Monday, 29 September 2014

Conscious Consumer // Bliss and Mischief

I can't quite remember how I stumbled upon Bliss and Mischief, but what a happy little find it was. Bliss and Mischief was founded by Hillary Justin. Her inspiration was the giant cactus tree in her back garden, along with desert colours and striking embroidered details of classic Western kitsch. She began to source vintage textiles alongside re-vamping and re-designing classic pieces. Bliss and Mischief offer one-of-a-kind pieces from modern designs using vintage fabrics to original, custom and handmade chain stitched designs. As well as the ooak items, there's also an offering of small run vintage classics such as antique Japanese Kimonos and vintage tee's, amongst others.

I love the idea of mixing the old with new, something which I often put into place through the details within my home, and the clothes in my wardrobe. Bliss and Mischief is the perfect mix of contemporary and nostalgia, it embraces garments which have been loved and lived in, even the little imperfections that they may carry. Each piece is unique and is inspired by everything from the California desert to her own personal inspirations from her childhood and teenage years. 
“I felt good wearing something that added to my individuality,” remembers Justin,” and that is my same mentality now.  The idea of creating something that is special and limited still feels important to me."
Bliss and Mischief's 1st collection, 'The face of the desert', is made up of dusky pink and peach tones with off white hues, indigo denim and khaki offerings. The embroidered detailing also reflects this colour pallette. I'm honestly in love with everything. The pieces are so wearable and versatile and the embroidery....amazing. I love the way that the vintage garments tell one story and the embroidery that embellishes it tells another, so beautiful.

The denim that Bliss and Mischief use is all vintage. Classic Levi's 505 and 501 jeans are selected and embroidered using traditional western embroidery methods, from hand drawn patterns. I think my favourite item (if I had to pick one....which is very hard) is the Shadows of Mountains Denim, the placement of the embroidery and the colour pallete really draw me in...but at $598... they're slightly (massively) out of my price range *sigh*.  A lot of the collection is out of my price reach to be honest, but I can admire it from afar and think 'one day...' right? These pieces are beautiful though and are designed to be cherished and kept, real investment pieces. B and M definitely offer something different to any other brands and designers I've seen who use reclaimed textiles and garments. If I could afford any of these pieces, I would definitely need to get a bigger wardrobe.
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Monday, 22 September 2014

Conscious Consumer // Zady

Zady is a shopping platform and lifestyle destination for consumers who care about the origins of the items they purchase. Zady was co-founded by Soraya Darabi and Maxine B├ędat with a vision to combat the fast-fashion craze. Zady provides a destination for consumers to purchase high quality goods, that are timeless in style, from brands and designers who offer complete manufacturing transparency. 

Zady have partnered up with non-profit organisation The Bootstrap Project, who's mission is to empower individuals to overcome poverty and preserve heritage craft traditions. With every purchase made on Zady, The Bootstrap Project will receive 5%, meaning an artisan launching a small business in the developing world will be provided with the funds they need to grow their business and restore their traditions. 

To make their site user-friendly, and quick to understand for shoppers on the go, they have a badge system. There are 6 badges in total and each badge helps brings transparency into how the item was made. The badges can be found under the 'Why It's Special' section under each product listing. They range from 'locally sourced', 'high quality' and 'the Bootstrap Project' to 'made by hand' and 'sustainable'. Zady is a U.S based and also has a 'made in the USA' badge.

What I love about Zady is that there's also an origins map that shows you the roots of all the products sold on the site, so you can see exactly where everything comes from. If you click on a product item on the map, it will show it's history through lines. For example, a Bimbi Painted Wood Bowl is made from sustainable mango wood from India, where the product is also made, but the company's headquarters (Nkuku) are in South Devon. Both the badges and the Origins map makes the supply chain of products more transparent and having them enables you to have more of a connection with what you are buying, you're not just simply buying a 'thing' you're learning about the 'where' and the 'why it's special'. But not only do Zady give you the 'where' and the 'why' they also give you the 'who'. Who's behind the product and the label and what's their story. What inspires them, why they do what they do, how they started out. I think it's empowering to make informed choices and feel connected to a story behind the product.
 Think of the things in your home and your closet that you just refuse to give up. Generally it’s the story about the product that makes you want to hold on to it. Just imagine how great it would feel if our closets only contained those type of products.
You can read more about why Zady was set up here and how we consumers, together, can have an impact. Their website also has some great features to read up on like modern heirlooms, learning to be more mindful with our shopping habits, opting for pieces that could last a lifetime, searching out quality and investing in key pieces. It's an interesting read, I recommend a look if you get the chance.

So this post has become rather wordy! Here's a few of my favourite clothing and accessory pieces from their site :


Row 1 (L-R) Plaid Boyfriend shirt by Cynjin, The Lucy Black Jeans by Imogene + Willie, Vintage Ringer Tee by LNA 
Row 2 (L-R) The Lucy Blue Ridge by Imogene + Willie, Salli Top by Won Hundred, The Lucy Indigo by Imogene + Willie
Row 3 (L-R) Triangle Ring by Phyllis + Rosie, Tokyo Bag by The Good Flock, Nautical Stripe Lucas Backpack by Stone + Cloth

I pretty much live in my skinny jeans and the shirt and ringer tee are perfect for layering up together through autumn. Stripes are really not something I'd typically go for but the Salli top kept drawing me back in. I'd probably pair it with some black skinnies, heeled ankle boots and a statement silver necklace, maybe throw on a leather jacket for good measure. The Tokyo bag is great for day to day use and is that versatile tan colour that will go with anything, which is a great investment piece.

Aside from womenswear and menswear, they also have a 'Gifts' and 'House & Home' section. Here you will find dog collars and leashes, stationary and candles amongst other pieces. 

There's not a massive amount of choice of products on Zady at the moment, but they did only launched in August last year so I'm sure that they are steadily growing and are continually on the hunt for more brands and designers to add to their site...which will be fantastic. There are a range of products priced under $100 (about £60 give or take) with some priced up to $475 (£290 ish), so there's nothing 'cheap' on here, but then that's the whole point. The products are made with high quality materials and skills, this is no place for fast fashion. I think Zady is great for empowering you into asking the questions of 'where' and 'who' and 'why' when it comes to the products you choose to buy.
Zady provides an alternative to today's "fast-fashion," as fad demanding consumers buy more and more instead of buying 'good.' We should not be compelled to accept throwaway goods as a way of life; we can instead take pride in the style and integrity of each and every piece we own. 
It's a wonderful feeling to know that you are buying something that's been made with such integrity, but that you're also helping to support brilliant projects like The Bootstrap Project in the process.
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Friday, 19 September 2014

DIY Embellished Army Shirt

I recently shared with you this inspo post on Ethnic Embellished Jackets, and promised you a follow-up DIY... and here it is. I would have ideally liked to use a jacket but I already had this shirt hanging up in my wardrobe and it wasn't really getting any wear so wanted to utilise this. The shirt is quite thick so makes an ideal lightweight jacket for heading into the winter months. I found the Kuchi Afghan belt on Ebay and have wanted to use it for some time, but never found the perfect project for it. After some gorgeous ethnic jackets popped up on my Pinterest feed I thought I could combine the two, influenced from the images I have seen on there and on my recent Inspiration Post. I'm really happy with the way it turned out and you could easily adopt this idea to any shirt, jacket or coat that you already have and could use a multitude of textiles and embellished pieces to create a similar effect.
 All I did was work out where I wanted to put the beaded piece and simply hand-sewed it in place.




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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

3 Infused Water Recipes To Keep You Hydrated In Autumn

As we head into the cooler, autumnal months here in the UK, it's important to keep the healthy habits that we adopted in summer, seeing us through the next couple of seasons. Making sure I drink enough water each day is, to be quite honest, a bore. I find it easy in the summer as you really get the benefit from a refreshing glass of cold water and I can get through my RDA without really trying. As the temperature drops, so do my good intentions. Hot drinks galore on a cold day, endless cups of tea, a hot chocolate or two, chai lattes, coffee and herbal infusions. Whilst the latter is a good healthy option, getting enough water in me is a real chore, which is why I'm sharing a few of my favourite fruit infused water recipes with you. Having a pretty jug filled with water and packed full of fresh and vibrant fruit is a much more appealling way of getting your water than grabbing a glass and turning on the tap, especially when you're desiring something hot and warming. Here are a couple of variations that I tried that look great, taste great and are packed with good stuff to make you feel great too.


Strawberry + Lime + Cucumber + Mint

 
Add 8 sliced strawberries, 10 slices of cucmber, 1 sliced lime and a small handful of bruised, fresh mint leaves to a jug of water and leave to infuse. You can drink this one after a short infusion time of about 10 minutes, but for a stronger and more intense flavour, leave for a few hours or overnight. I find this one the most refreshing. The cucumber helps to combat any stomach bloating and the fresh mint is great for stimulating the metabolism to aid digestion.

Raspberry + Nectarine

 
Add 10-12 raspberries and 1 sliced nectarine to a jug of water and let infuse for a few hours or overnight. Refreshing and packed full of antioxidants, this infusion has a very subtle flavour, the longer you leave it the sweeter and more fragrant it gets. This one's great to serve up with some of the fruit too, it looks great in the glass but also provides an additional snack, ensuring nothing goes to waste. 

Lemon + Lime

 
This infusion doesn't need much time to do it's magic and I find that the water can be topped up a few times before the fruit has come to its limp end. A jug of this on the table when you have dinner guests is a real pleaser. It looks vibrant and attractive and tastes super refreshing. A hot version of this works just as well and is great for when you're really after something to warm the cockles. Just add a slice or two of each to a mug of hot water and enjoy.
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Monday, 15 September 2014

Ethnic Embellished Jackets

We're in that transitional period over here in the UK at the moment, in between seasons. Not quite summer anymore and heading into the cooler, autumn months. It's still warm enough that you don't need to reach for your woollens just yet, but sometimes a little jacket to sling on on those breezy days is needed. These embellished jackets have that ethnic-folk-tribal inspired summer vibe paired with chic functionality (they're also begging for a little DIY project or two). You could adopt an all-over statement look or just focus on certain areas if you're feeling more demure. I've always loved the style of jackets that look pretty plain and simple from the front, but have that un-expected design element blazoned across the back (you know, that whole 'business in the front, party in the back' vibe). You should be able to source some cheap, second hand jackets at your local charity shop. It's then just a case of sourcing some textiles that you like and attaching them to your jacket. I have a DIY project that I will be sharing with you very soon,  inspired by some of these amazing pieces.



Images via here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
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Friday, 12 September 2014

Conscious Consumer // Burt's Bees

The Burt's Bees story begins in 1984 when Maine artist Roxanne Quimby thumbed a lift home. It was Burt Shavitz who pulled over in his bright yellow Datsun pick-up truck and helped her out. Burt was a well-known local who sold his honey by the roadside. The pair hit it off and Roxanne began making candles using unused beeswax from Burt's beehives. These candles were the beginning of the journey towards iconic brand status. From those first few candles sold at local craft fairs to the world-renowned beeswax lip balm we know today, Burt's bees has stayed true to a simple idea 'what you put on your body should be made from the best nature has to offer'.
Roxanne and Burt.
Image found here

A short History

1989 saw Burt's Bees candles being sold in the hundreds in an NYC boutique. It was 1991 that saw the introduction of their best-selling product the Beeswax Lip Balm. Roxanne perfected a recipe that she found in a 19th century farmer's journal. Demand for Burt's Bees products was increasing, so in 1994, the company was re-located to North Carolina to focus on health and beauty care. The Lemon Butter Cuticle cream was added to the range in 1989 gathering 30 awards along the way. 1999 saw B.B's go global, with offices opening in the UK, Ireland, Canada, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Lip Shimmers were introduced in 2003 for those who were after high quality natural lip care with a hint of colour. In 2007, Burt's Bees formalises 'The Greater Good' (good for you, good for us, good for all). Natural Acne Solutions was launched in 2010 and is the first and only truly natural acne line available. Burt's Bees is named number 1 in an ImagePower Green Brands Survey (they send zero waste to landfill).

'The Greater Good'

Burt's Bees say that they look at the 'bottom line', just like all other companies do, except that they regard themselves as having a 'triple' bottom line.
'So when we look after our own, we mean everybody: our employees, our customers, our families, ourselves. And yes, our environment, too. Our ingredients-right down to the packaging-are simple, natural, and responsible. We practice what we preach-and we hope to set the example for others to follow.
It's called The Greater Good. And it's how we're going to help change the world.'
It's clear just from a quick scout around their website that B.B's is very passionate about sustainability. They have a ton of information about their brand, what they do and what they stand for. It's refreshing to see a company be so open and transparent about their practices and how they operate, but also be proud to be 'one of the good ones'. They have certainly led the way for other brands to follow and play 'catch up' on the sustainability front. I have simply given you a snippet of all the good stuff that B.B's has to offer, you can read more about the culture of Burt's Bees here alongside ingredients, packaging and so much more.

The Review

So having a £10 Boots gift voucher and being new to Burt's Bees, it was the perfect excuse to sample some goodies (all in the name of research of course). Having spent a good 10 minutes stood in front of the array of B.B's beauty potions that my local Boots had on offer, I decided to pick up their 'Essential Collection'. It fitted into my budget perfectly and allowed me to sample their award-winning cuticle cream and ever-popular, best-selling Beeswax Lip Balm. The set also came with a 50g Shea Butter Hand Cream.
First Impressions
I love the packaging, it's not really gender specific and has that 'old' feel to it in terms of the font and the illustrations used. I love the colours used, whether the yellow represents that day back in 1984 when Burt first met Roxanne in his yellow Datsun, or because it symbolises bees or honey, I don't know, but it works. It looks fresh and appealing. It all comes presented in the box shown above which comes apart to fold out flat. It even has a little bit of history about the brand and the products on the side. I prefer the look of the lip balm when it comes in the tin as it looks more premium, the plastic tube makes it look a bit 'cheap' but this is more functional and easy to use if out and about. Both versions are priced the same if you buy the lip balms individually so you have the option of the tin or the tube.

Beeswax Lip Balm
Lip balm is something I never have to buy as I'm always using up ones I've been given for Christmas or Birthdays. I'm a regular applier but my latest balm just wasn't up to scratch. My lips were quite dry and flaky and no amount of 'balming up' seemed to do the trick so it was great to be able to try this one out.
As I said before, the packaging isn't mind-blowing but the 'pull and twist' functioning of this tube version is handy and easy to use when on the go. The beeswax balm is infused with vitamin E and Peppermint and feels very nourishing. The peppermint gives my lips a slight tingle a few moments after application and the balm seems to glide on easily, without feeling heavy or sticky. I really like this. My lips were back to being smooth and plump within just a few days and I don't feel I need to re-apply as often as other lip balms I've tried in the past.

Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream
Apart from the 'cuticle cream' bit, this sounds good enough to eat. To be honest, it had me at the packaging, It's one of those products that you'd happily leave out on display. The tin is lovely and I can easily see myself keeping this and re-using it for other lip balms or home-made remedies and treatments. Or even just to store some of my dressmaking pins or earrings if I travel. Packaging aside, it smells amazing...erm...like lemon and butter. The lemon is not too over-powering and has a creamy smell to it (if that's possible). It goes on like a dream and a small amount goes a long way. A cuticle cream is not something I would usually indulge in, but it has seemed to make a big difference.
Shea Butter Hand Repair Cream
Infused with cocoa butter and sesame oil, the fragrance of this hand cream is not my favourite, it's not horrible mind you, just not as cocoa-buttery as I would have preferred. It is quite a thick cream and I find I don't need to use a lot. I use this just before bed as it's the only time my hands aren't busy sewing or typing or creating something of some sort. It absorbs into the skin quite quickly but leaves a subtle oily feeling, slightly on the tacky side. This is fine before bed as I have all night for it to soak in fully. It is quite a rich, heavy cream so it's ideal for 'repairing' your dry and tired hands, and it really does do the trick. It's very luxurious and I wouldn't use this more than a few times a week, a lighter hand cream in between should help to maintain the suppleness in between uses.

Packaging

Burt's Bees state that their primary packaging is 39% post consumer recycled, with their bottles averaging 78%. All the products are clearly marked with 'recycle' symbols. The tube version of the lip balm is partly made from polypropylene (or a #5 plastic). This can be hard to recycle but the website has a link to this page  which is about getting these #5 plastic containers recycled and reused as many places do not accept this type of plastic for household recycling. This site and programme is based on people living in America however.

All Natural

All B.B's products are either 99 or 100% natural, something which is proudly stated on every item. Just look out for the 'natural bar'. Being mindful of what goes into your body should also be reflected on what you put on your body. Nothing is tested on animals.

It's all about the Bees

I have to admit, I knew nothing about bees. Considering that it was the humble honeybee that started this business, it was interesting and insightful to get clued up how they live, why they're important and what we can do to help them thrive. Burt's Bees have dedicated a little corner of their web space to educate their customers, and potential customers, on the life of bees. Did you know that bees pollinate a third of all the food we eat? ( Not to mention all the fibres, spices and medicines the plants they pollinate make possible) I didn't. So if those little guys are in trouble...then we are too. Meet the bees shows a series of three fun videos where you can understand more about the roles bees play within the hive. B.B's are passionate about bees, after all, they wouldn't be where they are today without them. They're part of their history and culture and they support projects that help to promote honeybee health and sustainable agriculture. The website gives a link to the British Beekeepers Association, an overview of their Greater Good Foundation and a page dedicated to getting involved with keeping those bees buzzing.


So what do I think? Burt's Bees are in their 30th year, so they must be doing something right. I'm sure their products are not new to a lot of you, but to me they are. I first heard of them a few years ago but have never tried their products before. Having only tried the items mentioned above, I can only give my opinion for those, but based on this and all of the information I have read about them, I will be trying out some new things soon. Their prices seem to be fair for the quality you get and Boots often have 3 for 2 offers on so it's a great time to stock up. I love the branding, and the website is great to 'geek up' on B.B's knowledge. Having looked into the company and it's practices in more detail, it has hi lighted to me the importance of bees, and how much we humans rely on them in everyday life, something that I might not necessarily have found out had I not decided to try Burt's Bees for the first time.

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