fair trade

Is Eshakti Ethical? How Custom Clothing Fights Fast Fashion

is eshakti ethical - how custom clothing fights fast fashion
I received a free item from Eshakti with no requirements regarding editorial direction.

In 2014, when I was just a baby ethical blogger, Eshakti reached out to me and offered one of their custom dresses for review. I asked them to send me information on their production standards first, and they promptly responded with information that struck me as transparent and reasonable, so I agreed to the collaboration. You can read that post here.

I featured a vintage-inspired cotton dress with custom-length sleeves. It's a dress I still wear today to weddings and other special events, and I always get compliments on it. I've gained about 6 pounds since I originally received it, but the high quality, woven cotton still fits me like a glove, and I've "grown into" the sleeves as my arms have expanded (ah, aging).

Eshakti reached out to me again recently, and again I asked them for production standards. They directed me to this, publicly available on their site:

eShakti upholds the labor laws of India in letter and spirit. We have a minimum age requirement of 18 and exceed the minimum wage amount by 70%. We comply with all applicable laws and regulations relating to benefits.

What You Should Know About India's Labor Laws

India just introduced a national minimum wage with other guaranteed rights and benefits in the fall of 2017, though it is unclear to what extent this policy has been implemented. According to Labour Behind the Label's 2015 analysis, India's minimum wage is about 4x less than a living wage, but the new minimum wage standard would be about half the calculated living wage. Compare this to the US, where the average state minimum wage is around $7.20/hour and the calculated living wage for a family is closer to $15.00/hour. I make that comparison simply to point out that pay disparities are  not just an issue in "foreign" countries.
is eshakti ethical - how custom clothing fights fast fashion
Now, if you remember my interview with CAUSEGEAR owner, Brad Jeffery, Indian employees in his model requested 5x the national minimum wage to make ends meet. So Eshakti makes no claims to operate as a visionary business model. But if you look at the minimum requirements of the Fair Trade Federation, you'll also see that there is no single equation or standard for determining a fair wage. This varies by company and location, as well as what product is being made. As my friend Hannah has pointed out, there are dozens of branded fair trade companies that barely meet the requirements. This is perhaps more troubling than a company that makes no claims of social good.

All that to say that, all things considered, Eshakti is not operating under a sweatshop model. And thanks to changing labor laws and improvements in their system, they are actually offering a more consistent wage than they were the last time I wrote about them. They've also taken a very forthright approach in discussing their standards.
is eshakti ethical - how custom clothing fights fast fashion

Eshakti's Approach: Custom & Made-to-Order

I am by no means suggesting that Eshakti's production standards are a beacon of ethics. But I decided to talk about them again for one simple reason: they are providing a service badly needed in today's fast fashion, ready-to-wear industry.

Custom Clothing

Over the years, I've received numerous requests to feature plus size clothing, but it's actually really difficult to find a variety of brands that offer expanded sizing and also understand that clothing isn't one size fits all in terms of proportions. There are some brands, like Eileen Fisher and Elizabeth Suzann, that offer plus size lines but their clothes are single genre - they tend to be muted and drapey - and that's simply not everyone's cup of tea.

Eshakti is unique because:
  1. All clothing is made-to-order
  2. They offer clothing in sizes 0-36
  3. Clothing styles are diverse, and tend to be brighter and more tailored than other made-to-order brands
  4. You can pay a small upcharge to customize your clothing based on your dimensions and specific silhouette preferences
In 2014, I opted to change the sleeve length of my dress. But this time around I thought I'd put Eshakti to the test and send them my measurements for a totally custom garment. Even though I can squeeze into a lot of "standard size" clothing, my upper body is normally a full size smaller than my lower body, which makes getting the right fit on dresses particularly difficult. 

For instance, if I would have purchased a dress like this in standard sizing, I would have likely had gapping at the bust (they don't make '50s style dresses for small busted ladies) and some tightness as the waist transitions to the hip. Because I could put in precise sizing, instead I received a dress that fits correctly at every portion, and that means I didn't waste time and money - or material - purchasing a garment that doesn't really suit me. (This dress is 100% cotton, lined, has a side zipper, and costs $89.95 with a $9.95 upcharge for customization.)
is eshakti ethical - how custom clothing fights fast fashion

Why Custom, Made-to-Order Makes Sense

Indie companies like Elizabeth Suzann and Not Perfect Linen make all or most of their products to order, but they don't offer comprehensive customization.

Any made-to-order garment is going to offer these advantages:
  1. Less fabric waste
  2. No overstock
  3. Potential to change hem length before fabric is cut
But when you add in custom sizing, you provide additional benefits:
  1. The item fits as intended, so does not need to be tailored, meaning even less fabric waste
  2. The consumer is less likely to over-buy in an attempt to find the right fit
  3. People with proportions well outside the "industry standard" (in a variety of iterations) can purchase clothing that fits the first time
  4. A closet of custom goods increases long term wardrobe satisfaction and should contribute to reduced overall consumption
There was a time before massive industrialization when garments were always cut to individual proportions. Yes, per-item clothing was more expensive, but it also meant that people didn't have to feel like they were "wrong" if they didn't fit in standard sizes. Today's ready-to-wear, cheap, disposable fashion industry has managed to wreck the environment, dehumanize its workers, and contribute to mental health issues by misleading consumers to believe that they need more things in order to feel like they matter, and then adding salt to the wound by refusing to ensure that those things actually fit. 

Is Eshakti the answer? 

Time will tell. They have a lot they could improve upon, and I know I'd be willing to pay 1.5x if not double their current prices if they could ensure that their employees were being paid a living wage. 

But they are offering a service, and a model, that I wish other companies would emulate. Custom, made-to-order clothing is more environmentally responsible and honors the dignity of all people regardless of their size.

If you shop with them, I recommend choosing natural textiles, like cotton, over synthetics.

What do you think? 
is eshakti ethical - how custom clothing fights fast fashion

The Business of Blogging: Why Fair Trade Rhetoric Must Include Bloggers

why bloggers should get paid for their work stylewise-blog.com
The fair trade system was created to address the root causes of global poverty and income inequality by advocating on behalf of marginalized workers - mostly women - and creating economic infrastructure to aid in long term, sustainable employment.

Because the fair trade system as we know it grew out of Western, mostly white, charity models, it continues to create and reinforce, despite its best efforts, a power differential where Westerners are assumed to be the kindly, financially secure philanthropists and artisans, primarily located in "the Global South" are assumed to be the destitute, poor beneficiaries.

This means that promoters of fair trade here in the States and in Europe are often seen more as fundraisers than business people. We are expected to evangelize the fair trade cause out of the pure goodness of our hearts, using the language and structures of nonprofit charity models even when we're, in actuality, promoting for-profit social enterprises.

These root assumptions also disguise growing income inequality and continued sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression in "the West," - not to mention diminishing economic opportunities for Millennials - by lumping in all Americans as financially secure when, in reality, many of us are far from it.

Look, I recognize my privilege. I am thankful that I can subsist on the income from my day job and freelance work, and that my husband receives a stipend while working to complete his doctorate. I'm not claiming that I'm impoverished.

But my current job cannot financially support a healthcare plan for its employees and the ACA marketplace premiums are higher in Charlottesville than anywhere else in the country, so I am very aware of how close I hover to financial disaster if a health scare plagues my household. Lack of comprehensive healthcare makes it difficult for us to plan for the future (like, can we even afford to have children?) and an inability to save means we can't partake in the traditional wealth-building exercise of home ownership.

My wage at the shop, after calculating inflation, is nearly identical to the previous manager's starting wage in 1992, and we can't raise our product prices along with inflation because fast fashion brands like Walmart and Forever 21 are now the thrift shop's biggest competition.

I say this to point out that, though my economic situation may be better than that of an artisan in Peru, I don't fit the mold of the kindly, rich benefactor. And I don't think I should be required to work for free.

The rhetoric of the fair trade and ethical fashion movement is screwed up. And I'm not talking about the principles laid out on behalf of artisans. I'm talking about the way it treats the business owners, social media managers, customer service representatives, fulfillment workers, freelance marketers, and bloggers who hold up the system from right here in the States as if we're living on a Carnegie family inheritance while bootstrapping a social-good business when, in reality, we're broke or headed toward it swiftly.

The social enterprise model is relatively new, popularized by TOMS shoes in the mid aughts. Blogging, too, is a new industry. So it's understandable that this uncharted territory is difficult to navigate. But I, and my fellow bloggers over at the EWC, feel it's necessary to address a growing problem in the field of ethical fashion marketing and blogging:

No one wants to pay us. 

Due to stigma around blogging as a business or sexism because of the culturally gendered topics we discuss or a perception that our labor is not-for-profit, we often get feedback that we should work for free, that our sponsorship fees are too high, or that free product is compensation enough for what we do.

This may have been true five years ago. But as blogging has grown to become a legitimate business, and as companies have seen real benefits from influencer marketing strategies, it's become clear that serious, effective bloggers are a key part of business, not a gaggle of sea gulls fighting for free product that you occasionally toss bread to.

This flippant attitude toward serious, effective bloggers (because not all bloggers are serious or effective) is particularly problematic in the ethical fashion industry because of all of those claims about fairness and women's empowerment. Yes, people in immediate need deserve our attention and we should make amends for the horrors of colonialism that set so many in the Global South up for failure in the first place.

But women (and men, but mostly women) in this industry are making wages they cannot live on, even when their compatriots in traditional blogging are making six figure incomes, and it's because we have allowed ethical companies for too long to make an argument that goes, "If you really cared about poor people, you would support my for profit business for free."

This is, simply stated, not fair. 

If you think we are valuable enough to email about a collaboration, then why aren't we valuable enough to be compensated?

(And if it's simply a matter of budget, I get it. I run a retail store. But if that's the case, then it may be best to hold out for the collaborators you best align with instead of casting your net too wide.)

My argument, of course, does not apply to bloggers and influencers who routinely take advantage of brands, who hawk products they don't use or barely tried, or who regularly cold-call companies asking for product without prioritizing a relationship or an effective collaboration strategy.

But there are a lot of us who are professionals, who know our readers, who have our strategies down pat. And if you want us to work with you, we simply ask that you treat us as valuable members of your business.

We simply ask that you apply fair trade principles to the way you work with all employees - whether contracted or full time.

We ask for humanity and we ask for a fair wage. 

P.S. I'm not going to get into the ins and outs of particular monetization strategies or their ethics in this post. I do delve into that more deeply in my new e-book, which you can purchase here

Related Posts from EWC Members:
why bloggers should get paid for their work stylewise-blog.com

Fair Trade's Legacy: People & the Power of Collaboration

Genesis Fair Trade - Why fair trade matters
The Awajun Necklace, made with seeds from Peru
I was compensated for my time writing and photographing for this post by Genesis Fair Trade

The community organizing group I was involved in a few years ago often reminded its members that the collective is what empowers organizations and citizens.

They use the term, People Power

Individuals can strive for justice, but our voices are amplified and mobilized toward systemic change when we find our voices, together. When we proclaim our value, in unison. This is, perhaps, why I like singing in choirs so much. It's both a metaphorical and literal example of what happens when people come together, set aside their egos, and work toward a singular goal.

This is also why I find the stories of grassroots organizations and fair trade co-ops so compelling. They are proof of hope. They are examples of how to value people both inside and outside organizational structures in order to bring about progress.

And this is why Fair Trade Month, which occurs every October, feels like a holiday to me. It's a time when hardworking fair trade artisans and institutions not only get to highlight their individual organizations, but come together to celebrate the broader values of justice, quality of life, and thriving that hold them together.

Fair trade organizations share core values, but each one is structured slightly differently. For the sake of clarity, today I want to talk about the way one particular fair trade company is run: Genesis Fair Trade.
Genesis Fair Trade - Why fair trade matters

Genesis Fair Trade works with several artisan co-ops in Central and South America and across the world. These co-ops are self regulated, but contract with Genesis Fair Trade at a fair trade wage to provide scarves, ponchos, toys, jewelry, and even cell phone cases. The backpack featured in this post was produced by Guatemalan artisans using local materials.

Guatemalans, particularly indigenous Maya, have been marginalized for hundreds of years due to colonialism. The Guatemalan Civil War, which occurred between 1960 and 1996, brought the injustice to a head when former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt committed genocide on the Maya, leading to displacement, starvation, and severe human rights violations. It should be noted that the US backed the initial coup d'etat that led to civil war. We are, as always, complicit.

To be honest, when I came across that bit of history, I was shocked almost to tears. To write about the work of the Maya, work that I literally carry on my back, knowing that my own people had a hand in the injustices that led to genocide, feels heavy. Yet this is why we must share.

Fair trade is more than offering a helping hand. It's, maybe, one small act toward reconciliation and redemption. One small step toward People Power. 

Today, Genesis Fair Trade, in addition to offering fair prices, assists with education, water supply, and health care in the communities where it operates. This network of community organizations ensures that the most vulnerable in Guatemala, and elsewhere, can begin to thrive again.

The Maya and other marginalized communities stood up to injustice, and they suffered greatly for it (historians estimate that 200,000 civilians were killed by the government during the conflict). Nevertheless, they persisted. Knowing their history and sharing in their future is one way we can work toward a better future, together. We do not exoticize them. We see them as equal partners in building the world we want for ourselves.
Genesis Fair Trade - Why fair trade matters
Del Sol Al Mar Clutch from Mexico
Here's the other thing about fair trade: it is one step closer to solving the problem of poverty.

As I've written about before, charity isn't a solution to social ills, it's merely a stop-gap. While the work of charities is incredibly important - hey! I even work for one - the nonprofit sector can also be shortsighted when it comes to long term, infrastructural change (watch Poverty, Inc.). Ensuring that talented people can maintain living wage employment and care for their loved ones means that no one needs to swoop in and "save" anyone. When everyone has what they need in the first place, we eliminate the need for charitable work that, despite its best efforts, often creates uncomfortable power dynamics between the savior and those that supposedly need saving. We leave our mutual integrity intact.

Genesis Fair Trade likes to think of this as the new way to give back. There will always be crisis and poverty that requires monetary and physical mobilization, but effective fair trade models honor our shared humanity by ensuring that everyone can contribute in a way that honors who they are and what they do - and have a life of abundance.

Americans would do well to consider what that would look like in our own lives.

Tomorrow, I'll be sharing more products from Genesis Fair Trade in a Gift Guide for Travelers. Later down the road, I'll post a full review of the backpack.

Shop Genesis Fair Trade

Genesis Fair Trade on Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Trim the Tree: Where to Buy Fair Trade Ornaments

where to buy fair trade ornaments
This post contains affiliate links

There is no better time to invest in fair trade than Christmas! Artisan crafts were practically made for tree trimming (and yes, I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but I'm kind of into the Holidays this year).

Here are my picks for fair trade ornaments. Don't forget to poke around each site for additional options. Ten Thousand Villages and Novica, in particular, carry dozens of different styles.

From left to right, top to bottom

Zuri Collection Star Ornaments, $30 set of 3

Ten Thousand Villages Penguin Ornament, $10.99

Ten Thousand Villages Wooly Sheep Ornament, $10.99

Ten Thousand Villages Pan Flute Ornament, $6.99

Ten Thousand Villages Filigree Snowflake Ornament, $18.99

Thanda Zulu Reindeer Ornament, $15.00

Thanda Zulu Tree Ornament, $10.00

Novica Elephants Ornaments, $19.99 set of 4

Novica Holy Land Ornaments, $39 set of 3

Novica Buddhist Bells, $19.99 set of 3

Uncommon Goods Felt Cactus Ornament, $15.00

Uncommon Goods Hand Kit Dog Ornament, $28.00

My Ethical Fall Wardrobe Picks

Contains affiliate links

While I certainly don't need to add half a dozen items to my wardrobe right now, I like visualizing what I already have against the silhouettes and specific styles I'm drawn to this season. I've become much more of a pants person over the last year or so - I hardly wore my skirts this summer - so I'm looking forward to being able to wear pants every day as the weather cools down. 

This fall, I want easy, flattering pieces that fit well and make me feel comfortable and pulled together during my work day. In terms of ethics, I'm sticking with a balance between fair & sustainable and well made & well fitting, as the best ethics in the world don't matter if I'm not going to be able to wear the heck out of what I've purchased.

Keyo Trio Bar Jacket Studs, $26.95

Upcycled brass, made fairly. I love the look of brass, especially against red hair, and these feel both minimalist and sort of vintage, my ideal combination.

Everlane Cotton Vneck Cropped Sweater, $50

Cropped sweaters are versatile, because you can pair them with higher waistlines or layer them over dresses and tunics. I bought this one with credits in an XS for a tighter fit.

Julia Bo Slip-on Derbys, $105

I've been looking for a pair of slip-on oxfords or derbys to be the fall equivalent of my crossover sandals. I'm much more likely to wear a pair of shoes if I can easily slip them on, so I'll likely be selling the Frye oxfords I purchased last fall and replacing them with these (in a cognac brown). Julia Bo hand makes shoes at a family factory in eastern Europe, and everything can be custom made to order. 

Vintage High Waist Mom Jeans

I finally found the perfect pair of mom jeans at the shop where I work. Only took 3 years! The ones shown here are a similar color, but not the exact pair. 

Everlane Wide Leg Crop Pants, $68

The thick twill on these will be great for cooler weather. And I think the cropped look will pair well with my secondhand suede ankle boots and my black boots, too.

I would probably wear this as a tunic over jeans or leggings. Krochet Kids' stuff is made fairly and they're expanding their organic cotton collection. 

Verry Kerry Kimono Dress£75.00

Made fairly with sustainable bamboo and azo free dyes with a one-size-fits-most fit. Verry Kerry sent me this dress to style a few different ways, so stay tuned for my dedicated post. I like wearing it unbuttoned as a drapey jacket. 

In case you're interested, I'll have some thoughts and links about Charlottesville out tomorrow. I know that a lot of people are already moving on, but I've seen so much misinformation floating around (and so many dehumanizing conspiracy theories *cough cough* George Soros) that I feel like I need to offer more context and clarity. 

Inside an Ethical Wardrobe: Summer 2017

an ethical capsule wardrobe for summer, stylewise-blog.com

Hey! I actually managed to photograph two seasons of wardrobe items in a row.

I actually wanted to do my first video now that I have a camera with recording capabilities, but I couldn't figure out how to get the sound going (maybe I need a microphone?), so photos it is.

As I always mention, I don't do capsule wardrobes because I'm a big believer in versatility and layering. My style is cohesive enough across seasons that a lot of basics, like t-shirts, can be worn year round. This, however, doesn't represent everything I own. I focused on the things I've actually been wearing throughout the summer and disregarded those aspirational items that don't suit my lifestyle.

I've linked to items that are currently available for purchase. This post contains some affiliate links.

an ethical capsule wardrobe for summer, stylewise-blog.com
Left to Right: Thrifted Shorts | NeoThread Co. Tee | GlobeIn Hat | Mawu Lolo Suborsubor Sandals | Elegantees Giselle Top | Thrifted Skirt

New this season: Shorts, Tee, Sandals, Skirt

an ethical capsule wardrobe for summer, stylewise-blog.com
Clockwise from Top Left: Everlane V-neck | United by Blue Tank | Thrifted | Everlane V-neck | Everlane Striped Crew | Logo Tee from Retreat Center (not ethical) | Thrifted Stripes (similar) | Everlane V-neck | Everlane Linen (similar) | Old Tee

New this season: Logo tee, bought to commemorate my time at my favorite retreat center

an ethical capsule wardrobe for summer, stylewise-blog.com
Thrifted Skirt | Thrifted Shorts | Thrifted and Cropped Shorts | Krochet Kids Prescott Maxi Skirt

New this season: Skirts and one pair of shorts
  an ethical capsule wardrobe for summer, stylewise-blog.com

New this season: Pyne & Smith Dress

an ethical capsule wardrobe for summer, stylewise-blog.com

New this season: All items
   an ethical capsule wardrobe for summer, stylewise-blog.com

New this season: Live the Give Tank and Songa Designs Sarong

Not shown: YSTR Jumpsuit, Vintage Sunflower Dress, Live the Give Vintage Tee, Wide Leg Cropped Jeans, Thrifted Denim Skirt

My Favorite Pieces: Deux Mains Sandals, Smockwalker Vintage Romper, Love Justly Kimono Jacket

What I Learned About Style This Season

I am a creature of habit and will almost always choose ease over a perfectly crafted outfit. Tees and simple accessories are the basis of my wardrobe, and I'm ok with that. I do like an interesting or unusual dress, though, and summer is the perfect time to wear printed and embroidered dresses. To my surprise, I haven't been as into skirts this year. I've been relying instead on wide cut pants that provide some airflow while allowing me to bend over, sit on the ground, and do whatever else I need to do at work.

More than anything, I'm enjoying wearing sandals every single day.


See other seasons here. 

Giveaway: Win a Pair of Fair Trade Mawu Lolo Sandals

Mawu Lolo sandals review and giveaway - free ethical sandals
This post is sponsored by Mawu Lolo Sandals.

Mawu Lolo sent me a pair of their fair trade, Ghanaian made Suborsubor Sandals in March. It was still too cold in Charlottesville to wear them, so I took them with me to Florida for a couple of shoots. I liked them then, but I couldn't have anticipated how much I'd wear them throughout the summer.

The answer: a lot. Once or twice a week, mixed into my rotation of other summer favorites.  I wear sandals every day when the weather is warm and I need shoes that are comfortable enough for several hours of standing. The Suborsubor footbed is fairly simple, but it's thick and padded enough to keep my feet comfortable for several hours, and I've found these surprisingly good for walking, as well.

The best part is that Mawu Lolo prices extremely fairly, ensuring that artisans are paid a living wage and customers are able to afford their products. Their items range in price from $34.99 to $59.99.

Mawu Lolo sandals review and giveaway - free ethical sandals Mawu Lolo sandals review and giveaway - free ethical sandals

It's always a joy for me to be able to offer giveaways on behalf of beloved ethical brands. The hot days aren't over yet, so Mawu Lolo is giving away a pair of sandals to one StyleWise reader. I'm sure you'll enjoy them as much as I do. And the best part is that it's ANY pair of their sandals, so you can select a different style or color if you'd like: choose from Birkenstock-style, flip flops, and men's options. Check out the site to see all of the options.
  Mawu Lolo sandals review and giveaway - free ethical sandals

Mawu Lolo Sandals Giveaway

To enter: Fill out one or more of the prompts below (the first prompt is mandatory). Open to US readers only. By completing this form, you consent to have your email added to email newsletters for Mawu Lolo and StyleWise. Your information will not be shared with anyone else.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Shop Mawu Lolo here. 

Follow along: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Four Fair Finds | 2

My four favorite fair finds for the week...

1 | Accompany for Target Silver Foiled Candle, $32.00

Happy to see that Target is intentionally featuring fair trade products. Their collaboration with Accompany is beautiful.

2 | Ten Thousand Villages Bombcase Ring, $34.99

Simple and statement making.

3 | Po-Zu Pinatex Flats, £90.00

Pinatex, or pineapple leather, is the it fabric in the sustainable fashion world right now. If you've touched it or tried it, let me know what you think.

I've been using the Restorative Oil at night for the past several months, but I think I like this one even better. My skin looks glowy.

Celebrating Sustainers + CAUSEGEAR Bucket Bag Review

Causegear Bucket Bag review

When I interviewed Brad Jeffery, founder of ethical bag company, CAUSEGEAR, a few months ago, I ended the call with a profound sense of gratitude for the amazing, good-to-their-core people who spend their days and years trying to make the world just a little bit better.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the unsung heroes of nonprofits, community organizing, and social enterprises: the sustainers. 

Because someone can have a good idea any day of the week, but it's the people who recognize that showing up matters that contribute the greatest good. And those people never get any credit! I have volunteers at the shop I manage who've come in for an unpaid shift every week for more than 15 years! Those people deserve awards and public recognition, but the ones who get the accolades are the 20-something men with chips on their shoulders who created some sort of inane app. Those people suck compared to the badass retired women I know.

My point is that a lot of people want to change the world, but thinking big picture isn't always - or maybe ever - the key to world change. You know what changes the world? Thinking up manageable solutions, then putting in the work. If we don't develop interpersonal connections, cultural sensitivity, and attention to detail early on, we may just end up feeding our hubris instead of the people we came to "save."

I have deep respect for the Causegear crew, because I see their humility and their drive. They're not in it for themselves - they're in it for the greater good. That's why I wanted another chance to partner with them. Their Blogger Review Program provided a way to do that, so they generously sent me a bag to highlight in this post.

Causegear Bucket Bag review
Ethical Details: Top - Seamly.co via Ash & Rose; Shorts - thrifted; Sandals - Deux Mains; Necklace - c/o Greenola Style (old); Bucket Bag - c/o Causegear

The Causegear Bucket Bag comes in three versions: Full Leather, Sky Canvas, and Taupe Canvas. I have a deep love for army khaki as an accent to basically anything, so I chose the Taupe Canvas.

The first thing you should know is that this is basically the Mary Poppins Tote of handbags. You can put your entire life in it and it still manages to feel streamlined. That's due to the flexible canvas and soft but structured round base. I've been using a tiny purse for the last 6 months, but this hasn't felt like an overwhelming transition. The adjustable strap makes it easy to use it as a crossbody or shoulder bag, too.

Causegear Bucket Bag reviewCausegear Bucket Bag review

This bag was crafted by Shahida, who received 5x the standard wage. As I mentioned in my original post on Causegear, this wage was set with input from the artisans themselves to ensure that that it is livable and competitive. Fair Trade certifications do not set a minimum livable wage, so most companies offer only 2 to 3 times the country's standard wage. 5x is a noticeable improvement, and means that employees can provide for themselves and their families.

That's what sustainable enterprise looks like.

Get 10% off your purchase through July 5 with code, ETHICAL10.

Mawu Lolo Sandals: Comfort, Value & Ethics

Mawu Lolo SuborSubor Sandals fair trade reviewMawu Lolo SuborSubor Sandals fair trade review
This post was sponsored by Mawu Lolo and I received an item for review.

Being picky about footwear is a matter of health for me.

Last year, I was diagnosed with Raynaud's Disease, a narrowing of the blood vessels that supply blood to the extremities. As a result, my toes show signs of tissue damage and hypothermia after very limited contact with cold conditions (even air conditioning), which means I need footwear that is appropriately warm in cold weather and doesn't constrict blood flow.

You might be wondering what this has to do with sandals.

I love the look of ankle-wrap sandals and flats, but I realized last spring that my ribbon sandals and ankle-wrap flats were tightening around my ankle with continued wear, resulting in numbness and discomfort in my feet. Sadly, I had to let them go. I thought I'd never be able to achieve the elegant look of an ankle-wrap again - though I knew different strap configurations existed out there, I couldn't find a fair trade version.

But then I discovered Mawu Lolo's SuborSubor Sandal.

Mawu Lolo SuborSubor Sandals fair trade reviewMawu Lolo SuborSubor Sandals fair trade reviewMawu Lolo SuborSubor Sandals fair trade review
Ethical Details: Tunic - c/o Victoria Road; Jeans - Eileen Fisher; Bag - c/o Greenheart Shop; Cardigan - Everlane; SuborSubor Sandals - c/o Mawu Lolo

The Mawu Lolo SuborSubor sandal is made by Ghanaian artisans out of hand-loomed fabric and local materials. The leather ankle strap is delicate, and shaped to look like a typical ankle-wrap, but a secure grommet on each side ensures that it's fastened at the preferred tightness without constricting more as you walk. This means my foot is secure, but I can keep the strap loose enough to maintain proper blood flow.

I'm wearing the Brown Multicolor version, which contains brown, cream, black, and a few pops of color, making these perfect for every outfit. The footbed is soft and lightly padded throughout and the sole is made of a sturdy, skid-resistant material.

The best part? These sandals retail for $34.99. Don't be fooled by fair trade companies that tell you that ethically produced items have to cost hundreds of dollars. Costs will vary based on country of production and materials sourcing, but it doesn't mean that all ethical goods must be cost prohibitive.

Case in point: I recently learned about a fair trade huarache sandal brand that buys their shoes from artisans for under $12 bucks and retails them for over $90! That means the bulk of the price is paid to the American owner rather than the person who made the shoe. We need more accountability in profit sharing, so I'm pleased to see that Mawu Lolo prices fairly.

Mawu Lolo SuborSubor Sandals fair trade review

Mawu Lolo works on a fair trade partnership model, selling artisan products in the American market and returning profits to Ghanaian artisans in a profit-sharing loop that allows the program to sustain itself while providing fair wages to Ghanaian employees.

Mawu Lolo is actually the commerce branch of a larger initiative to provide education to children and vocational training to their mothers, who learn employable skills and are provided sewing machines so that they have a continued source of income. Sandal making is a related skill that allows artisans to have access to an additional source of sustainable income. In a country where over 40% of the population lives in extreme poverty, sustainable and responsible infrastructure is absolutely essential.

Mawu Lolo currently carries a small collection of sandals for women and men, including a unisex slide and a few styles of flip flops.

Fair trade. Fair value. Real comfort.

I couldn't be more pleased with these sandals, or what they support.


Shop Mawu Lolo here. 

Follow along: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Photos by my sister, Jennifer Nichole Wells

Love Justly Wrap Skirt: A Little Mod, A Lotta Fair

Love Justly and Dsenyo Fair Trade Skirt Review
This post was sponsored by Love Justly and I received an item for review.

It's Spring! 

Just kidding. Charlottesville is having a difficult time with winter this year. Last weekend, highs were in the 60s and 70s. As much as I appreciate a good bare-legged day, I worry that this weather that teeter-totters between hot and cold is a sign of climate change, an omen of strange and irreversible weather patterns that will become even less predictable as the years pass. The poor daffodils can't decide whether to bloom or die of frost bite.

Love Justly and Dsenyo Fair Trade Skirt Review Ethical Details: Top - Everlane; Dsenyo Knee-Length Wrap Skirt - c/o Love Justly; Boots - Po-zu; Moon Phases Necklace - c/o Ember Boutique

Still, I'm relieved the weather was warm for a few hours because it meant I could style this Dsenyo Wrap Skirt from Love Justly the way I'd imagined instead of having to cover up.

I was drawn to this print because it feels very mod, and the flare of the skirt reinforces the vintage design. Styled with high boots and simple accessories, I think I've found the balance between honoring the vintage motif and keeping the look current and wearable. Plus, the skirt is one size fits most, so I can wear it a little lower on my hips for more of a drop-waist effect and keep on wearing it if my weight fluctuates.
  Love Justly and Dsenyo Fair Trade Skirt Review

Dsenyo (the word is derived from the Spanish word Diseño, which means "design") works with fair trade artisan co-ops to produce their line of clothing made with traditional textiles. The Wrap Skirt was produced at the Vipambi Women's Group in Malawi. As members of the Fair Trade Federation, they are beholden to rigorous fair trade standards, and offer 3-4 times the minimum wage, or the equivalent of a teacher's salary in Malawi. Additionally, they offer free skills training that participants can take with them if they want to broaden their workload or develop their own businesses.

Dsenyo is committed to environmental sustainability, as well, using low impact dyes and natural materials, and composting and recycling whenever possible. Read more here.

Love Justly offers this and other products from Dsenyo at a reduced price as a part of their outlet business model. You can get the Wrap Skirt in your choice of 2 colors for $24.99.


Shop Love Justly

Follow along: Facebook | Instagram

Ethical Holiday Giveaway: Victoria Road Gold Chain Ear Cuff

Victoria Road Gold Chain Earcuff Giveaway Fair Trade

This giveaway is offered in partnership with Victoria Road

Affordable, fair trade luxury...

Some ethical companies are so good at telling their story that you can't help but be changed by the narrative. Victoria Road is a good example. Earlier this year, I featured Victoria Road in an informative interview and styled review, delving deep into issues of ethical sourcing and the value of timeless, ethical luxury.

I'm partnering with them this week to offer a giveaway that is sure to liven up your wardrobe. I'm not usually one for sparkles, but the Victoria Road Gold Chain Ear Cuff pairs classic glamour with an edgy chain detail that makes the piece feel very modern. I hand selected this item because I think it's the sort of thing you can wear again and again whenever the occasion calls for something a little fancy. In fact, this would look great with a festive New Year's Eve outfit, and fortunately, you'll have it in time for that!

Victoria Road Gold Chain Earcuff Giveaway Fair Trade

Pakistani designer, Rema Qureshi, designed the Gold Chain Ear Cuff from her studio in Lahore...

As a brand, REMA seeks to reflect the fusion of cultures in its on-trend designs produced in limited quantities with outstanding finishing and quality. The handcrafted jewelry is heavily influenced by Asian culture, the leather for the handbags is sourced from fine tanneries across the world, the hardware is from Europe and all items are crafted and perfected in Pakistan and delivered to clients internationally. Every time you wear an item from REMA, you embody the spirit of inclusive globalism.

Giveaway entry is simple. Just complete one or several of the entry options below.

By entering this giveaway, you give permission for your email address to be added to the Victoria Road newsletter. Open to international readers. Contest ends Friday, December 23, 2016 at 11:59 pm. If you win, this item will not be there in time for Christmas, but you should have it before New Year's!

Victoria Road Gold Chain Earcuff Giveaway Fair Trade


To shop the Gold Chain Ear Cuff (now on sale for $40.50), click here. 

To shop Victoria Road's full collection of clothing and accessories, click here

Better Shoes Foundation Marks the Path Toward a Sustainable Shoe Industry

Better Shoes Foundation, Sustainable Shoe Industry, Founded by Po-Zu

The dangers of the clothing industry are well known to me. Chemical dyes, cramped working conditions, long hours, poor ventilation, safety code violations, depression, child labor, poor medical and vocational resources. But I have to admit I haven't devoted nearly as much mental energy to the shoe industry, even though I'm a self proclaimed shoe-aholic.

I've always believed that the shoes make or break the outfit and I've had an eye for the unique and slightly weird since I was young. Even though I've switched to ethical shopping with a focus on buying less overall, I have a hard time resisting a high quality, beautiful pair of shoes. They make me feel good about myself.

Shoes are also important from a health perspective. As I learned from speaking with the founder of local shoe company, OESH, the way a footbed is made has a profound effect on joint and whole body health (Did you know that most shoe lasts are developed off of the male foot even though a woman's gait is distinctly different due to our broader hips? Not cool).

Shoes make us feel confident, make us taller, and help us take on physically challenging tasks. But, like most other things created by humans, the shoe industry has a dark underbelly.

A few introductory facts:

  • Global shoe manufacturing is a $195 billion dollar industry
  • The global footwear industry employs over 5 million people, with 87% of manufacturing done in Asia.
  • Only 2% of the final price of goods goes toward the factory worker's wage, even though assembly can take as many as 360 steps per shoe.
  • Shoe waste will reach 1.2 million tons, but only 5% of shoes and shoe parts are recycled.
  • Despite it being the 4th most toxic pollutant in the world, 85% of leather is tanned with Chromium. (Source)

In many ways, the shoe industry parallels the garment industry, both in terms of labor conditions and pollution. Yet the use of Chromium in leather processing - not to mention the massive amount of livestock that are killed to to maintain the industry's demands (though most leather is a byproduct of the meat industry) - contributes to greater ecological damage on a per-item basis. It's time we take notice. 

Better Shoes Foundation, Sustainable Shoe Industry, Founded by Po-Zu

The Better Shoes Foundation aims to do just that. 

The Better Shoes Foundation was founded by sustainable shoe company, Po-Zu in celebration of their 10 year anniversary. The website has an open source format in order to provide collaborative and up-to-the-minute information about the industry as a whole, from design to materials sourcing to consumption to post-consumer life. Get an overview of the industry or dig a little deeper. There are links, resources, handouts, infographics, and a brand directory to help consumers and suppliers join up and make more sustainable choices. 

Though the Better Shoes Foundation is primarily concerned with being a resource to suppliers, they offer fairly thorough resources for consumers:

The Brands page specifically celebrates companies that have prioritized ethics and sustainability from day one. I immediately noticed a few of my favorites, like Nisolo and Oliberte and several I'd never heard of, like Conker Shoes and D'Arçé. The list conveniently divides vegan and non-vegan options so you can shop according to your specific standards easily.

The For Consumers page provides a directory of apps and guides - like Good On You - that break down the ethical standards of specific companies.

In an industry and a world that tends to favor opaqueness over transparency, I'm impressed with the breadth and depth of information made available through the Better Shoes Foundation. 

As I've said before, I'm of the opinion that staying educated and being well-informed is part of the fun of being a conscious consumer. I could literally spend hours reading up on every part of the shoe making process. In fact, I will.


Check out the Better Shoes Foundation here.

This post was not monetarily sponsored, but I was gifted a pair of shoes from Po-Zu as a part of this collaboration. That being said, I wouldn't have heard about the Better Shoes Foundation otherwise, so I'm glad I got the chance to work with them. 

Image via Po-Zu.

Ethical Giveaway: Dunitz & Company Leather Spiral Lariat Necklace

Ethical Giveaway: Dunitz and Company Leather Spiral Lariat Necklace


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!!

5 Innovations That Make Ethical Shopping Easier

Over the past year, the ethical community has (thankfully) started to organize itself in a way that makes it abundantly easier to shop for stylish, affordable goods that are sourced responsibly. When I started writing about conscious consumerism in late 2012, I remember looking far and wide for ethical things that fit my sense of style and being largely disappointed. I fumbled around for awhile trying to regroup, often settling for good enough instead of items that expressed who I wanted to be sartorially.

No more! Not only are there hundreds of ethical brands, you can actually find them! While Instagram is a great place to start, it can be time consuming and people don't always use hashtags appropriately. Luckily, there are a few, more sophisticated options that lower the threshold to entering the ethical fashion movement.

They come in many forms, but they all accomplish one thing: make shopping easier so we can all work together to make life better.


1. Project JUST


With no information, consumers continue to buy fast fashion; incentives stay misaligned; more fast fashion is made; abuses continue. Informed and empowered consumers have the power to transform the fashion industry to an ethical and sustainable one with each purchase.

Project JUST began with one goal in mind: to give consumers access to the information they need to make a better choice. From defining jargon to giving thorough sourcing information for around a hundred prominent brands, Project JUST is a great place to learn about the conscious consumer movement and figure out more about the common brands you love.


2. Good On You


We want to create a world where consumers’ choices drive businesses to be sustainable and fair. We know there are millions of consumers around the world who share our goal.

Australia-based Good On You is an app and website dedicated to parsing out the ethical details of as many brands as possible. They employ hundreds of volunteer researchers and try to add a few new brands every week, in addition to writing 2-3 informative blog posts. I particularly like their roundups on types of clothing, like denim and activewear.

Good On You is expanding to North America as soon as they get the funding! Click here to support their campaign.


3. Done Good


These are the underdogs, going up against the big guys, determined to prove you can build a successful business that makes the world better at the same time. We want them to succeed. The world needs them to succeed! 
That’s why we do what we do. To help people looking for the unique, the simple, the natural, the good. To support companies with purpose.

Just launched, Done Good is a Browser Extension that alerts you whenever you're on a page that contains an ethical product. They'll also give you exclusive discount codes for ethical companies when they're available.


4. The Rescued Collection


The average American tosses 82 pounds of textile waste each year, which adds up to 11 million tons of trash in landfills! Our Rescued Collection saves pre-loved ethical items from this fate with a carefully curated selection of vegan fashions. 

Ethical fashion retailer, Bead & Reel, just launched their ethical consignment store and I'm pumped! I've found that once I have the opportunity to wear or use an ethical item, I can justify the expense. But it's hard to pull the trigger on high priced, ethically sourced goods online when you can't thoroughly inspect the item for quality and longevity. By offering gently used goods at a lower price point, you can buy it and see if it works for you, and then maybe invest in the brand at full price further down the road.

Learn how to sell here. Note: vegan, organic items only.

The above link is an affiliate link.




SLOWRE (pronounced "slower") = fashion, slower // pre-loved, modern, responsible style; the antidote to fast fashion.
SLOWRE sells and consigns women's clothing, shoes & accessories by independent designers & brands that primarily produce in the US, provide supply chain transparency, use vegan materials, source eco-friendly fabrics, and/or engage in other responsible business practices.

Founded by blogger, Grechen of Grechen's Closet, SLOWRE offers gently used goods from ethical, domestically produced, and small designer labels. The concept is similar to The Rescued Collection, but goods do not have to be vegan and the aesthetic leans more toward edgy minimal. I bought an Everlane dress from SLOWRE and it arrived like-new.

Learn how to sell here.

Each time I shop, I use a combination of the above resources to find the best option. I prefer to buy secondhand when possible, so it's a bonus if I can buy an ethically sourced item from an ethical retailer. Smart, easy-to-use resources are the key to gaining more traction in this industry, so I'm glad I can rely on the research, expertise, and curation of others to keep the momentum going.


Did I miss a resource? Let me know in the comments.

Photo Credit: Bead & Reel, graphic added by me

Ethical Sale Alert: Black Friday + Cyber Monday Sales and Campaigns

ethical and fair trade black friday and cyber monday sales and coupon codes

Check out the 2017 roundup here.

Cyber Monday Update:

Many sales have been ongoing since Black Friday. Those sales and coupon codes are listed below.

Give-Back Campaigns:

  • Braintree Clothing: 50% of proceeds donated to Refugee Council and second, crowdsourced option announced 11/23. Black Friday only.
  • Patagonia: 100% of sales donated to grassroots eco-organizations. Black Friday only.
  • Ethical Black Friday (MadeFAIR + Bead & Reel): 50% of sales from single item donated to Dressember Foundation. Black Friday through Giving Tuesday.
  • Belvele: 20% off with code, GIVEANDSAVE, and 20% donated to Natural Resources Defense Council. Black Friday-Cyber Monday.
  • Favor Jewelry: 15% off with code, SHOPSMALL, and 15% of sales donated to Raphael House Women's Shelter. Expiration date not specified.
  • Teeki: 30% off + 10% of proceeds donated to Standing Rock with code, TEEKICASH20. Black Friday-Cyber Monday.
  • Everlane: Proceeds benefit a Helmet Fund for employees at factory in Vietnam. Black Friday only.

Sales + Coupon Codes:

This list contains affiliate links.
  • The Body Shop: miscellaneous sales. See website for details.
  • Jacob Bromwell: 50% off with code, SAVE50. Black Friday-Cyber Monday.
  • Raven + Lily: 30% off with code, SOTHANKFUL. Now-Cyber Monday.
  • Meow Meow Tweet: 20% off. Black Friday-Cyber Monday.
  • FashionABLE: 20% + free shipping with code, HOLLYJOLLY. Black Friday-Cyber Monday.
  • Threads 4 Thought: 40% off with code, T4THOLIDAY. Ongoing.
  • lemlem: 25% off with code, GIVETHANKS. Ongoing.
  • Nisolo: 10% off sitewide with code, BLACKFRIDAY10, up to 40% off in total savings. Ongoing.
  • Causebox: $15 off + free mystery jewelry with code, BLACKFRIDAY16. Now-Cyber Monday.
  • Indigenous: 25% off the gift collection with code, GOODGIFT. Now-11/27
  • WeWOOD: 30% off full priced styles. Use code, WWBF, through Black Friday and WWCM on Cyber Monday.
  • Freedom Soap Company: 30% off with code, SHOPSMALL16. Expiration date not specified.
  • Ethica: up to 65% off on select merchandise. Now-Giving Tuesday.
  • Raven and Lily: 30% off + free shipping.  
  • Mercado Global: 25% off the Fall/Winter Collection with code, BLACKFRIDAY2016. Now-Sunday.
  • Enrou: 15% off. Now-Giving Tuesday.
  • Glad Rags: miscellaneous sales. Now-Cyber Monday.
  • Thistle Farms: free shipping. Now-Cyber Monday.
  • The Simply Co.: 25% off with code, BUYBUYSTAINS. Now-Cyber Monday.
  • Ethos Collection: 24 hour flash sales. Black Friday-Cyber Monday.
  • Gunas: 25% off with code, HOLIDAYLOVE. Black Friday only.
  • Mata Traders: 25% off, + free shipping on order over $100. Expiration date not specified.
  • Fortress of Inca: up to 78% off. Now-Cyber Monday.
  • Sseko Designs: 25% off with code, GIVEBETTER. Now-Cyber Monday.
  • Nudie Jeans: 30% off on seasonal items. Expiration date not specified,
  • Veja: up to 60% off. Now-Black Friday.
  • Tribe Alive: 40% off with purchase, GRATITUDE.
  • Alohas Sandals: select sales. See website for details.
  • Synergy Organic Clothing: 30% off with code, BLACKFRIDAY. 
  • Lur Apparel: 20% off with code, GIVETHANKS. Black Friday-Cyber Monday.
  • UKonserve: 20% off with code, PURPOSE20. Black Friday-Cyber Monday.
  • Hannah Naomi: 25% off with code, EARLYBIRD, + free gifts. 
  • Bourgeois Boheme: 40% off with code, TAKEITSLOW1, with additional sales through the weekend. Black Friday only.
  • Made: 20% off. Black Friday-Sunday.
  • Krochet Kids: 40% off with code, GIVETHANKS. Black Friday-Sunday.
  • Ekata Designs: 50% off with code, BLACKFRIDAY16. 
  • Oliberte: 30-60% off. Black Friday-Sunday.
  • Ten Thousand Villages: Buy one, get one 50% off on jewelry through Sunday. Select sales Cyber Monday.
  • Elegantees: Spend $25, get a $25 gift card; spend $50, get a $50 gift card. Black Friday-Cyber Monday.
  • Pact Organic: 30-70% off.
  • Amour Vert: 20% off with code, GREENFRIDAY. Black Friday-Cyber Monday.
  • Accompany: miscellaneous sales. See site for details.
  • Malia Designs: 30% off. Black Friday-Giving Tuesday.
  • Hazel & Rose: 30% off (some exclusions) with code, BLACKFRIDAY2016. Black Friday-Cyber Monday.
  • Alter Eco: 25% off with code, FAIRTRD25. Black Friday-Sunday.
  • Ash & Rose: 20% off with code, GIVETHANKS. Black Friday-Sunday.
  • Madison Street Beauty: up to 60% off. Black Friday-Cyber Monday.
  • Yellow 108: 20% off with code, SMALLBIZ. Saturday-Cyber Monday.
  • Anchal Project: 30% off with code, CYBER30. Cyber Monday only.
  • Hipsters for Sisters: 35% off with code, THANKFUL.

Feel free to add sales and events in the comments of this post. THANK YOU to everyone who has already commented with sales info.


In addition to all your other shopping, please consider purchasing items off of the 

Standing Rock Water Protectors' Wishlist

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


  • 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!

If Only In My Dreams: A Late Fall Splurge List

November List - ethical wishlist

Sometimes you just want to look at pretty things. 

With cold weather finally settling in over Charlottesville, I've turned my thoughts to things that are warm, versatile, and easy to layer. I normally try to create lists that are right in the comfort zone of my budget, but this month, I just want to dream a little - and celebrate good, ethical design based on design and function without worrying so much about price point.

That being said, there are certainly a few affordable options in this list, and some things - like that winter coat - that would work themselves out with cost-per-wear over time.

This list contains affiliate links.


1. Axiology Lipstick in Elusive, $28.00

Rad '90s orange red that also hearkens the '70s, two eras that have come back in full force this season.

2. Kendra Cable Knit Sweater, $228.00

Classic, thick, and warm.

3. Kings of Indigo Juno Skinny, $168.00

I am really digging a more classic cut that isn't quite as tight at the ankles, and the mid rise is much more comfortable for all day wear.

4. Komodo Egea Coat, $249.99

Just stunning, and the lack of lapel feels modern.

5. Fair Indigo Alpaca Scarf, $49.90

I loooove alpaca to an unhealthy degree, plus its sustainable and cruelty free.

6. Dorsu Long Sleeved Top, $24.99

A great basic for layering.

7. Fair Indigo Top, $42.90

The berry color is seasonally appropriate and the fit and design look versatile. Dress it up or dress it down.

8. VEJA Esplar Velcro Sneaker, $135.00

I don't know why I like these, but the black leather is cool and the velcro is appealing. I hate having to lace up my shoes in the morning.

9. Fair Indigo Keyhole Dress, $75.90

Pretty color and a classic, feminine silhouette.

10. Bhava Coco Wedge Bootie, $199.00

A low, walkable wedge that would pair with anything.


Just a note: I'm grieving over the implications of this week's Presidential election. Though I hadn't been without fear during the last year or so of campaigning, I was still holding out hope that this country was smart enough - and compassionate enough - to refuse to ignore Trump's lies and look past his insults. I was wrong. Reeling from the aftermath, praying for the future, and trying to figure out the best way forward. For now, I'm just trying to be as kind and attentive as I can to the needs of others, especially refugees, immigrants, Muslims, African Americans, Latinos, women, and every other group Trump's policies target. If you want to talk about it with me, please feel free to reach out at stylewiseblog@gmail.com.