This Should Change Your Life

In the last month I have been excited, shocked, surprised and maybe a little annoyed by how many posts on plastics I have seen and read.  Excited because this is definitely something that I have thought about and have had concerns about for a while. Shocked because of what I’m reading. Surprised that so many people at once are getting on this trend (some trends are so valuable, right!?) and Annoyed because do I really want one more thing to avoid!  One more stream to swim against…IMG_2719

Even though avoiding plastics, or trying to minimize them in our clothing, and just in general is so difficult and takes time, energy and resources.  I am watching all of these amazing people who really care, who inspire me daily and I’m starting to feel like maybe I can do this.  I think it’s time our life should change.

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That being said, I have three children, I run two companies and let’s just be real –  I don’t have time for this.  But, my children are now eating the plastic that I’m washing when I wash our synthetic clothing.  Every straw or spoon or cup that I throw away contributes to 6 MILLION tons of waste a year.

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At Route, I am ready for us to start making small changes.  We already purchase pieces made with environmentally sustainable or recycled materials as often as we can.  We use cotton bags to store and wrap our jewelry instead of plastic.  But there is so much more we can do.  After much thinking I have three goals for my family and 3 for Route:

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  1. Switching all shipping packaging to recycled paper products within the next six months.
  2. Finding at least one new partner group that uses organic clothing to include in our line.
  3. Purchasing at least 30% of our jewelry made with recycled materials.

 

My Family (this is so much easier!)

  1. Start bringing metal straws or not use straws at all when we go out.
  2. When I need to buy more plates or cups keeping them plastic free.
  3. Never using disposable plastic wear in our kitchen.

Well, we will see how this goes!  I hope that you are also feeling inspired to think through plastic consumption in your life and that Route can help with that.

Happy Conscious Purchasing!

XOXO,

Christina

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A path to rural sustainability

There are countless problems that can be countered by employment.  Each partner group that we work with has identified specific needs in the communities that their makers live in and uses creative, thoughtful technics to build their business model around the needs in those communities.

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One of our favorites (because it harnesses technology in a really thoughtful way), is Soko.  we have just started carrying one or two of their pieces but have been following their work and impact for years.  They identify traditional artisans in rural areas, communicate orders and designs for their jewelry via cell phones and build relationships with their artisans remotely.

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There are so many exciting things about this model, but the biggest one is that it allows these artisans and their families to stay in their villages if they want to, keeping them out of dangerous and unhealthy slums in the cities and building their income and therefor impact on their communities in some of the poorest rural areas on Kenya.

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We will be bringing a few of Soko’s pieces in at a time and hope that you find things that you like and joining us in spreading the word about their effective work.

Happy Ethical Shopping!

XO,

Christina

Getting Behind A Worthy Goal

So many of our partner groups have grown slowly over the years.  Their product and process is finely honed and now they are taking “next steps” to grow their impact and influence.  We were so excited to bring Purpose Jewelry into our line this Spring, because of the work they do every day, but also because of the goals that they are vigilantly working towards.

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The Sade, Rahim and Latrice necklaces.

Purpose Jewelry comes out of International Sanctuary, a collection of safe houses that balance income, education, healthcare and community for women coming out of trafficking.  Their current goal is to have 10 communities for women in the next two years.  An exciting and extraordinary goal.

This is where Route comes in.  Every time we buy a larger selection of their jewelry, we are able to help them forward quickly towards their goal.

Whenever you purchase any piece of Route jewelry, you are doing this type of work.  Fulfilling dreams and goals for these amazing visionary people who are diving into the world’s hardest and most dangerous situations.  Their work permanently gives hope for a safe and healthy life to women who did not have it before.

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The Latrice Necklace.                                  photo: Purpose Jewelry

Most of us can’t travel constantly across the world to those who are in most need, or start organizations or even spend large quantities of time volunteering.  But there are so many ways that we can help people who CAN do those things and who are choosing to.  What is so exciting is that we can do that through our purchasing!  We are buying anyway, let’s make the choice to purchase products that make dreams come true, and accomplish big goals.  Products that give dignity, safety and amazing life opportunity to the people who make what we purchase!

Enjoy Purpose and their beautiful designs.  Happy Ethical Shopping!

xoxo,

Christina

A Peek Into My Closet

Here I am again, sharing something new going on around Route.  Purchasing ethically and having a closet with the least social and environmental impact is COMPLICATED and takes a lot of work and thought.  I’ve been working on it for at least the last four years and I feel strongly like I have SO far to go.

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Somedays jewelry is just a simple bar necklace like our Sade.

So after all of this time I’ve learned a thing or two and I finally feel ready to share a little bit about my journey, how I dress now and some of my closet goals as I’m going forward.

A few things to know about me that might be helpful:  I’m a (in some ways reluctant) stay at home mom.  Getting dressed and putting a passable outfit together daily is just one little way that I stick it to this crazy season that keeps me home all day chasing children.

I consider clothing trends optional and classic Parisian style a closet must.  I don’t wear one clear style, but mix it up and am always passionate about clothing that is flattering, well tailored and intricately designed (even if the finished product is simple).

Follow along on our instagram stories for more and if you like what I have on for any feature keep track of the “One Of” collection on our website.  I will be featuring pieces that I’ve found for Route and after I style them will pack them away for you to purchase.

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Today’s Outfit: Stephanie Cardigan from the Route shop and a second hand Eileen Fisher linen dress!

I hope this is helpful and fun for you and as always: Happy Ethical Shopping!

Much Love,

Christina

One Of – A New Route

Hi Everyone!!

I am SO EXCITED to announce a little adventure that we are embarking on at Route.  For a while we have been talking about how to make ethical fashion more accessible, but still stylish and fresh.  I love shopping second hand and recognizing great finds, I love buying local from artisans and designers that are doing effective and creative things in my neighborhood and I love buying ethically.  Bottom line, I just love shopping in alternative ways that make the mainstream seem boring and “basic”, and I’m passionate about putting together outfits from all of these different sources that are functional, beautiful, and classic.

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This Black Jumpsuit is our first One of for sale!  Click the link HERE to purchase.

Sometimes buying ethically can be hard–either the pieces are boring, or the fantastically designed ones are out of an average person’s budget. Here’s where I want to come in:

In all of my second hand shopping I often come across pieces that are LEGIT finds.  Things that I cannot believe I have gotten my hands on, or pieces that are just so beautiful that I can’t leave behind.  So instead of keeping them for myself, I’ve decided to start sharing them with you.

Stay tuned for more blog posts and our instagram changing over the coming weeks as we add new sections and styles mixing in ethical with secondhand.

I can’t wait to share,

xo, Christina

 

 

To Change a Life with Dignity

The process of choosing which companies we will partner with and what products we will sell consumes so much of our work and conversation.  This is not a small process.  The goal is to put together a collection of well made, fashionable, well priced and deeply impactful products.  We want to choose the best of the best for you.  When you buy from Route, you can trust that these are pieces that people will compliment and ask you about.

When we start in on a new relationship (or in this case pick back up on an old one), we take that very seriously and approach it with care.  Years ago, Starfish Project came to visit our shop in Columbia.  We were thrilled about the work they were doing.  Literally bringing women out of brothels and exploitation into every level of their business.  Their goal is not just to teach women how to make jewelry.  They put women quickly into training and education programs to teach them computer skills, management, logistics and a slew of other seriously marketable skills.  These women will forever have careers that will safely keep them out of the situations that came from.  All of this while housing, caring for and helping to heal each women.

We have chosen not to buy from them in the past because we did not think the jewelry they were making had a wide enough appeal or that the style was updated enough to sell on it’s own without the story.  We are THRILLED that that has changed and recently found three gorgeous pieces to offer you from their current line.

 

Order one or two (scroll over image for link to purchase) knowing that the women behind these products are working hard to change the direction of their lives and you are helping to make that possible (and looking fabulous in the process).

Enjoy!

Love,

Christina

The 5 Best Ways to Clean Out Your Closet

So I throw things away compulsively, sometimes it’s a problem. When it comes to keeping my closet organized, it’s really helpful. I clean my closet out at least twice a year and have several different methods to approaching this project.

Sometimes I clean out just because it feels good to have less stuff, but more often I clean out with two goals in mind:

  1. What do I need to get rid of?
  2. Where are the holes in my wardrobe that would make styling and dressing easier and less stressful?

I don’t have a lot of time for clean so I try and make it quick and efficient. Here are five different approaches to cleaning out. There is definitely overlap between them, but they are a great place to start. Try one and let me know how it went.

Organize by Color – Everyone has their favorite colors to collect. Start by separating your clothing by color. Any outliers that you NEVER wear? Toss them. Do you have 8 black tops? If you wear them all, keep them, if not. See ya.clothing swap card

Side not: this is a great way to get an idea of what you may want to look for when you do your Spring purchasing this year.  Some questions to help you decide what should go on your list and what should go: What colors do you have too much of?  What colors do you love that you don’t wear enough?

Organize by Wear – Day/Night/Casual/Business – It’s helpful to do this and then ask yourself which clothes you spend the most time in. What pieces do you have that cross over? For me, my casual and business clothes often cross over. I try to dress up my casual and dress down my business look enough that I can combine those pieces.   I find cross over from day to night difficult because I LOVE having really special tops or dresses when I go out (it doesn’t happen often). So I try and keep them updated and find that, I wear them infrequently and if I am careful to buy only what I love I keep them for years, often until they wear out.

Organize by Age – Speaking of keeping pieces for years. Sometimes we just love a piece to death and it is time to say goodbye. I nearly came to tears a few weeks ago when I bent over to pick up the baby off the floor and the back of my five year old black skinny jeans just ripped all the way up!

Other times, we have piles of clothing purchased years ago that aren’t relevant anymore. Maybe they were not well made to begin with or in a color that didn’t work for you, or a style that was really fast and looks odd now, so we just never wear them. My strategy is that if I did not wear it more than once the year before, I toss it.

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Organize by Type – Start with each type of clothing. Shirts, pants, coats, etc… Look at the group of each and ask yourself: What do you wear often? What is outdated? What fits and what doesn’t? Keep everything out as you go through and use this strategy to create outfits. Sometimes older pieces in my wardrobe end up getting put into my rotation to wear because I take the time to find outfits for them during this process.   Don’t hesitate to take pictures and keep them organized for inspiration when you dress in the morning!

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Basic vs. Statement – The capsule wardrobe is an illusive goal in my life. I like wearing one-pieces, skirts and unusual tops that really only match one other piece or one pair of shoes. I’m hopeless. That being said, it is so much easier when the vast majority of my clothing can be mixed and matched to quickly throw on in the morning. When you are cleaning out to analyze how flexible your wardrobe is and find the holes in your wardrobe I would start by pulling out all of your basics. Consider each piece to decide if they work: Do you wear them all the time? Do they fit? Then clean out accordingly.

Ok, now I’m feeling ready to get started. Good luck and happy Spring cleaning!!

 

Love,

 

Christina

Carrying Love

Ten years ago this month we had our first conversation about whether or not to start a nonprofit that would sell fair trade items to create employment in developing countries.  Our goal was to alleviate poverty and we felt so strongly that employment could make that happen.  As February starts and we take time to celebrate relationships and love and connection, I can’t help but take a few minutes to share what we have learned.

Employment isn’t enough.  Economic development, a good job, lots of money and opportunity are not enough to end poverty and the emotional havoc that it wreaks.  It’s the relationships, the connections between the maker, the designer, the supplier and the customer.  Every person who carries a product carries love to another.

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Three years ago when we were rebranding Route I read and at one point spoke (yikes!) on the essay “I, Pencil”.  It’s a brief essay  marveling on how supply chains are so complicated and really beautiful in their intricacy.  In our world, supply chains are simple, but reflecting on that essay I have come to almost charish how are products are passed on.  It is the passing from one person to another that creates the relationships that carry the love and the appreciation and the value.  AND then, when we are able to return again and again to those same people for more product, (which of course means more economic support) we also return to them in friendship and support and encouragement.

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In ethical fashion, these exchanges are more often than not done through women.  So this year, at Route we are going to salute the women who are committed to supporting each other, encouraging each other and giving strength in community to do impossible things.

Thank you to the women in our community who dream with us and challenge and support us.  Here is to each one of you, from maker to customer and every incredible person in between.  We LOVE you and THANK YOU for carrying the love.

– Christina

Five Days, Five Ways

Happy New Year! I’ve been a little quiet the past few weeks. In between the holidays I’ve had a bit of work to catch up on. But I’m back and excited to share the first of many editions of Five Days, Five Ways.

So what is Five Days, Five Ways?

For five days I am taking one article of clothing and showing the versatility of our closets. Too often I want new things because, well, they are new and new is fun. But. And you know me, there is always a but. The closets we currently own hold so many possibilities. So for five days I styled one garment to meet all my weekday needs.

Last week I was lucky enough to test out the Martina Bias Cut Skirt from Route! Partnering with Tonle to bring this perfect skirt from Cambodia I couldn’t imagine having the debut of Five Days, Five Ways be with anything else.

Since it arrived I have not taken it off.

Providing both structure and comfort I’ve easily transitioned this piece from corporate workday to casual evening in seconds. The material of the skirt is so soft and luxurious. It’s the one item I don’t strip off two steps into my front door as I do with other garments following a long day at the office. I would take naps in it if I wasn’t worried about wrinkles.

After a week of running all over town in this skirt I am excited to share with you the many ways it should be the next addition to your wardrobe.

Monday: Office Day in Corporate America

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My day job is not glamorous. I’m a financial reporting manager spending most hours with accountants who still believe brown and black can never go together, tailoring is an unnecessary expense, and cardigans are the only way to pull an outfit together.

I stick out a bit.

Heading into the office I paired the Martina Skirt with a classic blush button down blouse (consignment store find a few years ago) and my favorite, take everywhere, Bartaile backpack for an effortlessly chic work outfit. Too often I feel constricted, physically and creatively, in corporate attire. Not with the Martina Skirt. With an elastic waistband on the backside there is plenty of comfort and room. This has been invaluable on the days that I gorge myself on the holiday gift baskets that continue to arrive by the truckload.

Tuesday: Cozy Winter Wear

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Although winter hasn’t decided to fully show up in Denver we’ve still had a few chilly days. A skirt of this color is perfect as it can be worn in any season. I found it to be ideal with my over-sized knit sweater and over the knee boots. Spending a few hours in the coffee shop I was cozy while feeling stylish, what more could a girl ask for?

Wednesday: Ladies Night

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I might look forward to Wednesday as much as I do Friday. Wednesday is ladies night. Middle of the week pick-me-up makes the first two days and last two days go a lot smoother. I, however, am usually running behind. Either a work meeting went long or my boss had a last second “emergency”. Being able to quickly transition my work clothes into going out clothes while feeling on point is important, it makes me feel good! Only having to change my top and throwing on a jacket makes the Martina skirt a definite go to.

Thursday: Sushi Thursday…Date Night

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When Drew and I started dating three years ago I was working pretty hectic hours. Most nights we didn’t get to see each other. However, my team reserved Thursday nights as an early night in an effort to prepare for the upcoming weekend hours. Drew and I had multiple Thursdays that randomly ended up at Sushi restaurants, and so Sushi Thursday became a thing, our thing. We have tried to keep this tradition alive.

For Sushi Thursday this week I spiced things up a bit with a color block theme. My little red crop top and favorite lightweight jacket brought color blocking to a new level. The jewel tone of the jacket emphasized the richness of the skirt turning a simple outfit into a standout!

Friday: TGICF (Thank Gosh It’s Casual Friday)

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My office doesn’t get much right in the fashion department, see Monday example, but casual Friday is something I will not argue with. Denim shirts are my go-to casual Friday look. The flowing femininity of this skirt paired with the structure of my denim shirt had me dancing my way into the weekend.

Our clothes are more than articles to cover our bodies. Our clothes should inspire us. Having staples in my wardrobe inspires me to be creative each day, to see how I can expand my options with what I have. I hope you’ve found some inspiration this week.

Chat next week. With love.
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Tonle: A New Way

One of our favorite vendors; Tonle, is a company comprised of a caring group of Cambodians and Americans who work together to make a beautiful clothing line happen. Working intentionally in this war torn country, it is unique in its ethical business model as it has created a zero waste model of production. This means Tonle is as environmentally friendly as it is friendly in it’s production process. Tonle upcycles fabrics to make new clothing. ZERO waste. That means even the tags are scraps.
But make no mistake in thinking these pieces look recycled. The empowered artisans they employ celebrate the culture and beauty of Cambodia while making the latest chic fashion statements. The art of garment making is perfected and is demonstrated in the beauty of the clothing and also the care of the community in which it is made.
 
We are so excited to chat with the founder and creative director of Tonle, Rachel Faller, to get the inside scoop on what is happening this holiday season.
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Your zero-waste business model is remarkable and completely different than any other model we’ve ever seen. How have you possibly managed to make this model sustainable?  
 
In short, it is always a challenge! And each time we create a new collection, we have fabrics that we have to recycle from the previous collections. Some people have commented that our products should be cheaper because we pay so little for the materials. And it is true that the materials are cheaper because they come to us in smaller pieces that other companies consider not usable. However in reality it is much more expensive to produce this way because we have to take time to first of all pick out the materials, hand cut them, sort them, and then process all the small scraps. Of course, hand knitting and weaving new fabrics is tedious. What we love about the process is in the end much more of the final price goes to the artisans than to material costs. Big win! But it doesn’t mean it is cheap! 
 
Would you say consumers are enticed more by the zero waste aspect or the fair employment aspect of the business? Does one hold more weight than the other?
 

It’s hard to say which is more important to people, but I will say that the zero-waste aspect of our business gets quite a bit of attention because it is quite unique. There are few companies in the world doing what we are doing in that regard so I think that really stands out to people, and it piques their curiosity – they want to know more about the process and learn what zero-waste means to us. Personally speaking, I think they are both very important, because first of all I know all the people who make our products and how much this work means to them; they are like family to me as well. At the end of the day though, our environmental mission and social mission go hand-in-hand; people who live in places that are deeply affected by pollution from the garment industry, like Cambodia, can testify to that.

 
Tell us about your exciting local partnership that is helping produce the new line this holiday season?
Weaves of Cambodia! We send them the smallest scraps left from our production and they hand-cut them into new yarn, and weave them into new fabrics. The whole process is quite tedious but the products are uniquely beautiful. Many of the weavers have disabilities from landmine accidents, as this region of the country has been war torn until the late 1990’s. Landmine clearance has really just begun in the last 15 years. This work creates not only a vital revenue stream for them but they say that the work and the community is really important and meaningful as well. The weaving is integrated in most all our products, however some of the new line statements which show the handwoven work is the sol triangle tote, srey crop top srey long vest. and the phnom scarf.
What are your plans to grow and keep things going?
Thinking about growth is very interesting because as a zero-waste company – we don’t want our growth to come at the cost of the planet. But at the same time, growth of companies like tonlé mean that more artisans are employed with fair and livable wages, and hopefully reducing the number of toxic products that are produced. So we continue to think about growth with all the caveats attached regarding staying true to our principals and mission.