Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Knots & Stones Wants You to Feel Good About Looking Good

For Andrea Rodriguez-​Tarazi, Founder of Knots & Stones, jewellery is about both style and substance. I'm privileged to have had the opportunity to chat with Andrea about her eco-friendly accessories and the positive difference their creation makes to many lives.

Q. What inspired you to create an online ethical jewellery boutique?

I had been designing jewelry for several years as a hobby and about three years ago my husband suggested taking my love and enjoyment of this craft to a different level.  As I started to conceptualize the business I realized that it could incorporate my dream of bringing much needed opportunities to many skilled and hard-working people in my native home, Colombia
Andrea Rodriguez-​Tarazi, Founder of Knots & Stones

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the benefits of seed jewellery? 

Some of the benefits of opting for handmade, seed jewelry are:
  • It is a way of saying “NO” to sweatshop jewelry and to the plastics industry; 
  • It supports and promotes the use of renewable materials; 
  • Using tagua provides an ethical and sustainable alternative to ivory obtained from elephants, whales, walrus, and other species; 
  • It provides an economic alternative for rainforest conservation; 
  • It provides a source of income for many families in developing countries, in our case in South America; 
  • It supports and encourages traditional handicrafts; and 
  • No two seeds are alike, and as such, every piece is unique!
Tagua Nut - pronounced "tah-gwa"

Q. How does Knots & Stones influence the lives of artisans in South America?

We work with two workshops in Colombia. These workshops are owned and managed by the artisans themselves; consequently, they control and set their wages, work hours, and work arrangements (they both have artisans that work from home, some part-time, some full-time). Both shops are registered with the government and follow local wage and hours requirements. 

This work is the primary source (and only source for some of the artisans) of income for all those employed by the workshops.  I hope to continue and grow our relationship with our friends in Colombia because I believe that by supporting micro-enterprises we are providing the artisans with a more certain path out of poverty.

Q. Which ethical designers are inspiring you right now?

I live in NYC so there is plenty of local talent to admire.  When we started we were a regular at a local flea market in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and every weekend I would discover a new ethical designer and/or artist at the market.  No internationally known names but impressive and inspiring just the same.   

Personally I find Livia Firth’s work as an ethical fashion promoter very exciting.  I love the fact that with her Green Carpet Challenge she is bringing attention to ethical fashion by recruiting high-profile celebrities to wear eco-conscious pieces at prominent events.  Also, she recently launched her own eco-friendly/eco-conscious collection and although it’s small, it proves ethical fashion can be classy and stylish. 

Q. How would you describe Knots & Stones’ design aesthetic in 10 words or less?

Simple and easy yet classic and chic.

Q. Do you feel that ethical jewellery is becoming more mainstream?

Totally, and it’s wonderful!  Now that well-known/high-end designers have come out with eco-conscious lines/collections, people are starting to notice that ethical fashion/jewelry can also be beautiful and stylish.

Q. What is one of the most personally rewarding pieces you've ever produced?

I couldn’t pick one.  I would say every piece has a special meaning to me.

Q. What does the future hold for Knots & Stones?

We would like to expand into other accessories like belts, men’s accessories and maybe  some home accents . . . find other ways to bring a little bit of nature to our NYC home.  

You can see more Knots & Stones on Facebook and Twitter!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Holiday Wish List for the Ethical and Ecochic

Nothing says Peace on Earth quite like cruelty-free gift giving! So wrap up these bundles of kindness in your favourite regal recycled paper and get ready for smiles all round :D

These categories are of course just loose groupings - I encourage you to mix and match as you see fit!

For the Ecochic Woman

The Rabbit That Dreamt of Flying Brooch by Oh Blackbird - This sugary sweet bunny accessory has been lovingly brought to life using upcycled materials
Tiger Graphic Tee from World Wildlife Fund - Made from a blend of organic cotton and bamboo, proceeds from the stylish tee go toward species conservation. These big cats have a very special place in my heart! I did my honours thesis on tiger conservation in India =^..^=
Woodland Critters Bamboo Dinner Set by Love Mae - Eeeee this dinner set is ADORABLE! Feel like an eco-princess eating dainties with all your woodland friends :D
Hope Gold Peace Cord by ARZU - This beautiful and unique accessory has been handwoven by women in Afghanistan from discarded military parachute cord. The proceeds of each sale provides a fair wage and access to education and healthcare to women in Afghanistan
Urban Organic Fragrance by A Perfume Organic - Smell fabulously fresh with this certified organic concoction of sweet lemon sorbet with bourbon, tangy lime peel, basil, and ginger. To sweeten the deal even further this scent is cruelty-free and 100% vegan too!
Olivia Necklace in Green by Anna & Arayata - This eye-catching hand beaded necklace has been based on a design traditionally worn by the tribes of the southern Philippines. A minimum of 10% of the profits go toward sustainable development programs in the Philippines and Rwanda 
Clarity Gift Voucher from Endota Spa - Give the gift of clarity this year by sending a loved one for a stress relieving back massage, dreamy neck and scalp massage and a sleep-inducing shoulder massage! Ahhh....bliss!
Carousel Horse Tote in Coral by Badger Lane -This hand printed design has been created using 100% water-based inks and is perfect for your friend who loves all things nostalgic!
The Original Sporklace by SLOWCOAST - Is there a lady in your life that thrives on travel and adventure? Well this is the accessory for her - a spoon, a fork and a necklace all in one! Help someone say NO to using disposable plastic cutlery :)
Clutch by Couture Planet - What a sensational gift for that trendy woman who loves fashion but also has a crush on Planet Earth! Made from 100% recycled post-consumer newspaper, with no two bags the same
Rio Wood Cluster Necklace by RubyOlive - This delicious looking necklace has been created using upcycled wood!
Desert Lime and Vanilla Body Cream by Jacqueline Evans - Can anyone say YUM?! Give the gift of amazing smelling skin with this certified organic cream
Recycled Silver Serenity Ring by La Jewellery -This organic feeling ring has been handcrafted from ethically sourced recycled silver. What a lovely daily reminder to embrace serenity in our lives :)
Dragonfly Journal by Bonoful Handmade Paper Project - Do you have a friend or family member who loves to write? Then encourage their creative flare with this exquisite journal handmade from water hyacinth by disadvantaged female artisans in Bangladesh under fair trade conditions

For the Green Man:

ECOXPOWER by ECOXGEAR - Looking for the perfect gift for the man in your life who loves to cycle and is also enamored of his smartphone? Well check it out, by putting the ECOXPOWER on his bike he'll not only charge his front and rear lighting but also manage to juice up his smartphone as well!
Air Force Dress Peace Cord from ARZU - This unique wrist band has been hand woven from black parachute cord and closes with an Air Force insignia button. By purchasing a Peace Cord you're helping to generate a fair income, education, and access to healthcare services for women in Afghanistan
Sound Isolation Earphones by Vers - There are so many reasons why this is a super cool gift! Firstly, Vers plants 100 trees for every 1 tree used in production. The bamboo used has been sustainably sourced and handcrafted. The earphones come in 100% recycled and recyclable packaging, as well as being accompanied by a recycled metal carry case! Oh yeah and the sound quality is meant to be brilliant too ;)
Biodegradable iPhone 5 Covers by Innovez -Available in 5 vibrant colours, these sleeves not only protect his precious iPhone from damage but they're biodegradable so it wont be sitting in landfill 100yrs from now!
Silver Wash Cufflinks by Christian Cheeseman - The design of these distinctive cufflinks was inspired by the organic shapes created by the river washing over stones. Made from recycled silver, this is a lovely gift for the fashion forward man
Gift Certificate from Ethical Ocean - So you're shopping for this great guy but you're having trouble because he's just so darn picky? Grab him a gift voucher for this amazing online store with zillions of cool eco products to choose from :)
Pen Vivo by E+M - Reward his excellent penmanship with these one-of-a-kind pens made from Forest Stewardship Council certified sustainable wood
Black Belt by Elvis & Kresse -This 100% cruelty-free belt is...well...frankly...really really cool! It's made from a genuine de-commissioned British fire brigade hose PLUS Elvis & Kresse donate 50% of their profits to charity
Coco Short Board by Hendrick Boards - Are you in love with a skater boy? Well this board will blow his mind! The paw motif was created by award-winning designer Courtney Cachet in memory of her beloved rescue dog Coco. Every purchase generates a $10 donation to an animal shelter
Lucky Dip Tees by Rapanui Clothing - This sustainable label creates some of the most thought-provoking graphic tees around! Have trouble deciding between so many awesome designs? Then why not go for the lucky dip option! Just tell them the size and they'll send you out 3 randomly selected 100% organic cotton tees made in a wind-powered factory under Fair Wear conditions :D
Bentley Luxe Computer Bag by English Retreads -This very stylish and durable laptop bag has been crafted from reclaimed rubber inner tubes and recycled PET lining material

Custom Scrabble Tile Cufflinks by Cherish - For the fellow who loves to look funky, order him a pair of vintage scrabble tiles in whatever letters you choose!

For Caring Kids:

Organic Baby Gift Basket by EcoLeeko -These super cute all natural bamboo and organic cotton critters and bath mitten come in a re-usable gift bucket with shredded 100% recycled colored paper and a biodegradable paper bow
Paint Kit by Glob - These delectable fruit and vegetable-based paints come in the following sumptuous colours: Lemon Verbena, Blueberry, Pomegranate, Tangerine, Plum Purple and Basil Green!  Within the kit you also have combostable jars and 2 cruelty-free bamboo paintbrushes
Space Pinball Game from Eco Toys - This is retro fun at its best! Don't give them the latest iSomething, give them something awesomely different! This delightfully bright game has been crafted from sustainable rubber wood and finished with non toxic child safe paints and lacquers
Organic Playsuit by Little Bird Little Bird - All kids need a fun playsuit to run about and get flilthy dirty in! This beautiful one is made from certified organic cotton and water-based dyes via a solar powered process
Yummy Ice Cream Mint Chocolate Gift Set by 100% Pure -Here's an ideal antidote for an bath-averse cream! The mint choc flavoured items include body wash and shampoo, bubble bath and body cream. All ingredients are 100% natural and vegan (I really want some for myself!)
Little Mermaid Cassette Wallet by Marcella Foschi - Children's fashion should be, above all things, whimsical and never too serious! I adore this upcycled cassette wallet with its retro vibe
Organic Cotton Critters from One Colour - These sweet organic cotton animals have been hand-knitted by women artisans Tanzania, providing them with dignified on-going employment
Boy's and Girl's Rescue Crews by Hendrick Boards - How adorable are these 100% certified organic cotton tees? With every shirt purchased, $5 is donated to an animal rescue shelter!
7ft Jump Rope by Childhood Store - I seem to be very much drawn to nostalgic kid's gifts this year ;) This super fun happy time skip rope is made from upcycled plastic bags. Waaay more fun than heading to landfill!
Mini Rocking Horse by BAJO - How cute is this teeny toy horse? Very! Lovingly made using Forest Stewardship Council certified wood and non-toxic paints
Organic Baby Hat and Bib Sushi Set by LEFTright - Tee hee! This always gives me a chuckle :) A great 100% organic gift for parents with a sense of humour
Animal Bathtime Mitts by Breganwood Organics -These adorable organic cotton mitts come in Rainforest or Woodland collections

For Planet-Loving Pets:

Catac Organic Catnip from RSPCA  - Here's a purrfect treat for your discerning kitty! Cats go cray-cray for catnip =^..^=
Eco Mouser by Honest Pet Products -Take your cat's catnip fix to another level with this sustainable hemp mouse filled organic catnip! The Eco Mouser is made by disabled adults in Green Bay, Wisconsin
Kristal Oblik Blue Bowl by Fillipet -This fancy pants bowl is a great gift for the discriminating pooch. Made using non-toxic acrylic materials and comes with a non-skid base
Hemp Bed in Holiday Red by Harry Barker - Suitable for puppies big or small this super comfy bed is made from a blend of hemp and cotton with a soft insert made from recycled post-consumer plastic bottle

For Fair-Minded Families & Households:

Christmas Guardian Angel Pack from Edgar's Mission - This warm-hearted gift pack comes with photos of Snuffles the Piglet and Edgar's Terrific Turkeys; a copy of their personality profiles; flyers; stickers; and a 365 Days of Kindness 2013 Calendar! Proceeds from this gift goes toward providing essential veterinary treatment and care for these precious creatures
Organic Truffle Assortment Box by Sjaak's Organic Chocolates - A great option for those last minute holiday invitations. These vegan yummables come in a lovely handmade tree box
Apple Green Water Bottles by Dopper - So fresh and aesthetically appealing, these unique water bottles were designed by Dutchman Rinke van Remortel and produced with a net zero carbon footprint. Proceeds contribute to drinking-water projects in Asia and Africa
Tupper Cereal Time by IMOTIME - Need something for the family that really digs quirky? Then check out this upcycled tupperware bowl clock

Organic Cycling T-Shirts by VELECO -Need a gift for a family of bike enthusiasts? Then why not kit them out in VELECO's range of organic cotton tees? They're printed using eco-friendly dyes and created under Fair Trade conditions
WWF Congo Basin Chess Game from Terra Toys - It may seem old fashioned but sometimes the best fun is low-tech! Made from Forest Stewardship Council certified wood, with water and soy-based paints. A minimum of 10% from each sale goes toward WWF's conservation work
12 Days of Christmas Gift Box by LUSH - Jam-packed with 12 scrumptious vegan bath treats, it's the perfect gift for households that love a good relaxing soak!
Square Coasters by A Short Walk - These pretty coasters have been made from recycled bottles, giving them each a slightly different pattern
Big Sur Sitting Hammock by Yellow Leaf - Not only is this a gift of blissful relaxation, but the lucky recipients can feel good inside too! Each handwoven hammock is made in a zero-waste facility under fair work conditions and contains no materials derived from animals

Happy Holidays to Everyone!
KB x