spotlight

Host A Handmade, Fair Trade Picnic with GlobeIn's Picnic Box

GlobeIn Picnic Box Review, ethical subscription box This is a part of a paid collaboration with GlobeIn and I received a Picnic Box for review.

Picnics are the best. 


I was looking for a thoughtful or profound way to start this post, but the nice thing about picnics is that they really don't require much in the way of profundity to be a success, so I decided a clear, uncluttered assertion was appropriate. Picnics are about enjoying the simple pleasures of warm breezes, green grass, and friendship. It only makes sense to seek out similarly meaningful picnic tools that contribute to the well being rather than the exploitation of the makers.

I had been wanting to find a suitable picnic blanket to bring to wineries and local summer festivals, and GlobeIn's themed Picnic Box provided that plus a handful of other picnic essentials to help make packing up and seizing the day easy.
  GlobeIn Picnic Box Review, ethical subscription boxGlobeIn Picnic Box Review, ethical subscription box
Pickled Okra not included (:

GlobeIn's Picnic Box contains items that were produced ethically and with eco-friendly practices.

The picnic blanket was produced by artisans at Peace Handicrafts in Cambodia, where workers are provided a living wage, safe working environment, and job training. The top layer is cotton plaid and the base layer is made with upcycled, waterproof bags to ensure that you stay dry even if the ground is damp. In rainy Virginia, this is a must.

The simple wood cutting board was produced by an artisan-owned co-op in India; the cup was hand painted by artisan, Dilshad Hussain, at his shop and produced in partnership with fair trade organization, Noah's Ark; and the bottle basket was handwoven from locally sourced palm leaves by indigenous artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico. You can learn more about the producers here.

I took my box to a friend's house for a picnic for one (she was leaving just as I got there, unfortunately). It gave me a chance to use each item and test its functionality. The cutting board is perfect for a sampling of cheese or fruit and the bottle basket will hold either a bottle of sparkling water or wine, whichever you prefer (here in Virginia wine country, we'll probably use it for wine most of the time). The metal cup is a good partner to the metal cup I already own and the hand painted finish is impeccable, but it would make more sense if they'd provided two cups (you can buy extra cups individually here).
 GlobeIn Picnic Box Review, ethical subscription boxGlobeIn Picnic Box Review, ethical subscription box

If you're already fully prepared for a picnic, GlobeIn sells other monthly Artisan Box subscriptions like this one and individual products from their artisan partners (I purchased wool dryer balls and soap nuts from them in the past).

What I particularly like about GlobeIn is their dedication to attractive, well curated fair trade products that make sense for everyday use. So often, fair trade marketplaces are full of gift-y items that are great around the Holidays but don't otherwise make sense for my lifestyle. GlobeIn sells the kind of stuff that will be used and enjoyed over and over again.

I'm partnering with GlobeIn over the next couple of months to review two other boxes, which will give me a sense of the way their subscription service works. Stay tuned for those, and let me know if you have any questions. In the meantime, you can check out the Picnic Box's 5-star reviews.

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Get $10 off your first 3-month GlobeIn Artisan Box Subscription with code, STYLEWISE.


Follow GlobeIn: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Review: Nourish Organic Night Cream + Recovery Serum


100% USDA Organic Skincare


A few weeks ago, I received an email from Nourish Organic asking me if I'd like to sample two of their products. I'm always on the hunt for organic, ethically sourced skincare that won't irritate my skin, so I happily said yes. They sent me their Restorative Night Cream and Overnight Recovery Serum, valued at $25.00 each, to try. All Nourish Organic products are 100% organic, packaged in at least 25% post-consumer recycled content, and cruelty free. Their factory uses renewable energy and their warehouse is underground to reduce utilities waste.

I've been using both products for about two weeks now and I'm happy to say there's been minimal irritation and evident results...

Nourish Organic Skincare serum review
The first thing I noticed about both products (besides their lovely package design) was their heavenly fragrance, comprised of essential oils and other organic fragrances. Since my skin is quite sensitive, I generally shy away from scented products, so it felt like a spa-like indulgence to breathe in the floral and citrus fragrance as I gently layered the serum and moisturizer on my face.

I can feel the potency of these products as soon as they're applied, so I've done my best to adapt my routine to the path of least irritation.

Restorative Night Cream


The night cream is primarily comprised of aloe and shea butter, so the consistency is relatively thin while being quite moisturizing. Since using this product, I have seen a reduction in flaky skin and fine lines around my eyes. I don't need to exfoliate as often throughout the week and I haven't seen an increase in acne or irritation.

My Grade: A

Overnight Recovery Serum


The serum is a blend of safflower, argan, evening primrose, jasmine, sweet orange, avocado, and pomegranate seed oils. The fragrance is really lovely and the application is smooth (I generally use two pumps). I have to be careful with essential oils because their potency often irritates my skin, so I apply this over, rather than under, the moisturizer, because it feels like the small barrier of moisturizer reduces irritation, and I only use it every other day. Paired with the night cream, I have noticed a reduction in fine lines and flakiness. I apply a little more in areas that tend toward extra dryness. I have noticed minor irritation and have had some trouble keeping the serum from migrating to my eye area - it stings if it gets in my eyes. I also avoid using serum in the morning because the oil tends to smudge my mascara.

My Grade: B

Keep in mind that these are personal preferences based on my particularly sensitive skin. I am really impressed with the products overall and think they're priced fairly competitively for their market.

The packaging: My samples were packaged in a cardboard box. The plastic containers were each packaged in small, cardboard display boxes. Nourish is committed to using at least 25% post-consumer recycled content in their packaging, though I can't say which parts were recycled.

I'm thinking about trying the deodorant in Lavender Mint.

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Shop Nourish Organic here. 


Sotela: The last dress you'll ever need, now on Kickstarter

sotela kickstarter
I've known Hanna for a few years now, both through her former blog, Gold Polka Dots, and through our mutual membership in the Ethical Writers Coalition. Hanna is compassionate, intelligent, and thoughtful. And now - with the launch of her Kickstarter campaign - she's a sustainable business owner and awesome entrepreneur!

Sotela aims to solve the what to wear conundrum by offering a range of garments that look great and fit regardless of hormonal or seasonal weight and size fluctuations. I love this concept, 1. because it's truly sustainable in that you don't have to buy something new when your size changes, and 2. because it graciously acknowledges regular weight gain and body insecurity. It reminds women that our value isn't determined by how our clothes fit.

I'll let the official press release give you a bit more info about the company and Kickstarter launch:


Sizes may change, but your style doesn’t have to. 


Sotela, a new California-based fashion brand, is solving the “nothing fits” dilemma with its debut collection of essential dresses that span multiple sizes, now available for preorder on Kickstarter.com.

sotela kickstarter campaign
My favorite silhouette, the Cocoon Dress

The brand, conceptualized in 2015, designed a collection of three dresses that span multiple sizes, eliminating time wasted searching for an outfit that fits. Size 1 ranges from 0-6 and size 2 from 8-12.

Never compromising ethics over style: each piece in the Sotela collection is eco- friendly, and features fabrics such as tencel and modal - sustainable fabrics known for their breathability and softness. All Sotela pieces are also locally made in the United States.


Sotela founder, Hanna Baror-Padilla, recognized the need for a dynamic clothing brand for women, as well as the lack of options currently available at major retailers. “Like most women, I’ve struggled with weight fluctuations that have made fitting into my regular clothing a chore. I know first-hand how insecure you can feel when your clothes don’t fit the way the way you remembered."

"I created Sotela because I believe we should be able to reach into our closets and have multiple pieces that will always fit, and better yet, make us feel beautiful.” 


Sotela’s debut dress collection is available for preorder on Kickstarter through June 9, 2016. Once the campaign reaches its fundraising goal of $15,000, funding and manufacturing will begin for “The Last Dress You’ll Ever Need.”

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I am really enjoying watching wonderful women in this community come into their own and change the world in the process.



Also, check out fellow EWC member, Kamea Chayne's, new book, Thrive: An Environmentally Conscious Lifestyle Guide to Better Health and True Wealth, now available on Amazon!

review: bonJOY spring subscription box

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

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

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


1. Tagua Nut Necklace, Tipharah's


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

2. Free to Bloom Pouch, The Tote Project


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


3. Rose Sparkle Lip Gloss, My Sister


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

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


4. 4Her Fragrance, The THX Co.


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

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

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Follow along with bonJOY on social media: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook.

review: the LoveGoodly February Box delivers natural, healthy goods to your door

lovegoodly box review
This post contains affiliate links.

I discovered LoveGoodly by chance late last year and was immediately intrigued by their subscription box concept. Subscription boxes are the thing right now, but not all of them are created equal. And while I like the idea of some of the fair trade clothing and accessories boxes, I knew I wouldn't find as much value in them since I'm fairly literate about my options in that category.

But I am in the process of finding more sustainable health and home goods, especially as the market rapidly expands, and the LoveGoodly box offers full size products at a 50% discount. Plus, a portion of proceeds from this month's box goes to support the charity, Cure Cervical Cancer.

lovegoodly february box review

I sampled the February box using a discount code provided in exchange for review.

Here's what's inside:

  • Purely Elizabeth Apple Currant Muesli, $6 value:
    • I had no idea what muesli was before I received this, so I hunted around to make sure it didn't need any special preparation. Muesli is a glorified granola/oatmeal that can be used as cereal, granola, or hot porridge. I like mixing it with Greek yogurt. I'm really enjoying this, but I don't think I'd spend $6.00 on it. I might make my own blend. 
    • Available for purchase here.
  • May Yeung Infinity Bracelet, $40 value:
    • This bracelet makes me go Ehh (shrugs shoulders). It's fair trade with a sterling silver charm and is really quite lovely, but it's just not my thing. 
  • skinnyskinny Basil & Mint Soap, $12 value:
    • Sadly, this soap contains palm oil, which is easy enough to avoid for the sake of rainforest conservation. The plus side is that it smells great; I dig the bright, herbal blend.
  • Cellar Door Tahitian Grapefruit Vanilla Travel Tin, $10 value:
    • I LOVE this candle. It smells like a beachside vacation, so it's a nice pick-me-up on cold days when I'm stuck indoors. I would definitely repurchase. Cruelty free, fair trade, made in USA.
    • Full size available here.
  • LVX x LOVEGOODLY True LOVE Red Nail Polish, $18 value:
    • A saturated, classic red, this is a good staple, plus its toxin free, cruelty free, and creates a nice, glossy finish. I would repurchase this, too. 
    • Available for purchase here.

All in all, I was a little disappointed in this box. I would only repurchase the candle and the nail polish. Still, I enjoyed experiencing muesli for the first time. I was hoping for a facial care product like I've seen in previous boxes, but I'm really thrilled that I was introduced to Cellar Door candles. 

lovegoodly review
Left to Right: Cellar Door Candle at teatime; Muesli with Yogurt; The candle canister on Valentine's Day

Some products that came in this box are available for individual ordering at the LoveGoodly shop.

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Get $5 off your LOVEGOODLY purchase of $25+ with code, LOVESHOP5.



interview: introducing GoodWell, a new kind of ethical certification

GoodWell certification interview

If you've ever purchased something that was labeled "fair trade," you're already familiar with the idea of certifications. From GOTS to Fair Trade to Rainforest Certified, certification programs exist to ensure a minimum standard is met before companies can use that particular term to define their products. Not all "ethical" products are created equal, after all. Familiarizing yourself with the standards of any given certification can help you navigate your way to products you believe in.

GoodWell founder, Pete Gombert, likes the idea of certifications, but he felt that no current certification program embodied all of the qualities he - and fellow conscious consumers - looked for in an ethical company. A slew of certification programs not only confuses customers, it creates a financial burden for companies who must certify each component of their company through separate enterprises, stacking B-Corp on top of Fair Trade on top of organic cotton (GOTS) certifications. He and the GoodWell team are about to launch the first comprehensive ethical certification program on the market and, after reading this interview, I hope you'll be as excited about it as I am. 

Thanks to GoodWell for sponsoring this post.

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How did GoodWell get started? What inspired it?


About 6 years ago while I was the CEO of my third startup company, Balihoo, I was struggling to find purpose in my professional career. I have been fairly successful by conventional definitions, however, I found the work we were doing to be uninspiring and I needed more. I started looking into how I could leverage my position as the CEO of a technology company into something more purposeful and stumbled into the corporate social responsibility arena. The first book I read on the subject was Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chiounard, the Founder of Patagonia and it opened my eyes to the possibility of business as a force for good. Ever since that moment I have had a passion to solve the problem of the role of business in society. GoodWell is the manifestation of 6 years of research, conversations, interviews and thought on how we can slightly alter the existing system and produce massive systemic results.


What is the end goal of the GoodWell Certification program?


GoodWell’s mission is to create a world in which all businesses operate at a basic level of humanity. The GoodWell certification program will return a level of transparency to the market we haven’t seen for ages. In the past, consumers would hold companies accountable for bad behavior by not purchasing their products. Back in the day of Adam Smith, businesses were members of the community, they played a role and were expected to act with basic humanity. Today, we as consumers don’t have that level of visibility into the companies we buy from, they are simply too large and complex. Our only methods for determining if a company is worthy of our dollars are brand, price, quality and customer service. GoodWell’s simple, yet audacious mission is to change the world by giving consumers the information they need to support good, caring, conscious companies and avoid irresponsible, greedy, self-interested companies.

fair trade versus GoodWell certification

Is there a rating system? If a company reaches out and doesn't meet your minimum requirements, what happens?


GoodWell has developed a simple process to ensure companies act with basic humanity. It is a simple process with the possibility for unprecedented results:

  1. Companies join GoodWell and commit to the GoodWell Code of Conduct. 
  2. Companies measure 13 simple metrics each to demonstrate their adherence to the Code. 
  3. Every year as part of their financial audit, an independent third party verifies the company metrics.
  4. Companies display the GoodWell logo in order to provide consumers with the assurance they are buying from a good company.
If a company isn’t in compliance with all 13 metrics, they cannot become GoodWell certified. It’s a binary system that is intended to be simple, universal, and transparent, for all companies - of all sizes and in all industries. This is important because we are aiming to be the floor of corporate behavior. Our metrics should be simple for companies to achieve and as a result if a company can’t meet all metrics something in the business is wrong and should not be supported. We believe this type of transparency is critically needed in the free market today.

In the past, organizations like the Ethical Trading Initiative have been called our for having too broad a definition of what "ethical" means, resulting in labor abuses through the supply chains of some of their certified companies. How will your process differ from other broad certification programs?


GoodWell believes all companies should treat their customers, employees, communities, suppliers and the environment with decency and respect and operate in a sustainable manner. In order to achieve GoodWell certification a company must pass all 13 metrics, so one cannot become certified if it is stellar in one area but lacking in another. Further, the metrics and their collection method are required to be independently verified and audited by a third party on an annual basis.

In addition to the independent audit, GoodWell requires the company to certify their entire supply chain over a ten-year period. This is one of the most critical differences between GoodWell and other certification programs. This causes a cascading reaction all the way through the supply chain, to the very end, which is often in the parts of the world most susceptible to environmental and human rights abuses. This requirement makes it much more difficult for a company to clean up their own house and outsource their bad behavior.

For the purpose of certification, how do you define a living wage (in hourly wages)? If the federal minimum wage is raised to $15.00/hour, will this affect your certification standards in any way?


GoodWell requires companies to pay at least 90% of their full-time employees a living wage, defined as a wage high enough to keep a family of four above the poverty level. The poverty level will obviously vary by country of operation. In the US this would mean someone working full-time would need to be paid more than $12.12 per hour. If the legal minimum wage was raised above that level, then that requirement would be automatically met.

ethical certification introducing GoodWell

On your "How it Works" page, your section on suppliers says that companies must strive to GoodWell certify their supply chain. What does that mean in practical terms? If supply chains are not certified up front, what steps are taken to ensure that they are in the near future?


GoodWell has a strict requirement for certified companies to ensure their entire supply chain is GoodWell certified over the course of a 10-year period. A GoodWell company must exceed the following supply chain certification levels for each year after they sign the GoodWell Commitment:

Year 1 – 20%, Year 2 – 40%, Year 3 – 50%, Year 4 – 60%, Year 5 – 75%, Year 6 – 85%, Year 7 – 90% Year 8 – 95%, Year 9 – 98%, Year 10 – 100%

GoodWell serves as the clearinghouse for the certification standard and as such we control the calculation of the supply chain adherence. As part of the audit process the auditor will provide GoodWell with a list of all suppliers to a given company and GoodWell will then match those suppliers with our database and calculate the score to determine if the metric is met.

I'm intrigued by the idea of a universal standard - and I think it's a step in the right direction - but I worry that standards that are made too broad will result in a sort of greenwashing (or ethical-washing) of the industry and obscure the truly conscious choices. What steps are you taking to ensure this doesn't happen?


There are two keys to our program which ensure greenwashing is eliminated.

  1. Binary metrics. Because our metrics are a binary pass fail there are no grey areas or room for interpretation. Each metric must be passed in order to achieve certification.
  2. Independent Auditing. Given the lengths companies will go to promote good behavior and hide bad (look no further than Volkswagen) we believe independent certification is essential and as such it is a cornerstone of the process.

Additional Info: GoodWell is a for-profit Public Benefit Corporation with the specific goal of creating social benefit. There is a certification fee that varies based on the size of the company and companies with less than $500,000 in annual revenue are certified free of charge.

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Special thanks to Pete and Kallen for reaching out and answering all of my questions!

Interested in learning more about GoodWell? 

Check out their website


Become a founding member here.
Follow along on social media: Facebook // Twitter

interview: meet Helga Douglas of sustainable lingerie brand, Svala

svala sustainable loungewear and panties made in usa

Svala is an LA-based sustainable lingerie and loungewear company that makes delicate, feminine pieces out of surplus lace and sustainably-sourced bamboo viscose under ethical labor guidelines. I've been hunting for simple loungewear pieces to replace some of my older items and Svala fits the bill. I had the opportunity to ask founder and designer, Helga Douglas, about the inspiration behind her collection, as well as some nitty-gritty sourcing and sustainability questions. Thanks to Svala for sponsoring this post. 


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FIRSTLY, TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF!


My name is Helga and I am originally from Sydney but I have been living in LA for the past seven years. The name for Svala comes from Iceland where my mother is from. It is one of my favorite girls' names and means swallow (bird) which represents freedom and hope.


HOW DID SVALA GET STARTED?


I have always loved fashion. My first job out of high school was at the wholesale office for Versace in Sydney. I also love nature and the environment and as I learned more about the detrimental effects that the fashion industry can have, I started to research brands which were producing sustainably. I ended up writing about sustainable fashion for the Los Angeles Examiner a few years ago. Researching what other people were creating in the sustainable scene inspired me to create my own brand.


WHAT DOES A TYPICAL WORK DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?


I usually get up pretty early and try to get to a yoga class before starting work. Then I begin dealing with what needs to be done for the day, including marketing and design.


WHAT STEPS DOES SVALA TAKE TO ENSURE THAT FACTORY EMPLOYEES ARE PAID A FAIR WAGE IN LIGHT OF RECENT CONCERNS ABOUT LA SWEATSHOPS?


During production we use established companies that have a good reputation and pay their workers fairly.


I LOVE THAT YOU USE SURPLUS LACE IN MANY OF YOUR PRODUCTS. HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA TO DO THAT?


When I first started designing lingerie and sleepwear, I tried using organic cotton lace but it didn't seem to keep its shape very well and was difficult to work with. I love lace and started searching for alternatives and ended up choosing to use factory surplus materials.

svala sustainable loungewear and panties made in usa

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR ORGANIC COTTON AND VISCOSE TEXTILES SOURCING...


(...I know that bamboo viscose can be processed organically or chemically and that the latter poses potential environmental and health risks. Can you speak to that concern?)

Our supplier uses bamboo which is certified as organic by the Organic Crops Improvement Association (OCIA). The main chemical in processing the bamboo fiber into viscose is caustic soda or CS2, one of the most widely chemicals used in the world. This chemical is used in production of paper, soap making, food production and nearly all cotton fabrics including organic cotton (during the wet processing). It is approved for use on textiles under the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).


HOW DO BAMBOO VISCOSE PROCESSING PLANTS ENSURE THAT NO CHEMICALS LEAK DURING THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS?


Our supplier states that the process is done in a hermetic container where 100% of the chemicals that are used are trapped and contained, not released into the factory, environment or atmosphere and 73% of CS2’s are recycled while 26% are recycled into Sulfuric Acid (H2S04). They do not claim that the whole process is “green” but they do strive to be as eco-friendly as possible.


WHAT INSPIRES YOUR DESIGNS?


The colorful feel of Sydney and LA and the simplicity of Scandinavian design. I want everybody who wears Svala pieces to feel beautiful and cozy.


WHAT'S THE BEST SELLING ITEM OR SET IN YOUR CURRENT COLLECTION?


The Vivien lace lingerie set in beige floral and sky blue, which is my favorite set.

svala lace bralette set

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE IN TERMS OF EXPANDING THE LINE AND INCREASING SUSTAINABILITY?


I am always on the lookout for new fabrics and dyeing methods to expand the line and increase sustainability. I am currently looking for fabrics besides viscose from bamboo for the sleepwear range which are biodegradable and produced more sustainably.

WHAT'S ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU LIKE TO GIVE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE TRYING TO LIVE MORE SUSTAINABLY?


Every little bit counts!


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Svala Pieces range in price starting at $25.00. My favorites are the Vivien Lace Bra in Beige Floral ($65.00) and the Mari Sleep Shorts ($60.00).


Keep up with Svala on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest

Shop here:

svala logo

new in: Sseko Designs' spring collection 2016

sseko designs spring 2016

I always look forward to seeing how Sseko Designs' creatively reinterprets its original versatile ribbon sandal each season. They did not disappoint.

The Spring '16 collection launched today and I'm digging the new stitched leather soles on their ribbon sandals, the accent updates, and the brand new designs in their collection, like these cool, gold slip on sandals.

My favorites, pictured above, are:

(clockwise from top left, affiliate links included)

It's so inspiring to watch ethical companies I love thrive and improve over time. Sseko Designs deserves their success. They've worked hard to ensure that their business improves not just the lives of the young women they employ, but the local economy, as well. Their employees go on to get degrees, start their own businesses, and serve as mentors for new hires. 

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.

interview: Johanne Helger Lund of Ecouture

ecouture interviewecouture

Today I'm interviewing Johanne Helger Lund, creator and designer of Denmark-based sustainable clothing label, Ecouture. It's the first post in a three part series on the brand, so stay tuned for a personal style post and a giveaway early next week! Ecouture is looking to make a name for itself internationally and they offer reasonable shipping options to the States. Read on for more information on the brand and its mission.


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Tell me a bit about yourself. 

I am born and raised in Copenhagen, the capital of the Denmark. My mother is a famous Danish actress and political activist (http://helger.dk/) and my father is a musician. I worked in the Danish theatres and television shows as costume designer for many years of my youth. I then decided to get my degree as a designer which I partly got in Copenhagen and Barcelona. When [I] decided to start my own brand I had no doubt that I wanted to do it with respect for the environment and the people who make the clothes. 

When did you first become interested in ethical fashion? Was there a particular moment or did it happen over time? 

I have always been concerned with the environment. When I started my brand most ethical clothes out on [the] market was very boring and grey, so I wanted to contribute to the ethical fashion area with clothes that were more spectacular and colorful. There are so many fashion brands in the world and they all look the same. I would not make clothes if it wasn't for the ethical element, because the world has enough “normal” brands. 


ecouture by lund


Your clothes have a great theatrical, feminine quality. What draws you to this aesthetic? 

First of all my background as [a] costume designer. Secondly I think that there is a sad tendency in the fashion world to make clothes that are more and more androgynous. I make clothes for women, and I think it is possible to be feminine AND a powerful woman at the same time

How do you source fabrics for your clothes? How are they manufactured? 

Most of my clothes are GOTS certified. We use natural textile fibres like cotton, flax, hemp, silk and wool fibres, which can be grown eco-friendly and according to the rules of organic farming. These are textiles marked endorsed by organizations such as the Dutch Control Union (formerly BE), Swedish KRAV, and Swiss IMO. Our clothes are sewn in Poland in workshops that do not use child labour, and where workers have decent conditions and a good working environment in keeping with the local laws. Design, finishing, and selling takes place in Denmark. 

ecouture interview

What is your favorite item from the current collection? 

All of them :) 

Where do you see Ecouture headed in the next few years? 

We are very popular in Scandinavia, but I would like to expand to the rest of Europe and USA. My big dream is to be able to start my own production projects in India, and create a great and healthy environment for the people who grow cotton for example, and for mother earth.
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I appreciate Ecouture's original aesthetic, commitment to ethical production, and desire to improve and grow for the greater good over time. Thanks for the interview, Johanne! 

spotlight on: american made

Over the past few years, a handful of fashion forward, conscientious labels have cropped up in California. They've pushed the boundaries of what sustainable fashion looks like and have attracted cult followings as a result. I haven't yet purchased from the companies represented here, but I believe in their process and hope their product lives up to all the hype. Plus, what's better than scrolling through warm(er) weather clothing when there's a foot of snow outside?

Reformation:

Mission Statement:

They're too cool for an About page, apparently, but include materials and production info on each product page.

Example: "This is made of Modal. It's a natural fiber and therefore biodegradable, which is super important because petroleum based synthetics like polyester can take over 200 years to decompose."

Offering:

Vintage inspired clothing for the California It girl.

Price Point:

$40-650

Curator:


Mission Statement:

"Curator is a line of clothing designed and produced in San Francisco by two best friends...Whenever possible, we use organic fabrics in our designs. This is truly a labor of love and our life's work."

Offering:

Sophisticated clothing for creative types.

Price Point:

$40-200

Amour Vert:

Mission Statement:

"At Amour Vert we believe women shouldn’t have to sacrifice style for sustainability. We employ a zero-waste design philosophy and use only organic and sustainable fabrics along with low impact dyes."

Offering: 

Casual, everyday knits.

Price Point: 

$40-200

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If you've shopped from any of these brands, let me know in the comments.