Archive | August, 2014

How we shop BEAUTIFULLY

Sorry, it has taken me so long to write the second post in this series, besides the fact that I snuck away for a long weekend with my mom and sisters, this was a hard post to write!

IMG_2435 IMG_7083

 

 

Here I am in NYC, rockin’  borrowed clothing (Thanks, Jer!!), This is step three in the How to Shop Beautifully flow chart!

 

 

I entered into this series thinking it would be really easy and straight forward to write; I would simply share what we do, (which is still what I am going to do), but as I was writing, I was confronted with the fact that what we do is FAR from perfect, that there is a lot subjectivity involved in the choices we make, and that we still have large areas for improvement.

For example, I as I was re-researching some of the companies to give you tangible evidence, I saw how multifarious the problem truly is; for example, how can a company like the Gap Inc.  simultaneously appear on the worst Human Rights violator list and the most ethical company list?  The Gap isn’t unique, you can find positive and negative arguments for almost every company.   This dichotomy sheds light on the enormity and complexities of the problem and the fact that it doesn’t lie within one company or industry but with our culture.

We have a serious consumption problem.

image002

The bottom line is we consume far more than our fair share of resources (The US makes up 5% of the world’s population but consumes 24% of its energy) and we do it with little human or environmental concern.

I am not pointing fingers anywhere but at myself as I am still part of the problem. As I share below, please understand that we realize we are still operating from within this cultural norm of consumption. At this point, I don’t have any real answers or solutions for that, except that we are sincerely working on it :).  So please read with grace and understanding.  Also, I will be the first to admit that my methods of research would not stand up in a scientific lab, they are based in part on research but also on instinct, experience and personal preference.

The flow chart from yesterday is a great starting point and there are apps you can use to scan products, but so much of life happens on the go.  For me it isn’t always realistic to be going through a check list or reading a report on a product or company in the 30 minutes that I have to go shopping with two kids in tow.  We found that by taking the steps below we make small but significant purchasing decisions before we actually go shopping.

Note: Keep in mind that we have been working at this for a few years now and its still a work in progress.  It might seem overwhelming if you try to implement all of these steps right away.  The way we approached it was to choose one thing at time, if something that resonates with your family and fits in your life and to focus on that.  Once this choice becomes second nature you can start working on another.

1.) Know your stores:

The easiest way to start making your shopping more ethical is to research your stores.  Start by looking at the 4 or 5 main places you shop and research their policies.  Decide if what they stand for is what you stand for, if it isn’t, don’t support them with your money.  This can be done from your home and won’t take much longer than 10 minutes a store.   Since the Bangladesh garment factory collapse, most companies have a corporate responsibility page on their website which will give you an idea of what they value and how they do business but keep in mind that they write these pages with the intention of looking good, so it is a good idea to look a few different sources.

Here are some of the more realistic, larger franchise stores that we try to shop at and why:

Costco:

They pay their employees living wages, offer benefits, don’t pay their executives excessively, not to mention having fair trade chocolate! This article gives a few more details on why we support Costco. I don’t think comparing is necessarily good but in circumstances like this, it is important to see that the companies’ practices do have real implications for our communities.  You can compare the above article on Costco to this one about a competitor.  When we as a community use our dollars to show what  we value, we may see more changes in wealth distribution.

Amazon:

While Amazon can definitely improve their wages and environmental sustainability, we have chosen to shop here over similar competitors because of the Amazon smile program and the ability to shop from home.  If you shop through amazon smile, they give .5% of your purchase to a charity of your choice.  We currently support Gambia Rising, an effective organization designed to keep kids in The Gambia, Africa in school (you can support them too, its all volunteer run so all donations go directly to students!).  Even though amazon is far from a perfect company, another reason we choose to shop here is because  we can shop from home when my kids are sleeping,  that way I can spend a little more time to intentionally purchase products or brands that I know are doing good work and being conscious of the bigger picture.

Target :

I know some of you are thinking, Target, really? and Why Target over Walmart? Especially when research can show them both to be equally good or equally bad? To be honest, my preference for Target is based on personal experience. Walmart is one of the largest employers in our community, when I worked in affordable housing, many of our clients were Walmart employees.  Walmart is the largest company in the world, it’s owners are some of the richest people in the world (“…the combined net worth of the bottom 41.5 percent of American families equals that of the six Walton family members”).  Even though they are working to improve their business practices and give back in some ways, from my experience they aren’t contributing to healthy happy communities and their employees aren’t exactly being paid a wage that allows them to thrive in the U.S.  I can’t support this business model.   This may be true for Target too but I haven’t experienced that first hand…

None of these stores are perfect and in all of them you will probably still find products that were made with slave or child labor and/or in unsafe working conditions (this is where the next step will come in) but as a whole these companies offer something we value or taking steps in the right direction.

2.)  Know your brands/products:

I recommend starting with a single product/category that you know you will be regularly buying then spend a little time researching this item to find a few brand who make this product in a way that aligns with your values.

For example, we started with socks and underwear.   The Free2Work app makes this process super easy, as they have already done the research for you.   All you have to do is choose your industry, for socks it would be apparel and then find a brand that makes the product you are looking for and has a rating you are comfortable with.

Socks

We found that Maggies Organics, Hanes, and Fruit of a Loom make socks and underwear that are ranked in the A range.  I have written about Maggie’s Organics here, they are cream of the crop and we want to support them when we can.  However, Hudson grew 4 inches last year!!! At this season in our life it isn’t financially realistic to buy his socks there, so for him I look for Hanes or Fruit of the Loom.  Granted these won’t always be the brands that are on sale or carry the style I would ideally choose, BUT we have decided that to pay a few dollars more or decide not have the trendiest socks is a small choice that we can easily make out of love.

You can also work backwards by choosing brands you wouldn’t support based on their ratings.  There is one popular kids clothing manufacturer with a D- rating.  As a family policy we simply don’t buy clothing from them, and with the multitude of clothing options out there, we see no reason to purchase from them.

You can apply these strategy to any brand or product.  I think you will be surprised how quickly you remember the high ranking companies. Once this became routine, I found that it actually simplified shopping by natural eliminating some choices.

The Free to Work App doesn’t have every brand but it is an easy starting place. Here are some other resources and articles that may help you get to know your brands and products:

Good Guide

Ethical Consumer

KnowMore

3.) Know your values:

Certain products carry higher risks for human rights violations or environmental degradation, so depending on your passions and values you can start by focusing on the areas you care most about and then find products that align with your beliefs.  That’s how we discovered the dark side of chocolate industry, we knew we disapproved of child labor and when we started researching the problem, we realized that our chocolate addiction was likely fueling the calamity, from there we started being more intentional about where we purchased our chocolate.

Next week, I will share more about how I am personally (im my wardrobe) working to reconcile my love for fashion with the harsh realities of the fashion industry…WARNING it is another work in progress!!

Receive our posts via email :Delivered by FeedBurner
Comments { 2 }

Word of the Week – Fernweh

                            The human heart longs for adventure. This week’s word of the week describes just that.

Fernweh: (n) an ache for distant places; the craving for travel

Synonym – wanderlust

 

travel

To roam the earth and see the beauty in creation is to know the Lord’s sovereignty more intimately than ever before.

God has intricately designed the world, not only for his enjoyment, but for our amazement.

So, next time you get a fernweh, embrace it and enjoy what the Creator has created!

e82cada7de1e01e9d9d97f60a475e5ea

Challenge:

Use fernweh with the hashtag #wordoftheweek on Facebook and Instagram this week.

We will repost our favorite!

 

 

Friday Favorites – Summer Specials

Hello again, and happy Friday!

For this week’s favorites we thought we would give summer one last hoorah!

bonappetit_florals_01

 

 

 

If you’re planning one last get together for the summer, add these cutlery tags from Eat Drink Chic to your set up! It’s an easy way to decorate for FREE. You can download yours here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

e4f8c0f5ff317a8b6d3eaaf2dcf6aacc

Who doesn’t love s’mores?

They are easy, delicious, and the flavor combinations are endless!

Try adding a s’mores station to your party! Our favorite add ons are: peanut butter, caramel, and fruit!

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

plum-ice-cream

 

 

 

 

Summer wouldn’t be summer without… ICE CREAM! Our final Friday favorite is this plum ice cream recipe from Brooklyn Supper. Try your hand at ice creamery! See the recipe here.

 

 

 

Happy Weekend!

 

 

Comments { 0 }

We can’t do it all…and that’s ok

A few days ago I had a wonderful conversation with a dear friend. We talked a bit about Bought Beautifully.  I have thought about one of her comments, and wanted to share with you all about it in greater detail. Here it is:

“I want to be intentional with my purchases, but am often discouraged by the time and expense that this involves.”

She is so right. Being intentional with our finances is hard and often times overwhelming!  We have so many demands in our lives and pocketbooks, not to mention options. Buying local, organic, natural, sustainable, fair trade, etc., combined with meeting daily needs and saving for emergencies, college and retirement.

PHEW, just thinking through all these things can be draining and guilt ridden, and acting on them is time-consuming and expensive!!

So, how do we choose where to spend our time, energy and finances, when the reality is – we can’t do it all?

First, I think it is really important to acknowledge and accept that when it comes to ethical shopping (and life in general) we can’t do it all AND that is ok!  We are covered by the GRACE of an amazing savior who has already done it all.  All we have to do is respond to the gifts that He has given us with love and the rest will fall into place.  I expanded more on how I learned this lesson in my post Confessions of a Chocoholic.  Ultimately, in this journey I have learned that:

Being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the world’s problems is from the enemy.

Small thingsBeing moved by our ability to make small choices that positively impact those in the world and around us, is exciting, empowering and joyful!

 

When deciding how to use our finances, it boils down to doing small things with great love and trusting that the love in which that action was done will go out into the world with a ripple effect.

 

This week I will share a series of posts explaining how we try to purposefully apply this concept to our shopping.  I’m calling it How to Shop Beautifully.  This is by no means a comprehensive guide on ethical shopping ,but rather me sharing how our family has decided to approach these challenges and how we guide our shopping decisions.  Like all great conversations, this one will be so much better if it is two-sided. We have so much that we can learn from one another. So, please teach me along with other readers!  Share what you do and the ideas you have with us in the comment section!

How to Shop BEAUTIFULLY!

Let’s start at the beginning, the First Step we take before buying something new is to run through this series of questions. I made this sweet flow chart for your viewing pleasure, but keep reading because I elaborate on these questions below.

How to Shop2

1. Do I need this?

We have found that asking this question reminds us of our priorities and helps us keep perspective.  Many of the things we purchase aren’t basic necessities (food, water, shelter). They might be important or nice to have but they aren’t necessary for survival.  Answering no to this question does not mean that we won’t buy the item, but it reminds us of our good fortune and helps us stay motivated to buy it beautifully.

2. Can I find it used?

Buying used products is a great way to save money and be environmentally responsible (recycling at it’s finest!).

3. Can I borrow it from a friend?

This is a great solution for items that you use for limited amounts of time; such as baby items, one time events (weddings, showers, trips), house projects, etc..  I will be the first to admit that this one is harder to do. It is humbling to ask, and borrowing isn’t a cultural norm (but we can change that).  However, I urge you to give it a try as this has probably been one of the most impactful financial changes we have made. Borrowing car seats, infant toys, power tools, etc. from friends has freed up the money we need to meet some of our other financial goals; saving more and buying Birthday presents beautifully.

4. Can I buy it Beautifully?

Once we decide that we are going to buy a product, we strive to buy it beautifully.  This doesn’t look the same for every product, as we know, all too well, that you can’t always find a fair trade, green, purchased locally Basketball Hoop/Coffee Maker/any product here.  In general, we look for our products to meet at least one of the following criteria: Fair Trade/ Living Wage, from a company we respect, a product that is built to last, or that is Made in America.  Your list might look different based on your values and what you are prioritizing in your life at this time.  In the next posts I will explain and give examples of how we actually shop.

What steps do you take to be more intentional with your purchases?

 

 

Comments { 1 }

Noonday Collection = Quaintrelle

If you are following the Noonday Collection Blog train, welcome to Bought Beautifully.  If you are a regular reader, Happy Wednesday!  I hope your day is as going as great as mine.

IMG_5986

Today is the last day of our family vacation in wonderful Minnesota.  Needless to say, the word vacation has an entirely different meaning and pace when vacationing with children under 4! It has been an action packed but wonderful week.

Noonday Style = Quaintrellequaint definition

If you missed Monday’s post, this week’s word of the week is Quaintrelle.

I can’t think of a better word to describe the women behind Noonday Collection (the founders and employees, the ambassadors, and the artisans).  All these women are changing the world for the better.  They find their pleasure, not in selfish pursuits, but in supporting and encouraging one another, fighting for justice, providing economic opportunities and looking good while doing it!

 

To celebrate all that is good about Noonday Collection, we are giving away one of my current favorite Noonday pieces.

What I love about Noonday is that they live out Romans 12:2 (Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – New Living Translation).

NoondayPartner

They have seen and responded to our culture’s desire for fashion and style but they have done it in way that honors God by loving and caring for His people – totally Bought Beautifully!  So, today is your chance to win the Noonday Collection Elegant Arrows Necklace (actually, all month is your chance to win if you follow the Noonday Blog train!).

ElegantArros

Classy, isn’t it?

To win this necklace, sign up to receive Bought Beautifully Posts via email:

1. Enter your email below.

2. Confirm your subscription by clicking on the link you receive via email.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

For more Noonday Goodies and to hear from some amazing women, follow the Noonday Blog train, you can read this morning’s post by Wayne here and tomorrow’s post by Leigh here.

Comments { 16 }

Word of the Week – Quaintrelle

It’s a new week, and we thought this new word might change the way you approach it! 

quaint definition

 

Living life is easy.

Living a life of passion is often forgotten.

 You were created to be unique. Make the most of your pastimes, your charm, and your style.

flower holder

So…

Are you ready to become a quaintrelle?

 

 

Get word of the week in your inbox: Delivered by FeedBurner

.

Comments { 0 }

Dreamin’ His Dreams

DREAM

This is a hard post to write. I AM SCARED! I like to think that I have no problem being open, honest, and vulnerable…until it comes to actually being open, honest, and vulnerable about real things.  But I am going to be brave and give some details about the last two years of my life. So grab a cup of tea (it’s a long one), pull up a comfy chair and read on as I share about my hopes, dreams and failures.

Those of you who have followed our blogs for a while, or know me personally, know that 2 years ago I quit a great job that I loved to pursue a vision of the life and calling that I always believed God had for me.  It was a hard and scary decision because I really loved my job. It was challenging, fulfilling and safe! Not to mention it provided a great 2nd income for our family.

BUT it seemed like there was something more for me.  The work didn’t quite match the unique way that God made my heart beat or the life that Colin and I always dreamed we’d have. I was a bit restless – constantly yearning for something different.  So, Colin and I decided that if we were ever going to trust God and try something risky, we had to do it before we had more kids, before we got too used to our comfortable two income existence, and before we were too old and scared.

So, two years ago we took the  plunge and began working on what was then Consumers in Christ (now the Bought Beautifully Market).

Living my dream hasn’t really felt like living the dream.

To be completely honest, the last two years have been HARD. REALLY HARD.  There have been more late nights and more tears than any other time in my life.

I have been humbled. I have FAILED.  And you know what?  It wasn’t that bad! Fear of failing was the thing that always kept me from really doing anything.

In the last two years I have failed. I had to build a website, rebuild a website, brand a company concept, re-brand that company concept, admit to not understanding things, ask for and accept help  (THANK YOU DEAR FRIENDS who came along side me with so much grace, kindness, and brains!).

Out of this difficulty came so much goodness.  Just like God said he would, he brought beauty out of ashes (Isaiah 61:3). I learned from my failures, and am much better and wiser because of them.

I’ve learned:

  • To trust God with everything; my heart, my job, my identity, my income.

  • To lean not on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

  • That I can FAIL, but I am not a failure.

  • How to really pray (fervently and sincerely).

  • AND that living your dreams looks a lot like hard work. It isn’t always fun, BUT it is totally worth it.

We have no idea what will come from the market. It might fail according to the world’s definition, and that is ok.  I would still count the last two years as a success.

During this time period my relationship with God has gone to new depths and I have achieved beautiful new understandings of Him.  I have seen His face, His glory, and His heart, and I would not trade that for all the success in the world.

Do you remember last week’s word of the week?tumblr_mg1v38XgvA1ri24bso1_500

The Bought Beautifully Market is my meraki.

It has taken over two years, but I am excited, honored, petrified, and thrilled to tell you that the Bought Beautifully Market is  accepting vendor partners…AND it’s almost open for business!!! Soon you will be able to find and purchase amazing products that are impacting the world with Christ’s love in one convenient place (Lucky you – our blog readers will be the first to ones shop on the Bought Beautifully Market).

In the meantime, if you know any organization who are sharing God’s love through their business and might be interested in reaching a wider market, please, send them our way!

So, what have you been scared to do?  Trust God and step out, worldly success or failure is never as important as following God’s calling at that moment in your life.

DREAM

It is worth it. I promise.
Don’t miss a post, sign up here : Delivered by FeedBurner

 

Comments { 0 }

Noonday – Nation wide Trunk Show

Tomorrow, Noonday  Collection is doing something very special – a nation wide trunk show. People all over the country will be gathering for the launch of Noonday’s fall collection.

invite-adopt-web

Unfortunately, (well, fortunately for me!), I am on family vacation so I won’t be hosting or attending a trunk show.  I don’t want to miss out completely, so if you aren’t already attending a trunk show you are officially invited to my:

From the comfort of your living room, hanging in your PJs, with a glass of wine and a piece of chocolate, Noonday Viewing Party.

Check out this video, it’s a sneak peek of the fall new items :

Seriously, how great are these pieces, not to mention that little girl!?

If you are an earring person, there are so many fabulous ones this season.

If you are necklace girl, they have everything from simple to ornate. There are just sooooooo many great items!

You are not going to want to miss out.  So, hop on my Noonday Collection Site tomorrow, enjoy browsing from the comfort of your living room and be one of the first people to purchase these amazing pieces.

Why shop Noonday Collection?

1. You will be the most stylish girl on the block in your new fall duds
2. You are supporting our adoption! 20% of all the sales from my site go towards our adoption fund.
3. You are empowering artisans around the world as Noonday pays all their artisans living wages. 

Happy Shopping!

 

Comments { 0 }