eco boutique: fair + simple

on a clear fall day i've been chatting via phone with molly acord, the proprietress of fair + simple, an online eco + ethical boutique. molly has a discerning voice, the way some people have keenly observant eyes; she laughs easily the way one does when discoursing with an old friend; her answers are thoughtful, reflective - not like the words that cartwheel from my mouth when i'm excited about any + all projects in my life.

behind molly's calm demeanor is all the energy + exuberance that comes along with a passion project born of the heart. i find that before my conversation with molly is over, i will have learned many new things about life, self-love and how good always prevails {and a little bit about mr. rogers, too}.

this is fair + simple, the place you want to go for eco gifts that truly have a positive impact on people + planet. welcome to molly's neighborhood:

the book, about a woman’s call towards simplicity and generosity, prompted me to ask important questions about my consumer habits: is this purchase negatively or positively impacting someone?

i'm always fascinated by the journeys that lead us onto the road of sustainability, slow living and compassionate choices. i first ask molly about the initial impetus for this e-retail space offering gift cards + goods that are handmade by artisans across the world, by companies with social missions furthering education, job training and counseling for marginalized people.

"i read jen hatmaker's 7: an experimental mutiny against excess," molly shares, "the book, about a woman's call towards simplicity and generosity, prompted me to ask important questions about my consumer habits: is this purchase negatively or positively impacting someone?" a period of discovery and education ensued with a large learning curve.

she sought information about the production of seemingly innocuous items including household goods + apparel, querying as to where the items were made + by whom? she then began to engage retailers + shopkeepers in a non-interrogative way, "tell me more about your principles," she would inquire politely, with increasing frequency.

and then, like a bolt of lightning, molly was struck with the idea, "it fell from the sky!" molly recounts laughing; she is trying to piece together the remnants of a hazy, yet delightful memory in which she knew she wanted to create an online sustainable shop. her dream was to make gift giving simple + impactful. "today," molly confides, "a little piece of my heart goes into each package."

i believe every person has value even though we don’t know them. when we shop ethically, it’s a way to say, ‘i value that person.’

beyond fair trade wages, every company that molly has included in her online shop targets employment to artisans + marginalized people, coupling it with tools + resources, to create opportunities for self-sufficiency. "i really see value in the sustainable alleviation of poverty through jobs. education is also a major component of change in society, especially with women. when we purchase ethically, it's a way to say, 'i value that person.' i believe every person has value, even though we don't know them."

every product at fair + simple is linked to a good cause; this is truly what gift giving was meant to be:

fair + simple vert.jpg

1/ hammered brass + druzy cuff: artisan crafted baubles. jimani collections bridges the gap between conscious customers and artisan communities in kenya through high quality products and beautiful design. artisans in impoverished areas are impacted through education in business, dependable employment, and the opportunity for mentorship.

2/ turkish cotton fouta towels: soft, slender + absorbent towels {perfect for globetrotters}.  education + more is a non profit organization aimed at alleviating poverty through job creation and educational sponsorships in guatemala. as members of the fair trade federation, they work very closely with talented artisan groups of weavers in guatemala.

3/ hand-poured soy candles: vegan, earth friendly + free from chemical fragrances. thistle farms employs women from their residential program who are survivors of addiction, abuse, prostitution, and trafficking. their natural bath and body line serves as a platform to fund the residential program and offer vocational training to the residents. their quality product “bears witness that love is the most powerful force for change in the world”.

4/ olive wood cutting board: every boy + girl needs a quality cutting board. badala is a non-profit company that employs women in africa with fair wages. in addition, the profits from the sales of these fair traded goods are focused on educational scholarships for children and micro-financing to help these women start their own businesses.

everybody has stress. when i am discouraged, i say true things to myself: it’s effective. i tell myself that my business is growing and that it’s good.

for all those expecting entrepreneurs wondering how to put their dreams into action, i like to hold molly up as a model of what one person can do. as a mother of three {9, 6 + 3 1/2}, a wife, and a small business owner {with a recent cross-country move under her belt}, i'm truly mystified by molly's infinite pool of moxie + motivation. at one point, i tell her i'm proud of her, wondering aloud if i sound like a mom; molly tells me i sound like mr. rogers. suddenly i've become both my mom + fred rogers in one fell swoop.

i am curious about work/family balance + broach the subject of stress, pondering how she manages full days and brimming nights.

molly is pensive, then her candid response comes, "everybody has stress. when i am discouraged, i say true things to myself: it's effective. i tell myself that my business is growing and that it's good." {full disclosure: i loved these words of wisdom so much that i have adopted this technique.} below is a list of molly's favorite ways to relieve tension, which is a wonderful reminder at this time of year to take deep breaths + tend to your hearts.

a little self-love goes a long way:
1. hike or walk
2. exercise
3. good nights rest
4. quiet drive
5. bath
6. time with a quality friend or two
7. healthy, warm meal
8. straightening up and/or cleaning
9. game night with my family
10. recreational reading
11. writing a list {and then crossing stuff off!}
12. drinking a glass of water
13. breathing
14. meditating/praying
15. journaling
16. listening to music
17. turning off my phone

what's next on the agenda for fair + simple? f+s is working with a beautiful refuge to bring to life an in-house design line for children will soon be blooming over f+s. handmade items for little ones 3-7 years of age including fair trade, handmade pants, rompers, headbands and {wait for it} dresses with pockets! the color scheme includes olive green, chambray blue, gray {calming colors you might expect to find in nature}, and black tees because, well, stains. these ditties will be available for your little rascals this winter, so all you fab mama + papa bears should be on the lookout.

{don't forget the tip} i like to ask eco entrepreneurs where they shop. molly likes to head out to consignment shops in her neck of the woods with her tots in tow, not all at once she cautions. here's a lovely blog post by molly on how to teach + involve your children in responsible shopping. i absolutely love her ideas, which consequently, can be used by folks of all ages. 

for a list of 8 of my fave eco + ethical online boutiques, skip on over here. if you're shopping this holiday season, try to shop small. until next time, stay green dear hearts!

{images via fair + simple // artwork by ev}

{eco brand} world finds: the search for good things is over

over the summer months i have been reading three books simultaneously in addition to a slew of american + french magazines and of course, the usual fair fashion + clean beauty fare across the internet. reading remains my absolute favorite pastime, and one that is positively therapeutic for me. i never take reading for granted.

in india, 41% of children drop out of school before the 8th grade, according to the world bank group, and half of all girls 15 and older are illiterate. 64% of adolescent girls are forced to leave school early to care for younger siblings, to help run the household or for arranged marriages. 

world finds is a business using fashion + design to combat poverty + illiteracy, and this blooming company, once just a seedling, is now celebrating ten years of creating positive change, building hope + designing sustainable products. world finds is a brand born from travels across continents + across the consciousness of eco entrepreneur kelly weinberger. this is how world finds is transforming communities + providing education for girls in india:

i had the opportunity to meet kelly, the founder of world finds  while in my home state of illinois this past summer. i admit, i was a wee bit distracted while kelly chatted with me of the values she holds dear and how her germinating mind drove her to upstart this ethical fashion company. i confess to being a bit preoccupied by her jewelry. that's because each piece she wore was beautifully designed + highly covetable. 

dressed in a pair of harem pants + a simple black top which proved the perfect backdrop to a pair of shoulder-sweeping, handmade earrings along with a dainty, twisted bangle and layered, mixed-metal rings, kelly's style is remarkably easy + natural. but in this scenario, being distracted by kelly's beautiful baubles is a good thing, i promise.

kelly's story is one of perseverance, one that challenges the very order of fast fashion: kelly had journeyed across nearly 40 countries and witnessed immense poverty and eventually she came to learn of the tremendous potential to assist women's cooperatives, WTO labor organizations + small families of artisans via fair trade {fair trade is a movement that helps workers move toward economic + social self-sufficiency by providing a living wage, access to healthcare + childcare, and ongoing training + education}. 

kelly left a career in marketing to pursue her dream of creating a fair trade business that would harness the high creative power of artisans in developing countries while providing a market for the handmade wares of these talented craftswomen. 

ten years later, with a staff of seven, and with her baubles in nearly 900 retail locations, world finds has found a place in the hearts of those of us seeking insight into our forgotten connections with the workers who make our jewelry + accessories. in addition, world finds founded the girls education fund to provide additional resources + scholarships to marginalized families in artisan communities in india. this means every purchase truly makes à difference.

i listened to kelly as she shared how each piece at world findsis realized: necklaces + clutches are made from recycled kantha quilts; naturally-dyed scarves are hand sewn and unique jewelry pieces are forged by hand. when i wear these pieces, my imagination is enlarged + i feel a sense of exhilaration as well as a bond to the artisans hailing from india, indonesia + bali; i recognize that the allure of each piece lies in its conception + i'm proud to be wearing these pieces, and i'm not at all flummoxed at having been distracted by their beauty. 

to learn more about world finds, skip on over here.

{images by ev // a. smith}