Ubuntu Life || Colorful Shoes, Enabling a More Colorful Life

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“Colorful” isn’t a word I usually use to describe any aspect of my closet. Although of course, it doesn’t have to be this way, I’m lulled into the neutral aesthetic that’s so typical of the slow fashion movement. Despite my love of neutrals, I’ve surprised myself by buying a few “color pop” items that have stayed in my closet for years. (Case in point, my MATTER Prints wide leg pants).

My most recent color pop addition is a coral pair of “Afridrilles” from Ubuntu Life.

Even better than the color though, is the beautiful story behind these shoes.

They were made by a mother. A mother who, because of her work with Ubuntu Life and their color pop shoes, is able to send her child (maybe children) to school, buy better food for them, and create a better future for herself.

Ubuntu Life employs women in Kenya, giving 100% of the proceeds back to the programs that keep their more than 80 women happy, healthy, and whole. In an area where access to fair paying jobs is limited, this non-profit has committed to paying their employees above the local living wage, including health insurance. Jobs like these, that enable women to own their own homes in a country where less than 10% of the population has the opportunity to do so, have the potential to help break the cycle of poverty.

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Founded by a pair of pastors from Kenya and Texas, Ubuntu Life began with the mission of helping children with disabilities and other life-threatening illnesses. These children’s mothers, freed from the weight of caring for their children alone, were now able to search for jobs and cultivate other skills and passions. The idea grew into a non-profit that cared for these families holistically - allowing them to meet physical needs, learn valuable job skills, and plan for their futures.

Nearly 20 years since then, Ubuntu Life now operates a cafe, Water Bottle Enterprise (a facility producing clean water to wholesale around the country), a production studio, and soon will operate a pediatric center on their 11 acres of property near Nairobi.

Colorful, is most certainly a word that applies not only to the product these women make, but to the brightness of their future with Ubuntu Life helping them lay the foundation.

The Shoes

The soles of the shoes are made from traditional jute and rubber for durability. The body of the shoe is made from Kenyan cotton canvas (sourced from a woman-owned cotton factory!) and feels sturdy but soft. They’re wonderfully supportive and comfortable, perfect for walking the beach, around the house, or to and from work.

I chose coral for my Afridrilles (a clever play on the Espadrille style) but they have a wide range of colors to choose from and even the option to design your own custom shoes via Zazzle.

They’re most notably a casual shoe, but I wanted to style them up a bit (heavy on the neutrals of course…wouldn’t want to go overboard with color, now would we?). I love how they look with whites and tans, but they' also look amazing paired with jeans and a tee, leggings, or even a summer dress.

In addition to their Afridrilles, the brand also sells gorgeous tote bags and bracelets.

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I love the impact this non-profit is having on their Maker Mums and, in turn, the community at large. There is so much truth in the notion that to empower a nation, one must first empower the women, and Ubuntu Life, through their colorful, beautifully made shoes, is doing just that.

To contribute to the mission of Ubuntu Life, head to their shop and use the code OLIVIA15% for 15% off your purchase.


*Thank you to Ubuntu for sponsoring this post! As always, all opinions, photos, and creative direction is my own*

LA Relaxed || Organic Loungewear You Won't Want to Take Off

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Remember three years ago when I published my capsule wardrobes and was just venturing into the depths of slow fashion? (If you do remember that, wow, I love you for sticking around this long). Back in those days, my connections to brands were limited and each time a new brand reached out to me it was like a small validation that what I had committed to (not shopping fast fashion) was worthwhile and that my little slice of the internet might make a difference somehow.

LA Relaxed was one of those brands that reached out to me at the beginning of my blogging journey and, three years later, we’ve both grown a lot but our missions remain the same and it’s been such an honor partnering with them yet again (this time much more officially and long-term).

Back then, I opted for summer-y dresses that I loved but weren’t necessarily a great fit for my lifestyle. This time around, I’ve fallen for their lounge-wear.

My life is very “lounge-y” these day. Between nursing sessions every few hours, cleaning our tiny home, working from home, and chasing around my older two, anything other than comfortable clothes don’t make the cut. As much as I love a good linen pant or a dressier jumpsuit, sometimes some comfy joggers and a stretchy tank top is the most practical (and comfortable) thing for my day to day mama lifestyle.

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Organic Fabric

LA Relaxed has always used the most earth-friendly fabrics available, but recently, they’ve upped their eco-game even more. Most of their pieces are made of organic cotton, but they also have some amazing options made from hemp, tencel, and linen. (To read more about each of these fabrics, check out my guide to sustainable textiles).

Real Life Designs

Another thing I love about the brand is their commitment to designing real day-to-day clothing. Many slow fashion brands create only “elevated” basics or pieces that you wouldn’t wear during your downtime. For people with 9-5 day jobs, these brands are amazing, but for those of us who work from home, stay at home with littles, or just enjoy a good pair of leggings, we need clothes designed for the real, cozy, raw, chill, normal moments of our lives. Not just the ones where we’re posing for Instagram photos or at a business meeting.

LA Relaxed has mastered the art of the everyday outfit.

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Disclaimer: wine drinking and breastfeeding were not done simultaneously, despite the looks of these photos. Also, I’m aware of the fact that I own too much grey.

My Go-To Pieces

Journey Sweatpant in Charcoal (pictured above, in oddly the same exact shade as my couch).

Bailey Pant in Heather Grey (these are THE softest, flowiest (yes, that’s a word) pants I own. I wore them at the birthing center with Aria and they were oh so comfortable).

Lila Tank (I have this in Black Stripe and Navy stripe and adore it. It’s made of modal and goes with everything).

Daily Crew Neck Shirt (This is the only white crew neck I have and it’s perfectly soft and easy to layer).

LA Relaxed from Pregnancy and Beyond

If you followed along while I was pregnant, you’ll know that my LA Relaxed pieces were on constant rotation almost the entire 9 months. They’ve been incredibly versatile and great for breastfeeding too.

Click the photos to shop each piece!

Don’t forget to use SIMPLY25 for 25% off your order.


*This post is the final post of a three month collaboration with LA Relaxed. All images, opinions, and stylings are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make SL&Co. possible (and Olivia’s wardrobe a lot cozier).*

HowGood is Your Amazon Cart? This Plug-in Can Help

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If you’re a human with access to the internet, chances are you shop on Amazon relatively regularly. The sheer volume of products available in one spot is too much for our convenience loving hearts to avoid and, despite my issues with their excessive packaging and, unfortunately, morals as a company, I find myself shopping from Amazon semi-regularly too.

Living in a very (very) rural area - yes, I live on a literal mountaintop - I don’t have easy access to places like Target, Wholefoods, Trader Joes, or other health stores within a two-ish hour drive. So when I need to order something quickly that I don’t have nearby, and when I can’t pack up three kids and head to Denver, Amazon is often the simplest choice.

But, being the online superstore that it is, the excessive amount of options can be overwhelming to me. It’s harder than browsing the aisles of a store since there’s almost every option and brand known to man and womankind at the click of a button. I’m used to being picky about what I buy for my family, but ever since I discovered HowGood, it’s made finding healthy products on Amazon much less of a hassle.

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HowGood recently launched a simple plugin for your computer. Once installed, it will give you instant advice about the “goodness” of a product you may be interested in. HowGood believes the path to sustainability lies in transparency, especially when it comes to our food and the products we use in and on our bodies. Since the FDA is notoriously lax when it comes to regulating skincare and often allows ingredients that are knowingly harmful for our bodies, it feels like the consumer can’t rely on “regulations” when it comes to staying healthy.

That’s where HowGood hopes to simplify things.

As a website, they’ve rated more than 1 million products with only 5% earning the highest rating. They’ve build a team of researchers, gathering data from more than 350+ sources, and are committed to telling the story behind our food and other products and hopefully, in time, changing the face of the industry. (Click here to see how they evaluate a product for safety and sustainability.)

Their app, and now their newly launched plugin for Google Chrome, gives consumers access to their research and info on the sustainability and healthiness of a product, both in stores and online. Their plugin currently works on Amazon for baby related products (think wipes, diapers, baby lotions, etc), and they'll soon be expanding to include cosmetics and hopefully even more.

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Although I admittedly try to limit my Amazon shopping, it’s so nice to have the plugin as a backup to check the safety of the things I’m ordering for Aria and my older girls. When things labeled as “natural” or even organic generally aren’t so natural, having a deeper look into the ingredients and even the undisclosed fragrances and other sneaky chemicals that make up our go-to products is helpful. When HowGood gives a product a bad rating, it will recommend other safer alternatives for you to check out easily, without having to dig through the depths of Amazon’s inventory.

You can download HowGood’s app on your iPhone or Android to take with you to the grocery store and you can add their Chrome plug-in to your browser to make your online shopping as toxin-free as possible.

Although I haven’t placed my order yet, these water wipes (I haven’t quite gotten to the level of feeling comfortable with zero-waste wipes yet), Vitamind D drop, toxin free sunscreen, and prenatal vitamins are all sitting in my cart with the help of the HowGood plug-in.

Do you shop on Amazon? Would this plug-in help set your mind at ease?


*This post was sponsored by HowGood to promote their new plug-in. Thank you for supporting the brands and organizations that make SL&Co. possible.*

Minimal Kids: Encouraging Imaginative Play in Small Space Living

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Quite easily the most common question I’m asked after someone learns that we live in an RV goes somewhere along the lines of “but how do your kids play in there?”. There’s an underlying assumption that the smaller the space or the fewer the toys the unhappier the child.

Allow me to beg to differ.

We’ve never had a lot a lot of toys for our kids (mostly because the minute I became I mom I immersed myself in minimalism and have gradually been trying to strike a healthy balance ever since). I’ve always tried to encourage my kids to lean into boredom, be thankful for what they have, and not base our playtime around “things”. But this phase of life where we’re intentionally limiting ourselves (spatially) has taught me a lot about how kids (or at least my kids) play and how to foster an environment that encourages them to lean heavily on their imaginations instead of their toys.

Also, my girls have plenty of toys, trust me. I’m not a miserly mother who doesn’t believe in letting my kids have “things”. They have lots of things. But I hope this post can act as both clarification and inspiration for anyone who is curious about imaginative play, regardless of your house size.

To a child, just about anything can be a toy. I’m constantly amazed by Evie’s ingenuity — she’s my maker; constantly building, creating, drawing, tying, sewing, re-purposing. Mara is just as imaginative, but she prefers to play with her dollhouse, ride her bike, or dress up as whichever queen/mom/friend/animal/hero she’s obsessed with at the moment (as long as it involves shoes). Their interests and imagination styles are polar opposites but somehow, they haven’t run out of space or ideas for what to do yet.

Although I can’t take credit for their creativity and ability to play well together, I’ll share a few things I’ve intentionally done to foster that environment as much as possible and, ideally, create a home that they don’t get bored of or feel stifled by.

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  1. Choose “open ended” toys

All of the toys in our RV are relatively open ended, meaning my girls can use them to play multiple ways. My girls love their dress up clothes, like the butterfly wings, cape (made from recycled Saris) and crowns all ethically made from Do Good Shop, one of my favorite one-stop fair trade shops, especially for families. They use these pieces almost every day and have dreamed up so many different roles and scenarios to play in. I love that these pieces aren’t specific to any story/movie/game so my girls can imagine that they’re just about anything (as opposed to, for example, their Elsa and Anna dresses which are more limiting in their “line of thoughts”).

In addition to dress up things, they have a small play kitchen from Ikea, a basket of their favorite stuffed animals (Evie wants to be a “pet shop owner” when she grows up, so these get lots of use), some Mega Bloks and a set of wooden blocks to make roads for cars, a small dollhouse with mini animals/furniture/clothes, and lots of coloring supplies and play dough.

They also have a basket of books that we swap out each week when we go to the library and they spend their “quiet time” reading to each other.

Toys like these allow my girls to get more creative than other toys with a more structured purpose. They can play with all of them at once (and usually, they do), or only a few at a time, but they haven’t run out of exciting combinations yet.

2. Swap them out regularly

To stave off boredom with their toys, we have a few more options in storage (where we have the rest of our “house stuff” at my parents’ house) and sometimes I’ll switch out stuffed animals, bring in a new game, or exchange their blocks for other toys to keep them excited and interested. This practice works regardless of the size of your house and makes it like they’re getting new toys when really you’re just pulling pre-owned things out of storage.

3. Encourage outdoor play

The most important part of encouraging my kids to play imaginatively, I believe, is making sure they get tons of time away from their toys. The majority of their playtime, especially in the warmer months, is outdoors, where they’re building forts, getting dirty, exploring nearby, and simply put, being kids. I know not everyone has the space or lifestyle where they can get outdoors frequently, but even a daily walk or trip to the park is beneficial for kids. In nature, children can imagine anything, become anything they want to be, and experience the world in it’s purest form, without plastic toys or man-made interventions. The accessibility to the outdoors is one of the main reasons we’ve chosen this lifestyle and this location specifically.

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4. Get comfortable with messiness

There’s a time and place for structured play and clean up time, but I also believe that in order for imagination to thrive, things have to get messy. Even though I tend to be fairly laid back as a parent, it’s taken me a while to get comfortable with the idea of letting my girls turn their room into a jungle or a mansion or a pet store or the wild west knowing the inevitable battle that will follow when they have to clean it all up.

Small spaces are destroyed in half the time, so cleaning up after each round of play has been the only way I’ve been able to mesh the importance of fostering their imagination with my need for some semblance of structure.

When they’re outside, all hopes of staying clean goes out the window. They’re constantly riding bikes, digging, building with rocks and sticks, and meeting little bugs. Even though the increased frequency of bathtime (or, if we’re being honest, a quick wipe off at night) is just another thing on my to-do list, I love that they’re able to get messy and really explore with all of their senses every single day.

As I type all of this out, I’m realizing how simple it all sounds. Small space living, when met with two incredibly imaginative kids, isn’t really restrictive at all, it feels very intuitive. Every day is a new chance to turn their space into something new, a new chance to get messy, explore, and create in ways they wouldn’t be able to if they had endless piles of toys and empty space.

I’m curious how this looks in your lives, fellow mamas! Do you ever struggle to encourage your kids to play creatively or does it seem to come naturally?


*Thank you to Do Good Shop for sponsoring this post and gifting my girls with a few of their very favorite toys. Do Good Shop is a long-term partner of SL&Co. and is doing incredible work to provide fair wage and safe jobs for artisans around the world.

Use the code SIMPLYLIVANDCO for 20% off your purchase.*

How to encourage your kids to play MORE with LESS -- Lessons from a family of five living tiny.

Simply Styled || A Postpartum Pep Talk

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I shared on Instagram a few days ago that I’m learning (slowly and with lots of patience) to put clothes on a body that feels a bit foreign to me. I know the postpartum phase is fleeting, and eventually I’ll “have my body back”, but for now, in the immediate weeks and months following pregnancy and childbirth, things just feel a little abnormal.

I’m getting to know a new soft, squishy tummy where there was recently a hard, round belly, and before that, something relatively flat and fit. My thighs touch where they didn’t before, my hips are wider, my skin reacts differently to things it used to love, even my feet seem to have shifted just enough to cause a noticeable difference in the fit of my favorite shoes.

Pregnancy is beautiful and I’m loving the postpartum phase more now than ever before, but sometimes, dressing a body that doesn’t feel like home yet is strange.

Whether you’ve had a baby or not, chances are women of all ages and lifestyles can relate to the feeling. Period bloat, stressful seasons, a new relationship, a job change, a sickness or new diet — all of these things can affect our bodies in ways we never expected, causing us to embark on a new journey of getting to know ourselves in our present state and push towards health as we are now.

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It’s tempting to want to rush to the “get my body back” part of this. It’s tempting to want to try on my old high wasited summer mom jeans that fit a mere 12 months ago. It’s tempting to compare my postpartum body to someone further down the “recovery line”. But this time, the third time, I’m finally content. I’ve found more peace with my present body and have thanked it for not only sustaining me but for growing and sustaining my little Aria.

But there’s a learning curve nonetheless.

I’m leaning hard on wrap silhouettes these days. This top, the Simone Top from Pamut, has been on rotation lately for it’s versatile shape (it can be worn tucked in or out, or reversed) and easy access for breastfeeding (which is just about all I have time to do these days). It’s made of organic cotton gauze and is especially light and airy for the summer months (and for postpartum hormones).

One of my favorite things about this brand is the fact that, although their size chart already goes from a 00-16, they’ll make any customer a piece to fit their body if their measurements aren’t on the size chart. Size inclusivity is something particularly important to me, in addition to sustainable fabrics and ethical production (all of which Pamut achieves beautifully).

Shamless plug for this wonderful brand: if you’re in the market for some extremely high quality pieces that can be easily dressed up or down, use the code “simplyliv” for 20% off an order from Pamut (not an affiliate link, I just love it when you can save money on great clothes).

I paired the Simone Top with my trusty Aurorei linen pants — the pair I had been fantasizing about my entire pregnancy because I missed wearing them so much — and my Nisolo Ama mules.

The outfit looks more elevated than many a cozy-loving-mama’s go to of leggings and tee, but trust me, it's even more comfortable, breathable, and practical. It’s also great for the “getting to know you” phase of my body’s recovery. The silhouette is loose but feminine and it gives me lots of room to breathe and accept.

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I hope to share more of these “simply styled” posts and give raw, truthful peeks into my postpartum journey and what that looks like for not only my closet, but for my mental health as well.

What about you? Can you relate to the sentiment of not fully knowing your own body for a time? How have you given yourself grace to grow through those seasons?


Thank you to Pamut Apparel for sponsoring this post — as always, all photos, creative direction, and opinions are my own. Use the code “simplyliv” for 20% off any order at checkout!