Sunday, May 29, 2016

#SustainableSunday... fair trade shopping, round 2...

fair trade fashion, fair trade shopping, ethical fashion, conscious closet, heshima kenya, ixchel triangle, manos zapotecas, Mata Traders, matter Prints, Solo Hope, Sudara, SustainableSunday, Punjammies

Ladies and gentlemen, on this absolutely lovey #SustainableSunday, I am very happy to share with you another roundup of my new favourite fair trade shops.  The last time I presented you with a shop roundup, I ended up with a few questions and I'd love to take this opportunity to answer them.

1) What is fair trade?
: Fair trade simply means that a fair price is paid for a finished good in a developing country.  As you'll see, all of the fair trade companies I'm sharing with you today are companies that have rescued women from sex trade, slavery, or seek to improve the lives of people in developing countries by paying these artists a fair wage for the work they do in making these bags, clothing, and jewelry.

2) Why are you always going on and on about fair trade?
: Well, aside from the whole, giving people a way to make a living thing, to me, fair trade is a way to connect... with the world and with other people.  I've written before that I've received compliments about the way I wear my clothes and about the way I put clothing together.  I think that it is because I like to shop fair trade (or secondhand) that I've been able to cultivate a really global wardrobe.  I like to wear things that have come from far away (that's the wanderer in me... if I can't wander, I may as well allow my clothes to wander to me), that have been touched by actual people in very real places (not machines in factories).  These things tend to become conversation pieces that allow me to engage with other humans AND spread the word that there are wonderful people in less-than-wonderful places but that we have the power to help them improve their lives.

... now... on to my round up!

: Heshima Kenya : I was overjoyed to receive an email from this Chicago-based company asking if I'd like to give one of their beautifully handmade scarves a trial run.  After learning that they are partnered with the Maisha Collective, a group of women in DR Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Brundi.  My scarf arrived with a handwritten tag, stating that it had been made in the DR Congo... this was a personal touch that I really appreciated.  I don't normally wear things that are yellow, because of my hair colour, but I am in love with the way the yellows and blues of my hand-dyed scarf blend together (and they are my school colours!).  I love this piece because it is great as a scarf, but also makes for a great lap blanket or picnic blanket!  No joke!  This thing is versatile.  I'll be wearing mine again this week and I cannot wait to share the way I've styled it!

: Ixchel Triangle : I found Ixchel Triangle on Instagram one fateful day in early April and I am SO glad that I did.  I immediately fell in love with their huipil bags, handmade in Guatemala.  Huipils are garments, traditionally worn by women in central Mexico and central America.  They are beautifully handwoven and are generally quite expensive to make.  Ixchel Triangle came up with the wonderful idea of recycling old huipils into handbags.  They also work in leather and I was thrilled to receive a handmade leather fringe backpack from them.  I love this piece because you can tell that it's been handmade, but my favourite part of it is the hand-beaded logo on the back!  I may or may not be contemplating going back to school, simply so I can carry this backpack everywhere with me!

: Manos Zapotecas :  This Oaxaca, Mexico-based company was another fabulous Instagram find.  This tiny company (run by 5 women in the US) helps to market traditionally hand-woven zapotec bags around the globe.  When my Gloria tote arrived in the mail, my jaw dropped.  This bag is a thing of beauty.  I brought it to work, I brought it to the store, I took it on spring break with me and everywhere I went, I received compliments!  It is a durable, beautiful piece of wearable art!

: Mata Traders : Another Chicago-based company (yay!), Mata Traders is the brainchild of three traveling women who fell in love with the world and the idea that fashion can give people a brighter future.  Every piece in the Mata Traders collection is handmade in India or Nepal and helps to fight gender inequality and child labor, makes a positive impact on the global economy and helps to preserve an art form (block printing).  Between the block printed skirt,  insanely comfortable floral maxi dress, epic jewelry, or the super fun dress that I haven't posted here yet, I think that everything about this shop is a win!

: Matter Prints :  Here is a company that's all about being global!  Their line of clothing is largely inspired by traditional Indian clothing, is woven or printed in India and then marketed out of Singapore!  I was lucky enough to snag myself a sideswept dhoti, a type of clothing I'd never worn before, and I was in awe of the sheer number of compliments and questions I received about them.  I kid you not, I was truly able to take myself on a mental vacation through fashion in this little number!

: Solo Hope :  Solo Hope is a wonderful fair trade shop based locally in Georgia, but with a heart in Honduras.  They have a wide range of jewelry and home goods, and were kind enough to send me their "In the Rough" necklace.  This piece speaks volumes about using what is available and making something beautiful.  It was, quite literally, handmade by a lovely woman named Glenda (who was recently widowed and has a large family to care for), out of a piece of volcanic rock picked up by boys in a small village.  If that's not an inspiring story, I don't know what is!

: Sudara : Years ago, on one of my eco-binges, I remember having come across something called "Punjammies."  In that particular phase of my life, I was on a shoestring budget and wasn't able to buy myself a pair, but the name stuck in my head and years later, as a fair trade fashion blogger, our paths crossed again.  Sudara, the home of Punjammies, feels very strongly that no person, under any circumstance, should be a victim of slavery.  The good people at Sudara offer a fair wage, education, emotional support, and child care to their artisans.  I proudly wear my Punjammies (to work... to get coffee... to yoga... to bed) and am happy to tell anyone and everyone who asks about them the Sudara story!

... so there you have it!  Another roundup of wonderful shops doing wonderful things!  Have you shopped at any of them before?  What did you think?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Flowers and bumblebees...

AMI Clubwear brown lace up sandals, Swallow's Heart earrings, SheIn floral dress, boho outfit, hippie outfit, bohemian outfit, spring outfit

I've been doing a lot of teaching and learning lately and I am seriously in need of as many mental and emotional releases as I can find.  Some days, simply driving to a new place, a fresh place, a sunny place are what it takes to push the reset button on a tired soul. 

Between the flowers, the buzzing bumblebees, and these amazing sandals, I'd say that this mini-getaway was the brain break I needed. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mental vacation...

Matter Prints sideswept dhoti, Mata Traders treasure trunk earrings, Jessica Ricci Jewelry Belgian love lace ring, Happiness Boutique necklace, travel outfit, worldly outfit, indian outfit

Ladies and gentlemen, I have invented something new.  Yes, indeed, I have!  I have finally developed a way to travel without spending any money, boarding an airplane, taking a train ride or using any other sort of transportation.  

I have invented travel by outfit.  Yes, my friends, it IS, in fact, marginally possible to transport yourself to a new and exciting land simply through your outfit.  This look is it in a nutshell.  I was sent these beautiful sideswept dhoti trousers from Matter Prints.  They were printed in Jaipur, stitched together in Delhi, and then shipped from Singapore... and just look at them!  I have never worn anything quite like them before.  I finished off the outfit with a necklace from Berlin, fair trade earrings, and a bunch of handmade beaded bracelets and let me tell you... I was feeling mighty worldly!  

... oh yes, and I borrowed this hairstyle from an episode of "Pretty Little Liars."

What do you think?  Could your outfit help you go on a mental vacation? 

Matter Prints sideswept dhoti, Mata Traders treasure trunk earrings, Jessica Ricci Jewelry Belgian love lace ring, Happiness Boutique necklace, travel outfit, worldly outfit, indian outfit

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Mad Girl's Love Song...

thredUP dress, kimono, Mountain Lust Jewelry chrysanthemum necklace, Old Navy grey jeans, Kisii brass bead bracelets, casual outfit, spring outfit

I think that once again, I've managed to capture my innermost feelings in a simple photograph.  From wanting to feel fearless to proving to myself that I (my knee) is finally getting stronger to the photograph above here today, I've been unintentionally doing it all week.

I just want to feel free.  If I could grow wings and fly away, I think that I probably would.  I don't mean to be so mopey lately, but I have been fighting some inner demons over the last several months and  with the end of the school year, and therefore the end of my job for the year, they're becoming a bit more difficult to battle than they were before.  I don't talk much about depression or mental illness here, because honestly, I'd much rather use this venue as a way to tell you about all the cool ways we can work together to save the world, but sometimes, a girl's gotta vent.  

I've been trying to figure out where all my missing pieces are, and I really thought I'd found them and was starting to put them in place and I was feeling really good about it.  However, the universe has a way of reminding me that life just isn't supposed to go according to plan and as soon as I started reconnecting and feeling happy, I encountered a new and unexpected roadblock that's set me back again.  

I suppose, rather than drone on about it, I'll share a poem that kind of sums up what's going on inside my head.  It's a rather well-known poem by one of my favorites, Sylvia Plath.  

"Mad Girl's Love Song"

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; 
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red, 
And arbitrary blackness gallops in: 
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men: 
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said, 
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead; 
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
 I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.) 

... I try to smile through it all and make wishes whenever I can... 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

In the rough...

Goldie's black and white ikat dress, Solo Hope In the Rough necklace, AMI Clubwear tall black gladiator sandals, Song Yee Designs turquoise ring, boho outfit, bohemian outfit, festival outfit, hippie outfit

One of the things that has really been helping me to move through these uncertain times is a good, inspiring story.  I recently had the pleasure of connecting with Ashley from Solo Hope (another of my favourite fair trade companies that works with people who live in extreme poverty), who was kind enough to send me their lovely "In the Rough" necklace.  So where does the inspirational story come in?  It's all in the necklace!  

This piece was made from volcanic rock (obsidian) pieces collected by young boys in a small Honduran community.  One of the directors at Solo Hope thought it would be cool to pick up a local resource, so she bought a big bag of these rocks and passed them along to a lady named Glenda to turn into magic.  Glenda was recently widowed and has 3 children to raise all on her own.  She has taken a rough situation and a rough rock and turned it into something beautiful!  

It is an absolute honour to wear this necklace.  When I do... especially while my life seems a bit up in the air, I am reminded that even rough, unpolished things can be turned into works of art.  

If that isn't inspiring, I don't know what is! 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Here I go...

Goldies vegan suede bell bottoms, Mountain Lust Jewelry floral rose necklace, Mountain Lust Jewelry floral ring, AMI Clubwear lace tank top, hippie outfit, boho outfit, festival outfit

For real, I feel like Stephen Tyler and I could be best buddies if I met him while wearing this outfit! 

But really, I feel like this photo is so indicative of what I want to be doing in real life right now: walking away from fear and uncertainty.  

I've written a lot lately about all of the changes that are happening in my life.  I almost can't keep track of them all, there are so many.  I have no clue where the immediate future is going to take me. and that, in addition to re-adjusting to life in America has really made the present difficult.  I miss living overseas and I miss military lifestyle and could easily go back to living the military way in a few weeks.  Or, I could pull myself together and finish that last application for a teaching job in Mumbai... and Abu Dhabi... and wherever else I can come up with that is new and could put me in touch with a new culture... I could also stay exactly where I am and keep doing what I'm doing. 

I think that the issue is that everything sounds appealing and at the same time, doesn't sound appealing at all. 

It looks like the path before me is unpaved... it's overhung by branches and there are certainly obstacles in the way, but here I go... 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A lesson on trespassing...

Old Navy plaid boyfriend shirt, Deb chambray tank, Swallow's Heart hematite cattle skull necklace, Kisii Ethiopian prayer bead bracelets, cowboy boots, flare jeans, western look, denim look, denim outfit, casual outfit

Sooooo.... train tracks... super cool for taking pictures, but gosh dang can they be scary! 

Here's the story: 

It was Denim Day at school, so naturally, I attempted to wear as much of it as I could.  I was actually pretty impressed by the way my chambray shirt styled with these jeans and since I had a new cattle skull necklace from Swallow's Heart and a pair of cowgirl boots, I figured I'd just go with the whole Western look. 

Of course, this then inspired me to be a bit of an outlaw and find a rustic photo location.  Cue railroad tracks! 

These tracks don't get used often, which is why if I am ever going to take photos on/near tracks, this is the line I choose.  To get to this spot, I had to wander down a paved path, duck off the path through the woods, jump a rusty wire fence and climb up the rocks to get onto the tracks.  I took these snaps as quickly as possible, since I know that the train does not sound it's horn at the nearest crossing and, obviously, I wanted to stay alive.  As I was wrapping up, I did hear a train whistle in the distance and boy did I take off running!  

I got all sorts of scratched up on branches because I was absolutely CERTAIN that a train must be coming on these rarely-used tracks the ONE time I actually dared to climb up onto them.  As I made it back to my car, I could hear what sounded like a train on the tracks, but could have just been the hum of traffic.  But then I freaked out.  There was a helicopter hovering overhead and I passed a few cop cars on my way out of the parking lot.  I texted a friend in law enforcement who joyfully told me that the police were probably after me for trespassing and that I should prepare myself to be handcuffed and carted off to the slammer.  

Of course, I believed him, and spent the next hour with my heart in my throat just waiting for the paddy wagon to arrive for me.  

Yeah... he was kidding... but really... don't go on train tracks.  It's not so legal. 

How's that for being a good old fashioned Western outlaw?