On April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza factory collapsed and killed 1,138 people.
It drew the world’s attention to the ethics of production – and became a catalyst for greater awareness of supply chains, particularly for fashion brands. It also sparked an annual celebration of Fashion Revolution Week (which is this week!), where consumers ask #whomademyclothes and encourage others to shop ethically, sustainably, and paying-attention-ly.
For me, this strikes many chords.
First, my roommate from grad school, who I just saw this weekend at my 5 year reunion (!!!) is a leader in ethical fashion. She founded and runs Project JUST – your go-to guide for sustainable and responsible fashion.
Second, I made a commitment to buy less and buy sustainable this year. I’m writing this in my thrifted jeans and my Patagonia better sweater. So far, so good.
Third, Mothers Day is right around the corner! And what better time to share some of my favorite spots to buy amazing (and world-changing) gifts for mom (or for yourself. Let’s be real. I shop at all of these and am obsessed).
These organizations and companies are not only well-made, beautiful, stylish, and sustainable – they go a step further and give back to either their local or global community. They are brands with an impact, which is both awesome and dangerous for my wallet.
So without further ado – here are some brands/organizations I love, featuring products I love!
FashionABLE: aka the maker of my everyday purse, work bag, and rings that I don’t take off
FashionABLE employs women in both Ethiopia and Nashville – women who are overcoming serious obstacles and are thriving nonetheless. I had the pleasure of visiting their warehouse in Nashville and meeting some of the ladies who made my rings, and they are all incredible. And as an added bonus, their bags are actually my favorite things ever.
Haiti Design Co: aka the maker of my favorite statement necklace (and the home of one of the cutest cafes in Port au Prince!)
I had the pleasure of meeting Chandler and the Haiti Design Co. team when I was in Haiti earlier this year. I could have purchased the whole store. No joke. They train and create jobs for artisans in Haiti, producing BEAUTIFUL leather products, jewelry, and more. And as we all know, when people have jobs that pay fair wages, they are better able to support their families and plan for their futures. Win win.
Products I love: Boho Leather Tassel Necklace
Exile International: aka the maker of my favorite ring (and a truly incredible book)
I purchased my favorite ring years ago, after seeing it on Instagram and noting that the funds supported recovery for former child soldiers. Then, last year, my friend Haley recommended the book Colors of Grace to me. I read it, was AMAZED, and then realized that I had been wearing a ring that supported the organization of the author. So cool! The issue of child soldiers has been on my heart since my high school senior project on the genocide in northern Uganda, so the cause is particularly resonant for me.
Products I love: Full Circle Ring
ShareHope: aka the maker of the best leggings ever
ShareHope leggings are so cute, so comfy, and so awesome because they empower factory workers in Haiti! Making the leggings means job creation, and then they reinvest their proceeds into social programs for the garment workers including health training, education programming, and ethical factory practices. When I was in Haiti, I visited a class where factory workers were studying to complete high school, a sign language class for deaf workers, a health training program for women in factories, and even the factory floor itself. So cool!
Products I love: ShareHope Leggings!
Bright Endeavors: aka the maker of amazing candles and one of my favorite local organizations
I have partnered with New Moms in various capacities for years. They provide countless programs to teen and young single moms in Chicago, and several years ago, they began a job training program in a candle production facility. Now they train their girls with job skills and employment readiness by producing amazing candles that make excellent gifts.
Products I love: Candles! Any and all. They are always introducing new scents.
Sa Voix: aka the maker of my makeup bag (and the employer of some hilarious and awesome girls)
I became friends with the Sa Voix founder, Jessica, when I was in Haiti earlier this year and immediately fell in love with everything she is doing at Sa Voix. As a trained artist, Jess has taught these amazing girls in Haiti how to make really beautiful and creative products. The employees are all young women, many of whom grew up in orphanages and are learning to care for themselves and dream about their futures for the first time. We had dance parties and lots of giggles and now I’m reminded of them each morning when I open my makeup bag.
Products I love: Pouch
Sseko: aka maker of dang cute sandals that send girls in Uganda to college
I’m a big fan of education and I’m a big fan of Africa. So anything that will keep girls in Africa in school is a win in my book. Sseko employs girls in Uganda making leather sandals so that they can save money, earn scholarships, and continue to university. If you want to learn more about their story, check out the recent interview with their founder Liz on Branden Harvey’s podcast.
Products I love: Rue Sandal
Raven and Lily: aka maker of my everyday earrings and my wear-to-weddings earrings
These guys don’t mess around. Through a network of partners, they employ over 1,500 women working their way out of poverty in Pakistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Peru, and Cambodia. All of their items are beautiful, so you can really fall down a shopping rabbit hole here – but that’s not so bad when you are empowering awesome women around the world, right?
Products I love: Petra Studs, (I have another fave earring, but it appears they aren’t available anymore 😦 …luckily all the jewelry is BEAUTIFUL)
Papillon: aka maker of my favorite coffee mug (and home of my FAVORITE cafe in Haiti)
For those of you curious about how my Haiti trip came to be, it essentially went something like this: make a list of people/places/organizations in Haiti. Reach out to them. Hope for a response. Get a response. Show up. Visit amazing people. So when I saw Papillon in Poverty Inc., I added them to the list and rest was history. What started as an orphan prevention program is now one of the most “successful” (or at least largest) social enterprises in Haiti. They employ so many amazing people, and their line of products is huge and growing.
Products I love: Caribbean Mug
Preemptive Love Coalition: aka the maker of candles and soaps (and my current favorite recipient of my charitable giving)
I am constantly in awe of Preemptive Love. If you aren’t familiar with their work serving the many needs of people in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere, do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself now. Their founder, Jeremy Courtney, is a hero of mine and I am consistently impressed with everything they do. And in addition to health and food and simply keeping people alive, their job program produces amazing soaps and candles that you can bring into your home. This is one gift that feels particularly significant these days.
Products I love: Sisterhood Candles
Flowers for Dreams: aka the sender of the best flowers in Chicago
This one is only good if you are local, but if you are Chicagoan, this might be your new favorite gift option. I LOVE Flowers for Dreams. First, their arrangements are my favorite. They are absolutely gorgeous. Second, they give a portion of their proceeds to local NGOs, switching their cause each month. I love their product and I love that they give back. So if you want to go simple with flowers, try them out!
Products I love: Sun Bouquet
These are just a few of my favorites. The list goes on and on. And I’d love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite ethical/sustainable/social impact brands?
Happy shopping and Happy Mothers Day!
None of the listed brands asked or paid to be featured. These are truly the places I buy gifts – for others and myself. And all of the photos are from the various organizations’ websites, not from my personal camera.
Let me know your favorite brands in the comments!