collaboration

Simply Wood Birth Flower Ring: For Mothers & Mother Earth + Giveaway

Simply Wood Rings Birth Flower Mother's Day Ring and Giveaway Simply Wood Rings Birth Flower Mother's Day Ring and Giveaway
This post was sponsored by Simply Wood Rings and I received an item for review. Scroll all the way down to enter the giveaway.

To kick off Earth Month's eco-friendly brand features, I want to orient the discussion around our planet in the broadest sense. 


I'm interested in coming to understand the way we've anthropomorphized and even worshiped the earth through the character of Mother. An earth goddess exists in several of the world's ancient religions, including those of the Inca, Algonquian, Mesopotamians, Indo-Europeans, and Egyptians. And in ancient Rome, Gaia stands in as the ancestral mother of all life. As one character in a larger, polytheistic narrative, these earth goddesses interacted with others gods, as well as humans, on a regular basis in tangible, everyday ways.

You don't have to adopt particular religious beliefs to see the value in the symbolic figure of Mother Earth. Framing the earth as a mother strips back the dominating, industrial narrative of the last few hundred years and forces us to imagine what an interpersonal relationship would look like with this humming, diverse planet. Mother is a role of origination and sustaining, of protection and discipline. As a child, I saw my mother through a lens of respect, gratitude, wonder, and deep love. If we could consciously see the earth and its ecosystems through this framework, I think much could be accomplished for sustainability.

Simply Wood Rings brings this ethos of respect and wonder to its sustainable, eco-friendly wood rings.

Simply Wood Rings Birth Flower Mother's Day Ring and GiveawaySimply Wood Rings Birth Flower Mother's Day Ring and Giveaway

Simply Wood Rings is a Chicago-based ethical business that produces one-of-a-kind, custom made rings for any occasion.


Their business model is community based in that all raw materials are sourced through an organic network of friends, clients, and small businesses. Wood is gathered from local cabinet makers, donated from clients' home projects, salvaged from fallen branches in local woods, and even saved from an old xylophone and marimba factory. Flowers for inlays are taken from friends' and families' gardens, or purchased from small scale etsy sellers. And gemstones are purchased from vendors and co-ops that prioritize US-based, sustainable industry, including turquoise scraps from Alltribes artisans.

Being able to wrap a beautifully polished piece of tree around my finger makes me feel rooted. It's a reminder that the most meaningful things in life are simple: a laugh between longtime friends, birdsong, sharing a meal, walking through the woods, watching a child play pretend.

I'm wearing Simply Wood Rings' new Birth Flower Ring in these photos, customized to represent meaningful dates in my life. Coming full circle, the Simply Wood team made this ring with mothers in mind, with the intention of having the mother select wood that represents her birth month and floral inlays to match the birth months of her children. Since I don't have children (and my mother was unlikely to wear a ring), I selected the components of my ring to represent Daniel's and my relationship.

The base wood is cherry (July) to represent Daniel's and my wedding month, as well as strong expression and compassion. There are two floral inlays: Aster (September) for my birth month and magic, mystery, love, and daintiness, and Gladiolus (August) for Daniel's birth month and moral integrity, infatuation, and fortitude.

Simply Wood Rings Birth Flower Mother's Day Ring and Giveaway
Wearing an Everlane tee, c/o Emma Suzanne Scarf, and c/o Simply Wood Rings Birth Flower Ring

The Birth Flower Ring makes a definite statement without feeling clunky; in fact, it feels quite feminine in a modern way. I plan on making it one of my everyday rings in addition to my wedding and engagement rings. For me, it symbolizes the continuing, everyday relationship Daniel and I share. It's so much more than that single wedding day, so much more vibrant, deep, and all-encompassing.

As we look toward year 8 of marriage this summer, it feels right to honor our marriage with a stunning piece of jewelry, just as much a keepsake as the rings we exchanged on our wedding day. (This piece, all in, totaled about $310, but costs vary by complexity of design and materials used, so if you're interested you can fill out a commission form here.)

This year, Simply Wood Rings is celebrating Earth Month in a special way:

From April 1st to the 22nd we are donating 10% of all purchases made to an environmental charity of your choice. We have four options to choose from this time around: the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and Earthjustice. 

I can highly recommend Simply Wood Rings for their quality, beauty, sustainable ethos, and professionalism. My ring came packed in biodegradable cardboard and tissue paper, and was cushioned in a little wood tray. Whether you're looking for a Mother's Day gift, a wedding ring, or commemorating another event in your life, Simply Wood Rings will work with you to make a ring that suits you distinctly, and with the sense that there was equal nurturing given to you and Mother Earth.

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GIVEAWAY

ENTER TO WIN 1 Customizable Birthflower Ring from Simply Wood Rings 
here and on Instagram (@stylewiseblog).

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Must be 18 years old or older to enter. Open to US readers only. Winner will be able to customize 1 Mother's Birthflower Ring to their heart's content - no price or customization cap. Giveaway ends midnight EST 4/18/17.

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Shop Mothers' Rings here.


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Emma Suzanne's Silk Scarves Bring Ethical Luxury to Any Outfit + $100 Giveaway

Emma Suzanne Khmer Golden Silk Ethical Scarves
This post was produced in collaboration with Emma Suzanne and I was provided products for review.

Refined Luxury | A Better World


I know silk scarves. The thrift shop I manage is currently inundated with dozens of lovely silk scarves in every floral and stripe. But I've never felt a scarf as luxurious as Emma Suzanne.

I know that sounds like an overstatement, and I'm not claiming to know the luxury market all that well, but for the price point and ethical standpoint, Emma Suzanne scarves are a cut above the rest.

Emma Suzanne Khmer Golden Silk Ethical ScarvesEmma Suzanne Khmer Golden Silk Ethical Scarves

The Emma Suzanne scarf line is woven on handlooms in Cambodia using local silk and natural dyes, with an aim to incorporate organic cotton into the line in the near future. The handlooming process means Emma Suzanne's scarves are nearly zero waste, and since silk is a natural material, the products are also biodegradable.

Artisans work in their homes on their own time, and receive fair wages based on hours worked and adjusted based on local incomes to ensure that the broader infrastructure is left intact. In the brand's words:
Emma Suzanne is a value-based business: we value beauty, we value ethical and sustainable fashion and we value happy and sustainable village lifestyles. Being handmade, no items are ever exactly the same. By purchasing our products, you own a unique creation.
Cambodia has been known for its Khmer Golden Silk for hundreds of years. It is a delicate, slow-developing product that was nearly wiped out due to wars that decimated the silk worms' ecosystem of mulberry trees in the 1960s and 70s. Co-ops and family-owned silk farms are working to cultivate and preserve this heritage product so that it can be enjoyed for generations to come. Emma Suzanne uses this specialty silk in some of their scarves, including the lovely River Runs Scarf in Burnt Amber I'm wearing here.

Emma Suzanne Khmer Golden Silk Ethical ScarvesEmma Suzanne Khmer Golden Silk Ethical Scarves

As soon as I took the River Runs organza scarf outside, it began to dance in the light breeze, much to my delight. It's smooth and lightweight, but surprisingly warm, and the peach and amber hues are the accent colors I'm drawn to right now. They go with my hair and offset all the blue in my closet. The most surprising thing about the scarf, though, is that it's only about $50 USD. A splurge, yes, but at this price point you could justify getting it for a loved one as a gift (or with your Christmas money!) without reservations.

Emma Suzanne Khmer Golden Silk Ethical ScarvesEmma Suzanne Khmer Golden Silk Ethical Scarves

Emma also sent me the Luxe Khmer Silk Scarf in Indigo so I would have a chance to sample a range of styles. I love the deep blue of indigo - I was on an indigo dyeing kick a couple months ago and was tempted to dye everything in my closet with it - and the raw silk is a bit more substantial than the organza, so it creates a different aesthetic and is probably a bit better to use as a barrier from the cold in winter months. The particular tie dye on this scarf reminds me of fossilized seashells, a nod to my Floridian upbringing collecting shells on the beach and looking for fossils in the woods.

This scarf is a bit pricier, at about $67.00 USD (I'm converting from AUD), but the quality means it could be passed down as a family keepsake. As I've gotten older, I've begun to think about those sorts of things. I want whatever offspring I have to be able to inherit a few key pieces to remember me by. Maybe these scarves could be it.

In a world of fast, cheap, throwaway goods, people don't pass things down as often, and I think it's a great loss.


Emma Suzanne Khmer Golden Silk Ethical Scarves Ethical Details: Dress and Sweater - Everlane; Leggings and Boots - thrifted; Scarves - c/o Emma Suzanne

Emma Suzanne Khmer Golden Silk Ethical Scarves

Undertaking the Dressember challenge and finding ways to incorporate review products into the limited wardrobe I currently have has been a surprisingly fun and fruitful experience. I wouldn't have considered wearing a sweater under a dress, but the encroaching winter has made it necessary to layer up. This bright pink sweater accents both scarves well. If you donate $10 today, I'll write you a custom haiku!

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GIVEAWAY!


Enter to win a $100 AUD ($74 USD) Gift Certificate to Emma Suzanne!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to international readers. Ends Friday, 12/23 at 11:59 pm EST.

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Shop Emma Suzanne.

For a limited time, free shipping on all orders + Buy 2, Get 1 free when you sign up for the newsletter!

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Ethical Giveaway: Dunitz & Company Leather Spiral Lariat Necklace

Ethical Giveaway: Dunitz and Company Leather Spiral Lariat Necklace

GIVEAWAY

The Fair Trade Leather Spiral Lariat Necklace, made in Guatemala by Dunitz & Company. 
Details: Czech & Japanese glass beads and crystals, leather cord. $60.00 value.

See yesterday's post to learn more about Dunitz & Company and read my review! 

Fair Trade Jewelry Holiday Giveaway - Free, Coupon code

a Rafflecopter giveaway

// Additional entry on Instagram! //

The Fine Print: Open to international readers. Your information will only be shared with Dunitz & Company for entry confirmation purposes. Ends Wednesday, December 14th at 11:59 pm EST.


Ethical Giveaway: Dunitz and Company Leather Spiral Lariat Necklace

Lariats are the New Chokers: Dunitz & Company Jewelry Review

This post was produced in partnership with Dunitz & Company. Dunitz & Company fair trade Lariat Necklace reviewDunitz & Company fair trade Lariat Necklace review
Ethical Details: Dress - vintage; Jacket - Thredup; Leggings - old; Shoes - Frye; Leather Spiral Lariat Necklace - c/o Dunitz & Company

A choker that doesn't choke...


I really like that chokers are back in style, except for one thing: they make me feel like I'm choking. But I figured out a way to get the cool Victorian-era meets the '90s look I'm going for without fear of death. Wear a lariat necklace!

Lariat necklaces allow you to customize the tie, so you can wear them like a long string of pearls or as a choker, and the style means that you get two pretty pendants affixed to the ends of the strand for a unique, asymmetrical look. There are plenty of chokers and lariats offered on the conventional and fine jewelry markets, but I wanted something that was more of an everyday, wear-anywhere piece, and obviously it needed to be ethically sourced. Nancy at Dunitz & Company offered the Leather Spiral Lariat for review and it's turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.

  Dunitz & Company fair trade Lariat Necklace review

The Leather Spiral Lariat is made of delicate glass beads and lightweight leather, so it's not burdensome to wear all day. I can't overstate the quality of materials; you can tell by the way it feels that it's high quality. It feels feminine without being saccharine and, when worn like a choker, it transforms into something a little more hardcore. It's a great accompaniment to this vintage '90s dress and my secondhand denim jacket.

Dunitz & Company fair trade Lariat Necklace review

About Dunitz & Company


Nancy Dunitz founded Dunitz & Company in the late '80s as a response to a need. While visiting Guatemala, she met many talented artisans who had limited access to a viable marketplace for their goods due to political unrest...
During the early stages of Dunitz & Company, Nancy met two artists who introduced beading techniques to a few Mayan women. She began collaborating with these creative women, and soon a viable and sustaining business was born. “We were on the ground floor,” comments Nancy. “Beading was a new medium in Guatemala and by creating fashion-forward designs, I knew I could also create demand.”
Now, Dunitz & Company provides employment for over 100 women and men, providing fair wages and donating a portion of proceeds to community initiatives that assist with educational development and access to health resources. Dunitz and Company is a member of the Fair Trade Federation, which ensures that ethical standards are met throughout the supply chain, and a Gold Business Certified member of Green America, as well as a founding member of Fair Trade Los Angeles.

Dunitz & Company fair trade Lariat Necklace review

I've partnered with Dunitz & Company to give away this Lariat Necklace! 


Enter the Giveaway on Instagram and on the blog!!

Holiday Recipe: Rooibos Chai Shortbread Cookies

Organic rooibos chai shortbread cookies recipe Organic rooibos chai shortbread cookies recipe
This post was written in collaboration with NUMI Organic Tea.

My husband is the baker in our family. He's the first one who tried adding spices and tea to shortbread. and his sweet, spiced cookies have always been a hit at holiday parties and weeknight get-togethers alike. I've eaten Earl Grey and Chai Shortbread before, but it seemed to me that Rooibos would make an even better addition to this simple, seasonal cookie due to its naturally sweet flavor and vanilla notes. The addition of chai spices makes it the perfect holiday dessert, enjoyed after dinner with coffee or tea.

This recipe is also fairly fool proof, with a simple ingredient list and no special prep. I hope you enjoy it!

Rooibos Chai Shortbread...

Organic rooibos chai shortbread cookies recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. Softened, Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 c. Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. Flour
  • 4 Roobois Chai Tea bags, opened, emptied, and lightly food processed (I used NUMI brand)

Organic rooibos chai shortbread cookies recipe
Organic rooibos chai shortbread cookies recipe

To Make: 

  1. Set oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream sugar and softened (but not melting) butter together in a bowl until fully combined.
  3. Place 4 teabags worth of tea in food processor and pulse until fine (see above photo for example).
  4. Add tea, vanilla extract, and flour. Knead dough in bowl with hands until ingredients combine.
  5. Form dough into log about 2" in diameter and wrap in wax paper. Cool in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Slice log into 1/2" pieces. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.
Recipe yields 25-30 small cookies depending on how you cut them.


Organic rooibos chai shortbread cookies recipe

Shortbread cookies are great for gift-giving because their low humidity helps them keep for longer. I'll be making a bundle to give to my coworkers this Holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

The Moral Wardrobe: Menswear-Inspired with Ethos Collection's Versatile LBD

Ethos Collection Little Black Dress, fair trade and sustainable
This post was sponsored by Ethos Collection and I received product for review. All opinions are my own.

A few months ago, I received an email from a reader who had recently discovered that we lived in the same town. She asked if we could meet up just to chat about shared interests, including community organizing, progressive Christianity, and, of course, ethical fashion. She mentioned in passing that her cousin was starting an ethical boutique and - long story short - here we are today. I've enjoyed being able to give some initial feedback on the brand over the last few months and I'm happy to be able to feature Ethos Collection today.

Sara, founder of Ethos Collection, is determined to get it right when it comes to curating ethical brands. And in a market that's increasingly crowded with a whole bunch of stuff - some good, some bad, some ugly - claiming to be "ethical," I find the clean layout and aesthetic extremely refreshing, especially as I continue to work on decluttering my house, my office, and my stylistic point of view this season. Ethos Collection is also the only domestic boutique that carries People Tree, which means Americans now (finally) have access to VAT free, hassle free fair trade goods from the hugely influential brand.

Ethos Collection Little Black Dress, fair trade and sustainable
I'm particularly interested in adding pieces to my wardrobe that are truly versatile, not just in terms of the setting I can appropriately wear them in, but in terms of styling. The Luxe Tank Dress from Indigenous felt like the perfect base for lots of outfits, dressed up with tights, worn by itself when the weather's warm, layered over various t-shirts and blouses like a pinafore, and, as shown here, worn over jeans as a tunic.

I went for a menswear-inspired look here by wearing the dress over denim with a pair of oxfords. I've admired the menswear look for a long time, but I shied away from it when my hair was short because I didn't want to look too masculine, as ridiculous as that may sound. I'm enjoying experimenting with it now that I have a bit more confidence that I can balance the feminine and masculine elements. I paired the dress with a thrifted top that I dip-dyed with indigo.

Frye Tracy Oxfords in GrayEthos Collection Little Black Dress, fair trade and sustainable
Ethical Details: Luxe Tank Dress (worn as tunic) - c/o Ethos Collection; Turtleneck - thrifted and indigo dip-dyed; Jeans - old, redyed with indigo; Shoes - Frye

The Luxe Tank Dress is made of silky soft, low-impact dyed organic cotton and produced under fair trade conditions in Peru. The fabric is medium weight, which means it holds its shape and provides a more flattering fit than thinner cotton, and the wide v-neck provides the right look for layering without being too low cut to be worn alone.

Since I'm participating in Dressember this year, I'll be road testing the Luxe Tank Dress more in December and highlighting my outfits on Instagram as often as possible. I'll let you know how it holds up!

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Shop Ethos Collection here. 


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The Moral Wardrobe: MORE Clothing's Avalon Tank, Styled Two Ways

Thanks to MORE Clothing for sponsoring this post and providing an item for review. All opinions are my own. 

Jeremiah of MORE Clothing reached out way back in July to tell me about his new-ish ethical clothing store, but it got lost in my inbox until I found it while searching for a different email. And I'm glad I did, because I'm really excited about their curated collection for men and women who love casual, classic clothing that won't go out of style 6 months down the road.

MORE carries several brands I've heard of - like Krochet Kids and Mata Traders - and some that are completely new to me. The Avalon Tank I'm wearing here is by a company called United by Blue, which specializes in ethically sourced, casual, outdoorsy wear in eco-friendly fibers. This tank is 100% tencel, made from eucalyptus fibers. Plus, with every item sold, United by Blue pledges to remove a pound of trash from waterways.

I loooove this rust color. I think having henna-red hair has helped me experiment with warmer tones in my wardrobe.


Ethical Details: Avalon Tank - c/o MORE Clothing; Denim - secondhand via Poshmark; Shoes - Oliberte via ebay

I'm trying to show more versatility on the blog this season by photographing items I own in several ways. The Avalon Tank is a great place to start.

When the long hem is half-tucked into jeans, it makes for a casual, comfortable silhouette. I paired it with Oliberte boots in this first look. I would wear this to work with a cardigan or maybe on a hike at a local park. The weather is just now getting into the 60s during the day, so tank tops are still a good option when the sun's shining.


Additional Details: Blazer and Boots - thrifted

This is my business casual look, aka #girlboss, aka #womanbossbecauseimagrownwomandamnit, aka #justabosswhyisbeingabossgendered.

It'd be perfect for attending a talk at UVa or leading a conference session where comfort is still a priority (and comfort is always a priority). I like the dramatic length difference between the cropped blazer and long hem tank.

MORE Clothing is working to partner with International Justice Mission, an organization committed to ending sex and labor trafficking. I'll be talking a lot more about trafficking in December since I'm joining a Dressember team this year, but I'm glad that people are getting the word out about the realities of forced labor and modern day slavery.

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Get 30% off your purchase at MORE Clothing with code, STYLEWISE.


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DIY: Transitioning Your Summer Wardobe Into Fall with Tea Dye

DIY ombre tea dye tutorial
Thanks to Numi Organic Tea for sponsoring this post.

I don't buy the old style rule about not wearing white after Labor Day, but I do like to bring warm fall tones into my wardrobe as the weather cools down. I had a white off-the-shoulder top that wasn't getting much use in my summer rotation, so I decided it would be the perfect test subject for a DIY ombre dye experiment.

Traditional textile dyes can be hazardous to your health and irritate sensitive skin, so I started hunting around for examples of natural dye alternatives, and ultimately decided to brew up my own concoction using a blend of Rooibos, Black, and Turmeric teas. The blend of Rooibos and Turmeric proved to be a winning combination, bringing in tones of blush and mustard, both big hits for fall, while the black tea provided a base tone to ensure proper color saturation. Read on to make your own ombre top...

dye your clothes with tea

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

  • Stock Pot
  • Tap Water
  • 15 Black Tea Bags, 15 Numi Rooibos Tea Bags, 4 Numi Turmeric Tea Bags, with all tags removed
  • White or Cream Natural Fabric Textiles (I used a white cotton top)
  • White Vinegar
  • Hanger
  • Stove Top
  • Timer
  • Test fabric (optional, but useful if you want to be sure that the end result won't surprise you)

how to dye with tea, featuring Numi Organic Rooibos and Turmericombre dyed t-shirt

THE PROCESS:

  1. Fill a stock pot halfway with regular tap water. Place on stovetop and heat until boiling.
  2. Take all the hang tags off of 15 Rooibos tea bags, 15 black tea bags, and 4 Turmeric tea bags.
  3. Once water is boiling, add tea bags to the pot. Simmer and steep for 10-15 minutes. 
  4. While tea is steeping, visualize your garment in 3 sections. You will need to keep these sections in mind as you dip dye to achieve a noticeable ombre effect.
  5. Run your garment under cool tap water, then wring out the excess moisture before placing in dye bath.
  6. Turn off heat. Do not remove tea bags. 
  7. Clip the shoulders of your damp garment to a hanger for easier maneuvering, then submerge garment to highest point you want dyed (I left a small portion near the top of my garment white). Immediately remove the top third of the garment for a light wash of color. This will be the lightest section.
  8. Make sure the rest of your garment is aligned as straight as possible with surface of the dye bath to get an even ombre effect. Set your timer for 15 minutes and let the bottom 2/3 steep.
  9. After 15 minutes, remove the middle third of your garment from the dye bath. Make sure the bottom third is still completely submerged, then let steep for an hour or more. At this point, I took my stock pot off of the now cool burner and placed it outside in direct sun to keep the dye bath warm. 
  10. After one hour, remove your garment and see if desired effect has been achieved. If not, continue steeping. 
  11. Once you are ready, remove your garment, rinse lightly under cool, running water, then place in a clean pot comprised of 1/2 cool water and 1/2 white vinegar. This will help seal the dye. 
  12. Rinse through once more, then let your garment dry.
  13. Wash sparingly to maintain dye saturation.

THE RESULT:

DIY ombre tea dyed off the shoulder top
Before and After
DIY ombre tea dyed off the shoulder top DIY ombre tea dyed off the shoulder top

As you can see, the rinsed and dried garment will be considerably lighter in color than it appeared while still saturated in tea. Keep that in mind and steep longer if you want a darker effect. I love this pretty yellow and blush-tan ombre and I think it suits my complexion better than the original top.

Have you dyed with tea or other natural dyes? I'm trying out indigo next!

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See my other collaborations with Numi here.


What's In My Bag? feat. FashionABLE's Tigist Crossbody

FashionABLE product review

This post contains a few affiliate links

What's in my bag?


FashionABLE gave me this beautiful raw leather Tigist crossbody to review and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to do one of those time-tested "What's in my bag" posts. 

On a typical day, I carry my keys, a tin of altoids (peppermint is great for bad breath, but it's also useful for relieving stomach aches), a little zip pouch with spare change and tinted lip balm (mine is from Purse & Clutch), my iPhone 5C (I purchased it used from Newegg), and a card pouch containing way too many used-up gift cards and loyalty cards (I got it from a local store a couple years ago, but it's not fair trade).

FashionABLE Tigist Leather Crossbody in PewterEthical outfit with Sseko Designs and FashionABLEFashionABLE Tigist Crossbody review Ethical Details: Top - thrifted; Sandals - Sseko Designs; Tigist Crossbody Bag in Pewter - c/o FashionABLE

I'm really satisfied with the quality of the Tigist Crossbody. The leather is cut thick for durability (reminds me of Coach's 1980s-90s saddlebag line), there are ample pockets and a snap closure, and the color is quite versatile. If I could change one thing, I would make the strap adjustable. I have a feeling this strap was measured for someone with a larger bust (I mean, and props to that woman) or maybe someone a bit taller, but it falls a little low on my hip.

FashionABLE's bags are made under fair trade guidelines in Ethiopia. The leather is sourced from the small scale meat industry there. A note on leather: while I believe for ethical and environmental reasons that it behooves us (pun intended) to reduce our meat consumption, I don't have a problem with using leather products that are a byproduct of small, sustainable meat industries. This interview helped solidify my thinking on that point. The Tigist Crossbody retails for $138.00, right in that stretch zone that is worth it if you follow the #30wears guidelines. I hope to get at least a decade of use out of this - it feels like it will last that long - so it should even out.

On an unrelated note, I feel like I FINALLY know what my personal style is and what suits me. It's completely liberating. I thought I would be tempted by all of the Labor Day sales I posted, but I was able to narrow it down to just a few things that I know I'll wear and love.

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Recipe: Fair Trade, Organic Thai-Inspired Spiced Milk Tea

Special thanks to Numi Organic Tea for sponsoring this post

If you've ever been to a Thai restaurant (or better yet, Thailand) you've likely seen ombre Thai Tea served in a jar or a tall glass. My local Thai restaurant makes a great version of this with just the right amount of sugar and spice.

If you haven't had Thai Tea before, the flavor profile is reminiscent of iced chai or bubble tea depending on the spices used and the amount of sugar added. It's the perfect mid afternoon pick-me-up on a hot day because it's refreshing, energizing, and filling.

Traditional Thai Tea combines Thai Tea leaves with sugar and a spice blend of cardamom, cloves, and star anise. I wanted to put my own spin on it, so I opted for one of Numi Organic's spiced teas mixed with organic sugar, cloves, and half & half. Though the color and viscosity of my tea is different from traditional Thai Tea, the flavor and refreshment factor are right on par, perfect for a lazy afternoon spent reading in the shade of a porch.


Thai-Inspired Spiced Milk Tea for Two


WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

TO MAKE:
  1. Add 2 cups of water, 2 tbsp. sugar, and a few shakes of ground cloves to a small pot. 
  2. Heat on medium high heat. Gently stir until all sugar is dissolved. 
  3. Once water is boiling, take the paper tags off of 4 spiced tea bags and submerse in pot. 
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes. 
  5. Take pot off heat and let tea continue to steep until the water is room temperature.
  6. Pour room temperature tea and tea bags into a glass or plastic container and let cool in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or overnight. 
  7. After steeping, remove your tea bags, pour tea in two glasses, and add cold half & half to taste. You may add ice if you wish. 
  8. Drink immediately or place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


I've tried to make my own spiced tea at home before with less-than-stellar results. But this recipe is my new go-to when I'm craving a sweet spiced drink. It's easy enough to make on an easy Saturday morning in between other chores and tasks, and it stores well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Let me know if you make it and how it turns out.

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See my previous collaborations with Numi here. 


Follow along with Numi on social media: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway: OESH Artemis 3-D Printed Sandals (Closed)

OESH Artemis sandals giveaway

If you missed yesterday's brand profile on OESH shoes, make sure to check it out. OESH is a Charlottesville, Virginia based, 3-D printed, woman owned, podiatrist approved, all-around innovative company that specializes in active footwear for women.

What I forgot to mention yesterday is that the 3-D print process allows them to build a honeycomb design into the sole that disburses pressure evenly on the foot and helps prevent injury. My ankles typically roll inward when I walk and somehow the design of these soles helps prevent that.

OESH just came out with the Artemis, a new version of their sandal that wraps around the toe, and they're giving away one pair in the color and size of your choice! Simply follow the prompts in the widget below.

  OESH Artemis sandals giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For an additional entry, find the Giveaway announcement on my Instagram profile!

Contest runs through August 10 at 12:00 am EST. Must be 18 years old or older to enter. Contest is open to international readers. Winner will be selected randomly 1-3 business days after giveaway ends and notified via email. 


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Shop OESH here. Read my review here.


Follow OESH on social media: Instagram // Twitter // Facebook

The Moral Wardrobe: Wear Anywhere OESH Shoes, 3-D Printed in Charlottesville



A few weeks ago, I was checking the StyleWise inbox when a familiar name caught my attention. I opened the email to discover that my friend, Maggie, writer of this piece on badass grandmas, had recently started working for a local shoe company called OESH, and that they were interested in doing a collaboration (they provided these sandals for review).

This would have been exciting regardless, but it gets better. Not only does OESH produce the bulk of their shoes less than ten minutes from my house (in a town not known for manufacturing), they 3-D print the soles! They recently won a National Science Foundation grant to perfect their custom printers, which use biodegradable pellets instead of the traditional cording, making the process more efficient and less prone to error. OESH is also a woman owned, woman operated company where employees like Maggie actually fabricate the 3-D printers, design the shoes, and program the printers on site. Basically, it's the coolest!



Maggie and owner, Casey (that's Dr. Kerrigan to you - she was a tenured professor before quitting to start OESH), gave me a tour of the operation one muggy Saturday afternoon, showing me the ins and outs of printer maintenance and design and letting me know why OESH products are superior to traditional footwear, namely because the shape and internal structure of all OESH shoes were designed with 20+ years of studies on gait (the way people walk) in mind.

OESH makes injection-molded sneakers, too, and they're careful to avoid the super toxic glues used in traditional footwear. They're working on developing the right 3-D printed design for flats that won't require glue at all. Almost all base materials are sourced in the US, as well, with many of the sandal strap varieties made in neighboring Waynesboro. The exception is the sneaker tops - they source those from China - because high performance athletic textiles just aren't available in the US.

Ethical Details: Dress - thrifted; Bracelet - c/o Candorra Artisans; Athena Sandals in Snapdragon - c/o OESH

I'm wearing the Athena Sandals in vibrant Snapdragon yellow, but this style comes in lots of other colors. The Athena sandal retails for $135.00. See another way I wore them here

I wore these every day for 7 days when I was out of town a couple weeks ago and my feet have never been happier. I'm serious. It's tempting to wear them every day with everything. And somehow they work with everything, even boho maxi dresses.

OESH just released a new sandal style, the Artemis, and StyleWise readers will have a chance to win a pair in the color of your choice! Stay tuned for tomorrow's giveaway post here and on Instagram!

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Shop OESH here.


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The Henna Experiment: Dyeing My Hair with Henna + NUMI Organic Rooibos Tea

dye your hair with henna and rooibos tea Numi collaboration
Special thanks to Numi Organic Tea for sponsoring this post. All opinions (and results) are my own.

The last time I dyed my hair with henna, I was intrigued by the instruction booklet's suggestion to use hot tea instead of water to alter the final color: black tea to reduce the red undertone, red tea to enhance it. I stuck with regular hot water that time around, but I made sure to stock up on tea for the next time. And that time is now!

As I discussed in my last post on the subject, henna has been used as a natural, organic hair dye for centuries. It's known for it's thickening and conditioning properties and, of course, its distinctive red tone. Since I've been hankering for a new hair style (you may have noticed I'm growing it out), it was the perfect time to make a statement, so I decided to add red (or Rooibos) tea to my henna powder for vibrant red hair.

I chose to use Numi Organic Tea because of their commitment to fair trade practices, sustainable infrastructure, and quality. They kindly sent me a range of teas to select from for my little experiment and I decided to stick with their traditional Rooibos. Numi tea is really delicious - unlike many grocery store brands, they use full leaf tea in their bags for a richer flavor - so I made sure to use every last drop of it by drinking what I had leftover from the dye process while I let my hair steep. It's not every day that you can say you drank your hair dye or dyed your hair with a beverage. The efficiency freak in me feels quite satisfied, so I'm coining a new term for this process: tea-fficiency.

dye your hair with henna and rooibos tea Numi collaborationdye your hair with henna and rooibos tea Numi collaboration

The dyeing process is actually quite simple. Don't let the plethora of preparation materials intimidate you.

You'll need: 


Two tea bags, a plastic spoon, a glass or plastic mixing bowl, henna powder (I purchase mine from Whole Foods), gloves (definitely use them - I didn't and now my hands are orange!), a plastic bag or shower cap, and a towel.

Make sure you're wearing clothes you don't mind dyeing and avoid metal utensils and bowls, as henna reacts with metal.

For bright red hair...


  1. Make sure your hair is clean. It may be damp or dry.
  2. Pour boiling water over two Numi Organic Rooibos tea bags and let steep for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add a few tablespoons of henna powder to a glass or plastic bowl. You can always add more if you run out during application.
  4. Add tea until mixture takes on the consistency of yogurt.
  5. Put on gloves and apply mixture with your hands, making sure to cover each strand from root to end. Make sure to cover counter tops and surfaces, as henna can and will dye ceramic tile and other materials. 
  6. After a thick coat has been applied to your hair, wrap a plastic bag or shower cap around your head, then wrap a towel over that. 
  7. Wipe off your ears, wrists, forehead, and neck to keep henna from dyeing unwanted areas. 
  8. Brew yourself some extra tea to sip as you sit in a warm place (I sat in my back yard) for at least an hour. 
  9. Wash your hair thoroughly, first with warm water, then with 1-2 rounds of shampoo. Finish with conditioner, then rinse with cool water.

Remember:


Henna is heat reactive, so it's important to apply the henna while the tea is still warm, adequately cover your head to close in heat, and find a warm place to let it do its work.


The Result:


  red tea and henna hair dye with Numi
Before and After

red tea and henna hair dye with NumiNumi Tea DIY henna

The interesting thing about henna is that it will actually get brighter in the hours after you finish dyeing your hair as it continues to react to heat. You can expect your henna to last 4-8 weeks depending on how frequently you wash your hair. The color will fade back into your regular hair color over time.

I LOVE the result of my Henna + Numi Rooibos Tea experiment, and judging by the incessant compliments I've been getting, so does everyone else. The red is quite assertive without looking alien. Keep in mind that your results may vary depending on your base color, but the tea should deepen your red tones all the same.

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For more creative uses for tea, check out the Numi Tea Garden Blog. 


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Giveaway: $100 Abrazo Style Gift Card

abrazo style mexican embroidered dress giveaway

As I mentioned in yesterday's review, Abrazo Style makes ethical, handmade pieces inspired and created by Mexican artisans. The Lilia Dress I own shows care and craftsmanship, from its subtle, asymmetrical hemline to the way it skims over my hips. And the embroidery, of course, is really well done.

In light of the fact that this style of garment is increasingly popular, it's especially important to know that the artisans received a living wage and work in an environment where they receive respect. You may be able to find similar pieces in markets throughout the southern United States and in Mexico, but there's a high likelihood that the people who made them were not compensated fairly. Abrazo Style ensures this, and their custom designs intended to flatter and fit makes them stand out.

I'm excited to announce that Abrazo Style is giving away a $100 Gift Card to one StyleWise Reader. The giveaway will run through Wednesday, June 22 at midnight.

Enter to win by following the prompts below! Good luck!


  fair trade clothing giveaway abrazo style

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Shop Abrazo Style here.


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The Moral Wardrobe: Summer Dressing with Abrazo Style

abrazo style mexican embroidered dressabrazo style mexican embroidered dress

Traditional textile and embroidery work is oft copied in fast fashion, and I'm sure at least some of the work is done by artisans rather than trained factory workers, albeit at a low wage that doesn't do justice to the detail or skill of the work.

Abrazo Style, however, is the real deal. They work with the Indigenous artisan communities of Oaxaca and Chiapas to create a beautiful range of hand embroidered dresses, blouses, and swim cover-ups, paying a fair wage and making sure that the artisans themselves have a big say in the design process.

Abrazo Style artisans
Efrain, Abrazo Style's Mexico manager, and Rebeca, master embroiderer, collaborate closely to bring the hand embroidered, fairly traded products to our customers.*

I love that I had the chance to review this chambray Lilia Dress right after Victoria Road's Medallion Tunic, because it's given me a great sense of the way that textile craft traditions vary by region and culture, while reinforcing the fact that this type of art is fundamentally a part of who we are as humans. You can find ornate, beautiful needlework all over the world and I'm glad that fair trade companies are making it possible for consumers to see, touch, and wear garments with such rich history and tradition.

The Lilia Dress is magical. I say that because although it looks like a sack dress on the hanger, it drapes so nicely on my frame, subtly defining my waist as it falls. The asymmetrical hem adds a sort of sporty touch and the length is versatile. You may not be able to tell in the photos (it's easier to see in the last photo in this post), but the white embroidery is actually 3-dimensional, and I like that the floral and leaf pattern is quite big for this type of design.

made in Italy wedges abrazo style mexican embroidered dress
Ethical Details: Lilia Dress - c/o Abrazo Style; Shoes - made in Italy; Hat - old

I paired the dress with a pair of cork heels I found locally and an old hat I always bring back out in the summertime.

abrazo style mexican embroidered dress
The Lilia Dress is $86.00 and comes in 4 colors.

I'm hosting a giveaway with Abrazo Style on the blog tomorrow! Make sure to come back for a chance to win a $100 Gift Card!

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Shop Abrazo Style here.


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*Photo and caption provided by Abrazo Style

The Moral Wardrobe: Victoria Road's Medallion Split Collar Tunic

victoria road ethical medallion tunic review

As a part of our collaboration, Victoria Road sent me the soft-as-silk Medallion Split Collar Tunic to review. This is probably the highest quality thing in my closet. It's made of fine, woven 100% cotton with subtle champagne-toned embroidery along the neckline and hem, and I just feel so elegant in it.

Elegant is not normally the way I describe myself, so it's a real pleasure to feel so put together in something that's also easy to put on and easy to wear. I wore it for a half day at work - where my volunteers oohed and awwed over it - then to run errands around town and, though it's crinkled slightly from movement and prolonged sitting, it still looks great. The fabric is lightweight and breathable, too, so it's offering some nice aeration for the sudden humidity that's taken hold of Virginia in the last couple of days.

victoria road ethical medallion split collar tunic reviewvictoria road ethical medallion split collar tunic review
Ethical Details: Medallion Split Collar Tunic - c/o Victoria Road; Shorts - old; Earrings - Hannah Naomi; Shoes - Sseko Designs via MadeFAIR

I've got a few summer weddings to attend, and I'd been looking for a blouse that was a bit more formal than my standard Everlane t-shirt to wear tucked into skirts. I think this tunic will pair well with a nice, black flouncy skirt since the neckline makes such a statement, and the fabric lays so well it feels dressy without the need for much bedazzling.

victoria road ethical medallion split collar tunic reviewethical style blog victoria road tunic

The Medallion Split Collar tunic was made ethically at Victoria Road's private factory in Lahore, Pakistan. It retails for $97.00, a small investment, but it's something that is timeless enough to wear forever and ever. Plus, it's forgiving shape means it will continue to be wearable even if I gain or lose a few pounds. The cotton fabric is also washable.

I would say this item runs true to size. I'm wearing a Small here.

New! I'm going to try to remember to tell you about the way items I feature on StyleWise were packaged...

This item came in a 100% recycled packing envelope printed with water based inks. The blouse was wrapped in a plastic liner.

Do you have anything by Victoria Road? If so, what item? 

I would love to know what you think. Also, make sure to read the interview with the founders of Victoria Road here.

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Get 20% off sitewide until July 10 with code, VRWise!


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The Moral Wardrobe: Finding my Style with Made in USA staples from IMBY

IMBY ethical capsule wardrobe review IMBY ethical capsule wardrobe reviewIMBY ethical capsule wardrobe review
My friend, Sara, founded IMBY out of her own frustration trying to build a capsule wardrobe that was both financially sustainable and ethical. An IMBY item must incorporate three principles: made ethically in the USA, designed with a small wardrobe in mind, and priced in a range people can afford.

Each piece is curated to fit together, so whether you're building a capsule wardrobe or just don't like to think too much in the mornings when you're putting your clothes on in the dark, you'll look good. It's a refreshing take on an ethical marketplace model, which can often feel overwhelmingly patterned and incongruous. I'm finding myself drawn more and more to simple but striking pieces (and fits that look good on me rather than things that are in right now), so the pieces Sara sent me to try are helping me get a better sense of what I ultimately want for my wardrobe.

IMBY made in usa clothing review Ethical Details: Organic Circle Shirt - borrowed from IMBY; Perfect Blue Jeans - c/o IMBY; Shoes - Sseko Designs

This one-size-fits-all circle shirt is extraordinarily fun to wear. The tunic length, low back, and spin-able silhouette make me feel put together and modern, but also like I'm wearing lounge wear. It's made from an organic cotton/bamboo blend, so it gets extra points for sustainability. That being said, it's probably a better fit for someone who wears a medium or large rather than a small. 

The jeans are made of surplus stretch denim that feels luxurious. The high waist is on trend without being juvenile and I'm excited to wear them again and again in the coming years. A tip on sizing: I had to get a Large in these to fit without pulling at my hips, so ask Sara for some advice before ordering!

Though I've been shopping thoughtfully for about 3 years now, it's still a challenge to put my blinders on and make shopping decisions that suit me in the place that I'm in now while also being adaptable for the future. Life in my 20s has been full of transition and it can be difficult to know what styles and cuts will work for me in the future. Being able to collaborate with curated companies like IMBY helps me streamline my approach. Finding jeans that work in both casual and semi-professional settings feels like a big win. 

Shop IMBY here. 


Follow IMBY on social media: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest

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I've been thinking a lot about some of your responses to my Reader Survey. Know that I plan to address your questions more in the future, but I do hope you've noticed that I intentionally work with brands and choose products that offer items in a moderate price range, and try to limit my collaborations to 3-4 times a month max to allow for a variety of posts. The vast majority of my wardrobe is comprised of items I purchased myself over a span of months and years (if the item shown is not marked "c/o" it means I purchased it myself). If you ever have questions or concerns, please do address them with me! I promise I don't bite.


the moral wardrobe: mountains in 2 languages with Degree Clothing

Degree clothing ethical fair trade
When Degree Clothing reached out to tell me about their sustainable, organic clothing line, I hopped on over to their website to take a look at their offerings only to find that I couldn't understand the product descriptions! Degree is a German brand that caters to a German market and yet, despite the language barrier, I appreciated their design approach and ethical priorities (plus, they have an Etsy shop in English). With the help of Google Translate and my German literate husband, I narrowed in on this beautifully hued graphic tee that says:

Weil bayern berge hat


According to our German church organist, this means "Because Bavaria has mountains." The phrase is meant to conjure the nostalgia, warmth, and culture of mountain-side living. I was drawn to it because I know a thing or two about the beauty of the mountains, nestled as I am in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Did you notice that the shirt just happens to be Blue Ridge Mountain Blue?

Blue Ridge Mountains Degree clothing ethical fair trade
As fate would have it, I wore this shirt to take my very first tour of nearby historic landmark, Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's mountaintop home. While I enjoyed viewing Jefferson's unusual and eclectic home, I was deeply moved by the 45 minute tour about the enslaved people who called Monticello home.

The thing that stuck with me the most was a comment the tour guide made about personal agency and family life. You were owned from dawn to dusk, but when night came, you finally had the chance to cultivate your real identity among friends and family who grounded you in cultural traditions and reminded you that you had a right to exist on your own terms. Historians of slave documents note that slaves often ranked fear of family separation above fear of death. Can you imagine waking up in the morning and someone telling you that your husband, wife, or child was going to be sent away, never to return?

It's brutal, and yet it was commonplace for our founding fathers and their contemporaries. In the retelling of these stories, we are reminded that deeply rooted, terrible injustice can be - and is - normalized. We can know something is wrong, as Jefferson knew about slavery, and continue to benefit from it. It's not enough to know. We have to f*ing change the systems that allow cruelty to be perpetuated, condoned, and institutionalized.
  Monticello The view from Monticello Degree clothing ethical fair trade
Ethical Details: Top - c/o Degree Clothing; Skirt - thrifted; Sandals - Sseko Designs

Well, that was a tangent (nevertheless, an important one). Anyways, Degree Clothing is fairly and organically produced with a contemporary streetwear aesthetic. Lots of cool tees and sweatshirts at really reasonable prices. This tee will cost you about $29.00 if you purchase through the Etsy shop

If you're based in Germany, shop the Degree site here

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review: bonJOY spring subscription box

bonjoy subscription box review
I've been waiting to get my hands on a bonJOY box to review and the time has finally come! I'm kind of skeptical of the whole idea of subscription boxes because I figure you'll nearly always end up with a few things you'll never use, but I know a lot of people like having access to an affordable sampling of products before committing to purchase at full price. For that reason, the subscription box model makes a lot of sense for ethical companies that don't have a ton of brand recognition.

The bonJOY box is unique in that it sources most, if not all, products from social enterprises working to end human trafficking and pays full wholesale prices for all goods used in the box. Products are often produced by survivors of trafficking who are paid a living wage and offered resources for recovery, and a portion of proceeds are reinvested into social causes. The company is also certified carbon neutral! Learn more about the bonJOY mission and structure here.
  bonjoy subscription box reviewbonjoy subscription box review
So what's inside the spring box? I was scared when I opened up the box to pink tissue paper, pastel gloss, and rose-tinted beads; I tend to avoid anything I deem too saccharine. But, after giving myself a few minutes to play around with the contents, I discovered a collection of products that, while definitely feminine, suit me quite well. Plus, I was made aware of a few awesome companies that would have gotten lost in a sea of ethical companies had I not had the chance to sample them through bonJOY...

This box contained 4 items with a total product value of around $60.00 (at a subscription price of $45.00):


1. Tagua Nut Necklace, Tipharah's


Natural Tagua nuts dyed and strung by fairly employed women in Ecuador, this piece is beautifully handcrafted. Not my normal look, but I think it will look great with a simple u-neck t-shirt.

2. Free to Bloom Pouch, The Tote Project


I follow The Tote Project on Instagram, so I knew a bit about their mission to fairly employee trafficking survivors in India. The pouch is made of lightweight, organic cotton and I plan to use it frequently when traveling. It's a great size for toiletries, or maybe even dirty socks.


3. Rose Sparkle Lip Gloss, My Sister


This lip gloss is a real throwback to my middle school days, but I've got to admit that I love it. A friend recently gave me a My Sister brand balm that soothed my chapped nose after a never ending cold and I'm really impressed by the quality of both products. The bonJOY blog has some application tips you can read about here.

bonjoy subscription box review
And last but not least, my very favorite of the bunch:


4. 4Her Fragrance, The THX Co.


This perfume is like catnip to me (it's no wonder because it has notes of bergamot, blood orange, mint, and roses - just a few of my favorite scents). I don't even like perfume, but I can't get enough of this stuff. Floral at first, it mellows out into a rich, smooth, drop-of-rain-water-on-a-spring-leaf-in-the-forest sort of scent. I did some extra reading on THX Co., too, and I really like their business model. 100% of profits are donated at the end of the year to a handful of charities, sustainable sourcing, pricing transparency, a focus on building infrastructure, adequate financial reporting - they've covered their ethical bases.

The bonJOY box really did bring me joy in some small way, and I am surprised, really, that a subscription box could deliver that kind of emotion. But I had a lot of fun learning about new brands and researching their ethics, and I feel even more connected to this global community of people trying to be kind, aware, and focused on what matters most.

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