tres belle blog

A Lesson on Pride and Generosity

My friend Tiffany is someone I look up to in so many ways. I met her as a first year student at UNC-Chapel Hill when I joined a sorority and found myself lucky enough to call her a sister. Even back then, she was so wise, intentional, and thoughtful. She’s also sassy and spunky and an all-around fun personality to be around. So, you can imagine how flattered I was when she asked me to guest post on her blog yesterday!

A lesson on Jesus-like generosity on NOM NAM NOM | Très Belle

Be sure to check out the post, which talks about a major lesson I learned recently about the importance of being generous with my finances rather than using money for my own selfish pride. And be sure to follow her blog, NOM NAM NOM!

xoxo Laura

Ethical Valentine’s Day Outfit

Happy Valentine’s Day, belles!

I have always loved Valentine’s Day, regardless of whether I’ve had a significant other or not. I adore love and warm, fuzzy feelings. I love celebrating all of the important people in my life who I love, including my friends and family members. I love the excessive amounts of pink and glitter, and of course, I love the chocolate!!

I’m keeping it fair trade on the day of love this year in this black and gold dress by Threads 4 Thought (it’s hard to see the gold in the photos, but I promise there is gold thread in the stripes!). Am I the only person wearing black on Valentine’s Day? I think the black is sophisticated, while the gold adds a festive touch. And I love that the dress is work appropriate, but also cute for an evening out. Not having to change or think about multiple outfits = winning in my book.

Fair trade black dress by Threads 4 Thought | Très Belle

I’m also wearing this adorable gold vine headband by Headbands of Hope, a for-good business that gives a headband to a child with cancer for every headband purchased. They have some seriously adorable headbands, too…from workout bands to delicate pieces you’d wear to a black tie affair.

Gold Vine Headband from Headbands for Hope. For every headband purchased, a headband is given to a child with cancer! | Très Belle

And of course, y’all know I worked some fair trade chocolate into a special treat for hubs tonight. Shhh, it’s a surprise. 😉

Did y’all put any thought into your V-Day outfits? Are you excited about today or totally over it?

xoxo Laura

 

Ethical Fashion for 70 Degree February Days

As a North Carolina native, I am no stranger to our state’s penchant for mood swing weather. Just this past weekend, we woke up to the sound of sleet then enjoyed perfectly clear skies and 60 degree temperatures all afternoon. In fact, we’ve had quite a few 70 degree days lately, and it’s still early February! It’s definitely not time to pull out spring clothes yet, so I’ve gotten to wear some of my lightweight darker colored items that I haven’t had out since fall.

Fair trade amulet necklace + made in the USA Annabelle top + Free People leggings from Poshmark |  Trés Belle

I adore this made in the USA Annabelle tunic, which I purchased at The Flourish Market (my fave!). The warm color feels appropriate for winter, while the lightweight fabric matches the actual temperature outside. My layered amulet necklace is also from The Flourish Market and was handmade at a fair trade artisan coop in India. The gray Free People leggings are another ethical fashion find from Poshmark, an app and website where you can buy and sell gently used clothing (it’s my latest obsession). Topping it all of are my black riding boots, which are actual repurposed riding boots from my childhood equestrian days. Hooray for an entirely made in the USA/fair trade/eco-friendly outfit!

Layered amulet necklace made by fair trade artisan co-op in India  |  Trés Belle

How do y’all dress when it’s still the dead of winter and 70 degrees out, especially when you know it’s just going to swing back down into the 20s that night? Would love to hear/see your ideas!

xoxo Laura

A Year of Fair Trade Fashion: Closing Thoughts

The Inside Out Ethical Fashion Challenge 2016 | Trés Belle

I seriously cannot believe it has been 12 months since I took on a challenge to exclusively purchase fair trade clothing for an entire year. I’ve discovered that sticking exclusively to fair trade-certified products is nearly impossible, fallen in love with a few fair trade/ethically made brands (see here, here, here, here, and here), found a local store where I can shop for ethical clothing, and been aghast at times by the lack of ethically produced options in the fashion world (see here, here, and here). While I did have to give up some convenience, it hasn’t been that hard to make ethical choices, and it has made me reflect a lot on my consumeristic habits and the way my purchasing choices impact others. All in all? 100% worth it.

This post is supposed to be about my closing thoughts on buying fair trade fashion, but I really feel like I’ve only just begun. There are so many ideas floating around in my head that I’ve wanted to write about but haven’t had the time, so many ethical brands yet to share, so many areas of the ethical fashion world yet to explore. This challenge has permanently changed my life. While I may not be as strict in the future about buying fair trade-certified clothing, I do hope to buy ethical clothing 99% of the time, whether it’s fair trade, organic, made by a Certified B Corporation, sustainably produced, secondhand, or sweatshop-free. I hope that you’ll continue to enjoy my ethical fashion posts, because they’re here to stay!

Here’s to continuing to vote for a better world with our dollars in 2017!

xoxo Laura

2016: Year in Review

Goodness gracious, belles! Can you believe that another year has come and gone?

To celebrate another great year of blogging, I’ve pulled the top five most frequently visited blog posts from 2016. Starting with number 5:

5. My reflections on my two year wedding anniversary. Glad to see y’all love love as much as I do!

Wedding cooler with wedding vows | Trés Belle

4. My write-up on Catalyst Scrubs, an ethically-sourced scrubs brand! Not going to lie, I was a little surprised to see this one pop up in the top five. Then again, there sure are a ton of nurses, doctors, physical therapists, speech pathologists, CNAs, radiologists, and other medical professionals out there. Makes sense that many of you are looking for ways to do good when purchasing your daily work outfits!

Ethically-sourced scrubs from Catalyst Scrubs | Très Belle

3. The Frizzy Hair Manifesto! I have struggled (and continue to struggle) with so many self-doubts about my hair. It really warms my heart to have your support as I learn to embrace my natural self!

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

2. My post introducing the Inside Out Challenge, which was my year-long attempt to exclusively buy fair trade fashion! Read about all of the ensuing escapades here.

The Inside Out Ethical Fashion Challenge 2016 | Trés Belle

1. Annnnnnd top billing this year goes to….Ben and Marie’s picturesque fall wedding!! Who can blame y’all for loving these luscious sunflowers and beautiful burgundy hues?

That’s a wrap, 2016! I can’t wait for what the new year has in store for this blog. Thanks as always for following along!

xoxo Laura

Small Joys: Volume 2

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Small Joys | Trés Belle

1. Our thankfulness board. In the month of November, Wes and I wrote down something each day that we were thankful for on the large chalkboard in our kitchen. Looking at it each day made me realize just how much I have to be joyful about. Gratitude turns even the smallest things into more than enough.

2. A painted fence! We had been debating painting our fence for quite some time, and our decision was solidified when we had a gate installed and the wood turned out to be a veryyyy different color from the rest of the fence! We finally bit the bullet over Thanksgiving weekend. My amazing family pitched in to help for two full days of painting (they’re the best!). I had NO idea how much work would be involved and how sore I would be the next day! Walking was a challenge. But now our fence is oh-so-beautiful! Check out the before and after:

White Fence Before and After | Trés Belle

3. Tazza Kitchen‘s Brick Oven Brussels Sprouts. Holy shitakes, y’all. Hubs and I went to Tazza with some friends last week, and I was instantly excited when I saw that they had Brussels sprouts as an appetizer. I am a total Brussels freak. These did not disappoint…in fact, I think they might be the best Brussels I’ve ever had!

4. The Business with Purpose podcast. Molly Stillman, who hosts the podcast, is a local blogger with a heart of gold. I can’t get enough of her new podcast, which features entrepreneurs who are using their businesses to leave the world a better place. Episode 3 with Bethany Tran of The Root Collective is my absolute favorite so far. Go listen!

5. Our Christmas tree. Um, I’m a little obsessed. The lights just make me so happy! As soon as I get home each night, I put on pajamas and park myself in front of the tree.

Cozy Christmas living room | Trés Belle

6. On a related note: our Christmas ornaments. We are on Team Hodge Podge Tree. Our ornaments are all different colors and vary between fancy crystal and homemade paper cutouts from our preschool days. It is so much fun to pull each ornament out and be transported back to a particular moment in time. My all-time favorite ornament as a kid was a “pear tree” (aka a pear on a tree trunk) with a little partridge inside in his undies. I smile every time I see it. Another favorite on our tree this year is the ornament my sister gave Wes when his beloved childhood dog passed away earlier this year. The ornament is a spitting image of sweet Lola with her name printed underneath!

There are lots of other BIG things to be grateful for, especially this time of year, but I’ll leave it at these small snippets for now. Friends, what are the small things in your life that are giving you joy right now?

xoxo Laura

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

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