10 Ethical Handbag Brands I've Tried and Love

When I began the transition to ethical shopping, finding fairly made handbags felt like the simplest “gateway” into the new lifestyle. They were pricier than running to Target for a new purse, but I knew that with the higher price would come a higher quality and it felt easier than revamping my wardrobe overnight (which definitely didn’t happen). As I blogged about my lifestyle journey, I started to collaborate with brands more and more frequently and, not surprisingly, handbags were often their medium for introducing sustainability, fair wages, and ethical style into the world.

I’ve worked with a handful of amazing brands creating beautiful purses, totes, wallets, and more and thought a little round up of them all would be helpful for anyone looking to upgrade their bag game. These brands offer many different styles for many different value-systems, lifestyles, preferences and budgets, but all of them are made by people treated fairly and with respect for the planet.

1. ABLE

One of the forerunners in the ethical fashion movement, ABLE has gone above and beyond time and time again in terms of transparency, quality, and durability. I own several of their pieces and this Mamuye Classic Tote in Cognac has been my go-to for the past 6 months or more. It’s classic, wears well (even when my toddlers “color” on it with a screwdriver), and goes with everything.

2. Malia Designs

Malia Designs was one of the first brands I ever partnered with and years later, I’m still excited to support the beautiful work they’re doing reducing waste, creating jobs, and fighting human trafficking. Their newly released Ikat bags merge traditional pattern and craftsmanship with affordability.

3. Filbert

Filbert creates 100% vegan and cruelty free bags that are extremely versatile and perfect for real life. They sent me their Steiner bag in grey and it’s elevated and classy, perfect for work, the market or anywhere your day takes you.

4. D. Franca Designs 

I had the honor of meeting the founder and designer of D. Franca Designs, Diana, a few weeks ago which only furthered my love for this beautiful brand. All completely handmade with ethically sourced fabrics celebrating the rich heritage of their “birthplace”, Diana designs her bags to be functional works of art. This gorgeous clutch/crossbody has been my go-to for quick outings when I don’t need a “mom bag”.

4. Vele

My Vele Simple Wallet has been such a help for downsizing the pieces I keep in my bag. I used to carry a giant clutch wallet stuffed full of receipts, cards I didn’t need, and other non-essentials. Now, I’m forced to simplify, carrying only my debit card, license, and maybe a bit of cash. Vele also sells gorgeously crafted handbags, all supporting victims of human trafficking.

5. Mother Erth

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Mother Erth creates eclectic and unique pieces from plastic waste collected and woven into something beautiful. I’ve used my tote mostly for travel and beach days - it’s perfect when you need to carry a lot of things, pack a lunch, and add a fun pop of color while you’re at it.

6. Lionheart Collective

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Handwoven with naturally dyed agave and vegetable-tanned leather, Lionheart Collective creates the most beautiful bags that are natural conversation pieces. Mine has been a favorite all summer long.

7. Sseko Designs

Although Sseko sells much more than handbags, their leather bags deserve an honorable mention because of the quality and beauty of the designs.

8. MAIKA Goods

Functional, fun, and perfect for dreamers with big to-do lists, MAIKA’s pieces are all made with ethically sourced recycled canvas printed with eco-friendly inks. As one of my clients, I’ve gotten to test their products and photograph them in addition to writing for their blog and social media.

9. ENAT

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Another brand I worked with several years ago who I still admire and love to support is ENAT. A two-woman show designing vegetable-tanned leather bags made by artisans in Ethiopia, their pieces are classics and sold at a more affordable price-point than some of the others I’ve found.

10. My Fight

With proceeds donated to support victims of trafficking, My Fight sells the most beautiful handmade leather bags supporting the mission that “her fight is my fight”.


*This post isn’t sponsored by any particular brand, however I have partnered with each of these brands at some point in time and am currently working with several of them to create new content. This piece is just a round up of brands I genuinely love.*

5 Things To Look for when Shopping Ethically for A New Pair of Shoes

This post is a guest post from the folks behind the newly released Bendy Shoe - they’re sharing their expertise to help make navigating ethical shoe shopping a bit simpler. Check out their Kickstarter Campaign here!


Every purchase you make will leave a footprint on the planet. We all understand the importance of responsible consumption, yet there are few guidelines or road maps. Ethical shoe shopping can be tricky but there are many things you can start to do right now to make a difference. Thankfully, many shoe brands are using ethical and responsible principles when building their products. This list will help you know what to look for to lower emissions, reduce landfill or to ensure workers were treated fairly and paid and honest wage when making your pair.

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1. Leather shoes

The first shoes on record were from the Stone Age, and guess what? They were leather. Leather was breathable, durable, pliable and readily available as it was a by-product, so it was a great choice for covering the foot. The same thing holds true now. Savvy vintage shoppers know that the oldies and goodies are not the synthetic or fabric pairs. The coveted finds are typically high-quality leather ones that have lasted for decades. Leather can be cleaned and polished to look great year after year. Buy the best quality that fits into your budget. You will probably tire of the styling before they wear out. If this mindset leads to less purchases, then congratulations, you are doing your part in reducing emissions and landfill.

2. Can your repair your shoes?

Before you discard a broken pair of shoes, try a cobbler. A good shoe repair professional can work miracles. As long as the upper is in good shape there is a good chance they can be restored. Don’t let the prices deter you either, $20-$40 can give your shoes new life. It’s better to spend the money and keep the shoes in your rotation than have them end up in landfill.

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3. Fair trade brands

These brands help craftsman and sometimes, women in particular, in developing countries achieve higher economic and social standards. They tend to be high quality and handmade. Central and South America and Southeast Asia are both known for their communities of shoemakers. Buying from fair trade brands ensure workers have been paid fair wages and work in safe conditions.

4. Ethically sourced

More and more shoe companies are starting to use recycled, natural, or responsibly produced raw materials when making their products. All of this matters and ultimately results in less carbon emissions. If something that would be otherwise discarded is being reused in your shoes, that equates to less landfill. If an upper material is natural or responsibly sourced, that typically means that less energy is used in the making of it as compared to a typical shoe. All of this means that the process of making your shoe is kinder and gentler on the planet.

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5. Handcrafted in the US label

Since shoes made in the US don’t have to be transported over vast distances, they offer a lower carbon footprint. There are some cool brands starting to make shoes in Los Angeles now. Made in US also means higher standards for workers and for the environment. The US has national, state and local laws in place that regulate how workers are treated: minimum wages, overtime, and safety. Also, laws regulate waste processing, use of chemicals, water usage and recycling. Many of these things don’t exist overseas.

Transitioning to Fall with Sotela

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If you search my blog for the word "Sotela", it appears in 15 blog posts. That's probably as many times as words like "simplicity", or "versatile"...which, as we all know, I over-use like it's my job.

There's a reason for the Sotela obsession around these parts - the brand, all about creating clothes that flow with your fluctuating body, is one of my most worn and most loved brands to date. You can check the many, many blog posts for even more details on why I love Hanna and which pieces I wear from her past collections, but today, it's all about the Sand Collection

Perhaps the most versatile Sotela collection yet, the Sand Collection celebrates all body types with easy to wear and easy to style pieces that can fluctuation throughout seasons in life and in the year. I'm working with the Barcelona Shorts and, although I was admittedly hesitant at first, they're truly the "unsung heroes" of the collection for a reason. 

Like every Sotela piece I own, the shorts are made of 100% tencel, my all time favorite fabric (with a close second going to linen) for it's seasonlessness, versatility, and durability. Tencel is made from wood pulp fibers, in a closed loop process, meaning it's not emitting any harmful toxins or chemicals and doesn't require any to be made. It feels like silk, has the perfect natural wrinkle of linen, and can be worn almost endlessly without washing (seriously, I only wash my clothes when I absolutely have to). 

The Barcelona shorts are a warm-weather twist on Sotela's best selling Ryan Trousers (see my sweet friend Emily's blog for an amazing example of styling them). High-waisted, with two small pleats, and a slight wide leg, these shorts remind me of vintage silhouettes with a modern, versatile fabric. I've worn them with crop tops, swimsuit tops, bodysuits, sweaters, cardigans, tees, and just about everything else I could think of. And it all works. All of it. 

As the weather cools (rather quickly) and drifts towards fall, I'm planning to extend my summer wardrobe as long as possible - these shorts included. Since they pair so effortlessly with tops of all kinds, I'm reaching for them more often than my jeans, knowing I can layer up on top. 

As amazing as each piece in the new Sand Collection is, I don't know if the Barcelona Shorts can rightfully be called the unsung heroes anymore - because I'm singing their praises all summer long and into the fall. 

**Use the code “Simply10” for 10% off your order from now until 9/17!**

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*This post is in partnership with Sotela. All thoughts, photographs, and obsessions with Tencel are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make SL&Co. possible!* 

Minimal Bohemian || A Late-Summer Lookbook

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Natural fibers, neutral colors, easy silhouettes. These are a few of my summer-style must haves. 

Although I'm not one to shy away from bold colors or prints (ahem, my favorite MATTER Prints pieces), I've found that the days I feel most comfortable and "myself" are the ones when I'm wearing easy/versatile pieces that can be dressed up and dressed down with the least amount of effort. I've thought before about trying to "define" my style and although I feel like my personal style is constantly in flux, "minimal bohemian" seems to sum up my go-to style. 

When I thought about what kind of Lookbook I wanted to work on for Summer, these were the kinds of pieces that came to mind. Clothes that made me feel feminine. Clothes I could throw on and not worry about ruining or getting dirty/wrinkly as I chase around two littles. Clothes that were well-made and would last a lifetime. Minimal bohemian, classics with an effortless twist. And so, these four pieces are the ones I'm excited to spotlight. All from conscious makers, all handmade, all from brands I contacted specifically for this season and this piece. 

For me, these brands and their handiwork inspire a sense of whimsy and embody the carefree style I love, especially for real day to day living. There's nothing fancy, elaborate, or flashy about them. They're real clothes for real women, and I can't get enough. 


The Brands: 

Magic Linen

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Based in Lithuania, Magic Linen is a small, family owned business using only organic linen for their stunning array of home goods and apparel. Each piece, from their king-size bedding to their beautiful tops, jumpsuits, and dresses, are cut and sewn by hand, taking up to two weeks to create before being shipped to their new homes. 

We cherish classic values, at the same time being modern, opened to a world and new ideas, doing our best with a lot of enthusiasm and hard work. These principles reflect in the goods we deliver – we choose the most organic fabrics and enjoy the process of making items by hand than going to big factories.
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I'm wearing: 

Why I Love Them: 

These pieces are timeless and such high quality. The skirt transitions perfectly from warm weather to cold (I chose the color with holiday parties in mind). The dress is breezy, but thick enough to wear all year - I'm obsessed with the buttons and long sleeves. 

Magic Linen values the beauty of the process as much as they value the end result. I can't wait to pass these pieces on to my daughters one day. 

Aurorei 

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Dreamed of, designed, cut, and sewn in Brooklyn, New York, Aurorei creates pieces that are quite literally effortless. The one-woman show's goal is to create functional pieces that can be worn multiple ways through multiple seasons, both in the year and in life. Their linen and leather goods are durable and all made with ethically sourced fabrics from a traceable mill in Osaka, Japan. 

I've owned Aurorei's Multi-Way Shirt for almost a year and reached back out to them for this lookbook after eyeing the high-waisted pants for months. 

We hope to create design that is multifunctional, multi-gender, and simple to understand, that will truly become a “new companion” for your life.

I'm Wearing: 

Why I Love Them: 

These pants have a vintage feel while being endlessly flattering. I've paired them with crop tops, tanks, tees, sweaters, kimonos and more and I can't seem to find anything that doesn't work with them. Aurorei is the embodiment of slow fashion and supporting women owned businesses is so worthwhile.  

Arraei Collective

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You may recognize this piece from a few weeks ago on the blog (and from the sheer amount of times I've worn this tank in real life), but Arraei Collective has fast become a favorite brand of mine both for their beautiful designs and for their eco-friendly practices. 

I had been hunting for a versatile cami-esque tank for the summer and was amazed at how "above and beyond" this piece went. More than just a basic, it's reversible, crop-able, and made from a hemp/silk/organic cotton blend that is so easy to care for. Arraei launched earlier this year and I can say from experience that they'll be a brand to watch as their collection grows. 

The Arraei woman exudes confidence through graceful self expression, knowing that she is harmony with herself and the planet.

What I'm Wearing: 

Why I Love Them: 

Arraei creates pieces that flatter every body type and style and, even better, will never go out of style. Their fabrics are the definition of sustainability (100% plant-based and ethically sourced) and the versatility is unmatched. 


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**This post is in collaboration with each brand mentioned. Although I wasn't compensated for promotion, I received pieces after reaching out specifically to partner with each brand. Thank you for supporting the brands who make this blog possible.**

Phillip Adam || Organic Bathtime

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Bath time has always been my girls' most cherished rituals. They'd stay in the bath for hours if I let them, pretending to be fish or dinosaurs or puppies. Now that they're older and are starting to take charge of their "self-care" more often, the products I trust in their care are even more important. 

They love washing their own hair, making bubbles, and letting the conditioner "rest for a few minutes" in their hair just like mama does, and usually, splashing most of the contents of the bathtub onto the floor. 

In my quest for ethically made, organic, and kid-approved shampoo brands, I stumbled across Phillip Adam and they were sweet enough to send over some products for us all to enjoy. 

Although I originally intended to use Phillip Adam's apple cider vinegar shampoo and conditioner on myself, I was excited to find out that it's perfect for kids and has had amazing results on both of my girls' (very different) hair. 

Phillip Adam is a Canadian brand that uses only natural ingredients. Their products are all vegan, cruelty free, gluten free and free of parabens, SLS's and GMO's. Their apple cider vinegar products are their best selling and it's not surprising - they smell incredible, work amazing on all types of hair, and give your hair/scalp all of the benefits of ACV with a few added ingredients for a boost.

I've never been one to splurge on body products - even when my kids were younger I had a hard time justifying buying pricey, ultra-healthy shampoos and body products. Although they're definitely a bit more than your drugstore or supermarket products, Phillip Adam is a brand making high quality, ethical and healthy products at an approachable price-point. Safe and ethical isn't the case for the majority of products on the shelves, so finding brands I can trust for my whole family is something worth sharing about. 

What ethical skincare brands do you love for your family (or yourself)? I'm always on the hunt for more!


*This post is in partnership with Phillip Adam. All photos and opinions are my own.*