable owl tee to my Christmas list. Budget friendly.
PrAna: For the outdoorsy, adventurous type who like quality over quantity, PrAna offers beautiful ethical sweaters, tanks, tops, coats, work out wear, and more. Also, if you’re not a fan of online shopping, see if there’s a location near you! Investment Pieces (check out the outlet for sale items!)
Raven and Lily : R+L has a huge selection of accessories, but only two options for tees right now. If you like them, don’t forget to use code “scribbles” for 20% off during October! Moderately Priced.
Threads for Thought: Recycled and fair trade tees in several styles, designs, and colors, as well as sweaters, hoodies, and casual dresses. See if there’s a brick and mortar store near you, or shop online. Budget friendly.

Ethical Bottoms

PrAna: Blue jeans, cords, yoga pants, leggings, and more. Investment Pieces. 
Threads 4 Thought: Recycled yoga pants, patterned shorts, leggings, and super cute skirts. Budget Friendly.
Francesca’s Collections: As far as I know, Francescas is not a fair trade company, but many of their jeans are made in the USA. Moderately Priced. 
Thrift Stores: For the very price conscious, this is probably the best way to go. Fair trade jeans tend to be pricey, due to the materials and labor involved. If you don’t have time to save up for a pair, re-use what’s already in the system at your local thrift stores and support your community. 
Catch up on all the posts here. 
If you’re anything like me, after you look at the price tags on some of those jeans, you might be thinking, “There’s no way I’d ever pay $99 dollars for jeans, even $48 is pushing it.”

Here’s what I realized: We’ve been conditioned to accept cheap clothes. We think super low prices are normal. Until recently, we didn’t know that the reason they can charge such low prices is because the people making the clothes aren’t getting paid.

But now we know. The cost of cheap clothes is too high a price to pay. But if we really want to making a lasting impact, we have to alter our ideas of how much clothes should cost. Fair trade does cost more – because the people making the clothes are actually getting paid a decent wage.

Consider this: If I saved all the money I would normally spend in a year on cheap shoes, clearance tops, and impulse jewelry buys, I could afford an expensive pair of jeans. Also, if I took into account the money I spend on clothes that are poor quality and only last a year, and invested in pieces that will last five years or more, that seems more worth it. I’ve realized through this experiment that I really don’t need more than two pairs of jeans anyway.


For more ethical clothing and accessory ideas, visit my Fashion For Freedom Pinterest Board! And stay tuned for posts on accessories, special occasion, cosmetics, and more.

Update: I recently discovered Pure Citizen, a daily deals site for ethical and fair trade clothing for men, women, and children, beauty products, and more. I’ve already discovered several new ethical companies through them! I just became a Pure Citizen affiliate, so I’d love if you signed up too! You can save up to 90% on ethical brands!

Which are your favorites of the companies above? What do you think about investing in more expensive fair trade pieces over cheaper brands?  Share your thoughts in the comments!