Inside Out Fair Trade Fashion Challenge Update: October

The Inside Out Ethical Fashion Challenge 2016 | Trés Belle

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done an update on my Inside Out fair trade fashion challenge, and I have a confession to make. I’ve bought some things that are not fair trade certified (!!!). Let me explain a bit more.

The first time that I bought something non-fair trade was an accident. I’ve written before on the blog about The Flourish Market, an ethical fashion truck in the Triangle area. I was initially under the impression that everything on the truck was fair trade certified, and was surprised when I discovered that this adorable blue and orange top from Grace & Lace that I had purchased was not, in fact, fair trade certified. Oops! While many of the products that The Flourish Market carries are indeed fair trade certified, others are ethically produced but do not necessarily carry an official stamp or label.

Floral Grace & Lace Top | Trés Belle

When I emailed Grace & Lace to inquire about their sourcing, they were quick to respond. Their products were originally all made in the USA, but due to quick growth of the company (probably because of an episode of Shark Tank!), they outsourced some of their manufacturing to Asia. Per the Grace & Lace representative who emailed me, “We continually have our team members visit each of our mills to ensure quality work environments.”

At this point, I felt torn about what to do. Should I discontinue shopping at The Flourish Market, withdrawing support from a locally-owned small business on a mission to sell ethically-produced fashion, in order to stick to my own strict rules for this challenge? My prayer from the beginning of the challenge was that it would result in a significant and enduring heart and behavior change for me rather than just following the rules for a short amount of time and then kicking them out the door as soon as the challenge was over. The more I thought and prayed about it, the more strongly I felt that developing habits that would stick and supporting a local business with the same ideals that I have for fashion were more important than being a hard-ass about the rules.

So, I’ve made an exception for The Flourish Market during these final few months of my fair trade fashion challenge. I’m still drawing a hard line when it comes to other non-local ethical fashion companies that aren’t certified fair trade, but I do see myself loosening up a bit after the challenge is officially over and purchasing from these companies given that a strict fair trade-certified approach is difficult to sustain.

I’ve purchased a couple of additional non-fair trade, ethically-produced clothing pieces from The Flourish Market and hope to have photos of them on the blog soon!

xoxo, Laura

Small Joys: Volume 1

Small Joys | Trés Belle

Lately, I’ve been realizing how important it is to find joy and gratitude in the normal, everyday-type days of our lives. You won’t have a joyful life if you sit around waiting for big, momentous occasions to be joyful. I always love reading the “Small Joys” posts by Cristina over at Grace Like Rain–they inspire me to think about those little, everyday joys that I often overlook in my own life. I am so excited that Cristina (whose engagement photos were featured on the blog awhile back, by the way!) is letting me take a page out of her own book by starting my own “Small Joys” posts. Welcome to volume 1! I hope that these posts will inspire you to find gratitude for the small things. Here are the little joys in my life as of late:

1. Turning my office into a spa on a cloudy day. It was dreary outside, so I decided to create a mood lift by burning a spa waters-scented candle and playing spa music on Pandora. It did the trick!

Small Joys: Volume 1 | Trés Belle

2. The WordPress app. Helping me blog on the go! Thankful that this option is available for busy bees like me.

3. Cozy fall blankets. With cold weather approaching, I wanted to make sure my living room, which is decorated in mostly cool colors, feels warm and inviting to people. I found this blanket on sale at my local Target and love the cozy touch it adds to our sofa!

Small Joys: Volume 1 | Trés Belle

4. Sermons like this that leave me feeling refreshed and convicted all at once.

5. This advice on how to start your day off right. Dying laughing over the way he pronounces “Clinique.”

6. Landscaping! I’m so excited that this project is now underway, especially since we’ve now owned our house for a year (whattttt??). Big shout out to my hubby for being the leader (er…sole worker?) on this endeavor! I’ll be sure to post “after” photos once we’re done.

Small Joys: Volume 1 | Trés Belle

7. This goofball. Rufus is probably going to be mentioned on every single Small Joys post, because he brings SO much joy to our lives. He has so much personality and always gets me laughing!

Small Joys: Volume 1 | Trés Belle

What are y’all finding joy in lately? Let me know in the comments!

xoxo Laura

Ethical Skin Care at Be Pure Beauty in Durham

Hi belles! Who else out there is somewhat of a beauty junkie? This post is for you!

Ethical Skin Care at Be Pure Beauty in Durham  |  Trés Belle


I’m not particularly “good” at hair and makeup, but I love trying new products. I’m like a kid in a candy store at Ulta. I’ve definitely heard and read some things about all of the nasty chemicals and hormone disrupters in beauty products, but I’ve never done much research and have made a half-hearted effort at best to seek out natural alternatives. So, I was super excited when I found out that the September meet-up for the Triangle Area Bloggers group (TriFABB) was being held at Be Pure Beauty in Durham!

Ethical Skin Care at Be Pure Beauty in Durham  |  Trés Belle

My friend Traci and I went together to the event and left feeling incredibly inspired. April, the owner of Be Pure Beauty, is someone you instantly want to be best friends with. She has a calming and soothing demeanor, and her passion for her store is contagious. After a personal experience with the detriments that sneaky beauty product ingredients can have on your health, April, who is an accomplished L.A. hair and makeup artist, developed a mission to help others access cleaner, safer products. Her store carries non-toxic, eco-friendly, USA-made natural beauty products.

Ethical Skin Care at Be Pure Beauty in Durham  |  Trés Belle

At the TriFABB meet-up, April had some educational activities planned to teach us about the nasty ingredients lurking in many common beauty formulas, and we also got to tour the store and try the products. The highlight of the evening for me was getting to be the model for a makeup tutorial!

Ethical Skin Care at Be Pure Beauty in Durham  |  Trés Belle

It was nice to feel and see the products in action and learn some secrets from a pro (for example, patting on eyeshadow rather than brushing it on!).

Ethical Skin Care at Be Pure Beauty in Durham  |  Trés Belle

I left with some natural deodorant and a clay mask to help with my blemishes and acne-prone skin. I hope to go back soon to purchase some makeup once I’ve used up the large supply I already have here at home!

Ethical Skin Care at Be Pure Beauty in Durham  |  Trés Belle

If you’re not local to the Triangle area, never fear: You can shop Be Pure Beauty online. Let me know if you find any new products that you love!

xoxo Laura

(All photos by the lovely Molly Stillman.)

P.S. – This is not a sponsored post. I just love sharing things I love with my belles!

Deal Alert: 71% Off Wedding Invitations and Save the Dates!

I’ve got a deal alert for my engaged belles! Groupon is currently running a deal for up to 71% off flat invitations from Staples. They’re advertising it as being for wedding invitations and save the dates, but really you could purchase invitations for any fancy shmancy event you have coming up!

71% Off Staples Wedding Invitations  |  Trés Belle

No one thinks that invitations will be a big cost for their wedding, but it can really add up, especially if you’re wanting to throw in inner/outer envelopes, calligraphy, reception cards, ribbons, etc.  Do yourself a favor and buy invites on sale!


xoxo Laura

P.S. – This is not a sponsored post. I just love sharing good deals with my belles!

Social Justice Sunday: #BlackLivesMatter

One of my biggest hopes for this blog is that it will encourage fellow Southern belles to feel okay about stepping outside the lines a little. The genteel Southern ladies of generations past might have refrained from discussions of politics and refused to look past “the way it’s always been,” but today’s belles should feel empowered to get involved in social change. It’s the 21st century, y’all, and ain’t that a nice thing?

Recent shootings of black Americans have hurt my heart and caused by blood to boil. Things really struck close to home this week with the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, NC. I think it’s incredibly important to stand up in the face of social injustice, so today I’m sharing some articles and posts related to the Black Lives Matter movement. Hope they encourage you to think, mourn for those who are hurting, and take action to ensure that all people are treated equally.

1. The Real Reason White People Say ‘All Lives Matter’

The Real Reason White People Say ‘All Lives Matter’ | Tres Belle

2. Been thinking about this graphic a lot.

3. This post on calling for peaceful protests. My hippie heart longs for peace too, y’all, but this is spot-on.

4. This Huffington Post article on how victims are treated as they die.

Disrespecting the Deaths of Black Individuals | Trés Belle

So much love to anyone affected by these tragedies. This belle won’t sit quietly by and watch it happen.

xoxo Laura

Two Year Anniversary Reflections

Wes and I recently celebrated our second wedding anniversary. My, how time flies! I wanted to post a couple of reflections about the past year as we celebrate this milestone (because even small milestones are important to celebrate!).

1. I’ve blogged before about how we are choosing a different piece of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 to be our “theme” Bible verse each year. We’re going in chronological order, so this past year was “love is kind.” Y’all, it sounds so easy and obvious, but it’s really not. I’ve heard others say before that marriage exposes just how selfish you can be, and it’s so true. It’s hard to be kind when you feel frustrated, irritated, or angry and so much easier to focus on your own emotions. But, I think kindness is absolutely critical in order for a marriage to succeed and should not be used sparingly. I incorporated kindness toward Wes into my 2016 PowerSheets and have seen the difference it has made over the past eight months.

2. Moving right along to year three’s theme: Love does not envy. Wes and I have been talking some about what this means and are trying to come up with practical ways to apply this to our relationship. Anyone have ideas for us? Please comment on this post or on insta!

3. On a long weekend getaway trip in May, we listened to The Five Love Languages together on our drive, and it was AWESOME. I had read the book many years ago, but it was much more powerful to read now that Wes and I have been together longer. It was also incredibly beneficial to be listening to it together. The audiobook prompts you to pause the CD to discuss questions together, and we were both surprised to find that it was not just educational, but also really fun! The book has definitely changed our relationship for the better. Many thanks to Wes’s step-brother and step-sis-in-law for gifting it to us when we got married!

4. We’ve found this to be true in our relationship and do it several times a week.

5. I actually really enjoy finding a way to gift Wes the traditional wedding anniversary gifts by year (this is likely because one of my love languages is gifts…see #3 above). Second anniversary gifts are traditionally cotton, and this year Wes decided to join in on the fun by finding something cotton to gift me, which turned out to be money to go buy fair trade clothes. Can every year be cotton??

6. We also celebrated this year with gluten-free cake and our tradition of watching our wedding video together. Having this tradition to look forward to is so much fun. It was also really crazy to reflect on how much has changed for our families and friends since our wedding. Our video shows couples who are no longer together, people who are now celebrating weddings of their own, and relatives who are no longer living. It’s also so obvious when watching the video how much Wes and I have grown as a couple. It’s hard to describe the overall feeling that watching our video gave me…perhaps reverence for the passage of time and a sense of awe at the way life’s events weave together in small and big ways to shape us? I’m so thankful for the past two years and can’t wait to see what the next will bring.

Wedding cooler with wedding vows | Trés Belle

Love you today and every day, Westwood! Happy anni!

xoxo, Laura

Leaning into Fall

Stop the music and halt everything you’re doing! I know, this is a shocking revelation. Y’all know how I typically feel about fall. But something is different this year. I’m leaning into it…maybe almost…liking it? You may want to screenshot this post and send me the photo when I start complaining about fall next week.

But seriously, I’m ready for a change in season. Summer was awesome. I love the hot weather, the pool time, the 9:30 sunsets, all the fun outings. We traveled just about every weekend, seeing friends and family and celebrating others. Loved loved loved all of it. But, honestly? I’m a little exhausted.

Leaning into Fall | Trés Belle

I’m craving the slower pace of fall. I know for families with children, back-to-school time may hardly seem restful, but for our little family of three (that’s me, hubs, and the pup, for those who were confused), fall brings stillness. Peacefulness. Fewer vacations, weddings, birthdays, and parties. I love all of those things, but they have had their season, and now I’m wanting something a little different.

I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I am actually looking forward to fall. I can’t wait to curl up inside on a Friday night and watch a movie. I can’t wait to relax while roasting marshmallows by our fire pit. I’m finally ready to snuggle up to you, fall. Look out!

xoxo Laura

Inside Out Challenge Update: My Ethically Made Handbag by Angela Roi

Well, I’ve technically broken my commitment to exclusively buy fair trade clothing/accessories this year. However, it was not a decision that I took lightly…in fact, I debated buying this Angela Roi Sunday Tote II handbag for six months before I actually bought it!

But first, can we take a minute to admire its loveliness? Okay, thanks.🙂

Ethically Made Handbag by Angela Roi  |  Trés Belle

So. Fair trade handbags are difficult but not impossible to come by. The ones I looked at were either a satchel design in lightweight cloth that I knew would be destroyed within a week or leather, which I felt reluctant to buy due to my wannabe vegan tendencies. I really wanted to buy a non-leather bag if at all possible.

I had stumbled across Angela Roi bags before I started my fair trade fashion challenge and had fallen in love. They aren’t certified fair trade, but they are sweatshop-free (and vegan!). I agonized over whether this purchase would count as cheating on my fair trade fashion challenge, but ultimately decided to move forward since my purchase was still values-centric and because I couldn’t find a comparable bag that was certified fair trade.

Ethically Made Handbag by Angela Roi  |  Trés Belle

Bag pictured above with my fair trade jumper by my favey fave, Threads4Thought.

I’m not going to lie: This is the most expensive handbag I’ve ever purchased, and that’s even using the handy dandy $20 off coupon code I got for signing up for emails. Thankfully, I can say that I have been 100% satisfied with the money I spent. The craftsmanship and materials are high quality, and the size is perfect for someone like me who carries their entire life with them wherever they go. The neutral color lends itself to any outfit/season, making it incredibly versatile. Because it was an investment, I’ve been far more motivated to take care of it rather than throwing it around like with previous handbags. I think it will last a long time.

What do you think, belles? Love it or hate it? Anyone else out there running into problems finding certain fair trade accessories or clothing pieces?

xoxo Laura

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 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