School shopping (ethically!)

Here are my suggestions for an ethical approach to back-to-school shopping!

FIRST, consider buying BASICS! Do you want to pick out a carefully put-together, trendy outfit for your child every day, or would you like them to be able to pick things that go together on their own? My girls especially have had so many loud, trendy, frilly garments over the years and they just end up being paired with the other crazy pieces and then they look like a clown for school. A uniform sounds like a great idea most mornings. But short of that, WARDROBE BASICS that go with several other pieces will save stress and keep your student looking sharp.

SECOND, hit up thrift stores throughout the year for the upcoming seasons. You know your kids are going to grow! Look for the next size up and off-season sale items! 

THIRD, Host a clothing swap with your neighbors! Invite over 10 friends for a potluck and garment swap. Here's how to do it.

FINALLY, check out the list of my favorite socially and environmentally responsible brands! 

$20 here and there

"I can't spend more than $20 today or my husband will kill me!"

I was at a ladies event recently and heard a woman say this to her friend. This event happened to focus on human trafficking and hosted several vendors with products from around the world made by women who might otherwise be caught up in the vicious cycle of poverty and oppression.

Without judging her personally, I wondered if this was a typical situation for her (and me, and many of us, really). Maybe she spends $20 here and there all month long on just whatever. As long as it's not too much, my husband won't notice and it doesn't make a huge impact on my bank account. But at the end of the month, what might it add up to? $100? More? 

$100 could have been spent at that human trafficking event on a unique, quality item with a powerful story behind it. Probably handmade, probably something she would hold on to for 10 years or more, and talk about with potentially 100 people. 

Whoa.

This is why my husband and I are outspoken about the sexy subject of BUDGETING! If I know I'm going to a fair trade market, or an event focused on women's empowerment, I'm definitely going to budget a few extra dollars in the fun-spending money category, and then not feel a bit guilty purchasing something that will bless women around the globe! 

Update: my summer capsule wardrobe

About 6 weeks ago, I downsized my wardrobe to about 10 shirts, 4 shorts, 3 dresses, and 2 skirts (yes, it's smaller than I originally planned because I decided a few things were still unnecessary!). 

It was way easier than I anticipated and I can't even imagine going back. I kept all of my favorite things, and the ones I think I look best in. I just wear them more often. Which means I DON'T wear my old Tshirts and ill-fitting shorts. And I can't say I miss them! 

Here is a classy lady that pretty much sums up my thoughts on a capsule wardrobe:

"I can respect myself enough to present myself beautifully at all times, not just Monday through Friday 9-5!" -Jennifer L. Scott

Check out her website, blog, books and other fantastic videos here: jenniferlscott.com

Gotta Give It Up, by Matt

Having margin in your finances--space between how much you spend and how much you make--is a huge part of being an effective giver. Unfortunately, margin doesn't seem to be in our country's vocabulary these days. According to recent statistics from the Federal Reserve and a 2012 survey conducted by Rasmussen, the average American household owes $7,281 in credit card debt and around 50% of those surveyed in the 2012 study admitted to spending more than they make several months per year. Ironically though, U.S. citizens donated more money in 2013 than any other nation in the world (around $335 billion according to a Giving USA 2014 report). We are the most giving country, yet we're also among the most indebted. To be clear, I am a big believer in generosity and using it to meet needs and drive social change. However, if we have no margin with our money, we lose opportunities to make a difference and a legacy. As one of my favorite authors Dave Ramsey says, "You must gain control of your money, or the lack of it will always control you."


If there's one thing we can each do to help turn the tide on the direction our culture is headed, it is to get our financial house in order. The more margin you can discipline yourself to create in your finances, the less dependent you are on the government for your success, and the more you are able to reduce your own stress and help others. Though it is fun to spend money on things we don't need, the truth is peace that comes from not having to worry about money, and the freedom of having excess to meet the needs of others is about as fun as it gets. I challenge you to try it sometime--whether it be giving money to a family in need (without them asking), leaving a 100% tip after excellent service at a restaurant, or even purchasing something that supports a cause you believe in.


I've heard it said that the opposite of discontent is generosity. I have found that to be true in my own life. The reason is because discontent comes from focusing on yourself. Generosity flips that around and causes you to focus on others. As a result, your perspective dramatically changes for the better. As any psychologist will tell you, perspective is everything. Making a difference for someone else yields great joy to the point that you begin to realize that you aren't the only one that life throws challenges at.  It's like drinking a glass of water when you don't realize how dehydrated you are. It brings life to your soul!


So if you find yourself stretched thin financially, stressed out, resentful or apathetic
towards others because of your circumstances, the answer is to find a way to take the focus off of yourself. Make it a point to either volunteer some time, or look for a need within your reach to meet. You'll be glad you did, and it will start the process of your finding margin in your life. It just might change someone else's perspective on their circumstances, too! 

Worth the Watch: The True Cost

guest post by Natalie Hoover

The long awaited arrival of a documentary that covers the social and environmental implications behind the fast fashion culture is finally here! Directed by Andrew Morgan and made available to the public on May 29th, The True Cost brings to light the dirty secrets that the fast fashion industry does not want you to know. It is a powerful exposé of concern that many ethical clothing companies like Evan Brooke are trying to bring awareness to.  What is unsurprisingly telling is that all major clothing companies this documentary reached out to declined comment or interview. If you have loved ones who have not made the connection of how the clothes they wear have come to be, well this is the documentary for them. It is certainly something that will leave a lasting impression on the viewer. Go ahead and check out the preview below.

The documentary can be purchased for $9.99, the cost one garment worker mentioned as her monthly salary ($10). Visit True Cost Movie for more details.

My summer capsule

The past few days, I have thought and thought about what my clothing says about me. What does it say to me? Often, friends will tell me I look cute, or they like what I'm wearing. It's nice to hear, of course, but is that satisfactory?

Matilda Kahl wanted to save time and energy, so she did what made sense: pick a beautiful and professional look and adopt it as her personal uniform every day. I wonder if she knew what kind of influence she would have by doing something a little counter-culture.

So I cleaned out my closet yesterday. Now, I have 12 shirts, 5 shorts, 5 dresses, 2 pants and 2 skirts. (Plus 2 workout outfits, 2 sleep dresses, 2 outerwear items and a modest amount of undergarments.) I left a couple of "fancy" dresses hanging in the back of the closet, and boxed up all the fall/winter items. Everything else is being donated, given to friends, or shelved in the sewing room for parts (fabric, buttons, etc). 

Most of this was thrifted, given to me, or I made myself!

Most of this was thrifted, given to me, or I made myself!

I decided to do this to challenge my own materialism, simplify decisions, and compel me to make more thoughtful purchases when it is time to replace something.

It would have been nice to toss it ALL and purchase a complete ethically-made capsule wardrobe from Zady or Tea Collection or Be Good. But that's not practical right now- not in the budget this month, and also not a sustainable idea. I doubt my current clothes would even sell at a thrift store. So I will wear them until they are sufficiently worn OUT.

It wasn't as hard and didn't take as long as I thought to get rid of so much stuff. It feels good, in fact. When you take it all out and only put back what you love, the decisions aren't so hard. I did find that I clung to more prints than solids, so that's something I'll have to reckon with the next few months! 

Have you considered a capsule wardrobe? What are your thoughts? Hesitations? 

Capsule Wardrobes

A friend of mine bought 2 Purnaa pocket Tshirts from me a few months ago and she wears them all the time. They are casual, but a step up with that cute contrasting pocket. They go with shorts, pants and skirts. 

She cares about where her clothes come from, and she LOVES telling people about hers. 

I am challenged to ask myself, again, does what I wear reflect who I am and the things I care about most? And how much does that matter to me?

Consider Matilda Kahl, an art director who has worn the same thing everyday for 3 years. She has found that it lessens stress, saves time & money, makes laundry easier, and makes her feel confident, even iconic. 

Consider also President Obama, who says, “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Picture in your mind Mark Zuckerberg. Same grey Tshirt everyday, and a hoodie in the winter. Picture Steve Jobs. Black turtleneck and jeans. These successful guys might be on to something.

A capsule wardrobe allows for a few more items, but not many! Here are a few links you may have seen floating around social media lately with instructions on how to build your minimalist, capsule wardrobe.

Project 333

Unfancy



Slow Fashion

Zady explains slow fashion and why you should care about a garment's roots.

It’s about understanding the process or the origins of how things are made... where our products come from, how they’re constructed and by whom. Slow fashion is really indicative of a movement of people who want to literally slow down.
— Soraya Darabi, co-founder of Zady

Guest Post by Natalie Hoover

Thank you, Natalie, for helping me this weekend at the Brave Women's conference in Austin! We had a blast meeting some brave women and selling some beautiful, ethically-made children's clothing. Here are some of her thoughts after our time together.

Natalie is a new friend and self-appointed volunteer executive assistant. Kinda like Heather Hall (Jurnee Smollett) on Parenthood season 5 jumping in to serve as Christina's campaign manager. She was an answered prayer before I dared to pray for such a person! 

Natalie is a new friend and self-appointed volunteer executive assistant. Kinda like Heather Hall (Jurnee Smollett) on Parenthood season 5 jumping in to serve as Christina's campaign manager. She was an answered prayer before I dared to pray for such a person! 

It Starts with You

One word that every American can resonate with is freedom. One word every human can resonate with is slavery. Whether American history is evaluated or countries around the world, it’s a term each and every person can identify with. How can we change that? As human trafficking and smuggling continue to plague the world, will there ever be a chance that every human will experience what it means to be free. The sense that there is no ownership, no debt to be paid, an invigorating feeling of being able to go and say as pleased without influence.  

It did seem promising though as the world moved into globalization. Providing the less advantaged in the world with opportunity to make goods that would enhance the economic situations for all. Instead, what was learned is that free trade is not necessarily free. There comes a cost, and many times it’s at the lives and freedom of those less fortunate.

So again I ask, how can we as Americans change that? Certainly it is no easy task, but changing our shopping habits is a sure fire way to “eat an elephant”. It starts with you. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “be the change you want to see in the world”. Disrupt slavery by becoming a more conscious consumer.

Would you believe me if I said you had slaves working for you? Go ahead, look around your home. Better yet, go to slaveryfootprint.org and take their footprint survey.  This website brings awareness to the amount of slavery found in the supply chain of products.

So how can you be a more socially conscious consumer? Support brands like Evan Brooke that take pride in providing ethical employment practices that benefit everyone in the business cycle – from the farmer who tended the fields to the end buyer.

How do YOU remember the Alamo?

The Alamo Tunics and Wrap Dresses are in! They come in sizes 2-12 for girls. These lovely frocks are made of the softest rayon with an exclusive print. Grab one now online, or see me at one of my next pop-up events in Austin or San Antonio.

Candice Davis, an artist and graphic designer, spent some time recently in Nepal to help Purnaa with various projects and I was able to use her talents to create some new unique prints. This gorgeous Alamo design was hand painted with  dip pen & ink, and watercolor. 

I enjoyed working with her, she is incredibly creative and talented, as well as sweet and dependable. Check out her website and consider her services for your custom art and graphic design needs!  Thank you Candice!

Less is More

A new friend (and customer!) said to me last week, "Now if I was to buy a whole ethically-made wardrobe, I would have to be happy with less clothes because I just couldn't buy as much."

Bingo.

Our love for EXCESS is one of the contributing factors to cheap, fast fashion in America. We have demonstrated a DEMAND for lots of clothing options in the very latest styles and colors. Many overseas manufacturers will meet that demand by almost any means necessary. Including slave labor. Including CHILD labor. Including an unsafe work environment.

But many of us also say that at the end of the day, we would prefer ONE beautiful, long-lasting piece over 2 or 3 cheaply-made, one-season, fall-apart-in-the-wash garments. 

So what's going on?

We have a CULTURE of excess. Our kids have too many toys, we eat too much food, we have so much stuff in the house we need a bigger garage or storage unit, we take thousands of pictures and need more digital storage, even our schedules are overloaded and it stresses us out. 

I'm reading Jen Hatmaker's book "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" and I think she hits the nail right on the head! We have too much! We need space for the things that really matter! And we MUST teach our children to be different!

:)

Less is More, do you agree? Do you see areas of excess in your life? What comes to mind first?