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What is Fair Trade? May 21 2013, 0 Comments
Did you know that...
Ten Thousand Villages was North America's first Fair Trade Organization in 1946. The first product? Needlework linen from Puerto Rico!
In 1968 the United Nations Conference on Aid and Development choose to get on board with a "trade not aid" policy.
Equal Exchange imported coffee from Nicaragua as a political statement and established the first Fair Trade Cooperative in North America in the mid 80s.
The term "Fair Trade" encompasses the following ethical principles: living wages, safe working conditions, no child labor, transparency on the part of the organization, eliminating unnecessary middlemen, environmentally friendly practices.
Fairtrade Federation is a brand that charges companies a fee to use their label. There's quite a bit of controversy around if this label is helping consumers differentiate when a company is using ethical labor practices and when a company simply sees this as a marketing boost. - All in all: be skeptical when prices are extremely high and companies aren't transparent about their labor practices.
Under the Fairtrade Certification label, different products have different standard they must meet and there are several products that don't have a standard yet in the USA (mainly paper & textiles).
You may have noticed that we here at Purse & Clutch prefer to use the term "fair wages" in place of "Fair Trade." For the artisan groups we choose to work with, we have a much higher standard than simply that they are being paid a fair wage, but we find that it's easy to get tangled in the misconceptions around the term "Fair Trade" and the multiple definitions and misuses. You may have also heard the phrase we use "sustainable, dignified, living wage jobs." Each one of those pieces is a core principle that we make certain is ingrained in the culture of the work of our partners.
- Sustainable: Both environmentally sustainable as well as helping create a job that can be relied upon for the long term. For us, this means we take our partnership with the artisan groups we work with very seriously and work to be a consistent purchaser of their purses and clutches from season to season. We also LOVE hearing about creative uses for scraps of materials - such as our partner in Uganda using left over leather strips from a local shoemaker to make straps for their bags.
- Dignified: We believe that in doing our due diligence in studying what is on trend here in the States, we can help provide a shopping experience that is full of purses and clutches that are in style and therefore stand on their own. We also insure that our artisan partner groups are treated with the respect that all men and women deserve and have realistic, consistent hours they work in a pleasant work culture.
- Living Wage: While this differs from country to country, often the artisans we work with are making two or three times the typical factory wage and many can work from home so they aren't forced to bring their children to sit in often times dangerous factory conditions. We are very intentional about keeping the number of middlemen low so that making Fair Trade purchases are available to more people.
The best definition I've seen is that:
Fair Trade allows people to invest in communities across the world connecting them with markets they may never have access to.
Here is a great article going in deeper to the question of what Fair Trade is that I would encourage you to read! We'd love to hear your thoughts on what buying Fair Trade means to you, especially in light of the recent news concerning large retail companies in the US not signing an agreement on factory safety in Bangladesh.
Spring Makeup Trends May 16 2013, 1 Comment
I am excited to introduce to you Nicole, of Radiant Cosmetics - a really amazing company that helps raise awareness for human trafficking by raising funds through cosmetics. I use their powder & mascara and absolutely love knowing that in purchasing a make-up item I already was planning on purchasing, I can contribute to such a needed cause. Nicole is here with us today on our last post of our Guest Blog Spring Fashion Trends Series:
Spring is always my favorite time of the year to experiment with makeup and these are some of my favorite beauty trends this season.
Pops of Color
This trend is still going strong. While a pop of color on the lips has been all over the place and I’ve yet to grow tired of it, I’m really digging it on eyes lately. Last week at the Met Gala Emily Blunt showed up in a bright pink eye shadow that was to die for. You don’t even need to buy a new product if you don’t want to, get brave and use that lipstick as an eye shadow and set with powder, add some mascara and you’ll nail this look.
Eyeliner has become a makeup bag essential. I’ve always been a fan of the cat eye, but am loving seeing the creativity with this trend. From a small flick, tight outline, to soft and smudged the possibilities are endless. I’m crazy over this exaggerated eyeliner seen on the Thierry Mugler runway.
You can’t go wrong with metallic. While I’m usually partial to gold and bronze metallics there’s been a lot of focus on silver metallic combined with the bold eyeliner trend to make this look even more of a show stopper.
This is a relatable trend in my life being a Texas girl. Down here in the South we have a very limited window that vaguely resembles spring and then we head straight into summer. I don’t love tons of makeup when it’s 100 degrees outside. The natural trend is the answer; it allows my skin to peek through but still cover up a few imperfections. Also, I don’t worry about my makeup looking crazy when spending time outside.
Which one will you try? I know I'm loving the bold eyeliner with the cat eye look - maybe I'll go just a little bit darker today and see how it looks!
The One Where Robyn Buys Six Different Tubes of Sunscreen May 15 2013, 0 Comments
Usually around this time of year I rush out and buy sunscreen in bulk, and, on that front, this year hasn’t been much different. However, this is the first year that I’m attempting to swear off anything harmful to my health, the environment, or animals. And because I’m awful at making informed decisions, my quest for a good sunscreen has become so comically overblown I feel like I’m living in the B plotline of a 90’s sitcom. Which I recognize is a very specific place to feel like you’re living.
Just a few words on how I came to eschew the above-mentioned items:
On the health front: Most sunscreens contain Oxybenzone and Vitamin A, both of which, at this point, are considered to be hormonal disruptors. I understand that scientific opinion can be divided or even change from time to time (which reminds me, where did we land on eggs? Are we eating eggs again?) however, as someone who has a history of lady-cancer in her family, this is something I’m not taking chances on. (A useful article)
On the environment front: Did you know sunscreen can be toxic to the environment? This was news to me. It seems to me that if you’re mostly paddling around in pools with chemically treated water that will eventually wind up in a water treatment plant anyway, then this doesn’t seem like a huge deal. If, however, you’re swimming in places where things live -- lakes, oceans, rivers -- then this becomes more problematic. In fact, in many diving/snorkeling places, they won’t let you swim unless you have an approved sunscreen (A useful article)
On the animal front: As it turns out, animal testing does not involve putting sunscreen on bunnies and then sending them to the beach for the day to see if they burn. I’ll spare you the details.
So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to ditch the No-Ad and try something new. Here are the sunscreens I tried out:
(From left to right): Kiss My Face Hydresia Mineral Sunscreen SPF 45; Badger Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 34; Jason Pure Natural Sun Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30; Babo Botanica Clear Zinc Sport Stick SPF 30; Alba Natural Very Emollient Sunscreen Sport SPF 45; Beyond Coastal Active Facestick SPF 30
Since there’s so many facets to consider, I decide to average the price, EWG rating, and my general feelings about the product to find my favorite (yeah, it’s not an exact science). Note: All prices are based off Amazon. Be aware that Amazon’s listed price-per-ounce quotes on many of these items were WAY off. I tried to get a more accurate number, but it’s me doing the math, so...you’ve been warned.
Kiss My Face Hydresia Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 45
EWG Rating: 1
Verdict: It takes a little longer to rub this in than I’m used to, and even then I’m still sporting that weirdo-who-doesn’t-realize-their-suncreen-isn’t-rubbed-in look, and it is a little chalky, but hey, if the tan-lines on my feet are any indication, this stuff works.
Don’t act like you’re not jealous of my flip-flops lines
Jason Pure Natural Sun Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
Price per ounce: $2.24/oz
EWG Rating: 2
Verdict: Quite honestly, I can’t tell the difference between this and the Kiss My Face, other than it being a lower SPF, which I don’t mind (and the slightly worse EWG rating). I find with a higher SPF I get cocky and don’t re-lather as often as I should, and the result is that the higher the SPF the more likely I am to burn. But I recognize not everyone has the same SPF hubris that I do.
Badger Broad Spectrum Sunscreen, SPF 34
EWG Rating: 1
Verdict: I’ll be honest, I went into this already wanting Badger to be my favorite of the bunch, and it most certainly is. It’s easier to rub in than the most of the others, doesn’t leave as thick of a white film or the chalky residue of the mineral sunscreens. It also has the best EWG rating, is certified by Leaping Bunny, has a Natural Products Association seal, and is the only one of these sunscreens that’s approved for use near coral reefs. Plus: BADGER.
But, it costs more than the others so….hm.
Alba Natural Very Emollient Sunscreen Sport, SPF 45
EWG Rating: 5
Verdict: I mean, it’s…meh. Since it’s not mineral based it’s not chalky, but the EWG rating isn’t great, so I’m going to vote no.
Babo Botanica Clear Zinc Sport Stick, SPF 30
EWG Rating: This brand is not rated by the EWG, however I checked the ingredient list and neither Oxybenzone nor Vitamin A is listed.
Verdict: I like to always keep at least a little sunscreen in my purse, and after dealing with a few spills I find a stick works best. Other people may not have this same problem, but I’ve found that, living in Austin, you’re better off always keeping sunscreen, a bottle of water, and an alternate pair of shoes on your person.
Beyond Coastal Active Facestick, SPF 30
EWG Rating: 2
Verdict: This thing was turned out to be wayyyy smaller than I thought it would be, but even being smaller than I thought it’s still a better deal than the Babo stick.
Final ruling: I think I’m going to go with the Kiss My Face for now. Jason won on the price front, but at the time that I’m writing this I can no longer find this particular kind of sunscreen for what I paid for it, so that price might have been a fluke. Honestly, all of these are pretty good and I would buy them again (well, probably not the Alba). And there are plenty of ways to avoid paying sticker price for sunscreen: there are various online drug stores that offer competitive prices, you can try buying from the company’s website using coupons from Retailmenot.com, and Amazon offers several brands in bulk for a discount, which is handy if you find something you like.
I admit, I’m sad to say no to the Badger. If I lived in another world where this was the only viable option –say, if it was either toxic, earth-murdering sunscreen or Badger -- then I would totally buy Badger. But as this post clearly illustrates, we have options. For everyday use, I think Kiss My Face works best for me, price and functionality wise. I’ll probably save my pricey tube of badger for more specific occasions, like when I’m at the lake or floating the river.
Now, who’s up for a trip to the beach? I’ll bring the sunscreen. Because I have a lot of it now.
A Layman's Guide to Choosing the Perfect Handbag May 14 2013, 0 Comments
I believe that there are many components to making responsible purchases. The one we talk about the most around here is looking into how items are made and with what materials. Another thing I think it important when making a purchase is how you choose which item to buy.
Items that we love tend to get used more and help us reduce the number of things that we do purchase. For example, the tank top that I bought that was on sale, but wasn't really my style will sit in my drawer taking up precious space and I'll probably end up purchasing another tank top that I do love (assuming that I needed another tank top - which in Austin in the summers is a good assumption!)
Here are my tips on choosing the perfect handbag so that it's exactly the one that you want and it will have a long, fashionable life:
What are you drawn to?
What is your gut saying? Is there one bag that you keep gravitating to, but think you should want a different one? If you walk around the store or continue to browse the internet, are you still thinking about the bag? Then that's the one for you.
What do you already have?
Is your closet brimming with gray clutches? Is everything you buy chevron print? Do you have four across the shoulder bags and are eyeing another? If you already have something (or several somethings!) similar, skip it unless you're willing to donate the similar items to make room for a replacement.
What do you find yourself noticing that you're missing?
Maybe it's you always using a recycled shopping bag for your laptop or you can't ever find your keys and phone in the bottom of your big bag and could use a little clutch to help organize. Be conscious of what would make your life easier and vow to only buy that thing that you need.
What colors and prints dominate your current wardrobe?
If you typically wear black or neutrals, a bright handbag would match with the majority of what you already own. If the majority of the pants that you own are bold florals and oversized prints, perhaps a solid neutral handbag would best compliment your outfit. Whatever colors and prints are the majority of your wardrobe, buy the opposite in your handbag to get the most wear.
Not sure if you're a clutch gal?
Start with a wristlet. It's an easy way to keep track of your clutch (since it's securely around your wrist!) and you can try it out and see if it's a good fit. If it's not and your constantly returning to restaurants to grab your belongings, throw that adorable wristlet into your computer bag and pack it full of business cards to distribute with ease and style.
What tends to catch your eye of what other women are wearing?
When you're out and about, make it a point to notice which women have a similar style to yours (or the style you wish you had!) and see what they're carrying. Do they tend to have smaller bags? Bigger prints? Geometric patterns? Neutral colors? Or peruse through a few fashion blogger websites and let that help define your style.
How do you know what handbag is your style?
What's the last bag you bought that you really loved and how did you know before you bought it that it was your handbag soulmate?
Tribal Trends - Spring Fashion Blog Series May 09 2013, 2 Comments
We're so very happy to welcome the lovely Lauren from MercyInk on the blog today to talk about her favorite Spring Fashion Trend. Lauren weighs in:
I could not be more delighted about Jen's Spring Fashion trends blog series. For me, there is always a tension between conscious consumption and staying on top of new trends, as Jen mentioned in her recent post. Over the past year, I've learned more about fair trade fashion and am ever wrestling with the desire to shop well and fair while also shopping fresh, current trends. It is getting easier to do so, friends! (Check out my latest Fair Trade Fashion for Spring post for some ideas).
Let's take my very favorite trend of the season, tribal patterns, for instance. I very much limit purchasing items new, especially if they are not fair trade or handmade, but when I was out of town recently and forgot half my luggage (I have a mushy mama brain, what can I say?), I ran out for some Target therapy and a few new staples for spring. I was super happy to find these puppies:
Tribal prints are popping up everywhere, and you don't have to forgo fairly traded items to keep up with this trend, which is one reason it makes me happy.
Tribal knits ($56)
I also recently found a new favorite of mine in the fair trade world (next to Purse & Clutch, of course!) called Indego Africa. Among other beautifully crafted, fair trade certified products, they also partner with well known designers to create fair trade pieces. J.CREW and Anthropologie are among recent partnerships. These Nicole Miller Wrapped Textile Bangles are a beautiful example of a collaboration at work:
Tribal Knot Bow $4 via etsy
Tribal Aztec Scarf, $11.99 // Atomically Adorned on etsy
Multi Colored Tribal + Gold Earrings, $7 // Button Upp on etsy
I am in love with this trend for so many reasons, but mostly because it is way more than a trend for our family. We recently began the process of adopting a child from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Congolese women in Goma. image via Getty Images / Uriel Sinai
The beautiful Congolese fabrics, prints, and bright colors cannot help but remind me this trend. So for us, this trend will stay in style, even long after it's trending, because it is now a part of our child's culture and our soon to be Congolese-American family.
Do you have any favorite tribal patterned pieces this spring? How have you wrestled with the tension between staying on trend and shopping fair?
A Dirty Job - Navigating the Wonderful World of Used Clothing May 08 2013, 3 Comments
Our always clever and sometimes irreverent blogger is back - this week to talk about her love / hate relationship with shopping used. Robyn weights in and gives us a higher-end view of ebay, consignment stores, and how to navigate them with the ease of a professional shopper:
The trouble with shopping and consuming in general is that, even with rules, even with a conscience and high-ideals, you can suddenly find that something you didn’t know was harmful was actually very harmful, and then, if you’re me, you spiral and decide to just sew your own clothing out of jute from hemp plants you harvested in your backyard that you grew after composting your own feces. But a more appropriate response to this dilemma would be to simply find a way to remove yourself at least one step away from the manufacturing process, and I’ve found buying used, whenever possible, to be excellent solution.
Buying used cuts down on waste, cuts down on cost, and puts some distance between your money and the manufacturing process, a win-win (or win-win-win, if you’re counting). I recognize that lots of people have hang-ups about buying used, because it can be gross, because it can be time-consuming, because you might get crabs/bedbugs/a staph infection. But it all depends on how you shop. Mostly, I tend to avoid giant Goodwills or similar thrift shops for clothing, purely because you have to spend so. much. time. digging. to make it worth your while, and I just don’t have the wherewithal to do that anymore. If, however, you do, then more power to you; there are some seriously great finds to be had if you have the stamina to do it (back in my younger days, when I didn’t need to eat and pee every hour on the hour as I do now, I used to spend gobs of time doing this, and found some real treasures including a vintage Hermes Kelly bag for $3.) And while shopping used invariably brings on a level of work that doesn’t come with retail, I find the benefits far outweigh the costs.
For example, let me break down an outfit for you.
- The blazer, which was about $500 new, I got on Ebay for around $100. That may still seem like a lot, but I wear this thing all the time (Clearly). And I’m telling you, once you discover the difference between a well-made blazer and a cheap one, you will never go back.
- The top is J Crew factory. I really wanted it but they’re back-ordered until July on the website, so I found this one used on, surprise!, Ebay. Tip: if you find a shop/seller on Ebay that you like, stick with them. The ones with good prices and return policies are worth frequenting. Also, setting up saved searches when you know what you’re looking for is a great time saver, as Ebay will just email you every day with new finds.
- The jeans are Rag & Bone, a Buffalo Exchange find. I think I paid around $80 for them, and that was with the tags still attached.
- The shoes are Vince Camuto, and I literally paid $8 for them. They were clearance at DSW, plus I had a credit from my reward points, plus a coupon.
- The bag is Balenciaga from Last Call. Originally $1,015, I paid a little over $200 for it. It pains me to recommend anything Neiman Marcus (their customer service is abysmal) but there are some really good deals to be had at Last Call.
Mind you, this is not an outfit I put together in order to impress you with my shopping skills -- I just randomly selected a photo from a stack of outfit pics my friend Claire took for me a few weeks ago. This is mostly to illustrate that, at any given time, at least half of what I’m wearing is used clothing.
Vintage faux-python clutch and Ralph Lauren belt both via Etsy
I’ve had really good luck with an online consignment store called The Real Real. My most recent purchase from them is this pair of Lanvin platforms I got for $80. Yes. Lanvin. $80. It can happen. The Real Real is a lot like a brick-and-mortar consignment store in that you have to really dig around to find the deals, but when you do, they’re worth it. Word of advice: about once a month they have site-wide sales and mark everything down 20-40%. Stalk what you want and wait for it to go on sale.
My giant, hard-to-fit feet are the only thing keeping me solvent
As far as brick-and-mortar stores go, in Austin I’m partial to the GW (a pickier version of Goodwill, there’s one on Far West and one of Bee Caves), and Moss always has great finds. Buffalo Exchange (which I recognize is a chain that can vary greatly depending the location) is pretty great, especially for jeans, contemporary American designers (you could build a pretty good fort out of the amount of Marc Jacobs and Robert Rodriguez pieces they have), and pretty much anything you’d ever want from Urban Outfitters.
I’ll admit, it takes effort to shop used. Much like exercising, it’s all about finding what works best for you and keeps you coming back; it’s all about trial and error. Just remember to wash your hands.
- R. S.
We'd love to hear what you've found that works for you when shopping used. Any favorite spots around town (if you're willing to divulge your secrets!) or on the internet? Any horror stories of things you've found at a thrift or consignment store?
Why Fashion Trends are Worth Following May 07 2013, 0 Comments
In one of my very first blog posts from just over a year ago, I mentioned that,
"I've worked hard to shift my mindset from a trend-based closet to building a classic wardrobe."
In the rest of the short post, you can almost see the tension I was feeling over really being inundated with a particular trend (mint green!), but feeling that if I were to be a responsible consumer, I wouldn't be following trends at all. After spending a year in the responsible fashion industry, I've noticed a shift in my mindset. I love trends! Let me tell you why.
First, I had to re-define fashion trends.
I think I equated fashion trends with fast fashion. If an item was trendy, it meant that at some level it was poorly constructed, unethically made, and wouldn't last more than a season - both in quality and in style. In reading about some of my favorite blogger's most lovable Spring Fashion Trends in our Thursday Guest Blogger Series (here & here) I'm beginning to realize that
new fashion trends can give you a fresh look at the clothes you've had hanging in your closet all along.
What I used to see as a boring white skirt can find a new life when paired with a white blouse and a funky jean jacket. The bold navy floral print tank I bought a few years ago and has been on the edge of the Salvation Army donation box for a month, suddenly is the perfect top to pair with my funky mustard print shorts as I adventure into the world of bold pattern mixing.
One thing I think I did get right last year - I still love the idea of brightening up an outfit with an accessory. Or two. Or three! The perfect color nail polish (I'm currently digging a delicate shade of peach!), a great vintage heel, or an adorable fair trade handbag can really bring an outfit from "I got most of what I'm wearing from a thrift store" to a pulled together chic look.
Fun ways to spark fashion trend ideas:
1.) Look through your mother's photo album of when she was in college - added bonus *go through it with her when you see her for Mother's Day and ask her to tell you stories of what she was like when she was wearing those fabulous burnt orange wide leg pants!
2.) Check out local boutiques - they often will change out a window display every few days filling that pretty little head of yours with ideas on how you can re-work pinstriped matchstick ankle pants to give it a fresh feel.
3.) Flip through the #OOTD (Outfit Of The Day) hashtag (on instagram & twitter) to find new fashion bloggers to go to for inspiration. I find bloggers take time focusing on pulling an outfit together and more often than not I find things in my own closet that I never would have thought to pair together. Some of my favorites include Indiana from Adored Austin, Kendi from Kendi Everyday, and Chelle from Spangled Paraphernalia.
4.) Obviously there's Pinterest - but what if you made a board consisting of photos of clothes similar to the ones you already own? It could bring new ideas and could show that you don't need another little black dress, but could use a sturdy jean jacket to pull things together.
5.) Check to see if the university in your town has a fashion program. Many school programs have an end of year runway show that is brimming with fresh, new ideas from budding designers.
Do you follow fashion trends? Do you find it freeing or overwhelming? Where do you go for fashion trend inspiration?
The Rules May 02 2013, 2 Comments
I know what you’re thinking -- we just met and already she thinks she can boss me around with some dumb rules? But don’t worry, I’m just here to talk about my rules, the rules I’ve made up that have (and haven’t) worked for me over the years. Also, my rules aren’t dumb; I can’t believe you would say that.
I’ve always had my own aesthetic from which I’ve never strayed too far, but over the years I’ve had a series of self-imposed rules that have influenced how I’ve executed it. In high school, I didn’t want to dress without at least one major statement piece; this led to many pairs of Jane Doe pants paired with Issey Miyake sweaters and an ever-present pair of knee-high black leather boots. It was, in a word, loud. Then, in my late teens, I switched and decided I didn’t want wear anything with which I couldn’t wear pearls. I spent a lot of money on Kate Spade handbags and kitten heels before I realized that I don’t like either of those things.
My early twenties saw the enlistment of the Katharine Hepburn law: specifically, would Katharine Hepburn wear this? If not, I wasn’t interested. Of course, being relegated to nothing but wide-leg trousers and silk blouses quickly becomes a rather dull and jejune mode of dressing, and I dropped it.
My mid-twenties ushered in my grunge phase, in which I paired many tasteless American Apparel tank tops with cut-off denim shorts. Of all my phases, this one is my most reviled, though I like to think I can blame it on the fact that I had just moved to Austin, the most casual city in America, and I think I just...over-corrected a bit. This phase mercifully ended, ushering in my current phase: the Age of the Blazer.
Seriously. Blazers with everything. Blazers with jeans, blazers over dresses, blazers with shorts (though, once, after bragging to my friend Sarah that I could pull off anything so long as I wore it with a blazer, she challenged me to pair one with shorteralls. I’m still too chicken to try this, so perhaps I should downgrade my earlier statement of “everything” to a more tempered “almost everything”).
Behold, the Almighty Blazer
Most of my late-twenties aesthetic has involved an exploration of wearing tailored clothing in a casual manner, and I feel like I’ve really hit my sartorial stride. I do have two rules I’ve lately adopted that help me get the most out of my favored aesthetic, which I will share with you now, and which you are, of course, welcome to ignore if you like, as I am not the boss of you:
Rule #1: Would I wear this out of the store? If not, then odds are I really don’t like it. (Exception: if it just needs minor alterations, I’ll take it, but that’s largely because I found a good alterations place that I trust.)
Rule #2: Did this cause harm when it was made? This one takes a little more explaining, so let me break it into sub-rules:
Rule #2, Sub-Rule A: No exotic skins. Do I look amazing in these panda-pelt boots? Of course. But should I buy them? Probably not. This is a subject I take very seriously, and I’ll happily spare you the details of my onerous tirade, but as an animal lover, exotic skins are a deal-breaker.
Rule #2, Sub-Rule B: No fast fashion. This is subject about which I still have much to learn, but the more I do learn the more I stay away from anything made by Target, Forever 21, etc. Clothing there tends to be poorly made by people working in unsafe conditions; they create gobs of waste and they’re pretty shameless about straight-up stealing ideas from designers. Also those are the types of stores that tend to attract loud teenagers, and I. just. can’t. with that crowd.
Looking back through this list it almost appears as though each one of my phases is a direct rebellion against the one before it, which causes me to wonder if my current tastes are fleeting and in a year or two I’ll react by dressing baggy, un-tailored, old-lady-style silhouettes. Though one theme does appear to be consistent: age is certainly mellowing me out.
I grow old... I grow old...
I shall wear my Chanel pantsuit rolled.
Shall I Aquanet my hair? Do I dare fall asleep at three?
I shall wear Commes des Garcon and walk upon the beach.
Cleaning out the Closet! May 01 2013, 0 Comments
Happy Tuesday to you all! I'm really excited about today's guest blogger. Beth Locker of Beth Locker Style is here to share her strategies on how to start the love/hate relationship that can be cleaning out your closet for Spring:
As April showers fade and May flowers begin to pop we all start to feel renewed. Winter's short cold days give way to open window breezes, lingering sunshine and whatís ahead for summer's endless possibilities. People are outside more --exercising, working in their yards, cleaning up and planting. As this shift happens, it is a great time to re-assess our wardrobes and cluttered closets.
For over 25 years I have helped people edit their wardrobes and seen them transform before my eyes as they get rid of clutter that makes getting dressed every day almost impossible. A recent Wall Street Journal article claimed that people wear only 20% of what's in their closets. Secretly we all know this is true. Here are a few tips for getting started.
A few things to remember as you begin the process: First, make sure you are well rested, fed and hydrated. This sounds ridiculous, but necessary, as this is a surprisingly emotional task. People are attached to their stuff and have stories about pieces of clothing that they wore to a special event back in the eighties that they just can't get rid of or a sweater that an old boyfriend gave them, etc., etc. you get the picture. Next, start in a far corner of your closet and go hanger to hanger asking yourself a few important questions: When did I last wear this, did I feel great in it, is the color and fit flattering? Once you get going make 3 piles: give, sell and throw away. If you touch a hanger holding something that you are not sure of, leave it and keep going.
As you start the process something remarkable will happen. it will get easier to edit and give your items an honest assessment. Go back to the pieces that you were having a difficult time releasing and clarity will come (we all have that little place in our heart where if we know someone else could use or enjoy something we have, it is a pleasure to be generous and give and freeing, I might add). It's also important to state your intentions or goal of this project. Perhaps you are starting a new job which requires a different look, or you've lost those few extra pounds and are anticipating the excitement of getting some new things to celebrate, or you are stuck when it comes to putting your clothes together or simply, going through the process twice a year as it is a great exercise for an orderly life.
Learning the difference between want and need is a lesson relearned over and over again in life. Loving fashion, design and following trends is oh so much fun and an important part of the human existence and we advertise who we are by the clothes we choose to wear. We get dressed 7 days a week, so you might as well start with a cleaned-out well organized closet. Think about it.
Do you clean your closet out each season? Do you love or hate the process? Join the conversation in the comments below!
Behind the Scenes: Lufkin Spring Market April 23 2013, 0 Comments
Pop-Up shops are one of my very favorite expressions of creativity. Each one can be different and a slew of DIY projects take hold. I made a little video showing you some of the fun that goes on behind the scenes:
Bold Pattern Mixing - Spring Fashion Trends April 18 2013, 0 Comments
This week, I asked one of our adorable Affiliate Bloggers, Chelle of Spangled Paraphernalia, to share some tips on styling her favorite Spring Fashion Trend. Chelle weighs in:
1. Big sassy prints are the new color blocking, amiright? The key to making this trend scream, "I'm a classy dame," is to pair your prints with solids and minimal accessories. This keeps on-lookers focused, not on the loudness of your shirt, but on what really matters: your fabulous sense of style.
2. Mixing textures is another great way to rock that pattern like it ain't no thang. Pairing a chiffon shirt with suede boots provides some contrast to your ensemble without adding too many competing patterns. Added bonus, subtle details like the right texture mix gives your look that "je ne sais quoi" quality that people go crazy for. And let's face it, who doesn't appreciate compliments and approving stares from perfect strangers?
3. If you want to rock the print, but aren't quite in that look-at-me-I'm-a-bird-of-paradise mood, throw on a bold accessory like a vintage silk scarf, tribal wedges, or a striped cardigan with something more classic and simple. This is a great option for professional work environments - classy does not have to be boring, my friends!
4. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when in doubt, more is, well, more! Be sure to mix 'em up, though. As we have been taught throughout the ages, it is very difficult to pull off head-to-toe animal print. Try combining a bold geometric print with something more subtle like tiny polka dots or stripes. This is especially effective with black and white patterns. Then, you can throw in a bright green chevron clutch to spice things up.
At the end of the day, I say, "wear your patterns and enjoy life!" Spring is all about new beginnings, so bust out your bright colors and crazy prints and be fabulous you to the fullest extent!
Fair Trade Tiny Totes April 16 2013, 2 Comments
I'm sure you've heard me say it before, but I'm a tote gal. And with the arrival of our adorable new Fair Trade totes from India, here's just a few ways to put one to good use:
- As a lunch sack
- To carry your clutch inconspicuously in a sketchy area of town
- To hold your dirty laundry on a weekend trip
- To ensure that you are never without a good book
- To carry wine bottles from the grocery store with ease
- As a conversation starter on what it means to buy fair wage
- As sustainable, reusable wrapping paper for a Mother's Day gift
- For bringing wine to a party in style
- To hold your valuables at the gym instead of stuffing them in your bag or locker
- As sustainable, reusable wrapping paper when gifting an adorable Fair Trade Clutch to your BFF just because!
- To compartmentalize toiletries in your suitcase
- As sustainable, reusable wrapping paper for a hostess gift (sensing a theme...?!)
- As a odd and unflattering hat
- As a way to support handmade, Fair Trade companies working to help create jobs in developing countries
- To carry things while riding your bike
- As a shopping bag at the Farmer's Market to hold your fresh veggies
What would you add? What creative ways do you use a tote bag?
- P.S. Enter to win an adorable Fair Trade Tiny Tote by posting a review & Tweeting with #AprilToteGiveaway -
Urban Light - Spring Fashion Trends April 11 2013, 2 Comments
I asked our amazingly creative Fashion Photographer & Stylist, Stephanie Press (also of Hold Vintage), to share some tips on styling her favorite Spring Fashion Trend. Steph weighs in:
Denim is always in. But this year, I'm inspired by the fresh take of denim on denim using pristine whites and treated blues. Yes, your acid-wash jeans from back-in-the-day are set for a major update this season! This works best as a very clean look that plays on classic shapes with a textural feel enhanced by minimalist styling and a casual California-cool vibe.
Denim and white is an excellent foil for bold accessories. Think big, oversize metal cuffs, bold contrast print purses, and neon-bright sandals and earrings. It's also a look that will put tailored pieces in your closet that can be recombined season after season, and will outlast trend cycles. Remember, denim will go with any shade of lipstick and can easily be dressed up or down. Heavier denims are structured, graphic and flattering, relaxed denims are floaty and can be whimsical or have a dream-like air.
If you dare to get crafty, reach into the closet for an old pair of denim, and get busy doing this: Or cut them off and make shorts. Head to your local thrift store for an oversize denim shirt (mens will do) and try your hand at adding a few embroidered details to the collar (like these arrows), or easy appliques like iron-on studs. Old denim looks good in a bit of wear, so don't be afraid to take another look at what is already in your closet for ideas.
Pair it with crisp whites (either jeans or an easy button down shirt), throw on some neon sandals, grab your clutch, and done!
Some of my favorite pairings and styling suggestions:
White vintage (or vintage-inspired) eyelet shift dresses with dark denim moto jackets. Keep your hair and makeup retro fresh with a messy updo and cat eyes. Feminine heels and small handbags with fun details like candy-colored leather and gold chains make it look luxe.
Acid wash denim leggings with a breezy white button down shirt. Crunchy beach waves, aviator sunnies, and a pair of neon yellow sandals make this look hip and effortless. It will also fit a wide range of proportions. If you're worried about the leggings showing a little too much, go for a shirtdress or even a swimsuit cover up in white and layer a tank or sports top underneath.
High-waisted white shorts with a button down shirt in a washed out denim. Be sure to roll the sleeves up and pair it with chunky wedges. Add vintage scatter pins to the collar for some color and texture. Loosely braided updos and bright pink lips provide just the right bit of polish.
But most of all, have fun dressing up your denim this Spring. A smile is the best accessory.
Companies with Intentionality April 09 2013, 4 Comments
When it comes to companies that give back, there are three basic models:
1.) A portion of sales are donated to a specific Non-Profit or cause
2.) Buy one give one - a comparable item to the one purchased is donated to those in need of that item
3.) Intentionally purchasing items from groups who fairly compensate their artisans and ensure a positive work environment
Often times, a company will fall under multiple catagories. Here are a few examples of some of my favorite ethical companies of women who I have had the privilidge to meet in my journey of small business ownership:
What's in my Wallet. April 02 2013, 2 Comments
The ever popular Capital One commerical keeps asking what's in my wallet. Well, Alec Baldwin, let me show you just what you can fit in one of the new and always adorable wallets from JOYN, Craftworks Cambodia, & One Mango Tree:
It's nice when traveling to have a separate (and adorable!) wallet to store things such as your favorite nail polish colors or try compartmentalizing hair accessories and jewelry to keep everything wonderfully organized!
The contents of this wallet are a bit more of an everyday assortment. Toss your credit card and id in the inside pocket and fill with your daily essentials for a quick wristlet full of style.
Pack this adorable clutch full of your favorite make up and tuck in your bag for easy access throughout the day to touch up your look and easily take your look from day to night!
Never get stuck without the essentials again. I keep my chevron wallet in my computer bag to make sure I'm always ready for the inevitable, but can remain discrete when unpacking my computer in a coffee shop.
I choose to carry this style most days because I can fit my billfold, phone, and a journal with ease. I've even added a small book to make sure that I'm never caught without reading or writing material should inspiration strike!
F.A.Q. March 26 2013, 0 Comments
I often times get the same questions asked to me again and again. I'll answer them here!
Did you make these bags?
While an incredibly flatterning question, my skills in sewing, block printing, weaving cotton and spinning thread by hand are in no way up to par! All of our handbags and seasonal items are handmade in developing countries (currently Uganda, Cambodia, Tanzania, and India) by a group of artisans with limited employment opportunities.
How do you know that the artisans are being fairly compensated?
I work very hard to screen my wholesalers to make sure they are committed to non-discrimination, to environmental sustainability, to favorable work conditions and to fair compensation. I started by partnering with a good friend from graduate school who works with the groups of artisans in India. I only partner with groups that I have a personal relationship with and that I trust explicitly. I've met many of the artisans myself and have intentionally kept my wholesalers to four because I've not found other groups that I can ensure complete transparency and who carry the fashionable, affordable products that fit with the collection as a whole.
Why don't you sell Purse & Clutch bags at such and such retail store?
Because I partner with multiple wholesalers, there actually aren't "Purse & Clutch bags." In the same way most retail stores carry other brands and don't have a brand of their own. Example: Anthropologie. They carry a beautifully curated collection of other brands. So do we! Selling bags from my wholesalers to retail stores would make me an unnessary middle man. One of the reasons why Purse & Clutch has been so successful (and why it's kinda of a confusing concept) is that there aren't many other retailers selling only handmade and fair wage products that take into account the seasonal fashion trends and keep their costs affordable.
Do you do everything on the business side of things yourself?
Why yes, yes I do. BUT the amazing internet has so many helpful tools for small online business owners. See examples below:
*For inventory management, I use Stitch Labs. $12 a month is a bargan for all that this web tool does. It links to my website and shows when an item is sold out. It runs amazing reports that makes reporting state sales tax a breeze. It gives me the big picture of what items I have and what items / colors / patterns are best sellers which helps me make sure that I order enough of a product that is popular.
*For customer service, I use Olark Chat. It's actually a free app through Shopify (my website platform) that allows customers on the website ask questions in real time.
*To keep track of income and expenses, I use the free version of Outright. They send me a weekly email that shows my profit/loss statement and reminds me that as much fun as this is, and as many artisans that we're able to help, this is a business and we can only continue to help provide jobs if we're successful as a business.
*I use Stripe as my secure credit card payment company. They have relatively low fees and usually make accurate assements as to how much of a risk factor purchases are. A stolen card was used on the site (who steels a credit card and buys button clutches?!!) and although it wasn't caught before I shipped the product, the helped me fight the disputed claim. (The card owner was reimbursed and I was out both the clutches and the sale - such is the life of a small business I suppose, but Stripe was very informative on the steps I should take).
Am I missing anything? Any burning questions I can answer? : )
And I love sharing what I've learned with fellow small business owners. Let me know if you'd like to chat!
5 Ideas on How to Rekindle Inspiration March 19 2013, 2 Comments
With buds dotting the tree branches and the sun shining later into the evening, there seems to be an endless supply of inspiration all around. But what about when inspiration begins runs a bit thin?
In this week's blog post, I'd like to share with you 5 things I've found to be helpful when I'm feeling a bit lackluster when it comes to ideas
Tear Drop Earrings are Here! March 13 2013, 0 Comments
Back in December during the Gifts that Give Holiday Market that I help put on with The Good Collaborative, we had a last minute vendor. It was an email out of the blue from an artisan from Tanzania (who just happened to be in Austin that week) who did incredible beadwork on necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and sandals. Throughout the week, I had the privilidge to get to know Gertrude and hear her story and learn from her experiences running a small business. I was so impressed with her confidence that there were jobs to be created and she was the one to do it in her town.
On the first day I worked the register, I kept seeing her adorable hand-beaded, multi colored tear drop earrings in people's shopping bags. After day two, I had purchased a pair as a gift for a good friend for Christmas. After day three, I asked Gertrude if she would be interested in partnering with Purse & Clutch for our seasonal non-handbag item. Her high quality work and gorgeous designs won me over easily!
Obviously with a name like "Purse & Clutch" we sell handbags. But we like to expand our product line a bit with a speciality item each season. In the fall it's gorgeous scarves from Cambodia. In the winter it's beautiful Christmas stockings from India.
And now, introducing for the first time: Statement Earrings for Spring!
Available in limited quantities just for Spring, you can pick from four combinations of yellow, green, and white specifically designed for Purse & Clutch's Spring Collection! And they make great gifts! As an added bit o' fun, the first purchaser of each of the four styles will get the style named after them! (The Chelsea, The Jessica, etc...)
Here's an exerpt Getty sent me on how she got started:
African Crafts by Gertrude was founded in 2002 by Gertrude Protas Kitia and Helen S. Walker-Hill as an outlet for the handcrafts made by women in the town of Usa River near Arusha in north-central Tanzania. One hundred precent of the proceeds are returned to support the craftswomen of this rapidly growing town which is in great need of economic development.
Help spread the word! Tweet, Instagram, Pin, and Facebook your favorite pair of earrings and let people know that high quality, beautiful earrings made by artisans who were fairly compensated are not only available, but are adorable, too!
Behind the Scenes March 05 2013, 1 Comment
When the lovely and talented Purse & Clutch stylist and photographer, Stephanie Press of Hold Vintage, suggested that we have the next part of our photo shoot at 7:00am I laughed. Then I realized she was serious. Turns out, she was also spot on! The light was absolutely beautiful ... and here I was hoping we would hate it and decide that a few more hours between waking up on a Sunday morning and smiling with a clutch was necessary.
So Steph comes in with her usual array of fabulous vintage finds and we get to work. Well, I should say that after a strong cup of coffee (or two), we get to work!
I got a little jump on the morning and had started my make up unbeknownst to Steph. When we sat down she commented that my skin looked really great. Isn't that the hope of a good powder? That people think that 1.) your skin looks great and 2.) that you've not put on make up yet?!
I'd never used Everyday Minerals make up, but since they are an Austin based company and have very similar values to P&C I was thrilled when they sent a package of oh-so-fun goodies for us to use on the shoot. I can't recommend their Natural lucent powder more! And as Steph was putting on the blush (with the really great angled brush they sent us!) she commented on how bright the pigment was and how natural it looked. For our shoot we used Nature's Sweet Side and New Car Smell and I'm really please with how it photographed!
Then on to lips! If you had a chance to read about my New Year's Resolution you know that I'm on a quest to find a lipstick that I can wear effortlessly. I may have just found my match. Everyday Mineral's lipstick feels more like chapstick on my lips and has such lovely natural colors. Just my style! In the shoot, I wore the shade Love Birds.
So Steph and I head to Lakeshore Drive with her bike in tow. And bike pump...that we couldn't get to work...and we started experimenting with angles of light and different adorable bags. All the while listening to the Austin rowing club shouting commands ("Oklahoma! Dallas! Lane 2!") as we wondered why others were up that early on a Sunday morning.
As I fought to keep the adorable vintage hat on my head and out of Town Lake, I couldn't help but smile. Who would have thought that helping to create jobs for those with limited opportunities could be so much fun? It's really exciting to see my vision for Purse & Clutch continue to come together: using fashion and business to promote the beautiful work of artisans in developing countries to bring dignity to the process by curating products that stand on their own accord.
Brand Highlight: JOYN India February 28 2013, 0 Comments
You've probably seen the adorable block printed, hand woven bags that I've been posting this week. I'm pleased to introduce you to my dear friend and incredibly creative businesswoman with a heart of gold, Rikki Marler, the production manager of JOYN:
Counting the hands to JOY.
More steps. More hands. More JOY.
That is the philosophy behind every JOYN product. Our vision is to creates as many jobs as possible and that is why we decided to produce a product that could be handmade from the ground up. When someone looks at a ﬁnished clutch or purse, it can sometimes be hard to visualize how many hands were involved in creating a beautiful stylish handbag that you can call your own. When someone purchases a JOYN product, our hope that is they are able to see the hands behind the details that go into each product. Each hand represents a livelihood. A purpose. A break in the cycle of poverty.
Each product has a story and several beautiful sets of hands behind it. For instance, the stitcher you see in the photo (above) is Rajong, We usually call him “Acoo”, which means uncle in Tibetan. He took a long journey to become JOYNʼs master stitcher. About 30 years ago, he started out on a trek that took him across the Himalayan mountains (40 days on foot), and into the promised land of the Dalai Llamaʼs exile in India. He took this trek with the hope of ﬁnding a better life for he and his family. Upon getting here, he found that work was not that easy to obtain. He worked in odd jobs all around northern India until we were lucky enough to snatch him up last year. Acoo has become a dear friend to us and a true uncle, a part of the JOYN family. When you hear him laugh or see him act out segments of his favorite TV personality, Mr. Bean you would never know that he once faced more hardships than most western minds can comprehend. Acoo has become a mentor and has truly grasped the meaning of why JOYN exists. Last week at our Monday morning meeting we asked him why he does what he does. His answer was clear, albeit in his native Tibetan tongue, “To make high quality products that will sell and create more jobs for others. Acoo, my dear uncle, enjoys working for JOYN because he can be a part of something bigger than himself, bigger than his work.
That is the true JOY of JOYN. We can all be a part of this blessing, from the block printer who used to be a former street beggar, to someone who works in a coffee shop in the United States. The more hands that touch our products, the more hands that are able to see hope.
Brand Highlight: One Mango Tree February 15 2013, 0 Comments
This week I'm eager to introduce you to our lovely bag makers in Uganda, One Mango Tree:
Ever since starting One Mango Tree in 2007, we've been looking for ways to source all of our fabrics locally. The textile dyeing and weaving traditions have all but died out in Uganda, with cheap imports readily available in the local market. Lucky for us, there are still a few remaining textile artisans who are dedicated to their craft.
Brand Highlight: Craftworks Cambodia February 07 2013, 0 Comments
One of my favorite parts about the work I get to do for Purse & Clutch is making connections with people from all over the world. I'm pleased to introduce you to Sabay from Craftworks Cambodia who has kindly written the following guest post sharing with us more about the good work they are doing and the amazing artisans they are able to employ:
Bags are made by Ms. Srey Mach (left), Ms. Mom Verng (center) and Ms. Seng (right) with disabilities because of a mine and polio. They sell bags to care for themselves and their underprivileged families.
Ms. Srey Mach is from Kom Pong Cham province. She is 32 years old, she lives in a rental room that she can share her cost with her colleagues in Phnom Penh.
Ms. Mom Verng is 40 years old, she has 4 siblings, and is the third of her family. She has two older brothers and one younger brother. She is from Lor Veah Aem village, Arey Ksat district, Kandal province. She has experiences in sewing silk/cotton bags and eco-friendly bags for nearly 15 years.
Ms. Sok Kim Seng is 26 years old. She has experiences in sewing silk/cotton bags, wallets and eco-friendly products for 10 years.
They really enjoy sewing bags, wallets, making other eco–friendly products at the mini workshops at their homes. This work makes their life full of pleasure, dignity and helps their families have better lives.
With the support of groups such as Craftworks Cambodia, and the sales of these bags, wallets, eco-friendly handmade products, an income can be provided that offers their families and their communities the chance at a better future. This project ensures that the artisans are fairly rewarded for their work and provide support for education and training in the communities in Cambodia.
Ms. Srey Eagn (far right) is the main artisans in her producer group. She is 32 years old. She is from Ang Prasat village, Phnom Santheas commune, Kirivong district, Takeo province. She has 5 siblings, she has two sisters and 3 brothers, she is the first daughter of her family. First she knows basic sewing as a simple tailor in her village. She did sewing at her village when the neighbors came to her but that income was completely not enough. Her life and whole family are very hard. That is why she had to move to leave her village to find the job in Phnom Penh. Finally she was trained by one of the NGOs how to make nice designs on bags and wallets. Actually she has no education at all at the public school but she learnt how to read and write basic Cambodian language at night. Now she is able to read the simple Cambodian language only.
She just got married to her husband, Mr.Thana Chan in June 2012 who sits next to her holding the clutch bag. She is so happy that her husband really loves her and got married to her. Mr. Thana is from Salao Village, Bat Tam Bang province. He also can sew bags and other things well.
Freedom Fridays February 01 2013, 0 Comments
Hello and a very happy Friday to you!
Hopefully by now you've heard about the tiny tote bag design contest (only 9 days left to get your designs in!) but I would love to tell you more about the amazing company we're partnering with to have the totes made and printed. You guessed it - they're fabulously fair trade!
Read a bit about Freeset & our partnership in this guest blog post I wrote on the Owner's blog.
What makes fashion responsible? January 31 2013, 0 Comments
Let's Start at the Beginning... January 24 2013, 2 Comments
Okay, just kidding not that far back...!
When people ask how Purse & Clutch got started, I usually start the story in June 2011, when I asked my dear friend Rikki Marler how I could help out her newly launched business in India that sold handmade, fair wage accessories and household items.
But when I really stop and think about it, Purse & Clutch was born - little by little - years and years ago.
The story would take days to transcribe, but here is a short synopsis of the slow birth of what is now my very own business, serving the those with limited opportunities for dignified work in a way I never thought I would - through fashion:
I think my eyes began to be opened to the lot of the less fortunate first through week long trips to Monterrey and Saltillo, Mexico, as a high schooler. These turned into a summer spent building an orphanage in Cochabama, Bolivia, where I was further able to see the effects of short term charity juxtaposed with a fascinating business model where Fair Trade Bolivian coffee sales sustainably funded the building of additional orphanages and upkeep. Upon graduating from college, I had the opportunity to move to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to teach Chemistry at an affluent private school in the mountains. Volunteering at a nutrition center and child sponsorship program opened my eyes a bit more to what long term change could look like and shouldn't look like for those with limited opportunities and poverty mindsets.
My journey then took me back to the States where I helped developed and taught Leadership Studies courses to college students while I had a Fellowship with a Non-Profit leadership training organization that was run like a For-Profit business. This was amplified by my Leadership and Ethics graduate program where I was able to study first hand the Guatemalan artisan market and the challenges that the women were facing to become viable businesses with which they could support their familes while keeping their culture intact.
After graduating, I moved to the lovely city of Austin, Texas, where I began working with a start-up branch of a local Non-Profit that gardened in people's backyards and sold a portion of the produce at the Farmer's Market to work to employ the homeless and formerly homeless of the city.
Gardening taught me the importance of knowing where my food comes from and had a profound effect upon how I began to view life. Processes began to matter more than simply the results. This was blossiming from the seeds of my Ethics studys where how things are done are just as important as the final product and often times shine a spotlight on what we truly value.
These crazy, disjointed post-college experiences finally were being knit together to prepare me to see the possibility of a beautifully curated retail shop that values processes and sees the necessity of having a product that stands on it's own in the fashion world apart from the story of how it was made. It allows people the opportunity to begin to think about where their purchases come from without having to sacrifice style (which allows the business to be much more sustainable.) Business met fashion by accident and the result is Purse & Clutch as you see it today.
And I can't wait to see what big adventures are next for Purse & Clutch and hope that you will stick around for many more to come! I can say that the next adventure just may include hand-beaded earrings from Tanzania in gorgeous a spring palette...
What would you like to see more of? Patterns? Colors? Styles? Countries? Markets?
Vogue, Analyst Style January 17 2013, 1 Comment
Sometimes I find that I'm more fascinated by the process of identifying trends than the trends themselves. I've only recently been experimenting with fashion as self-expression, but have spent hours upon hours of learning how to run experiments in a lab or in a business setting.
If fashion is a way to communicate values and personality and I value calculated experiments and creativity within structure, why not approach fashion the same way?
And here is my confession: much of the trend analysis I do for Purse & Clutch consists of systematically researching trends across cultures and cross analyzing them with the current trends of my main customer to try to discover what people will want in terms of patterns, colors, and textures before they want them - so that we have time to get them produced!
As an avid Vogue reader, this is a typical approach for me:
It is so very important to keep Purse & Clutch relevant in the fashion world for us to be able to achieve our vision for the company: bringing fashion closer to fairly compensating their artisans and providing humane work environments and hours and bringing fairly compensated artisanal products in to the wonderful world of fashion. This, for us, is a key point in creating sustainable jobs.
So where do you get your fashion inspiration? Bloggers? Magazines? Your mother?
How do you transpose your inspiration into your daily wears?
Handmade Cambodian Scarves January 15 2013, 0 Comments
Well folks, even though it's chilly outside as I type this, we all know that winter is soon coming to an end. And with the end of winter comes the official end of scarf season for Purse & Clutch.
Lips January 10 2013, 2 Comments
One of my less interesting New Year's Resolutions is to blog more. I've got a plan and I like plans. This one feels do-able.
One of my more interesting New Year's Resolutions is to wear lipstick. And I've discovered I'm not alone! This makes me think that I'm also not alone in my struggle to pick the perfect go-to-lipstick to make it easier to keep my resolution this year. I always tend to look either like a kindergardener playing with her mom's make-up, dead, or like I have oddly chapped lips. Often times all three.
The quest starts this week! I will no longer wait for the perfect occasion to don bold color on my lips. With the exception of possibly the gym, I'm going to wear lipstick everywhere I go. So now - when a stain, when a gloss, when a stick?
Thanks to my friend @JenClapp, I've started a list of must-try lip products. She had me at "great lip moisturizers with deep tint and no glitter!"
And I'll add one of my own that I've been dying to try:
*Moisterizing Lipstick from Radiant Cosmetics ($20.00) - Must admit, I'm biased towards this company becuase they donate 20% of their profits to fight human trafficking. I've purchased their powder & mascara and have been more than pleased! While I wish I could pull off their Poppy shade, I think I'm more of a Charlotte!
So - what else should we add to the list? What are your favorite products? Must have shades? Anyone want to volunteer to try one of these puppies out and report back?
Holiday Shopping Guide October 20 2012, 0 Comments
By popular demand, here's where we'll be this holiday season -
Ugandan Hand-Loomed Bags! October 18 2012, 0 Comments
We are so pleased to add a new wholesaler to our current stellar list. Please welcome the beautiful hand-loomed bags, wristlets, & coin purses of One Mango Tree! You can read more about the great work they are doing to create jobs for the very talented tailors & seamstresses of Gulu, Uganda.
Shop the beautiful collection here. (More bags coming very soon!)
Purse & Clutch Turns Pink! October 08 2012, 0 Comments
This past weekend I had the pleasure of participating in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Houston with a group of fantastic friends. Finding a cure for breast cancer is a cause near and dear to my heart and I was really touched at the 30,000+ people who came out in their crazy pink paraphernalia to support their loved ones.
As I drove back home from the weekend, I began to think about how I could do more. Bring more awareness and give more to the cause. Since October is Breast Cancer month, I've decided to donate 10% of online sales for the remainder of October to support the Susan G. Komen Foundation as a way that we can join together to continue to support such a great cause! Join me will you?
Scarves for Fall! August 23 2012, 0 Comments
I am eager to introduce you to our newest wholesaler, Craftworks Cambodia!
Craftworks Cambodia provides a safe and healthy working environment that pays fair wages, encourages education, empowers women, and trains artisans within their fields. Most of their artisans take advantage of the rare opportunity that Craftworks Cambodia provides to work out of their homes so they may continue to care for their children during the work day.
What a great opportunity we have to support an organization that is fighting hard to go against the flow and really care for their employees in an industry that the opposite is the norm. You can check out the adorable scarves and keep an eye out for their bright silk clutches coming to Purse & Clutch next week!
We only have one of each color scarf in stock so get 'em while you can!!
ETCA July 18 2012, 0 Comments
Well, the clutches have arrived! Jen Lewis Designs has partnered with a lovely group of fishermen's wives in El Transito, Nicaragua, to bring you the following lovely clutches:
I met Julie, founder of El Transito Centro de Artes (ETCA), through a rather random email. An instant and obvious partnership formed where we combined our best talents and connections into helping create jobs with the women of El Transito while their husbands fish. Having a steady (and not seasonal or unpredictable) source of income helps to insure that these families are able to provide for themselves and their children. And notice that I said that we are creating jobs with the women and not for the women. Julie does an amazing job maintaining the focus of the mission of ETCA - helping improve lives in the community while encouraging self-sustainability.
If you look carefully, each clutch has sewn inside a fish with a small initial below the wholesaler's name. That initial will let you know which of the talented artisans sewed each clutch. If you check out their website, you can read a bit more about each woman.
Why Fair Trade? June 26 2012, 0 Comments
Paul Rice of Fair Trade USA explains beautifully the heart & economics behind the evolution of globalization to include both profitability and sustainability in this TED talk from last year.
Conscious Fashion April 06 2012, 0 Comments
I don't know about you, but I have been making a conscious effort for the last few years to 1.) not make impulse purchases and 2.) really love what I buy. I've worked hard to shift my mindset from a trend-based closet to building a classic wardrobe.
That being said, I have really been loving all the beautiful mint clothing pieces I've been seeing everywhere this season. A few weeks ago the idea crept into my head that a good, inexpensive way to incorporate mint into my style is nail polish. Yesterday I found myself unconsciously wandering from the printer ink section of the store right to the most lovely shade of green polish. I'm pleased with my purchase! One of my favorite elements of fashion is mixing surprising colors together and I'm loving mint with some of the left over winter colors such as navy, olive, and mustard.
What trends have you been eyeing lately? Have you been able to sprinkle in a little creativity into incorporating a color or style into your closet? I'd love to hear your ideas on the FB page!
Spring Inspires! March 29 2012, 0 Comments
We're a few months away from celebrating our first year of business and already I am feeling so very blessed! I have met so many interesting people, have been stretched in more ways that I'd care to recount, and we're already launching a new website design! (P.S. - what do you think?!)