I cracked up. I hope you did too! I love getting my little curated newsletters from Etsy…especially around major holidays. Two years ago (I skipped last year) I featured a Valentine’s Day gift guide from Revolve, but this year I’m enjoying all of the creative and personal Valentine’s Day gift ideas from Etsy! In fact, I should probably feature these more often! Significant others can be notoriously difficult to shop for, especially around Valentine’s Day when everyone’s expecting chocolate, fancy dinners and gemstones. Well, maybe not everyone, but it can be tough to find the perfect non-cliche, personalized gifts every time a holiday centered around love, family or friendship rolls around when our lives are as busy as they are. Rushing out to a fancy dinner also means dealing with packed restaurants, difficult-to-come-by reservations and slower service, and chocolate or jewelry often just seems so thoughtless or forced. Some people opt for DIY gifts, but why not go for something unique and thoughtful crafted by someone who specializes in such a thing, when our creative juices, time and energy are fried by our daily grinds…especially when there are adorably convenient options for personal customization?
Hello again! I hope everyone had a nice holiday season and some great time with family and friends. I am quite blessed during this time of the year to receive paid time off from my 9-5, and although I could spend that time writing more posts for all of you, I always choose it to relax and take a break from everything. It truly is needed as soon as it comes around! It’s also a great time to reflect on the past year and think about how to start fresh after New Years Day. Many people come up with resolutions, whereas I prefer to keep good habits year round. However, I do like to think about what goals and fun events I plan to reach and attend throughout the next twelve months.
I try not to shop too much for footwear these days…I’m sure it comes as no surprise when I say I already have a decent collection! I at least try to look for a variety of purposes when I shop for shoes…quality tall ones for the winter, mid-calf boots to cover up cropped jeans, low booties, black booties, a solid black pair of nice heels, a comfortable pair or two of sneakers (Converse, specifically) and one high top, a variety of different colors and styles of sandals (flat and with heels) for summer…you get the idea! I try to keep to mostly the basics, but it can be tough to discriminate when you run across something that’s SO COOL, even if it looks like something you already have! You gotta have some fun with shopping, too.
Just like shoes (or jeans, in my case), almost every girl loves to have an assortment of bags for every occasion. It’s hard for someone fashionably creative to settle on just one or two, right? However, as full as a wardrobe may get with bags of every color, style or even brand, one thing holds basically true: just about everyone desires that one solid, quality bag that lasts through years and years, and possibly even gets better with use. As fun as it is to go crazy with collecting multiple styles, sometimes going back to basics is a tasteful move. I personally have my everyday bag (with a few alternatives if I feel like switching it up), a few evening bags to fit different occasions or moods, and some that are best suited for day trips or outdoor adventures like hiking, festivals or the beach.
All of the charitable brands I’ve written about here have warmed my heart. In a crazy world full of anger and hate, it’s so nice to focus on the good of humanity from time to time. Among my favorites of all the charities I’ve discovered while running this blog is Mitscoots, an Austin-based brand born in 2012 after its founders witnessed first hand the fundamental needs of the homeless while on volunteer work in the city, in 2008. Quality gear and a clean pair of socks were the most requested items, and with that in mind, the Mitscoots brand began. Mitscoots works with local and national charities to send an equal pair of one of their high quality socks, beanies, tees and more to someone in need with every purchase. The brand also employs the transitioning homeless to help package up and ship your purchased items to you! This helps develop confidence, skills, motivation and network building for these individuals to began building better lives. Everything Mitscoots creates is also manufactured in the United States.
I have such a soft spot for activewear…way back over ten years ago when I first started my journey into fitness, I didn’t care much about clothing that I was simply going to sweat in and toss in the hamper. I’d frequent Ross for the cheapest items I could find, before I realized how much better I felt in pieces that were less bulky and more breathable. Back then though, there wasn’t as huge of an option for stylish and comfortable activewear. Over the years, I collected much more functional pieces that were definitely more stylish than before, but I still didn’t give gym style that much thought. Lately, as activewear made its way from the gym to the street in competition with the denim industry, there has been an explosion of amazing designs out there—it seems the sky is now the limit when it comes to creativity in designs within the athleisure market boom! I now have several pieces that I love so much that I don’t even wear in the gym at all, mostly from Zobha, a huge favorite of mine.
I wrote about Carbon38, an incredible online stop for high end activewear, about two years ago with a post about leggings I was seriously coveting. Since then, I’ve kept my eyes on their impressive growth. Not only do they have their own activewear line, but they also carry favorites from brands such as MONROW, Onzie, NSF, Blanc Noir, ALO Yoga and more. Unlike most shops of its kind out there, they take more of the edgier side, with gorgeous detailing such as moto and hardware accents, sleek wet-look fabrics, braiding, embroidery, and totally unique cuts. Their new Moto Collection, made up entirely of pieces by Carbon38 themselves, is a dream for a fitness and style nut like me…it’s all almost too awesome to sweat in! Here is a sampling of some of my favorite items from all new arrivals on their website, including some pieces from said collection.
I kind of want it all. Don’t you? Shop more amazingness from Carbon38 and other brands they carry here.
OK, sorry again for my absence—I’m now back from long road trips and extensive work obligations for awhile…so now I can get back to posting on a decently regular basis again! Thanks for sticking with me. I still have so much from the Global Eclipse Gathering that I want to post, but I still have not yet had a chance to sort through everything I collected there that I intend to share with you all. All of this material will certainly last me awhile, so I like the idea of mixing in other brands that make me think of the nomadic, transformational festival environment (along with the usual denim and other notable things I run across) to draw it out as long as I can since really, eco-friendly and independent brands is part of the soul of my blog apart from denim. A little over a year ago, I posted about a new footwear line that a favorite sustainable retailer, Nomads Hemp Wear, was carrying. These shoes had been featured in photo shoots for the brand for quite some time, and after asking them where they were from, I was so happy to see them finally offer them for sale in their online store! A.S.98 is the name, handmade leather shoes and boots is their game—and I’ve been keeping my eyes on them ever since then.
It’s still been so hard to get over the festival vibes after the Oregon Eclipse Gathering! There were over a hundred vendors and I got rather excited to collect business cards and peruse their goods to share with all of you. Denim will always be at my core but I really have such a passion and a huge appreciation for independent designers, especially those who use sustainable materials in their creations. I still have to go through all of the cards I collected and figure out the best way to share them all here, but I’ll start with one that helped us out considerably during the cold nights at the event!
As time goes on in this journey of mine through sustainable, ethical, eco-friendly and cruelty-free style, I continue to grow impressed with the high quality variety of vegan options out there. I’m not vegan myself, although I do opt for vegan or vegetarian alternatives often when it comes to sustenance. Usually I prefer leather in the form of bags and shoes, usually because this material is known for its durability and ability to improve with age. However, I’ve been enlightened on multiple occasions with several brands! Angela Roi is one of them—they a luxury handbag brand that caught my eye almost two years ago, with their beautiful collection of bags made from vegan leather (EPUL, or Exquisite Polyurethane Leather). The second thing that kept my attention was the fact that each bag came in a color that corresponded to a certain charity, which a portion of that bag’s proceeds. The cherry on top is sweatshop-free manufacturing with fair wages as well as support for skilled artisans, who craft these beautiful bags. They are all set at a great price point too! Read my post from October 2015 on Angela Roi here!
Today, the brand still thrives and has released several new bags and wallets with the same gorgeous modern flare as the ones that came before them. All bags support humane animal shelters that help our furry friends with rehabilitation, food supplies and medical care. Angela Roi bags are made with quality fabrics and durable thread, and feature gold hardware, magnetic snap buttons, and durable zipper closures. The EPUL is even processed multiple times to attain a special smooth texture! In addition, they offer free returns and exchanges on all orders. Their latest release is the super cute Sunday Mini below, and like all other bags, it comes in an awesome variety of colors toned down enough to work with any outfit or occasion (and you know me, I’m not all about those bright shades). I still haven’t had the opportunity to check out one of these bags in person, but they’ve been on my radar long enough, and have received so much positive press…I may just have to cave at some point…starting with that Mini!
“At Angela Roi, the belief is that the goodness of people has the calibre to alter the world for the better. In addition to the grandeur of luxury, we hope to pave a path of altruism. With passion, creativity and innovation it is not only possible to progress as a brand but promisingly make our planet a kinder place.”
“Nothing breaks a warm loving heart like seeing a mistreated puppy. Love for animals may have been the spark for this venture but it definitely did not stop there. From humans to animals, we believe a happy planet is where everyone is safe and jubilant.”
“We believe in constant evolution. We believe in improving unceasingly, from the quality of our products to the wellness of our world. We believe that by nourishing the world we nurture ourselves.”
“We proudly stand against animal cruelty and do our best to support mistreated animals with our donations to local shelters. In the quest of making the world a kinder place for animals, we will continue supporting humane shelters which help animals with rehabilitation, emergency care and food supplies. We will keep working to convey that fashion doesn’t depend on cruelty.”
“We pay special attention to the fair practice setting. We strive for a great work environment and fair wage. We firmly stand against child labor. To ensure all of these criteria are met at the factories, our correspondents visit them quarterly to inspect the conditions. We aim to create a different kind luxury.”
As someone who basically prefers shopping for leather bags or shoes for their durability and ability to age beautifully, I rarely ever considered any vegan alternatives. Of course, as a young college student, I shopped for the cheapest items I could find…and eventually learned the true cost of that as pieces gradually fell apart! Now, I understand the value of investments, but I’ve also learned something else over the last few years: that leather doesn’t always have to be the only guarantee for a quality product. I’ve been impressed with such brands as BLANKNYC, American Eagle Outfitters, Matt & Nat and MeDusa for their incredibly sturdy vegan leather items, and although I am no vegan, and still love my hard-earned leather pieces at home (and still treat myself now and then), I’ve gradually moved towards more vegan products with a much more open mind. When I find one of true quality, I share it here with all of you! I’m giving MeDusa a revisit for this post, after I first wrote about them in 2015 (see that post here), as I’m so happy to see they’ve expanded their amazing product line with some brand new totes and backpacks!