Monday, February 23, 2015

Party Time Thursday!

Some of my favorite local conscious vendors are having a Pop-Up Party this Thursday! 

I will be there! Not only will Purse&Clutch be at Teysha (which sells beautiful boots), but Slumlove Sweater Co. be posted up there as well. 

Slumlove Sweater Co. has been on my mind since December. I bought my dad a wonderful sweater from them, and fought off buying a killer red cardigan for myself (because ya know it was Christmas).

Red cardigan, you will be mine!

Hope to see you mega babes there. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes!

TOMS has had the market on "do good" shoes for quite some time.

When they first became popular, I rocked a pair navy of TOMS until they met their smelly, slimy fate. (If you have owned TOMS you know what I am talking about)

Me and my TOMS circa 2008
After I retired those bad boys, I found myself avoiding investing in another pair.

If I was honest with myself, once the razzle dazzle of TOMS wore off, I saw them for what they were: pretty ugly shoes. (Not to mention what I discovered about TOMS when I looked deeper into their business practices. )

So where does a girl find a good pair of conscious flats?

I give you Fortress of Inca. These flats are cozy, more structured than TOMS, and are a great go to shoe. 

Fortress of Inca also carries boots, heels, sandals, and mens shoes. I love the variety and the quality of this company. Yes, they are a little pricier than TOMS, but I assure you they are well worth it. 

Conscious Pieces:

Shoes: Fortress of Inca

Top: Spiritual Gangster


Jeans: Luxe Apothetique

Monday, February 16, 2015

Business Spotlight: Tonlé

Kaitlyn Telge is the reason for this blog. About a year ago, when I was teaching yoga, Kaitlyn was a frequent student.

One day, she told me she was moving to Cambodia to work for an ethical fashion manufacturer. At that time in my life, I felt chronically uninspired; Kaitlyn whipped me into shape.

Kaitlyn works for Tonlé, a company based out of Cambodia that uses recycled materials and excess fabrics from garment factories to make clothing and accessories.

She took some time to answer some questions about her work. I am honored and so very excited to share her responses. Enjoy!

Tell me about your job!

As the marketing assistant, I help with all things public relations, social media, and website development. I get to help style Tonlé shoots, create social media content, plan local events and handle customer service.

Why Cambodia?

I wasn’t originally looking to move to Cambodia, but when the opportunity arose, I jumped. I was inspired by Tonlé’s mission and deeply rooted commitment to their ethics. I quickly fell in love with Cambodia’s deep history, incredible charm and beautiful culture, not to mention the friendly people and amazing food.

What was most striking thing you have learned about the garment industry working for Tonlé?

The most striking thing I’ve learned about the garment industry since living and working in Cambodia is that the solution is much more complex than simply paying workers more. After taxes and overhead it is actually quite expensive to manufacture in Cambodia relative to other developing countries, which puts immense pressure on the factory owners. The owners are also feeling the strains of fast paced Western deadlines, and pressure from the government to keep costs low to incentivize business. If the factory owners simply raise wages, brands will have to either move production elsewhere or increase prices. If they increase prices, the brands risk losing business from customers who have become addicted to fast fashion. In the end, both outcomes would end up hurting the garment workers. The issues are complex, and change will not come overnight. Compromise needs to happen between the brands, governments, and factory owners, but above all, consumers need to use their purchasing power for good and demand change in the garment industry.

Tell me about the most difficult day you have had at work

My most difficult day of work was during my first week. I was an hour outside of the city interviewing staff members in our Toul Sambo workshop. This community, displaced by the government over land disputes, now has limited access to jobs and education. I was there to tell their stories through the Tonlé website. Still being new to Cambodia, my body hadn’t quite adjusted to the food I was shocking my system with, and revolted while I was equipped with nothing more than squatter toilets. Did I also mention this was during the rainy season? Yea, not the greatest day. But in the end I was able to connect with the employees in this community and record their stories, making it worth it.

Now tell me about the most rewarding day?

The most rewarding day at work was also another difficult day in the beginning. I had the opportunity to join our fabric sourcer on her weekly trip to the remnant factory market. I was not prepared for what I was met with on the other side of town. The literal tons of discarded fabric were extremely overwhelming and saddening. Everyday, perfectly good fabric is thrown away by factories who deem the materials unusable because of a small hole or misshapen pieces. At Tonlé, we’re able to save 10,000 kg of materials from landfills each year, which is a small but noble amount. Knowing that we’re at least making a dent in the amount of chemicals ad toxins put into the earth was a rewarding feeling. It also motivated and inspired me to encourage people back home to think about how and where their clothes are made.

How has this job changed the way you buy clothing?

I have re-evaluated the word “need” since living and working in Cambodia. I used to think I “needed” new outfits every season. In college it was a cardinal sin to be photographed in the same outfit two weekends in a row. Now, I basically rotate the same ten or so outfits and the world continues to revolve. I try to buy less and shop ethical whenever possible. I also try to support local or emerging designers and shop second hand.

Why is it important for us to care where our clothes come from?

One of the most valuable lessons I've learned while living in Cambodia is that we’re all connected. You may not be able to trace a direct path between a 20-something-year-old in Austin and a 50-something-year-old Cambodian garment worker, but I promise you, there’s a link. What Tonlé has taught me is that we need the people making our clothes just as much as they need us, and there should be a level of mutual respect in between. Respect means safe working conditions, fair wages, and adequate hours for a quality product at a reasonable price. As consumers we have more power than we realize, and change begins with us.

Show us your Tonlé pick!

These are my all-time favorite pants-super comfy and perfect for traveling. They can also be dressed up with heals and a cute top.

It’s safe to say if I disappear, I moved to Cambodia to pester Kaitlyn.

Conscious Pieces:

Dress: Tonlé


Shoes: Madewell

Learn More about Tonlé here

 Quick Video about Tonlé from their past Kickstarter Campaign.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Cute Dress, Messy hair

My hair. My freakin' hair has been a point of drama and trauma my entire life. 

Is it too short, is it too long, is it too dark, oh dear god why did I go blonde?!

More often than not, I embrace the messy updo. 

It works for me! It's even better when I can do a messy updo and throw on a tight short dress and pass for "fancy."

I love this Supermaggie dress for many reasons:

1) It can be dressed down (I have worn this with black tights, over the knee boots and a jean jacket) or dressed up!

2) It challenges me to work with the parts of my body I may not be all that comfortable with (stomach, upper arms), while somehow simultaneously supporting what I think are my strong points (bootay, and legs). 

3) The design on the front! Oh god I love it. Super intricate in an understated way. 

More than that Supermaggie has an interesting story, organic cotton options, home decor, made in USA. and is super affordable. I highly recommend it! 

Particularly this unicorn pattern. Because when it comes down to it, clothes should be fun.

Conscious Pieces:

Dress: Supermaggie


Shoes: Aerosoles

Click here to learn more and shop Supermaggie 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Business Spotlight: Purse & Clutch

I have a commitment problem with bags. I have lugged the same two ripped smelly bags for at least three years. 

Then I met Jen Lewis of Purse & Clutch, and within two weeks I bid adieu to my two holey purse warriors, and traded them in for some shiny upgrades.

Jen was kind enough to answer a few questions about creating practical, ethical, affordable bags. 

Tell me about Purse & Clutch!

Purse & Clutch is an ethical handbag and accessories boutique. We curate the most beautiful items we can find from artisan groups in developing countries with limited opportunities to help create sustainable jobs. We’re passionate about making Fair Trade and ethically made products super easy to access in the hopes that we can change the fashion industry as more and more people can choose to care how things are made.

What was most striking thing you have learned in creating Purse & Clutch?

I've learned (and am in the process of learning) that we have the power to create the kind of world we want to live in. I mean this both as a business owner creating my own job and managing my own workday as well as creating a world where we take responsibility for how the things we purchase are made and how it affects the person who made it.

When I first started Purse & Clutch, most things were reactionary. I would simply respond to who was reaching out to me with opportunities and I was waiting for something to happen instead of choosing what direction I wanted to take the business and what type of projects I wanted to spend my day doing.

Jen Lewis

Purse & Clutch gave me an inside look at the lives that can be transformed simply by choosing to care how things are made. I started out feeling really powerless because the problem seemed too big to make a dent in, but as I've seen the changes that happen in the lives of the artisans we work with, now I feel like I can really make a difference because of who I purchase from. I want to live in a world where people matter – and I believe that the companies I buy from can bring me closer or further to that desire.

What has been the most difficult day/part/experience you have had in starting your business?

I think the transition from working a full time job while I was getting P&C off the ground to doing P&C full time was pretty difficult. Lack of finances aside, going from a traditional work environment to one where it’s just you and the success and failures of the company are your own personal successes and failures was tough. It’s a ton of hustling and you don’t see many results very quickly. For me, there was also this identity piece that I struggled with – I had a hard time identifying as a business owner because the business owners I’d met in the past had been typically men in their mid 40s running huge companies. Now, I’m so grateful to have a really amazing community of women start-up business owners in my life.

The most rewarding day?
I think as small as it may sound, having someone I had never met tell me they’d heard of Purse & Clutch upon introduction. It made me feel like my hard work was paying off!

How has this endeavor changed the way you consume?
In almost every way! I do research on brands before I make a purchase and I buy nicer quality items that will last longer in an attempt to slow down the fashion cycle. Most of my clothing purchases are from second hand stores and I’m much more thoughtful on styles I buy that I know will fit with other items in my wardrobe.

Why do you care about conscious apparel?
Just because I can’t directly see what goes into making what I buy doesn't mean that I’m not responsible for the lives that it affects. I take that responsibility very seriously.

Show me your favorite “Purse & Clutch” pick!
It’s so hard to choose!! I’m currently loving the Black Crossbody made from seriously THE softest leather I've ever felt. And I love that it has a detachable strap to convert it from a clutch to a purse!

I bought this bag, and I am IN LOVE. The leather is so insanely soft, that I was scared it would scratch easily. So, I put it to the test! I traipsed around some vineyards (vine nubs) this weekend and not a scratch in sight! 

My roommate said it best, "Did the cow that made this bag live in a spa?!"

Conscious Pieces:

Bags: Purse & Clutch
Vineyard Dress: Synergy
Gold Necklace: Olive
Black Necklace: Iacoli & Mcallister


Jeans: Old Navy
Grey Sweater: Madewell
Black Shoes: Aerosoles 

Learn more about Purse & Clutch here

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Early Valentine's Day

My handsome man took me on an early Valentine's vineyard adventure. He told me to dress in a way that was comfortable and sexy. So I chose my new loves Synergy and Purse&clutch.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Synergy isn't just a business term

“I love your dress!”
“Thanks it’s made of organic cotton!”

After I said this I wanted to lasso those words right back into my mouth.

That statement felt on par with “oh my rescue dogs (which I have two) love acupuncture" or “my compost in the backyard has totally helped my aloe plant.”

But I was excited, and couldn't help it! I finally found a company that provides organic fibers that totally thwarted my expectation of itchy hemp like materials. 

As stated in earlier posts, natural fibers are (in my opinion) the most effective, thoughtful way to buy conscious clothing.

Synergy Organic Clothing, you have my heart….and probably most of my money.

Conscious Pieces:

Dress: Synergy

Necklace: Olive


Shoes: Born

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Business Spotlight: The Hip Humanitarian

Hayley Swindell, owner of the Hip Humanitarian, joined me for coffee and to chat about her journey as a conscious beauty and accessory innovator.

Photo taken by Jordan Afshin

Tell me about your business:

The Hip Humanitarian is a socially responsible online boutique, and a monthly subscription box. 

How did you come up with the idea for your company?

My sorority was doing a fundraiser for a school in Uganda, and no one was donating…I found that very disturbing because people were coming home on Saturdays and Sundays with shopping bags. How can you have enough money to go shopping, but not have $5 to put in the donation box? 

That is very self-aware because generally when people think of sororities they don't think super socially conscious.…

Sororities are very philanthropic (I actually am in one still), but there is that stigma that all they do is party. What I did was I made it [donating] more fun!

I would ask for a designer item that my sisters did not wear anymore; I took it off their hands and sold it. We raised money and now we can say, we built that school in Uganda.

The idea for The Hip Humanitarian happened when two things came together. I ordered Birchbox, and loved the idea of monthly subscription! Then I started reading a lot about chemicals in beauty products and began to care about what I put on my body. Those two ideas came together to become The Hip Humanitarian.

I love the box! But I have to ask, why do you care?

If I didn't who would? If enough people care, that is when real change happens. Every girl shops, and buys makeup and things for themselves. Now if you can buy those things and still do good, it’s awesome!

That’s what I love about the box! You kind of do all the hard work of finding products that “do good” for us:

The whole point of the box is to introduce people to things they already would buy, but products that actually do good. At our age [25] we don’t have a ton of money to spend and donate. I still want to get drinks with my friends and buy that pretty scarf; but with the box, I can still do those things and buy products that are socially conscious.

What has been the hardest part of starting The Hip Humanitarian?

Getting over the fear of what people think.

I was scared people were going to look at me and think I lost my mind! Giving up the fear of what people thought has helped me find my voice.

I totally hear you on that! I feel there is a misconception about caring about where your beauty products or clothes come from. I feel it is viewed as idealistic, bleeding heart, and almost dumb.

Oh yeah! Especially living in Texas! Austin is a little bit better, but especially in the south people think you are such a hippie. But if they read about the chemicals that are in their shampoo that they put on your body every day, they would think differently.

What has been an event or a moment that has been the most rewarding for you?

This sound so cliché, but I wake up every day and do what I love! And because I do what I love, I wake up every day and feel healthier, and more energized and happier and much more pleasant to be around.

Not to make you uncomfortable but I can tell you are happy because you are radiant. Beautiful to look at, and to be around. **(y’all she is!)

That’s very nice, but I think when you are super happy you are more beautiful. When you are not bogged down or stressed because you are living to please other people, it makes you more beautiful.

How has this changed the way you consume?

It started with my eating, and then my beauty routine. My mom has beautiful taste and has beautiful things like Louis Vuitton purses. Those thing are awesome, but I am moving away from buying that way. There are some many bags and shoes that are beautifully made AND good quality that are socially conscious.

It might take a long time, but I think that people are starting to care about what they put on their bodies, and where it comes from.

What is your favorite product in the box right now?

Ohh I have 2!

 1) I love One Love organics. In our January box, we have the charcoal cleansing sponge that is so fun!
The One Love Organics Sponge hanging out in my bathroom. I love it!

2) Pursoma Ocean Potion bath. You pour it in your bathtub and you think, “this is green and looks like algae. I am not getting in there!” But you get it and it is so great and detoxifying. I think it is so cool to think of your beauty routine that way. Taking care of yourself from the inside out. 

Learn more about The Hip Humanitarian
Make sure to get the February box celebrating the season of love! (Don't worry nothing dirty, so it's safe to send to Mom)