Posts by Elizabeth

Giveaway & Company Profile: The Root Collective

root-collective-ottoHave you heard of The Root Collective yet? I was thrilled to learn about this company, because I am always looking for a cute and comfortable flat shoe. Y’all, I just don’t do heels.

Not only does The Root Collective sell beautiful and very comfortable flats, partner with artisan businesses that pay their employees a fair wage, and ensure that traditional artisan weaving techniques are preserved, they also fight gang violence in Guatemala. How does a shoe company fight gang violence?

The shoes are crafted by hand in the slum of La Limonada in Guatemala City by a business owner named Otto. Like so many others in Central American slums, Otto was a member of a gang. Unlike many others, he was able to escape that life. It can be dangerous to leave the gangs, and since gang members are branded by gang tattoos, if they are able to leave, finding a job is nearly impossible. Otto’s business plan is to train and hire former gang members so they are able to leave their former lives.

Troot-collective-noonday-causegearhe Root Collective works heavily in Guatemala, where gang violence is rampant. Children are targeted by gangs, and refusal to join can lead to severe consequences, even death. Many children grow up on the streets, sometimes to escape violence at home, other times due to their parents needing to work far away. Once someone has joined a gang, leaving is very difficult. It is nearly impossible to find a job if you’re known to be a past gang member, and you are identified through gang tattoos. Access to a job can show children living in the slum an alternative to gang life as an adult, provide employment for those trying to leave the gangs, and can decrease violence through opportunity.

Bethany Tran is the founder of The Root Collective, and we love her story. Here’s a piece that we particularly loved:

“I realized that I couldn’t fix anything for the people who lived in La Limonada, but I could come alongside them and tell them that I believed in them enough to invest in them. And investment is what brings about change.

We don’t employ the artisans who produce our goods. They own their own businesses. The Root Collective partners with them as an equal. One business supporting another.”

It is an ambitious goal, to fight gang violence, but we are so glad that they are working to be part of the solution. We think Bethany and Otto are both visionaries.

I can’t even tell you how excited we are to be giving away a pair of Root Collective Shoes! The winner will get to select one pair of ON SALE shoes in their size and they will be sent at no cost! Yeah. That’s awesome. Can we enter our own giveaway?

root-collective-neon-peep-toe

Please enter to win the shoes by using the giveaway interface below. You can enter once a day with the Facebook and Twitter entry options, so come back and enter again to raise your chances of winning! Contest ends at Midnight CST on Sunday, August 23rd. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends Sunday, August 23rd at 11:59 PM CST. Open to Residents of the US only. Winner will be selected by Random.org and be notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. Our opinions are our own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to thinkliz.com and thinkliz.com alone. We do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.

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Follow The Root Collective on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & Pinterest!

What is a Kid’s Ethical Wardrobe?

kids-ethical-wardrobeKid’s ethical clothing is an area that I have been pondering since we starting delving a little deeper into the ethical fashion conversation. How do you make ethical clothing choices for children? Is this even possible? This is hard because kids are exceptionally hard on their clothes (rips, stains, tears, popped seams, torn buttons) and grow out of their clothes at an incredible pace. Those two barriers make it especially difficult to justify spending the extra money that is required for purchasing ethical clothing. So what can you do to begin working towards a more ethical kid’s wardrobe? We have a few ideas for you.

Clothing Swaps

Clothing swaps are not just for adults (although they are certainly fun for adults)! Organizing a clothing swap with neighbors or within your school community is an easy and essentially free way to get clothing for your children. Many communities, churches, and schools already run kid’s clothing swaps, so check out what’s happening near you. At my son’s school, some of the parents organize a uniform swap at the end of each school year to make sure families are ready with next year’s sizes. This is not a perfect solution because as I mentioned before, kids are hard on their clothes! Sometimes my son’s clothing is so stained, torn and abused that it isn’t fit to be swapped!

Thrifting

I love ThredUp (*referral link) for shopping kid’s clothes. You know the clothes you will receive from them are in generally good condition. The site’s interface makes it easy to search for specific items; I have used their extensive filtering options to find uniform pieces for my son. But don’t stop at online thrifting; your local thrift stores have tons of children’s clothing at inexpensive prices. Kid-specific thrift stores generally only sell clothing that’s in good condition (which, I have noticed, often makes the boys’ section a little thin!); googling “kid thrift store [your city]” should point you to some options near you.

Make it last

As fast fashion has become the norm in our culture, we have lost the art of mending. In generations past, when clothing was a significant part of your budget, if something stained, ripped, or a button popped off you fixed it! Mending your kid’s clothes may be out of your comfort zone, but making clothing last longer is central to the ethical fashion idea. Clothes should not be treated as disposable.

Make it yourself

I know, this may not be for everyone. Not everyone sews or even wants to sew! But if you want to try, this is a great option because YOU are the quality control. By selecting durable fabrics and sewing construction methods, you can make long-lasting clothing for your child.

Shopping ethical kids brands

As you may have started to pick up by now, there are many ethical clothing options for adults. Unfortunately, we have not found as many accessible options for kids’ clothing. This is likely because the labor cost of making children’s clothes does not decrease because the size is smaller. We recommend asking grandparents or others that are willing to buy items at a little higher cost to help! If you know of more brands that we should know about, please let us know in the comments!

$ – Reasonable; $$ – Moderate; $$$ – Expensive

A few brands that we know of:

Wildy Co. – Sourced in LA and sewn in North Carolina. Many of their fabrics are made in the US as well. They have the basics covered for boy and girls at great prices. This is by far a favorite brand! $

Sudara – They provide safe, sustainable jobs to help women in India make their way out of the sex trafficking industry, and stay out. T-shirts and pajama pants for boys and girls. $

Mikoleon – They utilize up-cycled denim: pre-consumer denim waste is ground back into fiber, spun into new yarns and woven or knitted into new sustainable and exclusive fabrics for boys, girls and babies. They are 100% cotton, chemical free, dye free, and fair trade. $$$

Winter Water Factory – Organic and made in the US (fabric and production). Bright, screen printed patterned basics for boys, girls and babies. $$

Texas Jeans – 100% made in the US from fabric through production. Made for boys and girls. $

The External Creation Story – Australia-based and fair trade. They have brightly colored fun clothing for boys, girls and babies. They also have some school uniform options. $$

American Apparel – Made in the US. I don’t love recommending this brand for a number of different reasons (some of which are summed up succinctly here), but they do have affordable baby and kid’s clothing that also include uniform options (like polos for $8, which are part of my son’s school uniform). $

Nena Kiddos – Based in Utah and Guatemala, they have items for babies, girls and boys. They work with Guatemalan artisans to create hand-woven textiles. This provides Guatemalan mothers with honorable incomes and time to care for their children as they work from home. $$$

Nula Kids – Adjustable styles designed to fit through growth spurts from ages ~2-4, 4-6, or 6-8 with durable fabrics for little girls. Made with organic cotton and low impact dyes in Los Angeles. $$

Utilize the teaching opportunity

jude-sudara-pajamas

One last thing I’d like to add is that shopping intentionally for children’s clothing creates an opportunity to share with your children why this is important to you. I like to tell Jude the stories behind his clothes, when I know them. For example, when we purchased new pajama pants for him through Sudara, I told him that the money we spent on his new pants went to ensure that a woman in India had a steady job to keep her safe and to provide for her family. It is important to help our children understand that real people make our clothes and those people matter to us.

 

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Don’t forget to follow us over on Instagram at @DressWellDoGood. We post ethical outfits of the day, questions to our followers and more. We would love to have you join us as part of the conversation over there!

Raven + Lily Giveaway: Completed!

raven-lily-telau-necklace-giveawayWe had so much fun styling this gorgeous Raven + Lily necklace and sharing some information about one of our favorite local Austin ethical fashion brands!

The winner of the Telau Gold Braid Long Necklace is Jennifer! Congratulations and look for an e-mail from us today!

We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about Raven + Lily and that you will check out their new Fall Collection which will launch in store and online today. It features some amazing new knits, leather vests, leather handbags, and more!

And of course, don’t forget to follow us over on Instagram at @DressWellDoGood. We post ethical outfits of the day, questions to our followers and more. We would love to have you join us as part of the conversation over there!

Giveaway & Company Profile: Raven + Lily

Raven-Lily-Store Raven + Lily is a socially-conscious lifestyle brand dedicated to empowering women through design.

Founded by Kirsten Dickerson and Sophia Lin, who share a close friendship and a passion for fashion and ethical design, Raven + Lily was created as a platform to utilize those passions to alleviate poverty among women.

Raven + Lily currently helps employ marginalized women in India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Cambodia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Guatemala, and the USA at fair trade wages to give them access to a safe job, sustainable income, health care, education, and a real chance to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families. Partnering with over a thousand women in 13 artisan groups around the world, Raven + Lily sells wholesale to over 300 retailers as well as operating a flagship store in Austin. Raven + Lily is committed to providing products that are made by hand, follow fair trade standards, and are eco-friendly. It continues to grow its partnerships and to work to empower women across the globe.

Raven + Lily focuses on elegant jewelry, apparel, and accessories in a range of culturally reflective styles with a modern bohemian feel. All goods are designed here in the US, and handmade by women in small and often-traditional non-factory settings around the globe.

The new Fall Collection will launch in store and online August 11th. It will feature some amazing new knits, leather vests, leather handbags, and more!

Ellie and I recently had the opportunity to visit their Austin storefront to play dress-up with their beautiful, ethically-made clothing and jewelry. AND their End of Season Final Sale is going on now, which means up to 60% off in store (through August 10th) and on many of the items we tried on.

Beth-Black-Tan-Maxi
Dyna Jersey Maxi Dress (Sale – $99.00) / Anjum Tassel Necklace (Sale – $24)/ Neha Bangle (Sale – $13.00) / Keranga Hoop Earrings ($32.00)

Beth-Silk-Duster
Azzah Duster ($198.00) / Nama Fringe Necklace ($180.00) / Nama Earrings ($48) / Nama Brass Cuff ($104.00) / Everlane Ryan Tank ($20.00) / ThredUp Thrifted White Jeans (* affiliate link)

Beth-Tan-Embroidered-Dress
Zareena Flutter Dress  (Sale – $132.00) / Almaz Silver Leaf Necklace (Sale – $126) / Sela Dangle Earrings / Evelyn Bangle Set (Sale – $53.00)

Ellie-Grey-Pink-Tank
Aztec Tank / Kasa Gold Arrow Necklace (Sale $39.50) / Kasa Arrow Earrings / Mayan Print Tote / Nama Hammered Brass Bangles ($36.00)

Ellie-PinkEmbroidered-Blouse
Valeria Top (similar Sale – $59.00) / Ella Necklace ($92.00) / Keranga Hoop Earrings ($32.00)

Ellie-Yellow-Embroidered-Dress
Madina Sleeveless Dress (Sale – $84.00) / Evelyn Statement Cuff (Sale – $74.00) / Sela Dangle Earrings / Yami Clutch & Ipad Case (Sale – $39.00)

raven-lily-Telau-Gold-Braid-Long-Necklaceraven-lily-Telau-Gold-Braid-Long-Necklace2

We are so excited to be giving away the Telau: Gold Braid Long Necklace! This necklace, made in Ethiopia, is a beautiful staple for your wardrobe. Braided strands knot on each side to create a delicate look. Bullet casings are melted down to form these beads, transforming what was once meant for harm into something beautiful. The making of this necklace empowers HIV+ women living near the Entoto Mountain.

Please enter to win the necklace by using the giveaway interface below. You can enter once a day with the Facebook and Twitter entry options, so come back and enter again to raise your chances of winning! Contest ends at Midnight CST on Sunday, August 9th. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends Sunday, August 9th at 11:59 PM CST. Open to Residents of the US only. Winner will be selected by Random.org and be notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. Our opinions are our own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to thinkliz.com and thinkliz.com alone. We do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.

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Follow Raven + Lily on Facebook, InstagramInstagram ATX, Twitter, & Pinterest!

10 Ways to Style Summer Shorts – Part 2

We know you all have been waiting with baited breath for part 2 of our shorts styling post! See part 1 here if you want to see the first five ideas. Let’s get to it!

(A quick note: if you see an item marked with an asterisk *, it is an affiliate link. We love these ethical items so much that we feel confident recommending them to you. Clicking on those links and placing an order may generate a commission for Dress Well Do Good. Thanks for your support!)

Boho Summer Shorts

boho-shorts
Thrifted Kimono (similar) / Tank from ThredUp* (similar) / Thrifted Shorts (similar) / Noonday Collection Velocity Necklace / Crocheted Earrings / Noonday Collection Delta Rivers Bangles / Raven + Lily Bangle / Raven + Lily Clutch and Wallet (similar) / Toms Sandals (similar)

Fringe is very popular right now and it is a quick way to give a boho feel to any outfit. The ikat paired with some basic stripes is an easy way to do some pattern mixing. The shorts add a pop of color with the otherwise neutral colors.

Patterned Shorts & Chambray

chambray-shorts
Thrifted Chambray Button Up (similar & similar) / Thrifted Shorts (similar) / Vintage Noonday Collection Paper Bead Necklace / Vintage Noonday Collection Gold Hoop Earrings / Noonday Collection Entwined Bracelet / Tom’s Sunglasses / Clutch from DSW Shoes / Thrifted Green Wedges (similar)/ Recycled Coffee Mug*

Chambray really does go with everything. For a fun summer twist, a tie at the waist and some cuffed sleeves can go from office attire to a hot summer night out for dinner.

Edgy Shorts

edgy-shorts
Thrifted Tank (similar) / Thrifted Shorts (these would be a fun alternative!) / Noonday Collection Necklace / Noonday Collection Empress Earrings / Noonday Collection Woven Bracelet / Wearing God by Lauren Winner*  / Passion Planner / Clutch (similar) / Sseko Ribbon Sandles*

Don’t think shorts can be ‘edgy’? Think again! It’s all in the pleather details of this thrifted tank top. Paired with some simple black sandals and black shorts, this look screams edgy but keeps you cool.

Summer Neutrals

neutrals-pop-color-shorts
Thred Up* Thrifted Tank / Shorts (similar) / Thred Up* Thrifted Cargo Vest / Raven + Lily Printed Tote (similar) / Vintage Noonday Collection Bracelets (similar) / Noonday Collection Earrings / Vintage Noonday (Similar at Fair Indigo) / Root Collective Neon Yellow Peep Toes* /  Zoya Nail Polish Wednesday* / Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans* / Chasers of the Light by Tyler Knott Gregson* 

It’s aways easy to fall back on neutrals. The classic pairings of navy and white or black and cream are easy go to combinations during any time of year. We love to see neutrals with bright pops of color, like this neon yellow!

Fun in the Sun!

"pool-ready-shorts/

Nannette Lepore Swimsuit* / Fair Indigo Tee / Madewell Shorts / Noonday Collection Octagon Hoop Earring / Noonday Headband / Tom’s Sunglasses / Sseko T-Strap Sandals* / Project 7 Gum* / Kiss My Face Sunscreen* / Zoya Nail Polish America*

Summer is the time for lazy days at the pool, and if you’re like us, a black swimsuit is a must. But so are bright colors. Fair Indigo is a great fair trade and organic clothing company that has great basic tees. Their turquoise gathered tee is perfect for poolside lounging.

Some of Our Favorite Ethically Sourced Shorts

Ethically made shorts are sometimes difficult to find, but here are a few of our favorites (and now is the time for summer sales, so take advantage!):

We hope that this will encourage you to play with items that are already in your closet and try new combinations to extend the life of your clothes! And if this post makes you put together some new combinations, we want to hear about it! Comment here or tag us on Instagram at #DressWellDoGood.

shorts-collage

Purse & Clutch Giveaway: Completed!

purse-and-clutch-giveaway-indigo-clutchYou all were very excited about this beautiful clutch! This was our most successful giveaway so far and we want to thank you for sharing with your friends to spread the word. We love sharing these amazing ethical companies with you all and we have so many more giveaways coming up. Get excited.

The contest is over for the Purse & Clutch Indigo Clutch and the winner is Dawn! Congratulations!

We hope that you will keep Purse & Clutch in mind when you are in need of a new bag or searching for that perfect gift for a friend or family member. We were definitely inspired by their story and hope that you were as well.

And of course, don’t forget to follow us over on Instagram at @DressWellDoGood. We post ethical outfits of the day, questions to our followers and more. We would love to have you join us as part of the conversation over there!

10 Ways to Style Summer Shorts – Part 1

10-ways-to-wear-shortsIt’s summer in Texas, which means it is shorts season. The length and style of your shorts may vary, but it’s almost imperative that you own a couple pairs of shorts when the temperature climbs to the triple digits for extended lengths of time!

Ellie and I thought the onset of these triple digit temperatures would be a good time to explore different ways to style shorts that we already own. Generally, when we are wearing shorts, we don’t put a lot of thought into ‘style’. It’s a defense against the heat. However, we think there can be some fun, unexpected ways to style shorts during the hot summer months that can go from work, to date night, to play-dates with your children!

Some of the items featured below were bought long before we ever considered who makes our clothing and the condition in which the clothes are produced. But we will continue to wear these items because it is practical to wear them until they fall apart, getting the most use out of them, and it is a way of remembering that we are on a journey that takes a LONG time. There is so much grace as we learn more about the topic of ethical fashion.

(A quick note: if you see an item marked with an asterisk *, it is an affiliate link. We love these ethical items so much that we feel confident recommending them to you. Clicking on those links and placing an order may generate a commission for Dress Well, Do Good. Thanks for your support!)

Shorts for Work

Work-Appropriate-Shorts
Raven + Lily Printed Tee (similar) / Zara Blazer / Thrifted Shorts / Noonday Collection Empress Earrings /Noonday Collection Bethe Rope Necklace worn as Bracelet / Vintage Noonday Collection Tagua Bracelet (similar) / Madewell Pointy Toe Flats / CauseGear Laptop Case 

You may not work in an office where shorts are considered appropriate, but in Austin, many offices allow shorts during the blazing summer months. If this is the case for you, we think pairing a neutral blazer with brightly colored shorts and work appropriate flats is a perfect way to bring shorts into the office!

One thing to note about the laptop case in this outfit: it is made by a company called CauseGear and it is donating 25% of sales for 60 days (started on 7/1/15) to Refuge for Women, an organization rehabilitating survivors of sex trafficking that is working to open a home in Las Vegas (they have a successful home in Kentucky already). CauseGear is a Fair Trade company that works with the poorest people on earth to empower them to get out of poverty. When you buy from them, you can change the lives of the poor across the world, and women right here in the United States. Visit CauseGear.com and enter RFWLV code at checkout.

Summer Date Nights

date-night-shorts
Hand Me Down Banana Republic Blouse / Thrifted Shorts (similar) / Noonday Collection Sunburst Necklace / Noonday Collection Taj Earrings / Vintage Noonday Collection Bracelet / Raven + Lily Wallet (similar) / Purse & Clutch Indigo Clutch / Thrifted Tom’s Sandals (similar)

We think that shorts can even be appropriate for the dog days of summer date nights! Pair a silky shirt with some sparkly jewelry, wedges and a fun clutch and you’re ready for a night out. Don’t forget to enter to win the Purse & Clutch Indigo Clutch that is shown in this outfit!

Black and Khaki

summer-basic-reenvisioned
Everlane Black Tee* / Thrifted shorts (similar) /  Noonday Collection Paper Jungle Necklace / Noonday Collection Feathered Fringe Earrings / Zoya Nail Polish Ziv* / Restless by Jennie Allen* / Noonday Bag – If:Gathering (similar) / Modcloth – Neon Yellow Sandals (similar)

For many, black and khaki are their uniform colors of choice. They’re classic and polished. Everlane’s black tees are ethically made and very high quality! Paired with some thrifted shorts and some bright accessories, you can freshen up this uniform to add some style to your next trip to the grocery store!

Breezy Casual

summer-tunic-shorts
Symbology Block Printed Tunic / Noonday Collection Seastone Necklace (on sale!) / Noonday Collection Entwined Bracelet / Noonday Collection Safari Stack Bracelet / Thrifted Shorts / Vintage Noonday Collection Bracelets / Pixi Lip Balm Coral Crush* / Sseko Gold Loafers / Hat / Sunglasses

This hand-printed Symbology tunic has been a favorite ethical purchase since this blog was started. It’s versatile, well made, and classic. Pair it with navy shorts, a simple necklace and classic loafers, and you look polished and feel comfortable.

Jean Vest Up Top, Bright Colors on Bottom

"summer-vest-shorts/

White Tank (similar) / ThredUp Thrifted Jean Vest* / Vintage Noonday Collection Gatsby Necklace / Locally Made Earrings / Noonday Collection Bethe Rope Necklace worn as Bracelet / Noonday Collection Lovebird Bracelet / Noonday Collection Orchid Rope Bracelet / Vintage Noonday Collection Bracelet / Thrifted Shorts / Thrifted Hat / Birchbox* / Sseko Ribbon Sandals in Gold * / Savor by Shauna Niequist*

Pairing a bright pattern with a neutral is a go-to move. The jean jacket with the white tank brings a more neutral feel to the top, balancing the pop of color and pattern on the shorts. This fun, summery look is completed by adding some gold jewelry and a hat to shade the summer sun from your eyes.

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Stay tuned for part 2 of this post, with 5 more styling ideas and some of our suggestions for ethical options for shorts!

Inaugural #DressWellDoGood Clothing Swap

austin-clothing-swap-rackEllie and I recently hosted our Inaugural #DressWellDoGood clothing swap and it was a great success!

Not only are clothing swaps a fun excuse to get together and spend time with friends, they are an economical, ethical, and eco-friendly way to expand your wardrobe. They’re like thrifting for free!

Here’s what we did for our swap:

We asked our friends to clean out their closets and bring any clothing, shoes or accessories that were in good condition. We borrowed several garment racks and had our friends hang up their clothes as they arrived. (Next time, we will ask our guests to bring their clothes on hangers! We ran out of them very quickly!)

We had 12 people attend, which seemed like a good number. More than that would have been harder to organize and direct. But by having 12 people, we ended up with a great variety of sizes and styles!

Once all of the clothing was laid out or hung up, we set people loose to ‘shop’. Folks grabbed anything that looked interesting to them and tried it on. We saw a lot of handoffs: “Oh, this didn’t fit me quite right but it would look great on you!” and “This looks like your style. Here try, it on!” which made the event very encouraging. It feels good to have your friends suggest clothing items for you!

We had a couple different areas available for changing and provided a full-length mirror so everyone could clearly see how things fit them. As people claimed items, they put them in a bag they brought with them so they wouldn’t be grabbed by another swapper by mistake.

rachel-heather-clothing-swap

When the swapping was complete and everyone had something they liked to take home, Ellie and I went through all of the remaining clothing, sorting into two piles: send to ThredUp (*referral link) and donate to Goodwill. We ended up with two ThredUp (* referral link) clean out bags very full of barely worn clothing, and 4 trash bags full of clothing to donate to Goodwill.

If you don’t want to organize a swap on your own, there are many clothing swaps that are already happening! You may be surprised what you find if you search for “<the name of your city> clothing swap”! In Austin, even our library system hosts a clothing swap!

Tell us if you have participated in a swap or if you are planning on hosting a swap! If you already have, share a photo of something you swapped on Instagram with the hashtag #DressWellDoGood! We would love to have you join us in this ethical fashion conversation! And of course, don’t forget to follow us over on Instagram at @DressWellDoGood and subscribe to receive blog posts via e-mail.

Giveaway & Interview: Jen Lewis – Purse & Clutch Founder

jen-lewis-purse-and-clutch-austin-texasPurse & Clutch is an Austin based Fair Trade Handbag Boutique that partners with artisans around the world who create their products with an emphasis on craft & quality. Purse & Clutch is committed to a set of ethical principles. Their artisans are treated with respect and are paid a living wage for their region.

ADORABLE – All of their handbags are made of high quality, handmade organic fabrics & recycled materials when possible.

AFFORDABLE – Everything in their shop is under $150.

RESPONSIBLE – On average, every $200 spent in their shop employs an artisan full time for a month!

We are so happy to have Jen Lewis on the blog today to answer some questions about Purse & Clutch! Thank you for joining us today.

Tell us how Purse & Clutch was born.
About 4 years ago, I was working at a local non-profit trying to create sustainable jobs for the homeless community of Austin. I kept wanting to make the “non-profit” model fit into my business brain. And it just didn’t. I had the mindset that to help others with my vocation, it had to be non-profit work.

At the same time, a good friend of mine from grad school had just moved to India and told me about the organization she was working with that was creating jobs for talented artisans groups by designing and creating textiles and women’s accessories and selling them in the States. The business side really drew me in – I loved the idea that I could use the way my brain naturally worked to help connect resources with needs.

I asked how I could help and she said she would send me a box of handbags for me to sell online since they didn’t have anyone selling online at the time. I figured that if it didn’t go well, at least my $500 investment was going towards a good cause!

I snagged a website and a name and was up and running in a few months when the first shipment arrived. And then I proceeded to frantically read every article I could find online on how to run an e-commerce business!

I quickly realized that there was a niche for my product – that people did want to shop ethically and didn’t want to sacrifice their personal sense of style to do so. At the time, the term “fair trade fashion” didn’t really exist! There was either Fair Trade or Fashion.

As I learned more about supply chains management, I realized that I needed to carry more than just products from one artisan group both to offer more variety to shoppers and to make sure that I had products in stock even if a shipment was delayed in route from India.

Now, we’re currently working with about 10 artisan groups from all over the world and work to curate seasonal collections of handbags that are set apart by their sense of design. We carry hand woven cotton that is block printed by hand and stitched together at a center for abused women in India, raw organically tanned goal leather bags from Afghanistan that are designed in Germany, and recycled Mayan blouses repurposed into stunning clutches from Guatemala to name a few.

How do you locate artisans to work with that meet your company’s set of ethical principles?
We always work with existing artisan groups, usually that are under the umbrella of an organization that can guarantee that our set of ethical principles are being met. Some are larger Fair Trade Certified groups while others are a small wing of developmental Non-Profit groups with a heart for sustainable development. I have a robust network here in Austin of travelers who are always looking to connect P&C with new artisan groups they discover who are doing good work.

What drew you to selling purses over other wares?
My initial reason to sell handbags was that it feels like more of a necessity to me than other things that many artisan groups have the existing skillset to make. While an extra throw pillow or table runner may be lovely, I know I’m always going to want something to carry my wallet & keys around in everyday!

What are your long term goals for Purse & Clutch?
We’ve actually just launched a new Ethical Style Ambassador program to get more people involved in telling the stories of the fair side of fashion! We’re looking to add 2 – 3 part time, flexible people to the team in the Austin and Denver areas. This program came out of our Apprenticeship Program that I facilitate twice a year and I hope to continue to empower Apprentices to create a job for themselves at Purse & Clutch.

Our reallllly long term vision for Purse & Clutch is to change the culture around fast fashion and to eradicate the use of sweatshops entirely!

What is your favorite styling tip?
This summer I’m obsessed with mixing neutrals with tons of textural details. Think interesting pleats, loose knits, and embroidered hems in a similar color story. Having 4 or 5 pieces that you absolutely love that can be interchanged makes getting ready in the morning so easy!

We are so glad to have you here today Jen! Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.

Purse-and-Clutch-Triangles-Clutch

We are super excited to be giving away this Indigo Clutch from Purse & Clutch’s newest line! We think it adds a geometric pop of interest to any outfit.

Please enter to win the Indigo Clutch by using the giveaway interface below. You can enter once a day with the Facebook and Twitter entry options, so come back and enter again to raise your chances of winning! Contest ends at Midnight CST on Sunday, July 26th. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends July 26th at 11:59 PM CST. Open to Residents of the US only. Winner will be selected by Random.org and be notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. Our opinions are our own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to thinkliz.com and thinkliz.com alone. We do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.

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Finding Your Style

How to find your style. A lot of people have told us that they don’t know how to use the clothes in their closets to put together outfits that they like, or how to buy items that they will actually wear and enjoy. We want to help! One way to start is to identify your individual style. If you have an idea of what your style is, you can make more purposeful purchasing decisions, which is important to our conversation around ethical fashion. What is the point of purchasing an ethically made piece of clothing if you don’t enjoy wearing it?

These are some of the things that have helped us determine our styles:

Create a Pinterest board.

About the time my son Jude was born, Pinterest really took off. One of the ways I used it was to pin outfit ideas. I have never been one to flip through the pages of Vogue or InStyle, so this new exposure to fashion really changed how I dressed myself. I began to learn what clothing was suitable for my body type, find new ways to style clothing I already owned, and identify a couple key pieces of clothing that would make my wardrobe stretch much further.

If you feel lost when it comes to style, we suggest that you start a board on Pinterest and pin things you are drawn to. (If you don’t have/want Pinterest, just start to pay attention to clothing items that catch your eye, and colors that you are drawn to.) Start to identify common looks in the clothing you pin. Then see if you can create any of them using clothing you already own, or by adding a couple key pieces to your wardrobe. For example, I noticed early on that I was pinning a lot of striped tops paired with brightly colored skirts and pants. I already owned the skirts and pants, so I went out and thrifted a stripped tank top and a stripped t-shirt! Those two items made me more excited about the clothes that were already in my closet. Later on, I realized that I was pinning high waisted skirts with tucked-in tops. I began to try tucking in shirts I already owned to skirts I already owned (or made) and felt much more put together and better about my figure!

By identifying the ‘key pieces’ of clothing that I was attracted to, I could thrift one or two identified items to get more wear out of what I already owned. Some common items that can really help make your wardrobe more versatile could be items like a chambray button-up, a tailored blazer, a certain color of t-shirt, a pair of slacks, or a piece of jewelry.

Think about your style profile.

Maybe you started a pinterest board but you can’t identify what type of styles you gravitate towards from your pins. Most people like more than one specific style category but we all tend to feel most comfortable in one or two particular styles. Another resource for you could be Stitch Fix (* affiliate link). This company has done a lot to help women figure out what their personal styles are. If you look them up on Pinterest you will find boards dedicated to the seven style categories they use – classic, preppy, romantic, glam, boho, edgy, and casual. Each board has a description of that style and lots of pins to give you an idea of what that style might include. Look through the boards, pick out your favorite pictures, and add those pins to your own fashion boards. This will give you a clearer sense of how to describe your style and what pieces and outfits you would enjoy wearing.

Find your ‘uniform’.

We all have types of outfits we wear everyday, or that we grab when we’re in a hurry. Make them play to your advantage! What are you most comfortable wearing? What do you feel best in? What do you feel most put together in? What outfit item do you get most excited about – shoes, tops, pants, skirts, or accessories? If you find outfit ‘formulas’ that you enjoy, you’ll know what to shop for and what to pull on those mornings when you don’t have time to think about style.

Some examples of our daily uniforms:

EllieUniform 1: Crisp button up with shorts/pants; Uniform 2: Casual dress with sandals and accent jewelry

Elizabeth – Uniform 1: Skinny jeans and a half tucked t-shirt with flats and lots of jewelry; Uniform 2: High waisted skirt with a tucked in tank top, flats and big earrings; Uniform 3: A basic dress, statement necklace and sandals.

Identify what you feel best and worst wearing.

This is very personal. For example, I am uncomfortable in wrap tops, cowl necks, and some button-ups. Ellie doesn’t like to wear anything sleeveless. Once you have identified these things, don’t make exceptions! Use your preferences to guide you when you make purchases.

It is also helpful to identify which types of fabric you feel comfortable wearing. I am learning that I really don’t like polyester tops because they have no give, they wick sweat in weird ways, and they can hold odors. Because of this, I am beginning to focus on natural fibers like cotton, linen, and wool. If you are always pulling at something or adjusting it to lay right, it’s likely that fabric is not for you. Avoid buying pieces made of this fabric, and give that piece to someone else or donate it!

Determine what compliments your body.

This can be tricky because we all have such unique shapes; what works on my figure may not work on yours. I have found it helpful to take a picture of myself in clothing that I am considering purchasing. This tells me a lot about what the clothing really looks like on me, and not just how it feels. If you have a friend who you think will really tell you the truth, send her a quick picture of you in the item so she can tell you if she thinks it looks good on you. But even if she says it looks good, if you don’t feel good, don’t buy it!

Figure out what you’re really wearing in your wardrobe.

Holding on to clothing we don’t actually wear clutters our closets and makes it more difficult to put together an outfit we enjoy wearing. Here are two systems we like for figuring out what we actually wear and what we should give away:

Ellie keeps items in her closet in order and generally wears what comes up next in line, skipping over any outfits she’s not excited to wear. After she’s worn something, she moves it to the end of the line. If she finds herself skipping an item several times in a row, she knows it’s time to get rid of it. This system also encourages her to wear each item she owns, which is a great way to tell what you like: after wearing an item all day you know how you feel about it!

Another good system for finding what you are and aren’t wearing in your closet is to turn all of your hangers to face the ‘wrong way’. When you wear something and hang it back up, hang the hanger the ‘correct way’. After a couple of months, any hangers that are still facing the ‘wrong direction’ are clothes you know you can live without.  Both of these systems can be modified for clothing you keep in drawers; for example, you could move through a drawer in a line, moving clothing you’ve skipped to the front of the line. Another option would be to hang up more of your clothing for a month or so while you evaluate what you have, returning it to its usual place when you’re done with the process.

In addition to helping you clean out your closet, both these methods can help you determine what items you gravitate towards and which you don’t really enjoy.  The more you know about what you actully wear, the more you know about your own style preferences and what you should and shouldn’t buy in the future.

Go with your gut.

If you try something on and feel iffy, don’t try to make it work, especially if you would just be buying it because it is inexpensive. Buying something just because it’s cheap is not the answer – especially if it doesn’t fit! Don’t convince yourself, or let others convince you, to purchase something unless your first impression of it is very good. Snap judgments are good here. This is also true of what is already in your closet – do a test day and see how you feel in an item. If you don’t love it, give it away!

Less is more; look for versatility.

The idea of a capsule wardrobe has been floating around a lot lately. If you don’t know what that is, we encourage you to read up on it! Read Capsule Wardrobe 101 here. Ellie and I don’t do capsule wardrobes, mostly because it’s not practical to pack any of our wardrobes away: in Austin the weather changes quickly and you need access to wool sweaters one day and shorts the next. But the idea of a capsule wardrobe has a lot of great concepts embedded in it: less is more, find versatility in what you already own, and purchase items based on how many different ways you can wear them. You can consider these ideas as you are building and adjusting your wardrobe.

It’s about YOU!

Ultimately, what matters is how YOU feel about what you are wearing. Trends come and go, but feeling good about yourself in clothing that you like always matters. We’ve said it before: our clothing is the most visible way that we tell the world who we are. It can communicate emotion (mourning clothes vs a sundress), our intent (workout clothes vs heels), and so much more with just a single glance. It’s worth spending time thinking about what you want your wardrobe to say.

Tell us what you learned about your style, or share a photo of something you love wearing and tell us why you love to wear it on Instagram with the hashtag #DressWellDoGood! We would love to have you join us in conversation as we continue to explore this idea of style and fashion! And of course, don’t forget to follow us over on Instagram at @DressWellDoGood and subscribe to receive blog posts via e-mail.