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.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Kindness by Review: Surrender Apparel

When Julie Belic - a designer with degrees in sustainable fashion and international development - turned to yoga during a stressful point in her life, she soon realised there wasn't anything out there that she wanted to wear to classes.

"I didn't want that gym bunny, shiny legging look. I wanted what I wore to yoga to be more seamless with my everyday clothing..." says Julie. In 2012 she took a bold step forward and founded Surrender yoga apparel for men and women, produced ethically in Bali.

I was delighted to have been contacted by Julie, asking me to review one of her brand new sustainable botanically-dyed tops. Let's see how it fares during my 'yoga road test' ;-)

My sea green top has been dyed using the leaves and roots of mango and indigo, this means the pigment will fade over time. It's recommended that you wash on a cool gentle setting and dry in the shade. 

According to Julie, "Botanical dyes lighten the footprint of the garment during construction...As the greatest environmental impact of a garment occurs during its use by the consumer in laundering, using botanical dyes encourages the consumer to wash gently and therefore reduces the impact of the garment".

I seriously liked the fact that I felt both comfortable and secure in this top. It didn't pinch anywhere but it also wasn't gaping or shifting about during my more active moves! You don't need your yoga session to turn into an impromptu strip tease!

Made from 95% Modal and 5% Spandex, this top flexes nicely with your body while feeling lovely and soft.

Within the next five years, Surrender aims to be partnered with an Non-Governmental Organisation and have a strong social enterprise dimension to the label. I personally would love to hear more about the individual makers in Bali, perhaps with the addition of a 'Meet the Makers' type resource on their website. It's clear from talking to Julie that she's committed to Surrender becoming a brand that's increasingly transparent, sustainable and community-oriented as well as aesthetically pleasing. 

For my lucky Australian and New Zealand based readers, Surrender is giving you the chance to WIN your very own botanically-dyed yoga top from the new collection!

To enter simply:

1. Leave a comment below on this post telling me what yoga means to you

2. Click on the Rafflecopter widget to officially enter the competition and to gain access to additional chances to win

The competition will run until 10:00 am (AEST) on Thursday 19th March 2015, and is open to Australian and New Zealand residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Pure Pod - Purely Australian Sustainable Fashion

As much as I love interviewing ethical designers from all around the world - it's always very special when I get to chat to someone based here in Australia! In 2007 designer Kelli Donovan and photographer Sean Watson went out on a limb and launched their own ethical fashion label - Pure Pod

I recently spoke to Kelli about the ups and downs of starting an eco-fashion brand. Theirs is a story of dedication, creativity and determination that I found to be very inspiring...I hope you will too!

Q. Why are sustainability and social ethics an important part of fashion design for you?

We don't believe sustainability and ethics should be a choice as a manufacturer and designer. We think it is an integral part of design. We all need a healthy planet to live and survive so why should it be something we ignore when manufacturing products.  We all have the responsibility to do the right thing as this planet is borrowed from the next generations. If we stuff it up what are they going to do? No powerful organisations, huge amounts of money or large armies are going to bring back a healthy planet are they? 

You can make beautiful things with the right choices and feel good about making them. This story then makes our stockists and customers feel good about what they are purchasing, knowing they are making ethical consumer choices! We have a close relationship with many of our makers, printers, cutters, pattern makers. Many of whom we have been working with for 8 years now and we always want to make sure they are okay and enjoy their work. 

It's a tough trade sitting behind a machine or printing or cutting everyday! If they are working in terrible conditions this would only make it worse on their mental and physical health. I believe this feeling will come out in the clothing and then to the wearer! Fast fashion is great at this!  I just couldn't do it any other way. Why make ethical and sustainable clothing  you are passionate about if the story behind it doesn't match the beautiful eco garments? Just doesn't make sense, so to me there is no choice!!  

Q. How would you describe Pure Pod's aesthetic in 10 words or less?

Life style, passion, nature lover, adventurer, slight touch of vintage, dreamer, compassion, clean cut styles that will last the test of time, a life long story behind it << Hee hee slightly over 10 words ;-) Love the answer though! 

Q. What are some of the challenges you've faced as an eco-friendly fashion brand? How did you overcome them?

A huge challenge is to make in Australia. It is getting harder and harder to survive as a brand. Many of our wonderful crafts people are retiring and there is not a younger generation coming through, plus these people are taking with them amazing skills that younger generations do not know. 

Also being Australian Made doesn't get as much media support as a Fair Trade or offshore made ethical brands. These brands are wonderful but we love our makers and know if we stop giving them work they won't survive and many won't get other work as they are too old in their fields to start another career. 

Cash flow is always a big one for all designers, retailers and suppliers. This one we all have to juggle constantly and often paying ourselves last after everyone has been paid and looked after! Ethical and eco fabric suppliers — it can be very hard somethings finding eco-certified fabrics which are good quality and wear well, wash well and stand the test of time. Sometimes real eco-organic veggie dyed fabrics can be much softer than a hard wearing synthetic fabric. We need to educate our customers that this is the case. 

Q. What's your favourite piece in-store right now (I think mine is your Amazon Dress)?

My current favourite is the veggie and herb dyed, hand block printed, organic cotton Mandala Peplum top. I have both colourways - mud sport and the indigo spot. I can't take them off. The fabric is so soft on your skin and beautiful for hot days. It can be layered for cooler days and looks great with pants or a skirt. We have sold this to many different shaped women and they all look amazing wearing it. Even larger busted customers have loved this top. They were hesitant to put it on but once they did they took it!

The fabric is hand block printed with mineral, veggie and herb dyes. These dyes are virtually at Ayervedic medicine levels, so they are good for your skin and body. As our skin is the largest organ in your body it is smart to put things on it which are pure and organic as much as possible as chemicals from our clothing and skin products can go into our skin.

Q. If you had to choose another profession — what would it be? 

I am also a yoga and Pilates teacher so I think I would go into the health and well-being industry more and learn also to paint or sculpt! I love making people feel relaxed and get in touch with their bodies and mind, and release stresses from their everyday lives. The best feeling is when my students sit up from the Savasana (relaxation) at the end of class and they are all dreamy and relaxed! It's almost like they have gone out of their busy minds and back into their bodies, a grounding feeling! This calms the nervous system and mind!

Q. Who or what is currently inspiring you? 

I love all the amazing artists, crafters and designers we meet in the designer market circles, through different groups I am a part of and just in everyday life! I am not always into following famous people but those who are making a difference in their everyday lives for the better!

Q. What does 2015 hold for Pure Pod? 

This year we have a strong focus on our children's collection - 'dirtgirlworld' organic and ethical kids clothing. We are launching it at Kids In Style in Sydney on 19th February. We are producing the collection for the ABCTV 2 kids show 'dirtgirlworld.' 

We are very passionate about it as we have a little 4 year old girl called Ruby. We want to make families and parents aware of their natural surrounds and to take care of the planet from every purchase to every step! This show teaches kids about the natural world, recycling and just getting outdoors and having fun! Plus it is a fun program with music, colour and learning. Get outside and get grubby! 

You can connect with Pure Pod via Facebook and Twitter - KBC x

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Fairytale EcoFashion

I've always been attracted to the beauty, morality and wonder of fairy-tales, from when I was small to present day they've held my fascination. Recently I've been watching the TV series Once Upon A Time and I was reminded of an idea I'd had years ago to curate a collection of fairytale-inspired items of ecofashion and beauty!

 So allow me to whisk you away to a magical realm - enjoy!

Eyelashes by Paperself - Whether you're a woodland nymph or a sparkling mermaid, London based designer Chunwei Liao has you covered! Paperself claims to be an eco-friendly alternative to more traditional false eyelashes
 High Neck Chipao Collar Capelet by Anny Schoo Eco Clothing - This beautiful vintage-inspired natural linen capelet is perfect for a stroll through the woods to visit Granny...
The Unicorn and The Butterfly Baby Shoes by Little Pitterpat - Even baby princesses need magical vegan shoes! These delightful shoes have been handmade using certified organic cotton and bamboo
Never Never Land Dress by Pierogi Picnic - Add a splash of innocent cheekiness to your wardrobe with this upcycled piece with its Peter Pan Collar. Change the look each time with a different petticoat
Bear-ly There Pillow by Bird Mafia - This super cute bear is sure to think your bed or couch is juuuust right! Made using organic cotton for the exterior and recycled polyester inside to make him nice and plump
Fae Dress by Nuvo Nova - Channel your inner Tinkerbell or Flower Fairy with this sweet dress crafted from vintage materials
Love Pendant by Annabel Panes - Surely one of the most important themes threaded through fairy-tales is LOVE! This stunningly elegant necklace was made in Lima from certified Fairtrade silver mined in the Andes
Sofia Two Piece by Reformation - If you're after a modern take on a fairytale princess then look no further than this beautiful ivory two piece! Impeccably crafted from surplus material, it's feminine yet funky
Light Fairies by Beatrice Oettinger -These utterly strange and delightful lights consist of tiny fairy dresses which have been baked from flour dough and dyed with beetroot! Each exquisite string of lights is unique
Explorer All-in-one by ALAS - How adorable is this all-in-one nightwear from ALAS? It reminds me of the character Michael Darling from Disney's 1953 version of Peter Pan! You can rest easy in these pyjamas knowing they're made from certified organic cotton
Constellation Dress by Vaute Couture - Feeling ordinary? Perhaps it's time to wish upon a star? Loving this organic velvet dress for stargazers and dreamers!

"The fairy poet takes a sheet Of moonbeam, silver white; His ink is dew from daisies sweet, His pen a point of light"

~Joyce Kilmer