Saturday, 23 February 2013

Come Say Y'ello'w to Ecochic Fashion

Yellow is the colour of the Solar Plexus Chakra, also known as Manipura. Hailed as the happiest colour in the spectrum, yellow has also been known to:
  • Stimulate mental processes
  • Stimulate the nervous system
  • Activate memory
  • Encourage communication
So next time you need a quick pick-me-up or want to strike up a really good conversation - reach into your wardrobe for a burst of ecochic yellowy goodness!

Vintage Linen Pony Dress from V V Vintage - I adore this dress! It just shouts "HI! Let's have an AWESOME day" to an incredibly stylish way of course. Plus the pocket pony is exquisite
Bamboo Salad Bowl in Pineapple by The Dharma Door -What a delicious looking bowl this is! It's been handcrafted from sustainable bamboo under fairtrade conditions

Erebi Dress by Skunkfunk - With pleats, a drop waist, and drape pockets this is an organic cotton and bamboo shift dress with a stylish difference!
Wooden Peter Pan Collar in Yellow by Polli - This whimsical necklace is uber chic and was inspired by the Danish lace collars handed down through generations of designer Maja Rose's family. It has been made from sustainable plantation hoop pine
The King's Crown Kids Tee by Pini Piru - The always irreverent and creative team from The Netherlands never fails to make eco-friendly kids tees that are super cool! This quirky top is made from 100% organic and fairly traded cotton and was printed using water-based toxic free ink
Neon Yellow Ballerina Flats from Alternative Outfitters - You'll be walking on sunshine all day with these vegan flats!
Point Earrings by Green Tree Jewelry - These funky yellow drop earrings are made from sustainable wood and coloured using natural non-toxic dyes
CAS Nick Unisex Hoodie from The Vanity Project - This isn't just any old cute and comfy hoodie! Proceeds from this stylishly huggable piece of clothing go toward the Children's Aid Society, which benefits New York's neediest children and their families at more than 45 locations in the five boroughs and Westchester County
Quilted Laptop Bag by Nomi Network - Not only will this stylish bag keep your laptop nice and protected, your purchase will help to create jobs for survivors of trafficking or women at risk. Made in Cambodia from recycled rice bags
Sun Pebble Necklace by T_Design - Wearing these gorgeous handcrafted balls of sunshine will make any outfit POP! Would look especially beautiful against a crisp white fresh!
The Short Short in Yellow from The IOU Project - Being born and bred in Tropical Far North Queensland, I'm a massive fan of a cute pair of shorts! Every item purchased from the IOU Project is unique, handmade and 100% traceable and provides artisans with fair wages
Recycled Lace Clutch by Red Tree Designs - This darling upcycled bag makes me feel like putting on a pretty frock and having high tea with my girls!
Cross Stitch Shirt with Mustard Embroidery by Bhalo - Inspired by the traditional Bangladeshi jamdani pattern, this shirt is made from 100% hand-loomed cotton under fair trade conditions benefiting women and children in rural Bangladesh
Neon Beans n' Stripes Scarf by Choolips - This distinctively chic scarf was hand printed using traditional West African Batik methods in Ghana. With each scarf purchase you're contributing to sustainable livelihoods and the protection of ancient craft techniques
Butter Cream Sleeveless Elsa Dress by Elsa & Me - This classically beautiful silhouette is so versatile and stylish. Made from 100% organic cotton in New York
One Love Bracelet from ARTICLE22 - Amazingly this message of love has been etched into recycled bomb material by artisans in Laos! Hearts has partnered with ARTICLE22 to support the artisans who re-purpose the bombs by recycling the metal into accessories and paying artisans at least 4x local market rates
Leonie Coat by Maiya - I've never understood why people insist on wearing only black or grey coats in winter, surely that's the time of year we need a serious injection of colour into our lives? This stunning coat has been made from end-of-roll and vintage fabric that was bound for landfill
Yellow Autobus Pillow by laKattun - This super fun happy pillow has been made from 100% certified organic cotton and hand-printed using water-based inks
Nathalie Canvas Wedges by Stella McCartney - These stunning pop yellow wedges are luxurious vegan feet candy!
Endangered Bee Print Boardshorts in Yolk by Riz Boardshorts - These fantastic limited edition boardshorts are perfect for the eco-conscious guy who loves the beach! Not only are they made in Portugal from 100% recycled and recyclable polyester, but 10% of each sale goes toward the Bumblebee Conservation Trust!
Organic Cotton Cowl Neck-warmer by 2 Yellow Birds - Frosty wind kept away from your neck? Tick! Amazing vivid colour paired with a neutral shaded jacket? Tick! Looking AND feeling amazing? Achieved! 
Modern Mania Dress by KowTow - If you're looking for an outfit that's fashion-forward yet comfy, this could be the one for you! Made from 100% certified fairtrade and organic cotton by this outstanding innovative New Zealand label

Monday, 18 February 2013

Luxurious One-of-a-Kind Carpets Creating a Sustainable Future for Women

At first glance it may seem like luxury furnishings and female empowerment have little in common - however an Australian charity has discovered this can be a match made in heaven! Thanks to a mix of ingenuity, dedication, love and respect, Carpets for Communities was born. 

I discovered this inspiring enterprise by chance while visiting a fabulous EcoLiving Fair run by my local council. I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to interview Anna Jolly, Volunteer Engagement Manager at Carpets for Communities, for Kindness by Design!


Q. What sparked the idea to form Carpets for Communities?

Our Founding Director, David Bacon, was volunteering in Bangkok back in 2004, and crossed the Thai/Cambodian border at Poipet (where CfC is based) every few months to renew his visa. Each time, he was shocked by the level of poverty in the region, and particularly disturbed by the numbers of children begging and participating in child labour activities. Ultimately, Dave felt he couldn’t leave without trying to help. After speaking with the community, he realized the best way to get the kids back into school was by ensuring their families had a stable, reliable income, so the kids no longer needed to beg/work to help support their families. 

After testing a few different models and ideas, the idea for carpets was sparked based on the recyclable materials that could be sourced in bulk in the area (cotton t-shirt offcuts from a local garment factory and hessian rice bags).

Q. Can you tell us about your involvement with the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand? Why is this important to you?

Our registration with FTANZ is one of our fundamental organizational values, it is extremely important to us. We uphold FTANZ values firstly by providing a fair price for the participants in the project and safe working conditions. We ensure the wages our mothers receive is enough to sustain their families in the absence of any of their children participating in child labour activities. This is a vital component in achieving our ultimate goal of educating children.

We are also committed to environmentally sustainable production, and use 100% recycled materials (t-shirt off-cuts and rice bags).

Q. Which ethical designers are inspiring you right now?

We recently developed a partnership with the design school of RMIT University in Melbourne and were so inspired by their work. Check out their beautiful one of a kind fair trade cushions here!

Q. What makes your carpets a great choice for ethically-minded shoppers?

By purchasing you’re really creating a ripple effect in the Poipet community. All profits from sales go toward fair wages and also microloans which allow families in the community to set up their own microenterprise. These microenterprises allow the families to generate a stable income, meaning the children are no longer required to help support their families financially and can be returned to school. 

We also direct profits from sales toward our Child Friendly Schools program where we work with school staff and the broader school community to ensure that once we get the children back into school, they receive a quality education in an engaging environment.

Q. Why did you decide to focus your efforts on women, and mothers in particular?

Women’s empowerment has proved to be a strong, and sustainable, solution to poverty time and time again, and the intergenerational impacts of working with mothers in particular are too impressive to ignore. When mothers bring the income into the household, 90% of that income is invested into healthcare and education for the entire family, meaning the kids’ wellbeing is lifted instantly. By comparison, when men are the key breadwinner, just 30-40% of the income is invested into these things. For both CfC and myself personally, we find it hard to argue for a more effective, and sustainable, poverty eradication solution than women’s empowerment.

Q. How can my readers become involved?

There are a number of ways! The easiest is of course to purchase a rug! Check them out online, as well as at weekend markets throughout Australia.

Being an entirely volunteer-run organization in Australia, we are always in need of more volunteers as well. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities, including market stall volunteers, fundraiser event volunteers, retail coordinators etc. Please email for information.

Q. What does the future hold for Carpets for Communities?

2013 is shaping up to be a huge year for CfC! We are currently redeveloping our carpets, to make them more beautiful than ever, and are also working on a new range of products, which will hit the Australian market in the second half of the year. We hope for big sales, so we can expand our project to reach more mothers and children than ever before. 

We are also creating a centralized work space for our mothers to work in, accompanied by a day care centre where their youngest children will be taken care of whilst they work. We will also be running a number of community projects out of the centre (for example, community English classes) so we can broaden our reach within the community.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Be Pretty in Print with These Eco Dresses

I like a dress that isn't afraid to stand out from the crowd and a bold print is a brilliant way to differentiate yourself from the everyday. Here are some dazzling designs that caught my eye!

Flamingo Print Dress by Ruby Rocks - I am a massive fan of quirky-chic! Other than their amazing range of prints, this label is awesome because of its strict fair work practices. Ruby Rocks prides itself on knowing everyone who makes their clothes and ensures they receive healthcare for them and their families
Traditional Chinese Dress with White Flower Print by Tradidoll - This svelte and stylish dress has been made from sustainable hemp fabric
Fleuret Camouflage Dress by Jackpot - This distinctive design reminds me of the bark of the beautiful Rainbow Eucalyptus tree, which is a favourite of mine! Jackpot works together with MADE-BY, an umbrella organisation of socially and ethically committed fashion labels
Bigere Dress by Skunkfunk USA - This 95% bamboo dress plays mischievously with notions of perspective and colour
Sleeveless Printed Shirt Dress by CALLA - Prints can be bold but they can also be subtle and sweet like this pretty pastel design. Made from 100% organic cotton satin, this Romanian made dress is a great cruelty-free option
J Dress by Global Mamas -For starters I'm in love with this shade of lemon-zesty yellow! The lovely macro design was hand-batiked by female artisans in Ghana under fair trade conditions with the aim of encouraging financial independence and empowerment
The Reversible Shift Dress by The IOU Project - Sure the mix 'n' match prints are super fun but you also get 2 dresses in one! WooHoo :D This completely one of a kind dress has been handwoven by artisans using organic cotton
Gio Dress by ecoSkin - I love to see a dress that can be both daring and classy at the same time! This little number is made from 100% woven cupro, which is a material created from recovered cotton waste
Vintage Colour Block Dress from We Could Forever - Oh my but I love me a rainbow-licious ensemble! This vibrant frock was handmade in the 70s and sports some flirty side splits and sweet lace detailing
Dot Sleeveless Dress by Carrie Parry - There's more than first meets the eye to this dotty print. The longer you gaze at it the more colours and patterns appear! Made from 88% recycled polyester, this dress can go from smart casual to party in the blink of an eye ;-)
Timeless Dress in Green Gradient by AFIA - This geometric print is sublime! The use of colour and texture just heightens the effect. Made from 100% Ghanian cotton by artisans, and women’s cooperatives, paid a fair wage for their craft
Bold African Print Dress by Fair + True - For me, this dress is a work of art. From the silhouette to the amazingly stunning design with its lush jungle of colours. This label is committed to creating fashion forward looks inspired by ethnic artistry under fair trade schemes that support communities in Kenya and Malawi