Introducing Findlay || Minimal, Sustainable, Elegant

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I’ve written before that bags seem to be the “gateway drug” for easing into sustainable shopping. They’re easier to integrate into your pre-existing wardrobe, don’t require as much planning, and, not surprisingly, there are lots of incredible brands making ethically made handbags. I’ve written about my fair share this year, but I wanted to wrap up 2018 with a post celebrating a newly launched brand that I believe in wholeheartedly and think you just might too.

Findlay officially launched in November with a Kickstarter campaign that highlights their minimal aesthetic, elegant design, and versatile function. I’ve been lucky enough to test out their Combo Crossbody Clutch before they officially “hit the market” and, also not surprisingly, I can’t get enough.

The Story

Findlay is the brainchild of Andrea, who fell in love with leather for it’s durability and quality. Her story is similar to many other brand owners and designers — as she struggled to find a bag that would transition well through all the hats she wore, she decided to try her hand at designing her own. Andrea designs and produces all of her totes in Los Angeles using vegetable tanned leather from an ethical factory in Italy.

Sustainability

Currently, only 10% of the world’s leather is tanned with tannins from tree bark and plants. This process, called Vegetable Tanning, is free from the harmful chemicals of Chrome tanning and is an “artisanal process” that’s safer for the environment, the workers, and the consumer.

Findlay’s bags are also lined with organic cotton — a feature that, I believe, increases the elegance and functionality of the bags while prioritizing eco-friendly materials.

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Quality

Of course, with the materials mentioned above, Findlay’s products can be nothing but beautiful. I’ve had quite a few leather bags in my day and I’m still amazed at how each one is different. Findlay’s leather is sturdy, not floppy, with a gorgeous sheen that will wear well with time. The lining of the bag gives it an air of class and makes it perfect to dress up or dress down. I could just as easily wear my Combo Crossbody Clutch to a New Years Eve party as I could to preschool pickup.

Giving Back

Don’t stop now, because Findlay gets even better. As tempting as being one of the first to test their bags was, I was hesitant to accept this partnership because I’ve reviewed several other leather goods brands this year and didn’t want to appear repetitive or overly consumerist. I’ve even turned down other partnerships for the same reasons. But, when I read about Findlay’s mission, I realized the timing was perfect, and I’m so proud of the steps this newly launched brand is taking already to make an impact.

10% of all of Findlay’s proceeds go to non-profits in the LA area committed to ending human trafficking locally. With Dressember coming to a close, it’s an honor to highlight a brand who will continue to contribute to rescuing survivors, making a livelihood for victims, and funding the operations who make it possible.

Andrea told me that this focus on social justice is integral to Findlay’s business structure and it’s so exciting to see a brand prioritizing not only ethics when it comes to eco-friendliness and worker safety, but when it comes to using their business to contribute to a matter so close to my heart as well.

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It’s possible to find a brand that produces with eco-friendly materials. It’s also possible to find one that designs with minimalism and functionality in mind. It’s even possible to find brands who give back.

But a brand who does all three? That’s something worth supporting.

You can shop Findlay’s first collection of bags on their Kickstarter campaign until December 29 — after that, the prices will increase, so don’t wait too long. Each sale from their campaign will support their full production launch and, trust me, these bags are worth getting your hands on.

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*Thank you to Findlay for sponsoring this post (I don’t take it lightly when newly launched brands put their faith - and budget - in influencer marketing) — as always, all thoughts, photos, and opinions are my own.

Outdoor photos were taken by Shutter Story Photography.*


Outfit details: Striped top (Elegance Restored), Dress (Sotela — designed by me and Emily!), Booties (Adelante Shoes), White tee (The Great Beyond).

One Dress, 31 Days || Introducing the Avery Dress

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I’m the furthest thing from a fashion designer. Oddly, I don’t even think of myself as a “fashion blogger” because I still feel like I’m figuring out my personal style as I go. I don’t know what makes the “perfect” piece. I don’t know how to source fabric, or where to put seams, or how to ensure a design works on multiple bodies.

But somehow, here I am. Wearing a dress that I helped create. For 31 straight days.

Everyone, I’d like you to meet Avery. She’s the dress I’ll be wearing all December long while I raise awareness for human trafficking with Dressember. (To read more of what Dressember is, why it’s effective, and why I choose to join in, read this post).

One dress, one full month, countless ways to style it.

I haven’t always been this crazy, don’t worry. Several years of Dressember under my belt (this year is my fourth), a shared inspiration with my sweet friend Emily of A Day Pack, and a desire to make this year a little different was the push I needed to make a month of dresses even more intense by limiting myself to one dress.

Here’s the story of The Avery Slip Dress, because, friends, I’m so excited and so proud that this actually happened.

Emily and I co-led a Dressember team last year. We’ve both done the challenge for several years and, aside from the privilege it is to raise awareness about an issue so close to both of our hearts, we both love the challenge of wearing dresses for a full month. Challenging my closet’s versatility, my own creativity, and yes sometimes, sanity, has become a highlight of each winter.

This year though, as we were chatting over the summer, we decided to try something we’d never done before.

We decided to wear a single dress all month long, because if we could do it, anyone could. One of the most common reasons for not participating in the movement is because people feel limited by their closet or think that wearing one or two or three dresses all month long isn’t possible. Allow us to prove that it is ;) (You can see an example of a previous “Dressember Capsule” where I wore five dresses here for added inspiration).

The problem was, neither of us owned a dress that felt like “the one” we’d want to wear for a full month. Nothing versatile enough. Nothing comfortable enough.

We chatted about what our “ideal dress” would be and, coincidentally, we both had the EXACT same vision for the dress. A midi-length, rib knit, shift dress, perfect for layering and accommodating changing bodies.

Now all we needed was someone to agree to make it for us.

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Enter Hanna.

Hanna is the founder and badass one-woman-show behind Sotela. If you’ve stuck around over the past few years, you’ll know that her brand is one of my all time favorites and I’ve been lucky enough to partner with her lots over the years.

We pitched the idea of designing a “Dressember Dress” for us earlier this summer, half expecting her to say she was too busy or that the idea wasn’t possible.

We underestimated the woman though, because she was as enthusiastic as we were and took our design and literally made it come to life. Hanna had access to an organic ribbed cotton, offered to dye it black, and one sample later, we had the Avery Slip Dress.

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And the best part?

YOU can buy the dress too. We intentionally designed the dress to fit a wide range of body types without being form fitting. The fabric is perfect for baby bumps (lucky me), holiday food babies, bloat from period week, and everything in between. Layer over and under it with ease. Add heels for a night out, or flats for an easy at-home outfit. It’s the most versatile design we could think of (oh, and it’s reversible). We hope you love it as much as we do.

No, you don’t have to wear it all December long (although we’d love it if you joined us!). You don’t have to participate in Dressember to buy the dress. However, Hanna has generously agreed to donate a portion of the sales from the Avery Dress to Dressember during the month of December, so if you’re interested in the dress, your purchase can have twice the impact if your order it sooner rather than later.

It’s been so much fun bringing this dress to life and I can’t wait to see it on real women, during Dressember and beyond.

Click here to order the Avery Slip Dress.

Click here to join our Dressember team.

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All photos by my sweet sister-in-law and owner of Shutter Story Photography.

Stories of Dressember || Angela

Stories of Dressember || Angela

My mom's friend unrelentingly encouraged me to go to this talk at the Museum of Tolerance of Los Angeles, telling me I can get community service hours if I just sat through it. The talk was called, "In The Face of Tyranny, I Will Not Be Silent: 'Comfort Women' Survivors Speak." Being a senior in high school dealing with major senioritis, I thought to myself "I don't know why she's so adamant on my going to this, but I could benefit from getting those hours."

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Stories of Dressember || Enyo

Stories of Dressember || Enyo

What does freedom mean to me? That is a question I have been asking myself for a long time. At one time, it simply looked like being free to do as I pleased. Freedom was something I expected to have. Sure, there were certain discriminatory forces which meant that as a young, black immigrant woman, I didn't have quite the same access to freedom as the "majority". But I was free enough. I had the freedom of choice - at least within the limits of the law - to do as I pleased. I had the freedom to receive an education. The freedom to live where I pleased. To eat what I wanted, wear what I wanted and freely practice my faith. I was free to vote and free to work.

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Stories of Dressember || Cayla

Stories of Dressember || Cayla

I remember when I first started to become aware that the world wasn’t as rosy-colored and full of magic as I once thought. I remember beginning to notice that some people lived with much, and others with little. I remember that I initially wanted to look away, thinking, why would I want to let such a painful reality taint my picture of the world?

But I looked; I looked and I read. Then I met a boy named Samuel and a child named Joy. Both of their mothers sold sex as a means of living. I wrestled with what that meant.

For me, college was a time of expanding my breadth of knowledge about the world and the perverseness it carried. I asked myself questions, like, “what is human trafficking?” I filled my time with documentaries, books, classes, and conversations to get to the bottom of these thoughts consuming my mind. I remember when I learned that the town I lived in was an actual hub for human traffickers, and that the street which housed my favorite Thai restaurant doubled as a traffic-way for sex trade operations. Who knew? I didn’t. I didn’t know that most of my clothing was made by people who were coerced into their job for various reasons, and had little to no chance of escape. I didn’t know that my iPhone, jeans, t-shirts, and chocolate were made by hands who didn’t have a choice in the matter. I didn’t know.

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