goals

My 8 Achievable Goals for the New Year

achievable new year's resolutions ethical fashion blog
Happy New Year!

I don't like to rush right into the new year with too much enthusiasm because it's nice to keep savoring the warmth of the Holidays for as long as possible. But life moves on whether I like it or not, so I thought it best to start the year off with this year's personal and professional goals. I like setting goals that I know will make me happier, and that also don't take a HUGE amount of effort to achieve. That way I can end the year feeling proud for small steps taken. 

Wear one weird thing every day.

I like simple style just fine, but what I really like is wearing my striped tees and jeans with something a little "off." Big earrings, a funky vintage skirt or jacket, clunky shoes. I want to have more fun, and for me that doesn't take a lot: just one weird thing every day.

Throw more "crappy dinner parties."

Daniel and I have gotten out of the habit of having people over because we can never get our act together enough to make an impressive meal or clear all the clutter of the week off the table. In 2018, I want to cultivate casual community, and an environment where everyone understands that things don't have to be perfect to be good.
achievable new year's resolutions ethical fashion blog

Dance more.

I have come to terms with the fact that I don't have time to take a dance class with everything else in my schedule, but I would still like to find ways to dance more.

Streamline my work schedule.

Instead of working 50+ hours a week (and scrolling social media for another 10), I want to create a distinct schedule for freelance work so that I'm not always on call. Right now, my plan is to photograph for the blog on Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons and write Monday and Thursday, with each individual task taking no more than 2 hours at a time.

Read 10+ books.

I read all the time, but I don't read a lot of books anymore. But I realized while dealing with the stress of August neo-Nazi events here in Charlottesville that the best remedy was getting out of the "hot take" culture and reading a full length novel or memoir. And I can process things with a lot more perspective if I immerse myself in a narrative that's not my own.
achievable new year's resolutions ethical fashion blog

Maintain a part time income through blog and freelance work (without overworking!).

Similar to last year, I want to continue to maintain and grow this space. I plan to take on less freelance work and focus mostly on blog writing and photography. I think if I can be strategic about what I post and who I work with, I can curate collaborations better without losing income. I'm very excited to have a plan!

Learn the power of saying no to things that aren't right for me.

It's really easy to guilt me into doing things. I may act stubborn, but I also have a strong sense of duty and that can overshadow the need to make tactful and useful decisions regarding my commitments. I want to cultivate discernment, not only in my vocation, but in every aspect of my life so that I can give my best to select things instead of overwhelming myself with everything.

Write something and get it published.

I'm willing to be gracious with myself on this one because I know that life happens and it's hard to commit to a long term project. But I'd love to work on a guide, book, or poetry collection and get to the point of being able to publish it (even if it's self publishing).
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I would love to hear what your main goals are, especially the less traditional ones. Feel free to comment or email me at stylewiseblog@gmail.com

Photos by me, taken in 2017.

You can read 2017's goals here and see if I achieved them here.

StyleWise is 4 Years Old!

ethical fashion blog goals and resources

Happy Birthday to the blog!

I've been tinkering with ethical fashion blogging for 4 years! I didn't start StyleWise with any set plan of where I wanted it to go or what I wanted it to be. Rather, I knew that I desperately needed a place to gather resources on conscientious consumerism and I hoped that I would be able to find like-minded people out there to offer support and challenge me to keep pushing forward.

Four years on, I can honestly say that this blog has changed my life.

Not only have I found hundreds of resources, blogs, and brands that aid me in this journey, I've made dozens of ethical blogging friends and had great conversations with lots of readers from all over the world. I have been challenged and trolled, I've cried and raged, I've made decisions that weren't always the best, but more than anything, I feel firmly planted in a community - and a movement - that seeks the good, that favors cooperation over competition, and that understands that justice is more than what we buy.

I've had the opportunity to guest post on a role model's blog, speak at a church conference, create consistent content for a fair trade tea company, and write for publications like Christianity Today, Mind Body Green, Relevant, and Selva Beat Magazine. I have confidence as a writer and researcher, and I've learned how to handle criticism without being nasty or unchanging.

And I've also had a lot of fun. 

I have made good friends with fellow writers and with ethical brand owners. I've tried new styles and learned what my true style is. I've learned how to self-critique without putting myself down. But I've also learned that, though the movement is growing, we are nowhere near done.

Sometimes it feels like every step forward is paired with a step back.

Though the buildings in Bangladesh are safer today than in 2013, the employees are even more overworked. Though there are hundreds of ethical brands, greenwashing is more rampant than ever. Though there are tons of ways to get ethical fashion at a lower price point, that also means we're at risk of overindulging in trend-oriented fashion.

So I ask myself this question: What can I do moving forward?

I'm not one to say that ethical fashion must be minimalist, so it's not necessarily a bad thing to have cheaper options, especially when they're secondhand. But I have to continue to do my due diligence and ask hard questions. It may be easier on the surface to shop ethically, but products in an increasingly crowded and trend-oriented market are not always what they're chalked up to be.

A sustainably-made garment that falls apart in 6 months is not truly sustainable. A high quality garment that doesn't suit my sense of style is an unwise purchase. An ethical item that costs $300, even if I receive it for free for review, is not a realistic option for my lifestyle or my budget.

I want to be honest with myself so I can be honest with you, and that means re-calibrating when necessary.

I have occasionally been called the "budget ethical blogger" by brands that believe the price points I represent are too low to align with their marketing. I used to take offense at this, but now I see it as an asset. 

I certainly don't want to represent "cheap" clothing, but I understand how hard the buy-in is when everything is priced outside a "normal" person's budget. I do try to review items that hover at or below $100 because I can't honestly say I'd purchase something - other than a solid pair of jeans or shoes - at a higher price point than that.

Don't get me wrong. My expectation of how much I should pay for clothing and accessories has increased over my years of blogging and it's reflected in my actual purchases as well as items I review. But I want to assure you that this is because I've learned that quality is very often correlated to price, and I'd rather invest in better materials than save a few bucks, even if that means saving up for things.

This year, I want to focus on providing content that helps every single person live a more ethical lifestyle. 


I plan to partner with more brands on a long term basis to show versatility and encourage you all to find the companies you love and stick with them. It makes shopping easier and creates a more cohesive, timeless wardrobe.

I plan to offer more introductory resources, so that newbies can find what they need without getting overwhelmed.

I plan to touch base about the industry and my general thoughts more frequently, probably once monthly.

I plan to incorporate a thoughtful and inclusive approach to my Christian faith as it pertains to living an ethical lifestyle. The Christians and secular humanists need to be in conversation if we're really going to change the world. I want to bridge that gap with clear, approachable information.

I want you to know that you are free to reach out and ask questions. I'm not always good about sticking to a plan, but I wanted to start off the year with transparency so that you all can keep me on track!

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Thanks for sticking with me for 4 years. I'm confident 2017 will be another great year for ethical fashion, and for StyleWise. 

#ConsciousLiving: My New Year's Goals, Big and Small

ethical living: my new year's resolutions

I wanted to write a year-in-review post, but this year has been such a doozy that it's going to take a bit of energy to sort it out. This is the first time I've had my head above water in at least 5 months, so I'm just relieved I can look ahead, setting new goals and clarifying old ones. 

I have a number of personal goals for the new year, some life-changing, some not so much. But I'm hoping to balance them with the mantra, "You are enough," constantly beating in my head. 

Resolutions aren't about perfection, they're about fulfillment.


I won't be disappointed if some of them fall to the wayside - that's just life - but I'm hoping a few of them will stick, or at least teach me something about myself. 

RESOLUTIONS: The Small Ones


Rekindle my love for creative movement.

I grew up dancing (tap, hip hop, swing, Irish, you name it) and I even took an adult ballet class when I first moved here, but it's been years since I've had the chance to dance and move and trust my body to hold me up. I've been itching to try aerial yoga, but I'd also be up for a low key dance class.

Take photography more seriously.

I used to be really into photo walks and portraiture, but I just let life push photography to the wayside. I want to dedicate more time to getting the perfect shot, and I'd also like to make sure that every photo I post on the blog is something I'm proud of.

Give up coffee, at least for awhile. 

I've been meaning to do this for awhile, because I don't like my over-dependency on caffeine in the mornings. Headaches, crankiness, lack of focus. Not exactly a healthy habit. I am planning to replace it with a high caffeine tea for a less severe energy boost, and then we'll see how I fare reducing my intake after that.

Eat all vegetarian except for on special occasions. 

I cook vegan/vegetarian at home already, but I often eat out during the week and don't really pay attention to what I'm eating. While researching and writing my post on Christian vegetarianism, I was taken with the idea of meat being associated with ritual. Saving meat for special occasions means the animal is elevated to a place of honor, which reminds us of the sacrifice. I plan to reserve meat eating for rare occasions, like holidays and birthdays.

RESOLUTIONS: The Big Ones


Make a part-time income on freelance writing and ethical brand collaborations. 

I've ramped up my freelance writing over the past several months and learned how to better negotiate with brands so that collaborations work better for both of us. I am looking forward to initiating long term relationships with the brands I love on this platform, and also picking up more freelance creative writing and copy writing/editing for ethical brands. If you're interested, hit me up here

Take a leap of faith and get the chops to go where I feel called. 

I'm leaving this intentionally vague because the details are still murky, but there's something I've felt vocationally called to for most of my life and I'm excited to finally be taking the steps to pursue it. It's scary, but it's time. 

Year in Review + Ethical Resolutions

The time has come to say goodbye to this glorious, tumultuous year. 2015 was a weird one.

year in review

THIS YEAR...


I feel like I came into my own as a writer. I took risks, got rejected, and published a few articles and posts that I'm really proud of (see one, two, and three). I worked with some cool companies, met some cool people, and befriended lots of ethical bloggers who have helped me refine my voice and find the confidence to press on.

Working in an increasingly crowded space means there's always someone else doing it better. There's always a prettier face, a more approachable writer, a bigger success story. But I'm learning that that's ok, because there's only one me and I've got to believe that I have something to offer or there's no point at all.

I had intended to start writing a book this year, but I realized early on that I need more time to define myself as a writer, blogger, and conscious consumer. That's ok. Things will work out in time. I'm also considering more formal study, but we'll see what 2016 brings.

This year, I feel like a real, capable adult for the first time, well, ever. And I understand that my words and actions have weight, not only in this space, but in everyday life. I'm learning the exhausting work of practicing kindess and fostering empathy for everyone - acknowledging my privilege, stepping out of conversations I have no business being involved in, and listening, even when I don't like what I'm hearing.

This year I've been angrier, more humbled, more sure, and more emotionally exhausted than ever before and I hope that the ride has taught me something. It's hard to keep the faith in a world of near insurmountable tragedy, violence, and catastrophe. Things aren't ok and it's easy to toss up your hands and say, "What's the point of trying?" every time another person dies in a mass shooting, or a refugee is denied entry, or another human rights abuse is brought to light. But we press on, because there's nothing else we can do.


new year's resolutions

WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, HERE ARE MY NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS:


1. Get a plan.


Figure out what I want to do in the long term and take intentional steps to get there. Ever since I graduated, I've been flailing around waiting to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I feel like I'm getting close to knowing, and it's time to just go for it.

2. Reduce my plastic and materials consumption.


I took a few steps to reduce my daily waste this year, but it's time to go all the way: bring my reusable bags to the grocery store, purchase reusable food storage bags, use what I have until it's gone, consider shampoo and soap bars over liquids that require plastic containers. I'm excited about this, because I know from switching to cloth pads and cotton rounds that it's really not hard!

3. Read more books.


I've got a big ol' stack of books waiting to be opened. All I need to do is make time to read them. From capitalism to theology, global manufacturing to quiet novels, I know that I need the knowledge and enrichment good books bring.

4. Write more articles on ethical living and theology.


I want to continue to pitch large publications and write better long form pieces for the blog, too. I have a list of post ideas and I just need to get started on them. If you have a question or a topic idea, let me know.

5. Integrate my values into everything I do.


I want to get better at reconciling my consumer ethics to my everyday behavior, and vice versa. It's all too easy to put things in boxes and fail to recognize the internal inconsistencies in my ethical outlook. I want to think harder about how my faith practices, political and social views, and moral perspectives play into one another.

6. Pare down.


It's time to get a grip on my "collecting" habit. I don't need to buy everything I like at the thrift shop. I don't need to keep my 11th grade notes. A few blank spaces on the wall never killed anyone. I have a tendency to buy and keep things just for the heck of it and I think it's time to say goodbye to a few things (responsibly, of course - I'll donate to local thrifts or sell on ebay).

7. Exercise like a responsible person.


I've spent all of my adult life justifying my near total lack of exercise. To be fair, I do work in retail, so I get more exercise than your average office worker just by going to work, but I'm starting to feel my age and I would like to start jogging, or at least power walking, 2-3 times a week.

8. Celebrate humanity.


Look for the good, in myself and others. Seek reconciliation. Always give others the benefit of the doubt. See my failures as normal, expected parts of being human. Know that being human is good enough (you know, but try to be a good human).

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I'm curious to know what your thoughts are on this year and the next one. What did you learn about yourself this year? What are you looking forward to?

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Check out my fellow Ethical Writers Co. members' Resolutions posts:


12 months, 12 goals

1212goals

Oh, goals. We make them and then life happens.

When I started making plans for this year, I assumed I'd have a certain amount of wiggle room in by budget to explore fair trade and artisan made options. But then I got hit with some major taxes and car payments that have left me with virtually nothing to my name. It's going to be ok, but I don't have any wiggle room, which means I'm basically stuck on my "Shop secondhand" goal for the foreseeable future.

It doesn't bother me at all except I feel like I'm letting you all down. I wanted to explore all the facets of the ethical clothing industry in a concise, organized manner, but the fact is that it's expensive and time consuming to buy fair trade.

Last month I made an effort to read labels and purchase fair trade food as often as possible, but I didn't fully explore local resources like I intended. It may be best to come back to this once the farmer's market season begins.

I'd like to spend April tying up loose ends and planning for the future. I did manage to locate a shop that offers sewing lessons in one month packages; I intend to take them by the end of the year because it would really help Platinum & Rust and my personal wardrobe to be able to make alterations and even sew complete garments (out of ethically sourced fabrics, of course). I also want to look into my local food pickup service and get prepped to sell at flea markets (to promote sustainable style with my shop offerings). Everything requires cash flow, so it'll have to wait. But know that I haven't given up anything. I've just postponed them for a time.

How are your goals coming along this year? How do you live ethically and promote sustainability without spending money?

Read other posts in this series here.

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