Inside Out Challenge: “True Cost” Fashion Documentary

Last week, my good friend Traci and I went to a screening of the documentary True Cost, hosted by Redress Raleigh. We had heard that it was about the ethical, humanitarian, and environmental problems associated with the modern fashion industry and figured it was a perfect movie to watch as we continue in our Inside Out fair trade fashion/beauty product challenge.

It’s hard for me to find adequate adjectives to describe this documentary. Moving, convicting, fascinating, and heartbreaking all come to mind. I stared in shock at images of waste water from leather factories and blinked back tears as I listened to a young woman in Bangladesh describe her working conditions and the consequences her job has had on her family. As someone who has done some research on the fast fashion industry, I was not shocked at some of the statistics, but was pleasantly surprised to find myself learning new information throughout the movie. I highly recommend this film to anyone, regardless of age, gender, or level of interest in fair trade/ethical/eco-conscious/insert-your-favorite-buzzword-here fashion. It’s incredibly interesting.

Anddddd…great news! True Cost is currently on Netflix! So add it to your queue and get watching, friends. You can also rent or buy it on Amazon, iTunes, or the True Cost website.

And in the meantime, check out the trailer:

xoxo Laura

The Frizzy Hair Manifesto

We like big hair here in the South. Much to my chagrin, however, I have not yet seen big, frizzy hair become fashionable. So where does that leave frizzy-haired ladies like me? The lengths we will go to at times to obtain that illusive shiny sleekness is pure. T. cuh-razy. And you know what? I’m done with it. Tired of wasting precious time and money chasing after something that it appears I will never have. So, as the humidity creeps on up into the 90th percentile range this summer (all my frizzy haired friends can feel me on this one; we know EXACTLY where to look on Weather.com to find the hourly humidity), I propose a shift in attitude. Let’s stop all the fuss and worry and not give a hoot about our hair, even for one day this summer. Here’s our manifesto:

The Frizzy Hair Manifesto: Embrace Your Frizz This Summer! | Très Belle

  1. I will stop buying so many useless products. I just counted, and I have 45 bottles of various hair products under my bathroom sink. 45. Most of them I bought in the hopes that they would solve all of my hair woes, only to use them a few times and discover that they are just the same as any other product. They may help a bit, but they don’t magically get rid of the frizz. We have got to end this madness. It can be a huge money drain if you allow yourself to continue to buy and try, only to discard the product a week later. Instead of selling out to the marketers who make beautiful labels and say things we can’t resist (90% less frizz! Blocks humidity! Silk-ify your hair!), let’s pause a moment before tossing the latest-and-greatest into our shopping carts. I’m not saying don’t ever buy another product, but do your research before handing over your credit card. Read online reviews. Borrow from friends. Ask to try the product at the salon. Buy a smaller version before snapping up three bulk packages at Sam’s Club. You’re not doing yourself any favors by throwing your money down the drain on products that are mostly all the same.
  2. I will not let fear of frizz stop me from enjoying myself. Fear of frizz can be truly unhealthy and paralyzing. Instead of spending dinner at a beachfront restaurant worrying that the salty air is ruining the sleek look that took us one hour, four separate smoothing products, two heat tools, and a can of hairspray to create, let’s actually enjoy the view, the food, and the company. The time that you spend agonizing over your hair is time that could be spent actually enjoying yourself. And anyway, folks who are confident look far more beautiful than someone who is self-conscious and constantly adjusting her appearance.
  3. I will not drive to work/school/PTA meetings with a towel draped over my head. All you frizz-free people are scratching your heads. A towel over our heads? Oh yes. Raise your hand if you’ve done it. That towel is a humidity barrier, keeping your hairdo frizz-free until you arrive at your destination and whisk it off, stuffing it under your seat. If you are going to these kinds of lengths (whether it’s a towel or some other crayzay stunt), you are wayyyy overthinking things. There are more important things in life than frizz-free hair!  Stop the dramatics and just drive.
  4. I will discourage hair hating. We’re all in this together, folks.Don’t make nasty comments about others people’s hair. When others complain about their own hair “problems,” whether it’s frizz or something else, try to resist the urge to join in. Tell your friend they are beautiful with their hair just as it is. When we make negative hair comments, we are putting down ourselves and others and may be unknowingly creating hurt feelings and self-doubts. Frizzy-haired ladies would likely feel a lot more confident if we didn’t hear frizz being talked about negatively all the time!
  5. I will embrace my frizz! Do it. Wear your frizzy hair out on the town and don’t care. Love your hair just the way it is. Biscuits will not burn and friends will not hate you. Whether you do it every day or just once, it’s incredibly freeing to know that you CAN!

Who’s with me, ladies? Let’s let that frizz fly! #frizzyhairdontcare

xoxo Laura

Book Review: “I Know How She Does It” by Laura Vanderkam

This is a first for me! I’ve never posted a book review before, but I absolutely love getting book recommendations from my own favorite bloggers. Hopefully these posts will help you find books you do (or do not) want to read and/or listen to! (Side note: I am a huge audio book person. If you ever hear me say that I “read” a book, it is much more likely that I actually listened to a book while driving. Checking out books for free on OverDrive through the library is the bee’s knees).

I recently read (aka listened to) Laura Vanderkam’s I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time. This book caught my eye because I am absolutely one of those people who feels like they never have enough time to do everything they’d like. Southern belles of generations past may have lived a life of luxury by leaving the workforce post-marriage and having hired help to tend to the house, but today’s Southern belles are doing it all: employment, parenting, romantic relationships, active social lives, housekeeping, and more. Always more.

Book Review: "I Know How She Does It" by Laura Vanderkam | Très Belle

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. I’ll start with the positives. There was some good content in this book, and I definitely learned new things about finding time to do everything I want to do. I was particularly intrigued by Vanderkam’s proposition that it is the attitude we have towards time that determines how much or little of it we perceive ourselves as having. I am actively working to shift my own mindset about time, and it is already proving to be a game changer for me.

Now for the negatives. The flow of the book felt scattered. One minute the author was talking about one thing, then there was a large leap to another unrelated topic. I got a little lost sometimes on where her train of thought was going. I also felt that the book had an elitist attitude at times. A woman’s level of “success” and perceived “workload” was measured by higher paying, six figure jobs. There are lots of us out here making much less than that who are also putting in long hours and gaining great fulfillment and satisfaction from our work, yet struggling to find work-life balance. There are lots of us out here who are not parents but struggle to find the time we crave for our hobbies. I think someone could easily walk away from this book feeling inadequate, hearing about how others who seemingly have more responsibilities manage to “do it all.” I had to check myself so as not to fall into this mindset while reading the book.

Overall, I think you will find helpful information in this book if you are a someone who constantly feels too busy. If you are a full-time working mother, you will especially benefit.

Let me know if you read it and what you think!

xoxo Laura

Prayer Coloring (for Stress Relief & Spiritual Growth)

Adult coloring has become all the rage lately, and there are psychological theories and research to support it as a relaxation technique. One of my mom’s cousins gave me a mandala coloring book last year, and I’ve enjoyed dabbling with it ever since. However, I’ve put a new spiritual spin on it lately!

I was recently working through the Art of Adventure Journal, which challenged me to think up creative new ways to “hang out” with God, so to speak. I am not naturally good at slowing down and doing things like meditation, prayer, and other quiet activities, but I have been learning recently how life-giving and restorative such practices are when I force myself to do them. As I was brainstorming ways to spend time with God, my coloring book caught my eye, and a light bulb popped up over my head. What if I used my coloring time as an opportunity to sit down and connect with God?

Prayer/Worship/Meditation Coloring for Stress Relief and Spiritual Growth | Très Belle

I’ve started doing it every now and then, and I love it. The coloring activity itself is relaxing and not so taxing on my mental space that I can’t tap into my spiritual self. I will often pray, meditate, sing a worship song (you can tell which one I was singing while coloring the mandala above!), or simply sit in silence and listen to God while I color.

I’ve even found some scripture coloring sheets if you want to focus on a particular Bible verse in your coloring/meditation practice. I’ve started a collection for easy reference on my health/wellness Pinterest board…be sure to check them out!

xoxo Laura

P.S. – Because I know there are other office supply fanatics out there like me who want to know these types of things, the markers I am currently using are the Crayola Pip-Squeaks. They are much thinner than typical markers, but you may still have a tough time getting into really small spaces. I love my Paper Mate Flairs for everyday writing, and they do well in tight spaces, but the color is quite saturated, and I’ve found that it will often bleed through on coloring sheets. Please share your favorite coloring markers in the comments!

Fair Trade Tennis Shoe Crushing

As you all know by now, I am doing a fair trade fashion challenge this year that involves exclusively purchasing fair trade clothing, jewelry, and accessories. I am in need of a new pair of tennis shoes (mine are sporting more than one hole at this point), and was hoping to find a nice fair trade pair to purchase. Ha! I did find some, but they are made in France, and the cost/logistics of shipping them here to the U.S. are a little too daunting for me. But before we get into all of that, join me in crushing on these sneakers by Veja:

Veja Holiday Low Top Black Oxford Grey | Très Belle

 

Veja Holiday Low Top Groseille Nautico Rose Fluo Fair Trade Sneakers | Très Belle

If you’ve ever shopped fair trade, you probably know that the number of actually fashionable fashion options out there can be slim. I was impressed by the design of these sneakers! They are actually something I would want to wear.

Veja Holiday Low Top Suede B-Mesh White Pierre Fair Trade Sneakers | Très Belle

The price of the sneakers themselves isn’t at all bad: 109€, or $123. However, international shipping is where things get tricky. Veja offers free international shipping on orders over 150€, but unfortunately, only two pairs of  women’s sneakers on the entire website meet that minimum (and neither pair is one I am interested in). So, I would be facing a shipping charge of 25€, or $28. Yikes! Perhaps more daunting to me is the difficulty of returns should the shoe not fit. I would be responsible for paying international shipping AGAIN to send the shoes back over the pond for a return or exchange. This isn’t practical, cost-effective, or wise in my opinion.

Anyone know of other fair trade sneaker brands? Please send them my way! Otherwise, I will be waiting until after my year is up to look into other ethical options or begrudgingly schlep myself to the nearest Dick’s Sporting Goods for a shopping spree.

xoxo Laura

Ethically-Sourced Scrubs

Where all my do-good nurse friends at?? Finding specialty clothing items that are ethically sourced is incredibly difficult, so I was beyond excited when I recently stumbled across Catalyst Scrubs! The brand was started last year by a speech pathologist who saw a niche in the market for ethically-sourced scrubs. Catalyst’s scrubs are made by women in impoverished countries who are given fair wages and other incentives, such as free medical care, free child care, and free business courses.

Ethically-sourced scrubs from Catalyst Scrubs  |  Très Belle

The scrubs are reasonably priced: $29 each for tops and pants. Considering most healthcare professionals only need a few sets of scrubs to rotate through each week, this means you can get your entire work wardrobe for under $200, all while supporting fair wages and economic empowerment.

Ethically-sourced scrubs from Catalyst Scrubs  |  Très Belle

Y’all let me know if you end up buying the scrubs! Would love to hear if you like them.

xoxo Laura

P.S. – this is not a sponsored post. I just like sharing ethical brands with y’all!

Inside Out Challenge Update: My First Online Clothing Order!

Hey there, belles! I wanted to share a bit today about how my Inside Out fair trade fashion challenge is going. In a nutshell: well!

I conquered my grandma instincts and ordered clothes online for the first time! Well, okay, let me give myself a little credit…I have ordered clothes and shoes online before, but only when there was a physical store close by where I could easily return them (think: Victoria’s Secret, DSW, etc.). This was my first time ordering clothes when the only return option was to ship them back. Cue the anxiety now!! Just kidding. Like most things, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it’d be.

It helped, of course, that the clothes I got (from Threads4Thought, my absolute favey-fave fair trade clothing company) were ADORABLE! How fun and summery is this blue and green maxi skirt??

Green and Blue Threads4Thought Fair Trade Maxi Skirt | Très Belle

I’m also loving this casual but chic black jumpsuit. You feel like you’re wearing pajamas, but you’re dressed up enough for dinner downtown. #winning.

Black Threads4Thought Fair Trade Jumpsuit | Très Belle

 

Black Threads4Thought Fair Trade Jumpsuit | Très Belle

Threads4Thought clothing just…fits. Perfectly. Everything I’ve bought from them is true to size and flattering. The price point is also quite reasonable (especially when you buy things on sale and take advantage of free shipping on orders $50+ like I did).

Anyone else bought some new ethical fashion or had a fun online shopping experience lately? Would love to hear about it!

xoxo Laura

P.S. – this post is not sponsored by Threads4Thought. I just love sharing great finds with my belles!

Inside Out Challenge: Fair Trade Fashion Truck Adventures

Yes, you read that right. Fashion trucks! They’re a thing, y’all! Think of a food truck, but with pretty clothes inside instead of tacos and burgers. It’s fantastic.

I recently wrote about my difficulties finding stores here in Raleigh at which to shop for fair trade clothing. At the end of that rather depressing post, I promised that there was good news coming. Here it is!

Back in January, I was telling a group of ladies about my interest in fair trade fashion and my struggles to find local vendors. One of them piped up and said she had recently learned about a local fair trade fashion truck through another friend. I was beyond excited and immediately hit the Internet to find out more.

The Flourish Market, which just opened its doors in fall 2015, camps out at various festivals, parties, and events around the Raleigh/Durham area in addition to running an online store. The truck carries fun fair trade brands like Threads 4 Thought, Tribe Alive, Grace and Lace, and Akola. In addition to clothing, the truck also stocks jewelry, shoes, purses/bags, home decor, and gifts.

After stalking the truck’s schedule on Instagram for several weeks, I finally caught up with The Flourish Market a month or so ago in Durham. It was a breath of fresh air for this shopping-deprived gal! Most of the clothing was just my style, and I thought the prices were very affordable compared to the sticker shock I had gotten on several fair trade websites. I probably tried on every single piece of clothing in the truck and left with some beauties, including this STUNNING dress, which I can’t wait to wear to every single party and dinner outing this summer:

Threads 4 Thought fair trade dress from The Flourish Market | Trés Belle

Since then, I’ve gotten to know Em, the truck’s founder, and learn more about her heart for winning people over to ethical fashion (you can read some pieces she’s written for The Huffington Post here). It’s so inspiring to connect with other Raleigh locals who have a passion for social justice and who are doing big things to change the fashion industry. AND, I’m just tickled pink that I finally found somewhere local to try on and buy fair trade clothing! Happy dance!

xoxo Laura

P.S. – If you’re new to the Inside Out Challenge, you can find previous posts here.

Inside Out Challenge: Shopping for Fair Trade Clothing in Raleigh, NC

Shopping for clothes on the Internet just isn’t my thing. I don’t have a “normal” body shape (but isn’t that true of most of us?), and depending on the brand and fit, I can wear clothing that ranges anywhere from a size 0 to size 8. Trying things on in store is critical for me. Reluctant to order an expensive fair trade shirt online only to find that I have to pay to ship it straight back due to it not fitting, I set out in my car a few weeks ago to find fair trade clothing in my home city of Raleigh.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

The number of brick-and-mortar stores selling fair trade clothing in Raleigh (the second largest city in North Carolina, I might add) is underwhelming at best. Google searches only turned up one store: Sugar Magnolia, which is located on Hillsborough Street near NC State’s campus.

The Sugar Magnolia website gave me the impression that all of the clothing in the store would be fair trade. However, upon arriving and inquiring with the sales associate, I learned that only a small fraction of the store was fair trade: the traditional Indian clothing from India.

The clothing, which was simply not my style, was also incredibly inexpensive, making me admittedly a little suspicious about its sourcing. There were no fair trade certification on the labels that I could see.

I walked out of the store empty handed and headed for my next stop: Certain Things in Cameron Village. I remembered having a conversation with the store owner around Christmas time about a fair trade line of clothing they stock. Symbology makes clothing that is much more my style (typical popular American fashion). Certain Things had three or four different shirt styles in stock, and I found a few in my size to try on. They fit okay, but I have to really love a piece of clothing to fork over $180. I left empty handed once again, but will certainly stop back again in the future to see updated styles.

Conclusion: The fair trade fashion options available at physical stores in Raleigh is lacking and/or the stores that do carry fair trade lines aren’t showing up in Google search results. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of the two stores I visited for taking a small step forward, but we are in desperate need of leaps and bounds in the NC ethical fashion arena.

Don’t fret though, belles…I have good news about where you CAN find local fair trade clothing coming soon in another post🙂

xoxo, Laura

Mission Impossible: Searching for the Illusive Fair Trade Men’s Suit

Finding fair trade clothing retailers PERIOD is hard enough to begin with, but when you’re on the hunt for a specific, specialty item, I’m learning that you’ve really got your work cut out for you. When hubs recently commented on how he needed some new suits for work, I quickly jumped on the opportunity to browse fair trade men’s suits online (I knew the chance of finding a local store was 0%). However, there was nothing to browse. I found zero (ZERO!!) suits online that were fair trade certified. I’m trying to give the universe the benefit of the doubt by assuming there’s got to be at least one fair trade suit out there on the market, but it’s just buried on a website whose developer doesn’t do good SEO.

What gives, clothing industry? Or maybe I should say, what gives, American businessmen? Is there really so little demand for fair trade suits that companies see no point in making them?

So, what’s a socially conscious man to do? Despite the dearth of fair trade options, I did find some ethically-made suits.

Brave GentleMan offers a number of “fair labor” and vegan suit pants and blazers made from eco-friendly fabrics. Honestly, the clothing sounds more or less fair trade, it just isn’t certified.

Brave GentleMan Burgundy Blazer. from Mission Impossible: Finding a Fair Trade Men's Suit | Très Belle

Apolis, a Certified B Corporation (meaning they’ve been graded and received a “passing” score for social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency), offers one full suit for sale. And, when you buy the jacket and pants together, you get 15% off, which is nice!

Apolis (Certified B Corporation) Suit. from Mission Impossible: Finding a Fair Trade Men's Suit | Très Belle

Another brand that I’m pretty excited about is Hardwick. Most of their suits are made in the USA with fabrics that are made in the USA (per my chat with Hardwick employee Andrew Welsh, fabrics made elsewhere are noted in the clothing item descriptions). Because the U.S. has minimum wage laws, this (hopefully) means the suits are essentially fair trade, though I did not ask about sourcing for things like the zippers and buttons.

Hardwick Made in the USA Men's Suit. from Mission Impossible: Finding a Fair Trade Men's Suit | Très Belle

For those interested in environmental sustainability, check out Rawganique. They offer chemical-free and sweatshop-free hemp jackets and slacks in addition to organic cotton dress shirts.

Rawganique Hemp Slacks for Men. Sweatshop-free, chemical-free. from Mission Impossible: Finding a Fair Trade Men's Suit | Très Belle

Pretty please y’all, if you find suits to add to this list, comment or contact me! I get over-the-moon excited when I learn about new ethical clothing brands!

xoxo Laura