empowerment

spotlight: ROUTE


Special thanks to ROUTE for sponsoring this post. 

ROUTE is a nonprofit, ethical boutique with both an online and physical storefront. They place a special emphasis on supporting women artisans around the world, making sure their stories are represented lovingly and honestly to customers. Today they're introducing the brand to Style Wise readers with a guest post. 

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Our goal is to inspire conversations, think thoughtfully about where and why we are purchasing, and do it all with a little bit of style.


We created Route with the knowledge that our fashion and clothing production system is unjust and exploitative. We want to bring another voice to the growing movement of people and organizations consciously working towards industry change.

 Education, as well as a call-to-action...


We are creating a community of women who want to consciously purchase. Route considers quality, fit, style and impact in every piece, carefully curating an impactful line.  Many of our jewelry pieces are named after a strong friend or woman we know and we are always looking for new suggestions. (Drop us a line, we’d love to name an item after a friend in your life.)

We have a strong desire to create a place where anyone can purchase simple timeless items that they are confident wearing. Our pieces are simple, beautiful, affordable, and classic.  It is a line that maximizes impact in communities, both locally and around the world. Our partner organizations support and employ talented women, bringing lasting change to their families and communities.


One of our partner organizations close to home and to our hearts is FORAI (Friends of Refugees and Immigrants), based in our neighborhood in St. Louis. They teach and employ women who then work out of their own home. Our most recent collaboration with these awesome women is a unique line of classic micro-jewelry. This little project gave us an excuse to spend some sweet time with FORAI’s artisans and friends.

The takeaway...


From the customers to the makers we are thrilled to be creating routes to relationships that change lives and change the world. Join us on the journey as we grow our community by asking hard questions, and making choices that enrich our lives and the lives of many others.


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Get 15% off at ROUTE with code, STYLEWISELOVE


Shop Route's fall collections here. Follow Route on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

spotlight: Global Goods Partners Wishlist

Many thanks to Global Goods for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own. 

global goods partners wishlist

Global Goods is a well established fair trade accessories brand (and a member of the Fair Trade Federation!) with a mission to alleviate poverty and promote justice in the global south. As its name implies, Global Goods' partnerships are widespread, extending to 20 countries, from Namibia to Bolivia to Afghanistan and dozens of places in between. It's a central marketplace for independently run co-ops, which ensures that each artisan group can operate according to its specific needs and talents. This is the beauty of the fair trade system: it is meant to be small scale, which means any problems that arise are easy to spot and can be addressed quickly and correctly. That's something a giant corporation simply can't do.

From the looks of their product offerings, Global Goods' curators gravitate toward a lot of the things I love, like super saturated jewel tones, statement jewelry, and richly textured bags. I've highlighted a handful of my favorite things here (clockwise from top left):


I also thought it would be fun to accessorize an outfit I already own with Global Goods items. I would wear this to a grad student get together or a casual weekend dinner out with Daniel.
global goods fair trade outfit
Ethical Details: Skirt - eshakti; Lapis Drop Earrings via Global Goods; Ikat Crossbody Bag via Global Goods; Shoes - Sseko Designs

Global Goods items are beautiful things meant to be treasured. I like to invest once a year or so in a nice, fairly sourced bag that will get me through several seasons in style. It's nice to carry something with me everyday that reminds me of the commitment I've made to tread lightly. What I'm really trying to say is that the Ikat Crossbody purse is the bomb. Their smaller trinkets and accessories would make nice gifts, too. 

What items are on your wishlist this fall?


(I'm still trying to sort out exactly what I want my fall wardrobe to look like. This capsule wardrobe thing is hard for an indecisive person!)

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Shop Global Goods Partners here. Follow on facebook, instagram, and twitter



sseko designs spring '15 collection



I'm cultivating a delusion. I'm buying sundresses at the thrift shop, hunting down sandals, and going without socks on 40 degree days in an attempt to usher in spring.

It doesn't help that Sseko Designs' spring collection is here! As you may know, I'm a huge Sseko fan. I bought their ribbon sandals last summer and wore them nearly every day and I find it rather distressing that months of cold weather are forcing us apart.

They also hit it big last Friday when they were featured on Shark Tank. They didn't get an offer from any of the sharks, but it brought really valuable brand awareness, so I'm excited to see where this takes them. Plus, they informed their instagram followers that they were able to partner with an outside investor after filming the show who offered them exactly what they wanted, so everything worked out in the end.

You can click the above links to be redirected to my favorites. Or peruse the lookbook below. 


clarks + soul of africa


soulofafricashoes



soulofafricashoes by fracturedradiance on Polyvore

I stopped into Clarks on my walk through the forsaken corridors of our local indoor mall, thinking maybe I'd invest in a pair of their classic little elf shoes. The price tag caught me off guard (and they were out of my size), but I noticed a flyer for Soul of Africa on the display that piqued my interest.

It turns out that Clarks has an ongoing relationship with fair trade company, Soul of Africa, which employs people in need, particularly women, thereby offering living wages and greater stability. Additionally, all proceeds are given to charities and organizations that enrich and support African orphans.

As far as I can tell, only styles labeled Soul of Africa directly support the organization. My store only offered a leather mule from the line, but there are more styles available online. You can also peruse independent Soul of Africa designs, but you'll have to locate a stockist when you're ready to make a purchase.

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sseko designs: a review & giveaway

sseko review photo

After searching far and wide for a versatile, relatively simple summer sandal, I decided on Sseko Designs. The sandals come in two parts: a leather and foam base and a ribbon strap. You can lace the strap up in more than a dozen ways to achieve different looks and you can purchase more straps in a variety of styles and fabrics to match any outfit. As long as they hold up, I could wear them forever without getting bored.

Sseko Designs was born when Liz Forkin Bohannon traveled to Uganda on a post college adventure. Once there, she realized that she could use her communications background for good, so she sought out Ugandan suppliers for her unique sandal design and trained young women to make them in exchange for fair wages and the funding necessary to receive a college education in Uganda.

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I like Sseko Designs' structure because it takes the fair trade concept one step further. It provides a living wage and a good work environment, but it also encourages women to move forward and improve their communities in more substantial ways by going to college to pursue their passions and perfect their unique talents. The system is less likely to succumb to a white savior complex so often present in such models because it enables women to work for themselves and for their futures; they effect change in their own communities. Sure, I might buy the product, but I'm not put on a pedestal by doing so and I'm not led to objectify workers to appease my first world guilt (this is something that's quite hard to achieve in the fair trade model; I can think of a handful of companies who don't do a great job with this).

But here's the real question: do Sseko Sandals hold up? I really like them. The sole is sturdy and quite comfortable, comparable in comfort to Reefs. To test them, I wore them to my five hour shift at the coffee shop and my feet weren't killing me by the end of the day. The only downside is that I got my cotton straps wet in the rain and they ended up wrinkling, which makes it difficult to change the strap arrangement; I need to iron them out again. I should also mention that some styles feel less secure on my foot than others, so I don't have as many wearable options as the website suggests. This could be a personal issue based on the shape and width of my foot, though, so I wouldn't let that discourage you. Overall, for the price and quality, I would recommend Ssekos.

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You can enter to win a pair of Sseko Designs' new t-strap sandals on instagram. Just click on the contest image to be redirected. It ends soon, so I'd enter today if I were you!
*I did not receive any compensation for writing this post. I paid for my own Sseko Designs sandals. I did receive access to press kit photos via Sseko Designs representatives.