Thursday 31 July 2014

changemaker : kestrel jenkins

One of my favourite parts of being involved in the sustainability movement is meeting passionate people with strong visions for creating our sustainable future. Many of these people I know in person, other relationships remain online, yet all have inspired and encouraged me along my journey. I am starting this changemaker segment on my blog to introduce you to some of these amazing individuals - some may be familiar names, others are quiet achievers, but they all make up the face of the sustainability / consciousness movement that is sweeping the globe.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce sustainable fashionista, Kestrel Jenkins.

I didn’t know exactly where I was going next but I knew it had to be related to conscious fashion.

Photos c/o Drew Mcgill for Mermaid by Hand Jewelry's summer lookbook.

Kestrel (who lives in Southern California) and I first met online following the launch of Sustainability with Style when she asked me to create a look for the Fashioning Change website. It was a very fun project, and I could tell through our brief email interactions that this was one clever and dedicated woman. Ever since she's been on my radar through twitter and various projects, and her latest project is the AWEAR campaign - inspiring stylish change, one real person at a time.

I recently sat down for an e-interview with Kestrel - below is an excerpt from our conversation:

Tell me about how you became involved in conscious clothing:

After graduating from college with degrees in Global Studies & International Journalism, I was at a loss for what my next step would be. I knew that I wanted to be connected to the fair trade movement but I didn't know in what way. While back home in Wisconsin, my mom had a light bulb moment and said, “what about fashion?” I immediately jumped online and searched high and low for any fair trade fashion companies around the world. I found People Tree, the pioneer in fair trade fashion, and was set on securing an internship with them. Finally, months later, I had a phone interview with their London office and was offered the internship. Two weeks after the interview, I had moved across the ocean and was living in London, absorbing everything I could about the world of sustainable fashion. This experience working and learning from People Tree sparked this deep fire inside of me. I didn’t know exactly where I was going next but I knew it had to be related to conscious fashion.

Photos c/o Drew Mcgill for
Mermaid by Hand Jewelry's summer lookbook.

What is your favourite part of dressing with awareness (awearness)?

Undoubtedly, having the opportunity to share the stories behind my style. I love being able to embrace a more intimate connection with what I am wearing. Basically, my canvas has always been my own body -- what I wear has become a form of art for me. I'm the most able to express myself / share the way I feel / or simply have a creative outlet via the way I style my outfits. Understanding the depth of the stories behind what I wear and being able to relay those powerful supply chain messages to others gives me the purest joy.

How did you come up with the idea for AWEAR?

In 2009, I completed a yearlong project called Make Fashion Fair, in which I pledged to only purchase clothing that was made consciously with regard to people & the planet. This project evolved into becoming the core of the way I generally function. I took a brief hiatus from being engulfed in sustainable fashion last year :: mostly for my soul and a personal need to reconnect with myself and my true passions. The idea for AWEAR evolved after this break :: it takes the Make Fashion Fair concept and applies it to a large community who are ready to be stylish changemakers - for me, the larger intention in the sustainable fashion sphere has always been about reaching the mainstream consumers.

Photos c/o Drew Mcgill for
Mermaid by Hand Jewelry's summer lookbook.

Tell me about the fabulous AWEAR logo

The AWEAR logo was designed by one of my best friends, Ian Kearns. He has seen me grow up, watched me evolve as a person, and heard my stories along the way. In this case, there is incredible depth in his design of the AWEAR falcon. My name is Kestrel -- which is a type of falcon -- that's where it begins. Ian explains this far better than myself :: 

"One of the wonderful things about you [Kestrel] is the multitude of experiences in travel, people you've met, and stories you've garnered to make you who you are today. I see this as a direct correlation to your AWEAR idea:  to bring a collection of people with different experiences, viewpoints, and stories together. So with this in mind, along with the qualities of stitching and patching, I thought of a quilt. A well-made quilt tells a story, whether it's literally through a depicted story on a square or even through the stitching handwork of the craftsman that made it. An AWEAR quilt could start with the looks of a Kestrel Quilt, but perhaps it gets filled in along the way with all of the participants and their stories and ideas." 

Ian's final design of the AWEAR logo is basically a quilted falcon. The design is just as beautiful as the story behind what it meant for Ian in the creation process, and that's exactly what the foundation of AWEAR is built on for me.

Thank you so much, Kestrel, for sharing your story with me! I look forward to the day when we can meet in person, but until then, I love knowing that I have a conscious-style soul sister living across the Pacific.

So, are you all ready to become AWEAR? Join the movement today.

You can see my AWEAR look here - I am so regretting not wearing sunnies on that extremely bright day, pardon the squinting and just enjoy the sustainable look instead.

* * * *

I hope you all enjoyed meeting Kestrel. Do you know any other chagemakers I need to meet? Shoot me an email and let me know.


Saturday 19 July 2014

review : wewood watch

Check out my gorgeous new watch!

Ooooohhhhhh, so pretty! And sustainable packaging!

Thanks to the lovely folks at WeWOOD I am trying out one of the watches in the new range - mine is made from Indian Rosewood and has the delightfully decadent name of 'Mimosa Chocolate'.  It's so pretty, I don't feel the photos do it justice. The wooden face has a delicate shine, and the metal beneath the glass gleams - for a watch made of wood, this little darling has a lot of class.

I've been an admirer of WeWOOD since I first spotted them, not just for their Italian designer look but for the company's sustainability credentials. In addition to being created from sustainably-sourced wood (recycled and reclaimed timber, much of it offcuts from the furniture industry), for each watch purchased one tree will be planted through Carbon Neutral in Australia; American Forests and Trees for the Future are used in other countries.

There are a range of shades and wood types available, and a wide range of styles - from my delicate watch to those with larger bands and faces in different shapes. I'll admit I was afraid this colour wouldn't go with enough of my clothes, but I've been pleasantly surprised at the versatility of this rich chocolate brown.

So, what does one wear with a wooden watch? Here are just a few looks I rocked this week and my WeWOOD was a fabulous addition to each.

Writing and studying
American Apparel circle scarf
Carlie Ballard traveler pants
Vintage denim top

Off to yoga
Sosume long sleeve tee
Teeki Deer Medicine hot pants

Night out with friends
Sosume tuxedo jacket
Veronika Maine tuxedo pants
Bassike striped tee

Other pluses?

The watch is incredibly lightweight. I'm not a regular watch-wearer, but it is so light that I frequently forgot I was wearing it (then was super-pleased to see it on my wrist!). And the sustainability initiatives continue to the care for your watch, with recommendations to owners to polish watches with olive oil and lemon juice, and the occasional treatment with beeswax or walnut oil, to keep your watch nicely (naturally) nourished. 


It's not waterproof for you water babies out there. And if you're really keen on shiny gold or silver watches, this will take some getting used to. Perhaps the inner glow that comes with knowing your watch was created responsibly and beautifully will help.

All in all, I'm really enjoying my new accessory - thank you WeWOOD, and keep up the great eco-work!


*Disclaimer - I was asked to provide a product review of this watch. All opinions above are true and my own.

Monday 14 July 2014

sustainable shopping : oz fair trade

I recently had the opportunity to interview Qinnie, founder of Oz Fair Trade.

Qinnie founded this charity online shop following a life-changing trip around Southeast Asia a few years ago. After learning her inspirational story I wanted to share it with you and show you some of the most stylish pieces from the shop. (When you click through scroll to the bottom of the product pages to read descriptions of the people who made the products.)

L : Tell me about your trip to Southeast Asia - did you go there with an intent to investigate fair trade issues, or as a tourist?

Q : I took an Intrepid Tour to Southeast Asia in late 2012, which was intended as a relaxing holiday. It was the first time that I visited these countries (Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam), and I certainly did not expect it to change my life. Having grown up in Shanghai and then Sydney, I never witnessed extreme poverty firsthand. . . when we visited a village on the bank of Mekong River in Laos, I was still shocked to see how tough life was for these people. Houses were made with bamboo and mud; children were drinking from a dirty river; and there was no school. I left with a heavy heart, and looking back, that was the moment that my life was changed. [After learning about undetonated bombs from the Vietnam War and Cambodia's landmine problems] I returned to Australia with a burning desire to make an impact. I learnt that traditional aid was failing to break the poverty cycle, and that new thinking is required.

Recycled Bombshell range - $44.95

L : What were the first products you decided to sell?

Q : The first products I had online were handmade jewellery from Yunnan, China and handwoven silk scarves from Thailand and Laos. I fell in love with colourful ethnic culture and I wanted to sell products that were unique and outstanding. Since then, I have learned a lot more about fair trade and I have learnt to choose my suppliers more carefully. I have also learnt that the future of fair trade is mainstream, so I have been sourcing products that are ethical alternatives to everyday living.

Batik Animal Cushion with eco-pillow insert - $49.95

L : Are all the products Fair Trade certified?

Q : I think it's important that shoppers know where products come from, so I'm totally transparent about supplier information. Currently more than 90% of Oz Fair Trade products are from certified Fair Trade producers. While food can be labelled ''Fair Trade", handicrafts cannot. They can only be certified at the producer level. The other 10% [of products on the site] come from small villages where women work from home to supplement income. I think it's important to know that not all groups have the capacity to go through the certification process. This is one area I will discuss with the Fair Trader of Australia as part of my application. I was to be a certified Fair Trader so that shoppers can have complete confidence in the 'fairness' of the products that Oz Fair Trade sells.

Tablet sleeve made in Nepal - $24.95

L : Do you have a favourite product on your site right now?

Q : My current favourite product range is alpaca winter scarves from a certified Fair Trade producer group in Bolivia. They are very soft and warm. I helped them to design the current range, and I wanted to help them to earn an income in their summer months (i.e. Australia's winter).

Alpaca Scarf - $45 (sale price)

My all time favourite is the recycled bombshell range, which helps to spread the message of peace and shows the resilience of Lao and Cambodian people. Many customers have commented on how amazing it is that something so terrible can be turned into something so beautiful.

Recycled bombshell earrings - $44.95

L : I see you have an interest in microfinance - tell me why this is a passion of yours, and how it can make a difference?

Q : My profession as an actuary led me to learn a bit about microfinance. I am a huge fan in collective power and innovative ways to link those who are willing to help and those who are desperate for help. I have been lending through Kiva since January 2013, and only just thought of linking my lending activities on Kiva with Oz Fair Trade. I have also been helping the Actuaries Institute to build a microfinance website to foster greater discussion and understanding of microfinance within the actuary profession, because I believe that we have a great skill set to contribute to the cause.

I see fair trade and microfinance as two long-term strategies for poverty reduction. Many people don't have access to basic financial products like a saving account or a mortgage loan, which Australians take for granted. For example, a shop needs inventory, and without initial investment it is impossible to open a shop. Another example is farming, which requires crops and fertilisers. Microfinance allows these people to gain access to small loans to start a new business, plant new crops, build a house, etc.

Cross-stitched cushion with eco-pillow insert - $64.95

For every $100 spent on Oz Fair Trade, a $25 loan will be provided to the world's poorest through Kiva.

Well! What an inspiring and dedicated woman you are, Qinnie! I loved hearing your story and seeing your passion put to work to give people around the world a hand up.

If you know of any other inspiring people out there that you think I should know (or maybe you are one yourself!), please get in touch,


Monday 7 July 2014

diy delight : harissa

I don't know about you, but I am not coping well with winter. Hailing from snow-capped Utah, I feel slightly embarrassed admitting Sydney winter is getting to me; I blame the lack of central heating and poor insulation in my gorgeous (but old) apartment block.

One tactic I'm using to stay warm is cooking soups and stews. Tonight I'm going to make this Moroccan Vegetable Stew I spotted in the weekend paper - my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Thanks, Bill, for the Veggie Stew recipe! So many recipes
in the weekend papers feature meat. This is hearty, healthy,
eco-friendly recipe was a pleasant surprise.

One of the ingredients in the stew is harissa. I didn't have any on hand, and I try and avoid buying packaged foods when I can help it, so I googled a recipe to make my own version of this warming, zesty chili paste. I found a very simple harissa recipe courtesy of SBS, and was able to whip it together in just under 30 minutes.

I loved this simple recipe with only 7 ingredients.

Taking out the chilli seeds was the most time consuming aspect of this recipe. I also included fewer than the half-the-seeds in the recipe; these chillies were fairly spicy and I can't take too much heat.

Not too much of a mess was made for this culinary creation.

Because both my hubby and I hate to waste packaging, nearly every time we buy something in a jar we wash it and keep it for later use. Typically the jars get filled with food from the Manly Co-op (strictly BYO packaging at the Co-op) . . .

Here's a shelf from my pantry - one jar filled with Co-op tahini,
another with dried chickpeas - I wonder if my hubby is dropping
a hint for me to make homemade hummus?

. . . but today one of the jars got filled with my homemade harissa.

The finished product

This harissa tastes delish, packs a punch and is packaging free. Do you make any sauces or special seasonings from scratch? I'd love to hear your recipes!

Stay warm out there my friends.