Monday, 3 August 2015

Zefyr - Jewellery That's a Breath of Fresh Air

Zefyr: a warm playful breeze from the sea, carrying the scent of spices and far-off lands 

Jewellery can be so many lovely things, a joyous celebration of a special event, a keepsake of a treasured relationship or an expression of your unique take on life. People often put a great deal of thought into choosing a piece of jewellery - yet much of the time we're missing a really important question. Is this jewellery ethical? Has its creation been kind to people and planet? 

Did you know that the average goldmine uses enough water to meet the basic needs of a large city’s population for a whole year? Or that 40% of all reported toxic pollution releases are caused by the mining industry, which is also the second largest contributor to greenhouse gases? 

The good news is there are ethical choices out there and you don't have to compromise on aesthetics either! One such option is Sydney-based jewellery label Zefyr. I'm delighted to share with you my recent interview with Founder and Designer Tanya Coelho.
Q. You come from a family of craftspeople, but what is it about jewellery in particular that sparks your creativity and passion? 

I think it's the medium itself. I tried working with clay, fabric, wood and glass in the past but we weren't friends. It was metal that stole my heart. I love soldering, beating the metal, shaping it, everything about it except sanding. 

Jewellery in particular appealed because I love the idea of creating beautiful objects that make people feel beautiful just by wearing them. Jewellery also has this amazing totemic ability. We add layers of meaning to our jewellery in a way that other worn objects don't. A particular jewel can connect us to our past, it can remind us of a particular event, and it can connect us to the important people in out lives.

Tanya Coelho - Founder + Design of Zefyr

Q. How would you describe Zefyr’s aesthetic in 10 words or less? 

Exotic, romantic, global and sophisticated.

Q. What makes Zefyr an ethical choice for shoppers? 

All our jewels are created sustainably from recycled silver or brass. They have also been handmade ethically by artisans in Jaipur with fair labour practices. Beauty is really important to me so I have tried to create jewellery that not only looks beautiful and makes you feel beautiful to wear but has also been created beautifully with ethics at its heart. 

Q. If you could change one thing about the global jewellery industry, what would that be and why? 

Oh god, where do I start? For one thing I think we should cut down on the large-scale mining of metal due to the huge environmental implications - the waste, the chemical leeching, the displacement of local communities. We need to recycle more. There's enough metal on the surface for us not to need to mine for the next few decades. 

The other thing I would like to change is the working conditions of the artisans making the cheap jewellery you find in chain stores. Most of the fashion jewellery you buy contains nickel, which is carcinogenic. This means that many of the workers face untold health problems in working everyday with this toxic material. 

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about why you’ve chosen to work with brass as one of your main materials? 

I initially chose brass, as brass is one of the most highly recycled and recyclable metals available. We have now been fortunate enough to discover a source for recycled silver after a long and fruitful search. In the early days of my business this option just didn't exist - or least I wasn't able to discover it. Waste is something I abhor and by creating fashion jewellery in brass I wondered if I wasn't creating more objects that would have a use by date and then be discarded. 

Instead I have decided to focus on creating jewellery that can last a lifetime and perhaps even be passed on to other generations. With silver this is possible and with brass it wasn't.  

Q. Who or what is inspiring you right now? 

The wonderful forts and palaces I visited in Rajasthan and Jaipur earlier this year have filled my head with visions. I'm about to hit the bench to start creating new jewels inspired by the romantic architecture and textures I saw in that corner of India. I'm also really inspired by the beautiful gems I picked up on my travels through Jaipur. I love their colours and I can't wait to start playing with them. 

Q. Your new collection is called Monsoon – what was the inspiration behind these new pieces? 

I was inspired by my travels to the north of Laos. While I was there I was lucky enough to stay with some of the Hmong Hilltribe people. Their geometric and colourful embroidery that they create in their textiles was so beautifully detailed and jewel-like. 

I was inspired to create in metal something that the Hilltribe peoples created in thread.  I was there just as the Monsoon season was starting so got to see the enormity that is this seasonal event.

Click here to see the new Monsoon Collection! You can also connect with Zefyr via Facebook and Twitter

**Stay tuned for my up-coming review of one of Zefyr's gorgeous pieces**

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Sustainable Style with a Surreal Twist

I've always been in love with the surreal - from the outlandish characters of Dr Seuss, vast strangeness of The Never Ending Story, the moving otherworldly beauty of Shaun Tan and of course my very own imagination...just to name a few. The world is FULL of quirky inspiration and I've recently been captivated by the fantastical artwork of my dear friend Rosell Flately!
So I really wanted to see what I could find in fashion and design that combined sustainability with a dreamlike aesthetic. I was a little dismayed at how difficult it was to track down pieces that were aesthetically whimsical and socially and environmentally ethical.

Here's what I uncovered after much digging :-)

Graffiti Print Leggings by HoverStuff - These crazy drip-tastic pants have been handmade from organic cotton plus 5% elastan. I think they'd suit a Dr Seuss character very well indeed :)
Ocean Ambassadors Tee from Leisure Activist Group - Super quirky and definitely eco, this tee is made from 100% recycled PET bottles. Proceeds also go toward efforts to clean up our oceans!
Tribe Dragons Cropped Sweater by Dream Nation -I'm loving the combination of the dragonesque motif of the Mayan deity Kukulkan, with fantastically vibrant colour palette! Made from 95% organic cotton

Tempest Light Shade by InHouse Space - The wonderful dreamy soft swirls of this chic light shade are made from 100% recycled plastics. Turn it on to illuminate your next creative endeavour
Brass Tentacle Pendant by Leafy Natural Couture - Delightfully eccentric, each pendant is individually hand-casted by artisans in Peru under fair trade conditions
Brick Red Hooded Scarf by Malam - I adore this whimsical hooded scarf handmade from brick red checkered vintage wool
Bear Top by Rapanui - It definitely feels like this image should be connected with a surreal and moving story! This 100% organic cotton tee was made in an ethically accredited, wind-powered factory
Garden Jumpsuit by ALAS - I feel like looking at this print is a little like gazing at can see all sorts of weird and wonderful things :) Made from 100% certified organic cotton and hand-printed using AZO and formaldehyde free inks
Sky Planters from Design For Use - How unbelievably cool is this?! Made from recycled polypropylene, these unique planters designed by Patrick Morris save space, use 80% less water than conventional planters and look amazing.
Eyelash Fringe Catch-All from Indego Africa - Colourful and strange, this container reminds me of the strange and beautiful creatures in movies such as The Dark Crystal or Labyrinth. Made from locally grown and hand-woven sweetgrass, all profits fund educational training programs for the female artisans
Gold Wasp Studded Clutch from FashionKind - Off-putting yet completely alluring, this wasp encrusted clutch is not only vegan, but its creation also generates fair wages and dignified work to male artisans in Lucknow, India.
Giant Reindeer Bib from Little Frenchy -Such a striking and distinctive reindeer design on this 100% certified organic cotton bib for kids aged 2 to 4
Mariposa Two Piece by Reformation - Wear these breathtaking crashing waves and feel close to the mysterious element of water. Lovingly made from deadstock materials in Los Angeles
Transglass Cut Vase from State of Green - I love it when ordinary objects are transformed into something extraordinary! This eye-catching vase is hand-crafted from recycled post-consumer wine bottles thanks to skilled artisans in Guatemala
Dare More Tee by Uni-T - There's something about dragons that really captures the imagination :) This hand-printed top, with it's message to be brave, is made from a combination of bamboo and organic cotton
Map Skirt Alden Skirts - Do you know those fantasy books set in imaginary lands where the author has created a map and placed it at the start of the story? Well this skirt reminds me of those :) Particularly Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea Quartet! Each of these skirts is created by a single mother working at home, with portion of the profits going to a non-profit organization providing health care for children in Central America and the Caribbean
Blue Anika Brooch by Scoops Design - I'm really drawn to the dream-like quality of this bright design! Definitely another one that reminds me of the beloved Dr Seuss illustrations ;-) Handmade in Sydney, this pretty piece of jewellery is crafted from recycled plywood

I hope you enjoyed that :-) If you've come across any fabulous items that combine whimsy and ethics, please do share them in the comments below!


Thursday, 21 May 2015

Directly Impact Clothing Makers with

"If you look at, people with a very modest amount of money can make a huge positive impact all around the world"  

- President Bill Clinton

One of the major themes of Fashion Revolution Day has been the disconnect between consumers and makers of fashion. The more we reconnect the links, the closer we come to a fairer future. That's why I was excited to hear from Brianna who works at Kiva - the world's largest micro-lending platform. Micro-finance is a term used to describe financial services to low-income individuals or to those who do not have access to typical banking services. It's also the idea that low-income individuals are capable of lifting themselves out of poverty if given access to financial services. Importantly, Kiva is a nonprofit organization and makes no money from the loans they facilitate.

Brianna explained to me that Kiva believes in ethical and eco-friendly business practices, greater transparency and fairer working conditions in the fashion industry. You can read about their own involvement in Fashion Revolution Day here

Having discovered Kindness by Design, Brianna realised that my passionate reader's would surely be interested in a simple yet powerful way to impact the makers of fashion. I agreed!

The way it works is pretty simple:

100% of every dollar you lend on Kiva goes directly towards funding loans; Kiva does not take a cut and does not charge interest to their Field Partners, who administer the loans. Click here to read about the lending process in more depth. 

So what kinds of positive change are you enabling through your loan? Let me introduce you to Pamela. 

Pamela is one of Kiva’s artisan borrowers from Kibera, Nairobi. When the single mother of four found out she was HIV positive, she started treatment for HIV and founded a support group for recently diagnosed women called the Kibera HIV/AIDS Support Initiative Program. She also taught herself to bead and now owns her own jewelry shop, which donates 50% of its profits back to newly diagnosed women in the group.   

With a loan from Kiva, Pamela was able to expand the types of goods she offers in her shop. In 2012, the average annual income per capita in Kenya was less than $950. Pamela now makes an average of $2,100 per year.  Pamela is a shining example of how a Kiva loan, partnered with hard work, dedication and belief in a better future, can empower artisans around the world. When I searched under the category 'clothing' today on Kiva, I found 300 loans available!

There are a number of other ways to support Kiva's vision of connecting people and alleviating poverty. You can join with other lenders to achieve larger goals, ask your wedding or birthday guests to donate funds, become a Kiva Fellow abroad and much more

You can connect with Kiva via Facebook and Twitter.  

Have you had experience with a Kiva loan or other micro-lending program? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below :-)
Disclaimer: This is not a paid post. Reviews cannot be purchased and submitting a product/service does not guarantee a favourable review. The opinions are 100% the author's own. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Kind Events: Every Purchase Matters

"I must do something always solves more problems than 
something must be done" ~Author Unknown

World Fair Trade Fortnight (8th – 22nd May 2015) kicks off this week with special events happening all around the globe. One of these fair trade focused events is being held next Wednesday 13th May right here in Sydney and I'm thrilled that the lovely folks from The Fair Trade Association have provided me with four tickets to giveaway to my readers! the night there will be fair trade markets, a screening of the powerful award-winning documentary 'Black Gold', and a Q & A session with leading figures in the Fair Trade Movement in Australia and the Pacific. Panelists will include: Wells Trentfield (CEO Jasper Coffee); Harvey Purse (Fair Trade Advisor OxfamAustralia); Molly Harriss Olson (CEO Fairtrade Australia); Mel Tually (Coordinator Fashion Revolution Day Aus/NZ); and Shannon Sheedy (Owner The Dharma Door).

Coming right on the heels of Fashion Revolution Day, it's vital to continue asking the hard questions about our consumer purchases. The Fair Trade Association is calling on shoppers to carefully consider the impact of every purchase they make on the world’s poorest producers.  According to Executive Director of the Fair Trade Association, Chris Hartley, “The small act of putting a Fair Trade product in your shopping basket assists the world poorest producers to lift themselves out of poverty”.  

To win 1 of 4 free tickets to attend Every Purchase Matters, simply leave a comment on KBD's Facebook page finishing this sentence: "Every purchase matters because...". The first four Sydneysiders to answer will receive a free ticket!

Friday, 1 May 2015

10 Gifts Empowering Mothers All Around the World

Next Sunday is Mother's Day, and this year I'm proud to be teaming up with Thread Harvest - a social enterprise for conscientious shoppers and change-makers who care about both style and substance, and who embrace higher virtues of empathy, respect and compassion.

All of their products have been curated based on the four key elements of: style, impact, cost and quality. Here are 10 beautiful gifts that will not only delight your Mum but are also helping to empower women around the globe!

1.  Socks to Fight Aids by Conscious Step

Each of these striking organic cotton socks contributes towards global efforts to eliminate new HIV infections in babies and keep mothers healthy. This is thanks to a partnership between Conscious Step and UNAIDS. Keep your Mum's feet cute and comfy while warming her heart at the same time :-)

2. Arrow Bangle by Article 22

I'm a long time fan of Article 22's profound and socially ethical jewellery. This bangle was crafted in Laos by artisans using Vietnam War era bombs and other paraphernalia. Funds from each purchase goes toward clearing bomb littered land.  
3. Neary Pacaya Tee by Raven + Lily

Sophia Lin and Kirsten Dickinson created Raven + Lilly as a platform to empower women through ethical design. This lovely t-shirt is made from repurposed remnant jersey by female artisans, many of whom are HIV+ or have escaped the sex-trafficking industry. 

4. Kelapa Shoes by Indosole
I'm loving the look of these 100% hand-crafted vegan shoes with their coconut tree print lining! Kepala actually means 'coconut' in Indonesian and these shoes seem made for holidays in the tropics. Not only are the soles made from repurposed tires, but no fuel-powered machinery has been used in their creation! Perfect for a sun-loving Mum who loves to tread lightly on the planet.

5. The Whitney Necklace by Starfish Project

I think this is a really funky combination of colours that kind of reminds me of walking along a beach on a stormy day. If your Mum loves beautiful jewellery then this could be for her! The profits from your purchase will help to provide women in South East Asia who have been physically, emotionally, and sexually abused, with income, education and on-going support.

6. Peacock Print Bucket Tote by Joyn

I adore a good tote! It's such a great gift as well because it's handy for bookworms, shoppers, beach-goers and more. This hand spun, hand woven and hand block-printed cotton tote is so pretty and practical. Crafted in Rajpur, India, each bag represents a steady job under fair conditions for someone in need. 

7. Wilbur Fleece Sleepwear by ALAS

One of my favourite Australian labels, ALAS stands for 'All Light, All Shadow', which represents the nature of change; day to night, sleeping to waking. ALAS also stands for cute and ecochic PJs! Not only are they made from GOTS certified organic cotton under fairtrade conditions...but the 'Wilbur' print features CATS =^..^= Purr-fect for the Mum who loves snuggling in comfort with kitties. 

8. Dainty Pendant Necklace by The Giving Keys

This unique necklace features a repurposed key, which has been hand engraved with a positive word by an individual transitioning out of homelessness. If your Mum loves things are one-of-a-kind, perhaps this is the key to her heart? ;-)

9. Mulholland Sweatshirt by Threads 4 Thought

Here in Australia the days and nights are definitely getting cooler - so now is a great time to give your Mum the gift of style and comfort! With a pretty lace insert coupled with 100% organic cotton terry, it's the epitome of ecochic. 

10. Uzma Recycled Cotton Travel Journal by Raven + Lilly

Is your Mum a creative soul who loves to write? This gorgeous collection of sustainable stationery is made by female artisans who live at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains in Northern India. These innovative women see the potential for beautiful paper in everything from scraps of military tents, denim jeans, newspapers, and cotton rags. Amazing!

I'm thrilled to tell you that the good folks at Thread Harvest have created a special 10% off discount code just for Kindness by Design readers! Simply use kindnessmothersday10 when you purchase any items online for Mother's Day. You'll also receive a free fair-trade, hand-made card from Raven + Lily with every purchase :-)

Disclaimer: This is not a paid post. Reviews cannot be purchased and submitting a product/service does not guarantee a favourable review. The opinions are 100% the author's own.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Are You A Fashion Revolutionary?

The older I get, the more connections I see in the world around me. We live in a vast interconnected universe where seemingly disparate topics are in fact intimately linked on some level. Social justice, the multibillion dollar fashion industry, environmental conservation and animal welfare - all of these things come into play each time we decide to purchase an item of clothing. 

Source: Fairtrade Australia
It's kind of a scary thought isn't it? How we can unwittingly impact on the world around us without fully comprehending the consequences. 

When frightened, we have a tendency to bury our heads in the sand - an ancient survival mechanism perhaps? Creating a better, fairer world is hard. I can't tell you that if you do x y and z everything will be fine and all fashion supply chains will become transparent and equitable. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we can't create positive change, which will lead to a socially and environmentally bright future. I know that we can do this! I just also know that it won't be easy and it won't be simple.  

Fashion Revolution Day is a great way to begin. It isn't about a quick fix, it's about starting the journey and sparking the hard yet vital conversations. 

On April 24 2013, 1133 garment workers were killed when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Over 2500 were injured. Today, people all around the world are still suffering as a direct result of our fashion supply chain. This year you have the opportunity to join people in over 60 countries participating in Fashion Revolution Day as a way of saying enough is enough! 

On the 24th of April you're invited to:

1. Turn a garment inside out
2. Reveal the swing tag or label
3. Take a selfie
4. Upload to your social media of choice
5. Then tag the brand you're wearing & use the hashtags 

Be persistent! Keep asking until you receive a satisfactory answer. We want as many people as possible to question who made their clothes, to imagine the thread linking the garment to the machinists who sewed it, all the way down to the farmer who grew the cotton.  

Other ways to get involved include:
  • Downloading#FashRev graphics, images, quotes, photos and posters available from the Resources page
  • Rallying everyone in your company to turn an item of clothing inside out on the day- from the staff behind the tills to the CEO - and as much as possible share these images through social networks. Businesses around the world gearing up for their group selfies!
  • Are you in a book club? Why not incorporate an ‘ethical fashion’ book into your group's reading list? Here's some titles to get you started
  • Finding an ethical brand or designer and boost their profile with a feature on your blog! Celebrate the story of one of their pieces
Want to do more? Connect with your local Fashion Revolution Day team! I'm honoured to be on the Australia/New Zealand board and we would love to hear from local brands, retailers and bloggers.