Gifting the Good: The Gift of Time

It was such an amazing experience to stop for a few minutes and ask some women in our community what their favorite experience was being gifted time.  Each of the women gave us a different answer, each one had a unique and specific experience.  That is one of the most exciting things about non-traditional giving – you have to be specific, it is about thinking deep about the other person, empathizing with their life and then making the gift about them.  Here are 5 ideas that we came up with around quality time, with our FAVORITE Route gifts to give when you spend time.

  1. Gift time AWAY – watching someone’s children, doing their dishes, walking their dog, or doing anything that carries someone else’s load so that they can have a minute to themselves or doing a special activity that they don’t have time for.  Maybe helping someone with phone calls or doing some organizing for them.  Try using your time to give someone else a little more time.
  2. Spend Time TOGETHER – This only works with the most special people.  Who is the friend or family member who comes to you for advice, help, support?  Give those people your time and listen to them.  This simple act makes people feel TAKEN CARE of and ENCOURAGED.
  3. Gift your Expertise – what can you do, that would be a gift to others.  This may mean teaching someone something that you know, maybe it’s helping someone with their business or fixing something in their house.  What do you know that could bless others?  Give them your time this year.

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4. The Esther Vest – Our current favorite layer.  An alpaca blend that is at once warm but not too bulky.  You will love layering this beautiful piece with light or dark colors and will feel so great knowing that it was made ethically and your purchase supports each maker in Bolivia.

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5. The Athena earring – gifting the good means giving with out purchasing AND purchasing with purpose.  Each of our pieces has great purpose, the Athena is not alone.  But these recycled glass earrings that are hand pieced have a special place in our hearts.  They are the creation of an amazing women, Christine who was so moved by women that she has known come out of trafficking that she has used her expertise and time to create a jewelry line that helps others into a safe life and healthy employment!  Try them out for you or a gift.

More next week on gifting words of AFFIRMATION!  Have a wonderful week and happy ethical gifting!

XOXO,

Christina

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Nothing I’m Wearing is Ethically Made

Some days everything I have on was bought from a major retailer, is in synthetic fibers (in intense colors that probably required several washes to dye) and was possibly even purchased off the sale rack!

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Yes, I am here everyday posting about all of the beautiful things I’ve found for you to buy that were safely made and relieve poverty and empower women and help, sometimes even relieve stress and harm on the environment.  AND I want all of that to be true about EVERY piece in my wardrobe.  But it’s only in the last year or two that I made that a commitment and I have a closet full of things that were purchased before that.  So what do I do with them?

Mostly, I keep them.  I try and restyle them in ways that are fresh and repair them or spot clean them when needed.  I do my best (I have young messy children) to wash them as infrequently as possible so that they last (and to conserve water in general).

But mostly, I have GRACE for myself and I walk tall, knowing that I’m trying and sometimes being good to others and the environment means keeping what I have, even if it’s story is not exciting and I really just ordered it from Zara (my skirt in the picture).

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I’m also really excited for our upcoming clothing swap in October!  Follow the link here for more INFO. Several of the pieces in my closet that fit the description above will be out that day.  I’m hoping I can switch for something new without completely getting rid of what I have.

So where ever your journey to a conscious closet is at…it is ALL GOOD.  Keep trying, being creative, rewearing, hunting, thrifting and know that you are not alone in it.

As always: Happy Ethical Shopping!

XOXO,

Christina

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

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

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.
j-sig

 

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.

The Sustainable Three G’s: Gift Giving Guide

The week of Black Friday is here. Millions of consumers will leave their warm cozy beds to stand in line, plow over each other, and race through aisles all in the pursuit of getting a great ‘deal.’

What if this year is different? What if we embrace the true meaning of the holiday season: giving to others?

Today I am sharing sustainable and ethical gift giving ideas that give twofold: both to your loved ones as well as the individuals who work so hard to craft them!

For the Animal Lover
e-is-for-elephantsThese whimsical t-shirts will definitely up the casual outfit game and are perfect for any animal lover. Last year, I bought myself (oops!) and my animal loving family members shirts from A is for Animals. Never have I worn a T-shirt so many times. They are styled to pair perfectly with a casual Saturday outfit or disguised under a blazer for the workday. With a percentage of each sale benefiting different animal organizations it’s hard to go wrong.

Another wonderful option for the animal lover on your list is the Orphans’ Project. The Orphans’ Project, developed and run by DSWT (David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust) exists to offer hope for the future of Kenya’s threatened elephant and rhino populations as they struggle against the threat of poaching for their ivory and horn as well as the loss of habitat due to human population pressures and conflict, deforestation, and drought.

Pair an adoption with an E is for Elephants t-shirt for a uniquely thoughtful gift!

For the Minimalist Female Dresser
Capsule wardrobes have been a minimalist dresser’s best friend for years. Compiling a capsule wardrobe however takes time, patience, and hunting down well-designed pieces.

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Finding a garment that is multifunctional, stylish, and comfortable is a tall order. Enter the Jessie Utility Jacket. Worn as a long staple, short and edgy, or a lightweight vest the Jessie Utility Jacket does it all and is a capsule wardrobe dream. This season give your minimalist friend the piece her closet has been missing.

For the Fashionable Mother/Mother-in-Law/Sister/Friend scarf-escalator
For decades French women have embodied effortlessly chic style. There are many elements Parisian women have perfected but none so better than the scarf.  An outfit can go from drab to elegant with the addition of a gorgeous scarf. For the ladies of your life that have overflowing closets or styles that you just can’t put your finger on there is the Natalie Scarf. Made of the softest alpaca you ever did feel the Natalie scarf adds style to any outfit as well as cozy warmth for the upcoming winter months.

I have styled this scarf to keep warm on my walk to work and with ease transitioned it to pull together my otherwise bland black work dress. The colors complement and bring to life neutral wardrobes and can be paired year-round. It has also been wonderful for holiday travel this week, keeping me stylish and warm during long airport stays.

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For the Style Icon 
If a scarf doesn’t push an outfit to full chic completeness a hat certainly will. As a society we have moved away from hats, and I think this is a shame. The history and craftsmanship of hats is as fundamental to fashion as Coco Chanel. This gift giving season if you find yourself wondering what to get that oh-so-stylish loved one in your life then look no further than Yellow 108. Yellow 108’s hats represent authentic American heritage with quality and timeless aesthetics. Crafted with skill and using salvaged and recycled materials these hats have earned the title of sustainable fashion!

For the Significant Other
Whether it’s a new relationship or one that has years of love, buying for the individual closest to you can be a challenge. Too often advertisements tell us we must gift the perfect material item. This holiday season why not focus on a shared experience?

Pack up and Go is a group of world travelers who wish to share their passion for travel with others. By filling out a brief survey of dates, ideal vacation type, and other tidbits, Pack Up and Go will craft the perfect three day/two-night itinerary to a surprise destination. Travel packages are focused around your budget making this gift of travel one for all to enjoy!

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This surprise travel gift pairs wonderfully with an Everlane weekender. A gift within a gift!

For the Father/Father-in-Law/Brother/Friend
With all the gadgets on the market these days and all the cords that go along with them it’s a challenge to not end up with a big ol’ knot. This is Ground has solved this problem with men in mind. Based in Downtown Los Angeles, This is Ground believes that “the craftsman needs to own their own business” keeping all production in L.A and empowering workers. My favorite for this holiday season is the Cordito which effortlessly organizes and stores all the cords we seem to need in our daily routines.

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If tech gadgets aren’t a winner for the men on your list or you’re looking for something to show you care then the classic, yet sustainable, beanie is a must. At their core Krochet Kids believes valuing “sustainable economic development programs that support holistic growth” is important. Need I say more?

allbirds-shoesFor the Comfort-Enthusiast
“Turns out the world’s most comfortable shoes are made of wool!” Allbirds are changing the shoe game in a huge way! Founder Tim Brown realized that wool holds all the perfect properties for shoes: minimizes odor, regulates temperature, and wicks moisture, however no one was using this sustainable resource. Allbirds are stylishly designed, comfortable beyond words, and make the perfect gift for those who like to enjoy comfort in style!

For the Skincare Guruone-love-orange
With the sustainable fashion revolution at the forefront of my posts it’s easy to forget that organic skincare is also having a big moment. As our largest organ treating our skin with love and respect is of the utmost importance. For the skincare guru on your list this year give them a One Love Organics 3-2-1 Fantastic Facial Kit. One Love Organics is cruelty-free, eco-cert, and is a Gold Certified Business from Green America. Wow!

As skincare products can be very personal I love the travel size of the 3-2-1 Fantastic Facial Kit. It allows for the trial of a new product without the long commitment. The products smell incredible, feel incredible, and are produced in the U.S at a sustainable manufacturing plant!

For the Holiday HostessIMG_8795 2
With the holiday season comes holiday parties. Deciding what to bring a gracious host/hostess can be challenging, especially if you’re like me and want to venture outside a bottle of wine. I have always found candles and lotion to be crowd pleasers, especially when they are thoughtfully made. Route has teamed up with Larkskin Care putting together the ideal combination of a Route inspiration candle and a Larkskin Care lotion bar. This natural and ethically made pair will take all the guesswork out of what to bring your hard working hostesses this holiday season.

Happy sustainable shopping and the happiest of holidays to you!

Chat next week. With love.
j-sig