Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Be a Saint this Valentine’s Day with Ethical Gifts

Like most every holiday celebrated around the world, Saint Valentine's Day has an interesting and complex history. History, myth, romanticism and legend have merged into something that has at times been hijacked by consumerism.  

Valentine postcard, circa 1900–1910

Surely we can all agree that every day is a great day to celebrate the ones that we love and some of the best ways of showing how we feel don't come with a price tag. Sometimes however it is nice to splash out on something special for that certain someone. During those times, why not add another layer of love by choosing a gift that's kind to the world?

Chocolate Filled Heart by Sjaaks - When in doubt...give chocolate. But not just any chocolate of course! This beautiful looking heart-shaped deliciousness is vegan, organic AND fairtrade. How lovely :-)
Hope Red Bracelet by Peacecord - How wonderful to say "I love you" to your special someone while at the same time creating employment opportunities for women in Afghanistan via fair labor practices. Handmade with red braided parachute cord and a silver frosted button these chic bracelets will make any outfit pop :-D
Valentine's Pack by Waggy Dog Bakehouse -Whether you're single or in a committed relationship, sometimes the most significant 'person' in your life has four legs. While human food like chocolate is poisonous to puppies, these delectable organic treats are made especially for your furry friends
Love Me Do Ring by La Jewellery - Inspired by The Beatles lyric, this gorgeously unique ring has been handcrafted from 100% recycled silver. It's a great option for the girl who loves love but not in a chintzy way ;-)
Just my Type Card by iDear - Let someone know you care with this hipster-chic card made from Forest Stewardship Council certified paper
TLC Gift Pack by Herbfarmacy - Everyone appreciates a little TLC now and again...and not just on special occasions! This goody bag is choc-full of luscious treats such as organic rose face oil, massage oil and luxury foot cream all in a fairtrade organic cotton bag
Clockwork Heart Pin by Mullanium - This exquisite handmade brooch made from recycled vintage watch parts and other found treasures, is a brilliantly whimsical gift indeed
Blue Origami Cufflinks by Polli -Why not spoil your main man with some super stylish cufflinks made from sustainable wood in a low CO2 workshop? He'll look so dashing!
Conversation Heart Vegan Soaps by AJ Sweet Soap -Yes it's true...even SOAP can be romantic! Perfect for the partner who loves a good soak in the bathtub more than eating candy
Red Rockstar Bag by Gunas - Fellas if you're looking for a red hot gift for a stylishly simmering lady then look no further. This vegan bag has been lovingly crafted by skilled artisans under fair conditions from recycled materials. It also happens to be a favourite of actress Anne Hathaway!
Wild Man Beard Wash by Wild Rose Herbs - So you fell in love with a hairy-faced wild man? Give him a treat (and you as well) with this handmade beard-booster full of very manly smelling organic oils like coconut and rosemary...MmmMmm!
Sweetheart Collection by Crazy Rumours -Give your sweetheart lips good enough to eat with this assortment of mouth-watering vegan lip balms including red velvet cake flavour! Yummo!
El Presidente Bifold Wallet from Ecoenstyle - Give your man's street-cred a leg up with this quietly awesome wallet made from recycled bicycle inner tubes under fair conditions in Baja California
Captain Planet I Love Earth Tee from the Environmental Justice Foundation - Show her you really care about her AND her ideals as well with this carbon-neutral, fairtrade and organic cotton tee. Caring for our planet as a couple is incredibly romantic

Stay tuned to the KBD Facebook and Pinterest pages for more ecochic Valentine's ideas xo 

Monday, 21 January 2013

Rebagz is Changing the World With Style

Once I may have believed that humanitarian work and handbags had little to nothing in common - but these days I'm constantly amazed and inspired by the ways in which fashion can be used for good. The story of award-winning eco-label Rebagz and the passion of its Creator Marty Stevens-Heebner is a fabulous case in point. I hope you enjoy my exclusive interview!

Q. What inspired you to create this ethical line of stylish bags?

I was raised to recycle, plus I did humanitarian work in Chiapas, Mexico in the aftermath of the Zapatista Rebellion.  That’s where I first learned about fair trade (silly, naïve little me thought that’s the normal way of doing business).  We’d go into the indigenous villages where everything had a second life, and often a third and a fourth life beyond that.  Very inspiring!

Marty Stevens-Heebner, President & Creator of Rebagz Handbags

Q. How would you describe the Rebagz design aesthetic in 10 words or less?

Beautifully designed bags that are kind to people, animals and the planet (I know it’s 12 words but I’m gabby). 

This Off the Cuff Wristlet in Sweet Lilac looks delicious!

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about what makes Rebagz an environmentally friendly fashion choice?

All our handbags are made using recycled materials, including recycled paper, rice sacks, plastic and juice packs.  They’re also made using fair labor – I’ve visited the Philippines myself several times to ensure that the workers are paid and treated fairly.  We even carry Green America’s Seal ofApproval, as well as PETA’s Vegan badge.

How cute is this Stallion Life is a Circle bag?
Q. What impacts has Rebagz had in the lives of its workers in the Philippines? 

We provide good paying jobs in pleasant working environments for the people – mostly women – who make our bags.  We’re extremely proud of that.

I really appreciate the amazing range of colours available in the eclectic Rebagz range, such as this Tap on the Shoulder bag in Cockatoo

Q. Which ethical designers are inspiring you right now?

Stella McCartney and Eco-Skin’s Sandy Skinner in apparel, Josie Maran and Jane Iredale with their eponymous cosmetics lines.

I'm loving the retro-flavour of the Rebagz Cubic Clutch!

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

Absolutely.  It’s changed dramatically in the 5 years since I launched Rebagz®.

Q. What is your favourite Rebagz bag right now and why?

No fair – that’s like asking me to choose which child (or, in my case, dog) is my favourite!  Right now I’m carrying our Prima Tote with a Small Talk Clutch tucked inside it to hold odds and ends.

This Fade to Black Aubergine Prima Tote is so chic - want!!!
My pick of the Small Talk Clutch prints is definitely the zebra!

Q. What does the future hold for Rebagz?

We’re always thinking about what the next evolution will be.  In accessories, it seems all about making bags that accommodate every tech gadge imaginable!

You can also connect with Rebagz via Facebook, Twitter, PinterestPolyvore and their Blog!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Reinvigorate Your Look and Life for an Ecochic 2013

The beginning of a new year is always fertile ground for thinking about concepts such as change, growth and renewal. We've had time to reflect on the year gone by and now there's an opportunity to learn from the past and transform ourselves into the future! It's a time of resolutions. Here are some ethical fashion and design pieces that for me resonate with these exciting themes

The Treasured Tree Pendant by Oak Fine Jewellery - Acorns represent new beginnings and the start of a long journey. This sublime pendant is crafted using fairtrade gold and recycled silver
Make Do and Mend by Rapanui -This is a great philosophy to adhere to in 2013! Before heading out to buy more stuff, why not try your hand at upcycling your existing wardrobe? But when it IS time to splash out and purchase something new this hand-printed, low-carbon and Fair Wear Foundation certified tee is a great choice!
Taua Sneakers in Swedish Blue by Veja - It seems like the changing of one year to another is when people become most conscious of things like eating and exercising. If going for more walks in the great outdoors is one of your resolutions, why not stride about in these super cute trainers. Fairly made in Brazil from organic cotton canvas and sustainably sourced wild rubber
2013 Happiness Calendar by Ecojot - Anytime of year is a good time to renew your commitment to cultivating your happiness! Loving this bright and bubbly calendar made from 100% post-consumer waste, featuring a new design each month to spark your smile
Favorite Raven of Life T' from Voilà by Andréanne - Traditionally the Raven can transform into anything. This eye-catching design by Aboriginal Métis artist David Albert, depicts a the Raven becoming a branch of life. Wearing this organic cotton and bamboo blend tee, might remind you of your own potential for transformation
Brass Charm Bracelet from People Tree - Inspired by the natural world, this charm bracelet evokes images of the unfettered flight and sun-drenched walks in fields of flowers. It's about the simple things in life being the most enriching. This lovely bracelet was made by TARA Projects who support disadvantaged artisans, providing fair wages, education, health schemes and vocational training << things we sometimes may take for granted ourselves
Keep Calm and Rescue On Tees by Hendrick Boards - This is the time of year when you sit back and think about your priorities...what's really important to you? Want to spend more time helping animals in need in 2013? Well this tee is a stylish way to start, with $10 from each purchase going straight to your local animal shelter, rescue or sanctuary
Family Cushion by Paloma Le Sage - By moving back home to Australia my partner and I were making a conscious choice to transform our lives in such a way as to spend more time with family. These handmade linen cushions are not only adorable, but the fiber inside is derived from 100% recycled post consumer PET water bottles! Ps: the concepts of cats and family are synonymous in our household ;-)
Green DNA Micro Loan Tee by The Naked Hippie - I love the idea of altering your very DNA to reflect your passion for treading lightly on the planet. Not only is this cute tee made from 50% organic cotton and 50% recycled polyester, but The Naked Hippie changes people's lives by investing 100% of it's profits into micro loans that help people in developing countries support themselves and their families by starting or growing small shops and sidewalk businesses
Elephant Paper Journal from Ethical Gifts - There's just so much that's inspirational about this sweet journal. It takes the idea of turning something not so pleasant into something truly positive, in this case elephant dung into pages filled with dreams and goals for the future! The process of producing this special paper is also transforming the relationship between communities in Sri Lanka and the elephants into one that's mutually beneficial
Love Carry All from Hearts - In this time of reflection and beyond, for me, the touchstone is always love. It's the great transformer, with the power to reinvigorate body and soul. In the spirit of love conquers all, this beautiful handmade tote delivers empowerment to women who have escaped the sex trade industry in India. It has been crafted from a combination of jute and recycled sari material

I'd love to hear what's inspiring you so far in 2013!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Fourzero is an Organic Clothing Label Born from Love

"A baby is born with a need to be loved - and never outgrows it"- Frank A. Clark

Eco-friendly clothing and accessories shouldn't just be for us big kids! Babies deserve to be clothed in kindness too. Carolyn Chambers, CEO and designer of Fourzero, has made it possible for you to do just that!

Q. What inspired you to create an ethical designer brand for newborns?

After a decade long career as a Paediatric intensive care nurse in Europe, I have nursed and supported newborn babies from 24 weeks gestation to full term who have all required the same needs of love, support and comfort.

My passion is newborn babies and their families. I feel that Fourzero is an extension of the existing skills I acquired in nursing and although I am no longer a practicing neonatal nurse, my skills, experience, and nurturing nature is embedded into each and every stitch of the garments within my Fourzero brand.

Carolyn Chambers - CEO and designer of Fourzero
Developing an ethically made brand was an easy choice and staying within Australia to manufacture also seemed the best solution.  Because newborn babies have such delicate skin that has not come into contact with chemicals or harsh materials after growing in the protective womb environment, I feel that it is important to provide clothing that is natural and pure. 

Fourzero products are being very well received by families throughout the world. The feedback after a gift has been given has been very supportive and encouraging to hear for our brand.

Fourzero does not bleach or further colour the fabric chosen in our collections, nor do we stabilize the fabric with chemicals during manufacture.  

Q. How does Fourzero ensure that it treads lightly on the planet?

Fourzero is manufactured in Brisbane where our head office is situated. The Fourzero supply chain for materials have been sourced in Australia wherever possible.  If this is not possible then I source from Australian companies.  At times this becomes a long and arduous process but I believe that our local economy needs to be supported wherever possible.  

I have been known to carry bolts of fabric on the Brisbane City Cat Ferries to our manufacturing team in Fortitude Valley! Fourzero has made the conscious effort to also source organic fabric and sustainable materials in every design aspect of the brand.

Q. Has your previous life as a nurse helped to inform your choice of materials?

I believe that our brand is about educating consumers about why a baby needs to feel warm and secure after birth and because of my nursing background parents will rest assured that their babies have been dressed well in ethically manufactured clothing and accessories. 

The materials I’ve chosen for the Fourzero collection have been influenced by my nursing background.  I have sourced organic fabrics and the press studs in the collection are all nickel-free. 

I have dressed and cared for hundreds of babies in my nursing career and understand how clothing needs to fit after birth and what a huge impact clothing has on both a newborn baby and a new mother.  Babies need to wear clothing that fits them well.  A baby has been cocooned in the warm womb and has had boundaries within.  It is only natural that babies need to feel boundaries and comfort after birth.  

Q. Which ethical designers are inspiring you right now?

Gucci and Gap inspire me.  They make a conscious effort to keep their supply chains open for the consumer and are committed to paying fair wages to support their workers overseas.  

Cue and Veronika Maine are two Australian brands that I admire for continuing to also manufacture onshore in large volumes.  Manufacturing in Australia has many road blocks but with the effort and support from consumers it is a viable option long term because we demand that the quality of production is the highest standard for the retail market because our construction costs are so very high compared to manufacturing overseas. 

Q. You were named in the top eight emerging Australian designers of 2012 and Fourzero was awarded the "Fellowship 500' by the Ethical Fashion Forum in London. Do you think well designed eco-friendly baby and children’s clothing is becoming more mainstream?

No, I wouldn’t say it is becoming more mainstream, but I do believe consumers are taking more of an interest about where garments are manufactured and how.  If the consumer is involved in the story of how garments for babies and children’s wear is manufactured they are more inclined to buy quality goods. 

It has been a successful five months since launching the brand and I am honoured that awards such as those mentioned above are aware of our innovative design efforts for the baby wear market.  Our brand may be a niche product for the first ten weeks after birth, but parents and gift givers love the quality and concept behind our brand.

Q. Do you have a favourite item in store right now?

Yes, The babygrow and the star blankets.  The babygrows are similar to other designs in the market place and provide simple dressing and nappy changes for the baby. Yet the flappable feet cuffs are ideal to not only warm feet up but for nurses to take blood tests while in hospital and when the baby grows they still have longevity in the suit so that the parents can put socks on providing good cost per wear. 

Newborn Babygrow by Fourzero - made from organic bamboo and cotton

The star on the blanket has purposefully been made on a large scale so that the newborn baby can settle after bath time on the velour whilst the care-giver soothingly massages the baby's skin.  

Star Blanket by Fourzero - made from organic bamboo and cotton
Q. How would you sum up Fourzero in 10 words or less?

Organic, luxurious, ethical,  boutique, soft, comfortable.

Q. What does the future hold for Fourzero?

Fourzero is focusing on domestic sales growth by being stocked in boutique stores and online stores in Australia.  

In the following twelve months Fourzero hopes to also be stocked internationally in stores. I am very committed to keeping production within Australia and promoting the brand story behind these choices. 

Interestingly we have recently had more international sales than domestic through our website!

If you are interested in wholesaling fourzero in your boutique store please contact our team info@fourzero.com.au

You can also connect with Fourzero via Facebook and Twitter

Sunday, 6 January 2013

13 Fabulous Ecochic Party Dresses in Black

Some fashion statements never go out of style, and a chic black dress is one of them! Here are some fabulous eco-friendly dresses to get you through the party season - and beyond - in style

Kimono-Onx Dress by Skunkfunk USA - Inspired by a futuristic vision of the Far East, this kimono-style dress is made from 80% organic cotton and is incredibly cute!
West 10th Dress by Device - This classic party dress with a twist was made under fair conditions using 100% cruelty-free materials
Upcycled One-Shouldered Dress by Reluxe - This dress is the best of both worlds! It's super chic style meets sustainably conscious design, thanks to the use of discarded fabrics
Bia Dress by Ada Zanditon - This gorgeously quirky dress is part of Ada's Poseisus Collection, which was inspired by the deep mysteries of nature. This cutting edge designer is committed to using organic and natural fabrics as well as innovative waste reducing and energy conscious solutions to create sculptural, elegant, desirable fashion
Nicole Backless Dress by FROCK Los Angeles -Sleek and sexy this fabulous outfit is 95% bamboo and dyed using 100% sustainable vegetable dyes. I love that you're conservative from the front and provocative from the back

Black Ruffled Dress by Natural Clothing Company - This organic cotton dress is lovely and girly without being too frou-frou
Freya: Durga Dress by Greenola - This meticulously designed dress was crafted in Bolivia by a ten-member female entrepreneur co-op using 100% Peruvian organic pima cotton
High Low Dress by Stewart Brown - How fabulous is this? You get 2 different looks with a single dress! Made from 96% hemp, this is a gorgeous option whichever way you choose to wear it. Steward Brown is also a member of the 1% for the Planet Foundation
Sheer Spot Dress from Annie Greenabelle - Flirty and feminine this fairtrade and organic cotton dress is a great option for both day and nighttime soirees 
Pepi Tencel Dress by Komodo -This beautifully constructed dress is made from an award winning eco fibre made from tree cellulose farmed on wasteland
Peplum Black Dress from People Tree - I love this modern twist on an 80s style flare dress! Made in India under fair conditions using 100% Fairtrade organic cotton 
I Love, There I am Vegan Dress by Moon Euphoria - There's much about this strapless mini dress that's sweet! Firstly it's just so darn cute. It's also made from 100% organic cotton. Last but not least it comes with a heartfelt message
The Sophisticated Sophia Dress by MuMu - Put simply...I adore this dress! Made from 100% certified organic cotton, this is a stunningly original piece