Ethical Mother's Day Gifts for the Mamas in Your Life (or, For Yourself)

DSC_0467 (1).JPG

This is my sixth Mother’s Day and it still feels surreal. For many people, Mother’s Day is a difficult day when facing loss, broken relationships or difficulty, and a list celebrating Mother’s may not be relevant or needed. For many others, Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate the female role models in their lives, or for others, the single dads who raised them. Whether you’re approaching Mother’s Day from a place of excitement — maybe it’s your first Mother’s Day after the birth of your child, or you have traditions with your own Mother you look forward to each year — or a place of hurt or difficulty, I hope you feel seen and valued on this day. This list, although I’ve specifically chosen gifts for moms, is meant to be unspecific. Buy these gifts for your step-mom, your best friend’s mom, your friend, your grandma, or of course, yourself if you need an extra boost of self-care this season.

I love celebrating mothers. The soon-to-be mothers, the mothers who are still waiting to conceive, the mothers who have dealt with loss, the mothers who have grown children and the ones who have been a mother to someone else’s child. We’d be nowhere without these women in our lives and they deserve all of the celebration.

Here are a few gifts I picked out from some of my favorite ethical shops (some of the links are affiliate) in hopes that you would shower a mother figure in your life with the same love she’s showered on you.

Ten Thousand Villages Harmony Bell Necklace

DSC_0469.JPG

This necklace, although perfect for anyone, is designed with expectant mothers in mind. It’s traditionally worn in many cultures by pregnant mothers, with the chain just long enough to skim the belly, and send soft chimes in for your baby to hear and be soothed by.

Shop here: Harmony Bell Necklace ($125)

LA Relaxed Loungewear

Loungewear is the gift that keeps on giving (for real life). LA Relaxed is one of my favorite resource for insanely comfortable garments that are made with plant-based materials. Their recently introduced hemp and organic cotton pieces are to die for.

Shop LA Relaxed (use the code SIMPLY25 for 25% off!)

Sela Designs “Known Necklace”

DSC_0453.JPG

Another one of my most worn pieces this year, my Known Necklace from Sela Designs is especially perfect for mothers. You can select letters to symbolize people she loves — I have one for each of my littles and wear the necklace everyday. It’s an understated, non-cheesy piece with just the right amount of symbolism.

Shop here: Known Necklace ($28 starting with one charm — hurry though, shipping in time for Mother’s Day ends 5/2!)

Do Good Shop

IMG_3850.JPG

A beautifully curated one-stop shop of fair trade home goods, jewelry, clothes, and more, Do Good Shop is owned and operated by a mother herself, and proceeds of the 501c(3) non-profit go towards supporting organizations that fight trafficking and provide dignified employment to women all over the world.

Shop Do Good Shop: Use the code SIMPLYLIVANDCO for 20% off!

The Little Homeplace Care Package

1969-12-31+05.00.00+39.jpg

I just stumbled on this sweet mama-owned company a few weeks ago and have fallen in love with how thoughtful and practical each box is. The shop offers three selections right now, the Original Homeplace Box, A Kitchen box, and a Bath box, all packed with homemade, eco-friendly goods.

Shop the Little Homeplace Box

Bohemian Reves Skincare

DSC_0346.JPG

Because every mother figure needs an extra excuse to care for herself too, skincare and body products make the perfect gifts. Bohemian Reves is one of my most recent favorites — I love their zero waste packaging and plant-based, organic ingredients.

Shop here: Bohemian Reves collections

ABLE

image00000412.jpeg

From denim to leather bags to footwear to apparel to jewelry, ABLE is truly a one-stop shop with ethics that are hard to beat. They’re having a Mother’s Day sale too, use the code MAMA15 for 15% off at checkout!

Shop ABLE

ROUND + SQUARE

DSC_0409.jpg

For organic pieces that make a statement, look no further than ROUND + SQUARE. This brand is on a mission to empower women and girls through their collection of organic cotton tees and gorgeous silk scarves. Any piece from their shop would be a meaningful Mother’s Day gift.

Shop ROUND + SQUARE


*This post, while not sponsored by one brand, contains affiliate links which means I may make a (small) commission off of items purchased from these links. It is also part of a long-term collaboration with Sela Designs. LA Relaxed, ROUND + SQUARE, and Do Good Shop. Thank you for supporting these amazing brands!*

Where to Find Ethically Made Maternity/Nursing Bras

IMG_2691.JPG

Nursing bras and I have a love/hate relationship.

After breastfeeding two kids for a nearly combined 4 years of my life and, of course, adding a third baby soon to my boob journey, I’ve tried just about everything. There was the phase with my first when I stubbornly refused to buy nursing bras, because ew and because I was 20 and barely had time to discover normal lingerie before being thrust into a world of ultra supportive, ultra covering, ultra “mom-ish” undergarments. There was the phase with my second where just I gave up and bought cheap nursing bras at Target that wore out from literal days and days (and nights and nights) of wear at a time.

I’m not sure what “phase” I’ll go through with baby #3 yet, but I’m hoping it’s the “finds a few really high quality, ethically made nursing bras that also work post-nursing and never looks back” phase.

If you’ve breastfed a baby before, you’ll know that breastfeeding in typical underwire bras just doesn’t work (sorry, 20-year-old me). And most bralettes and sports bras are, simply put, unprepared for the amount of leaking, spraying, spiting up, and mess making that takes place in their vicinity. So, buying at least a few nursing bras will really, really, really make your life a lot easier.

But.

Finding ethically made ones is like finding a mythical creature that most people assume doesn’t exist.

I’m hoping this post will convince you otherwise.


What to look for:

A few notes before we dive into the bras I’ve found thus far about nursing bras in general:

  • In my opinion, maternity bras that are incompatible with breastfeeding (if you plan to breastfeed, of course) are pointless. When you shop, look for ones that will fit you during pregnancy (much easier to swing) that are also breastfeeding friendly.

  • You’re going to spend A LOT of time in these bras, so don’t be afraid to shop around, spend a little more, and keep looking/exchanging till you find the perfect fit.

  • I recommend getting mostly “comfy bras” and maybe 1 or 2 “big girl bras” with underwire for when you want to feel more like a human and less like a farm animal. I love breastfeeding, but I never said it was glamorous.


The Ethics of Lingerie:

Like with all ethical shopping, there are certain things people will prioritize when shopping. Aside from fit and compatibility with breastfeeding, the qualifications I’m hoping to meet for my nursing bras are:

  • Made from a sustainable (ideally organic) material

  • Made in responsible, traceable, ethical conditions

  • Fits a wide ranges of body types (so I can more honestly recommend them to you all!)

  • Is a practical bra that transitions well from pregnancy to postpartum and beyond.


My picks, this time around:


First up: Aside from the obvious conclusion that it’s really hard for me to take a photo without touching my hair, my next conclusion is about this sexy (yes, take heart, 20 year old me, I finally found a sexy nursing bra) bra from Azura Bay.

Azura Bay is a Canada-based lingerie shop collecting the best of sustainable and ethically made bras and undies from around the world in one convenient place. I’m wearing their Nikki Black Lace Nursing Bralette from Mayana Geneviere. The bra is great for pregnancy (soft, elastic waistband) but is actually designed for breastfeeding with pull-away nursing access.

The shop also has another beautiful and similar nursing bra, the Alexander Black Lace Nursing Bralette, that’s essentially the same bra without the longer lace trim.

I haven’t gotten any other nursing bras yet, but the following list are a few on my radar that I’m planning to add to my repertoire in the coming months:

  • 24/7 Bra by Boob Design: ($55)

    • This bra is made to be worn all day and night and has medium support, which is ideal for comfort. Really, I can’t recommend Boob more highly - I’ll be sharing more about them in the coming months, but if you’re pregnant or nursing, it’s a great resource.

  • Padded Daily Bra by Majamas ($39)

    • I’ve worked with Majamas before and, although they don’t have many bra styles to choose from, their mission is admirable and they’re empowering moms all over the world through their products.

  • None So Pretty Lace Nursing Bra by Mothers En Vogue ($36)

    • This is a Singapore-based brand that I learned about via Eco Warrior Princess. They’re transparent about their production and strive to use natural fibers but what most excited me was that their bras look like NORMAL bras.

  • Marvella Classic Nursing Bra by Kindred Bravely ($49.99)

    • Although not marketed as an ethical brand, I did some digging and spoke to their Customer Care team who informed me that KB only works with supplier and factories who meet strict ethical requirements (they visit their factories often and even told me their largest factories comet to visit their team headquarters as well). There is obviously room for improvement, but I would prefer to shop from a brand who knows where their clothes are made instead of a bigger “box store”. They utilize organic cotton in several of their products as well.

  • Jane’s Bra Top by Blue Canoe ($49)

    • Similar to the 24/7 Bra from Boob, this bra is meant to be comfortable and is made with organic cotton.

Shopping for sustainable lingerie in general is difficult, but finding options that are nursing friendly AND ethically made is almost impossible. I've rounded up a few of the best sustainably made nursing bras on the market - save for later or buy your favorite now!

Have you found any other places selling sustainably made nursing bra? Let me know and I’ll add them to this little list!


*This post was sponsored by Azura Bay as part of a long term partnership - all opinions and photos are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this world a better place*

A Simplified Look at 2019 || My Plan for the New Year

ACS_0158.JPG

I don’t usually share my “behind the scenes” plans for this space. However polished or unpolished as it may seem, I usually feel like I’m winging it and, even three or four years later, struggle to stick to a consistent plan or schedule. So sharing that plan feels scary.

Although this blog has slowly become my job, I try really hard to keep it as relaxed and fun for me as possible because I know the second it gets too structured and full of “have to’s” I’ll resent it. That said, since it is a job, I’ve been treating it as such for the past few years and know that it will flop and I’ll end up compromising on quality and turn into a puddle of stress if I don’t have goals and structure.

So I’m sharing my 2019 goals to both give you sweet readers a heads up for what to expect AND to keep myself accountable.

Last year, I used my Pace and Pattern planner religiously and, of course, I’m so excited to use the 2019 version this year. I’ll be using it in conjunction with an Ink & Volt planner which is a bit more streamlined and minimalistic than the P&P. I love Pace and Pattern because they’re AMAZING at forcing you to sit down and create goals that will actually happen. It’s an all encompassing planning that allows you to focus on your life as a whole, with space to plan, schedule, dream, make mistakes, and reevaluate. (Side note* this post isn’t sponsored by either company, but I did receive both planners to share my authentic experience with you throughout the year.)

So, without further ado, here are my goals for 2019, both for SL&Co. and for my personal life. This year will be a big one — I’m having baby #3 in May, we’re hoping for me to work enough hours on my blog and freelance work that I can take over a lot of our income, providing us with freedom to travel and live “tiny”, and both my girls will be in school part-time this Fall, freeing me up to (hopefully) work even more on this space. I’m so excited for what this new year holds.


Goals for the SL&Co.

  • Focus on long term partnerships between fewer brands

    • This is so beneficial for so many reasons. Mostly, it allows me to dedicate my time and energy to promoting fewer brands who I really, really believe in and can develop a relationship with. Furthermore, it helps you all, my readers, to make more informed choices by watching how a brand interacts with my real life over a period of time, instead of in a single blog post. My collabs will run for 3 months or 6 months. I’ll likely still have “one-time” partnerships interspersed throughout each month, but I’m really hoping to focusing mostly on long term relationships.

    • You can always keep track of who my “Ambassador” brands are by looking at the footer of my homepage.

  • Collaborate with brands who aren’t strictly fashion related

    • As my lifestyle becomes more “conscious” I hope to incorporate more posts on living an all around “slow and conscious” lifestyle, from downsizing, to lessening waste, to tackling newborn life as slowly and intentionally as possible. As always, I LOVE suggestions for what would be most helpful for you to read about, so please, email me or message me.

  • Write more “authentically”/real life inspired posts/updates

    • Although sponsored posts take a lot of time, I’m hoping to mix more unsponsored content in this year as well as tailor my sponsored posts to feel less “review-y” and more “here’s how a piece fits into my day to day life”. My latest post with Encircled is an example of one way I can do this.

  • Work only (as far as it’s possible) with brands who prioritize extended sizing and inclusivity in their marketing and production

    • This issue of exclusion and sizeism has been on my heart for months and although I don’t quite know yet where my voice fits in the narrative, I’m hoping to consciously shed light on brands who create clothes for women of all sizes/budgets/backgrounds. It’s hard when I’ll be the one “modeling” them for my site, but I’m hoping textual review will be enough for now. If you have ideas of how I can do more, please let me know!

  • Host raw conversations and listen

    • This will primarily happen via Instagram, because I love the community there and feel it’s a great platform for hosting true discussions, instead of me “preaching” from my blog.

  • Start up a semi-regular (monthly?) newletter to share happenings, discount codes, thoughts from my heart that don’t make it on the blog, and more. (Sign up below!)

    • Bonus points for letting me know what would be most meaningful to you in a newsletter!

ACS_0156.JPG

Personal Goals

  • Tackle one zero-waste goal each month

    • Join me! Emily from A Day Pack and a few others have already expressed their interested in joining me each month with a new zero waste challenge. The goal can be personal to your own life, but I’ll be sharing my monthly “schedule” and my progress with the hashtag #InspiringZeroWaste

  • Journal through my pregnancy

    • I’m terrible at regular journaling, but I love to do it. Journaling during pregnancy has been therapeutic while I carried each of my babies.

  • Have regular “vulnerability dates” with my husband

    • I’ve realized that although when I write it seems to come naturally, in personal relationships, especially my marriage, vulnerability is really hard for me. These dates might be weekly or monthly, but I want to force myself to share something raw each time.

  • Practice more self-care that isn’t blog or work related

    • I’m hoping that making this a goal ahead of time will ingrain it in my mind when I’m deep in the haze of the newborn phase. Even now, I usually feel like work is my alone time and self-care (because I love my job!) but to be my healthiest and happiest I need more outlets than just blogging.


There you have it! I’m sure these goals will ebb and flow like they always do, but I hope laying them out here is encouraging and exciting to you too. I’d love to hear a few of your goals for 2019 in the comments and, as always, thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me and this little slice of the internet.

25 Things I've Learned About a Conscious Lifestyle

ACS_0824.jpg

Today I’m 25. Here are 25 things I’ve learned about this conscious living thing.


1. Like the name implies, a slow life happens slowly. Be patient with yourself.

2. Ethical living (and all of the in’s and out’s of it) has different definitions to different people. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to conscious consumerism.

3. There’s a common misconception that ethically made clothing all looks like a hemp-grown, shapeless, burlap sack. Although I’m a fan of the style, this isn’t true.

4. You don’t have to have a plan to start living more consciously.

5. You don’t have to have a lot of money to start living more consciously.

6. Thrifting is, in my opinion, the most ethical form of consumerism.

7. Your life isn’t more ethical if you share about it on Instagram.

8. You can start slowing down right now.

9. Self-care isn’t a choice - it’s a necessity to live a full, healthy life.

10. It’s ok if your kids wear 100% thrifted pieces. Kids grow faster than our wallets do.

11. It’s ok if you don’t know where to start. Or if you get discouraged.

12. Capsule wardrobes may be trendy, but they’re onto something. They’re like the gateway drug to conscious consumerism.

ACS_0825.jpg

13. No, you cannot have too many tencel garments.

14. If there’s a “fast” option, there’s always a consciously made alternative.

15. Supporting people and their ideas, dreams, and talents is always, always, always worth it.

16. Saying “no” is self-care.

17. Let go of unhealthy guilt ASAP. No one is 100% ethical and eco-friendly 100% of the time.

18. Sometimes, you’ll talk to people who think you’re legitimately crazy. That’s ok.

19. Living a “conscious lifestyle” doesn’t mean all the other alternatives are “unconscious”.

20. Fall is the most ethical of the seasons. (Just kidding, but can fall never end, please?)

21. Investment pieces are worth it and the 30-wear rule is legit.

22. You can love color/prints/patterns and still shop ethically.

23. “Minimal Grandpa” is an acceptable personal style descriptor.

24. Each purchase is a vote for the kind of future you want. Be it a white tee, a new purse, or a tampon.

25. One step in the right direction is better than no steps.


Thanks for joining me on this little journey, friends. This space is better because you’re here. <3

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

ACS_0523.jpg

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

ACS_0772.jpg

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

enat.jpeg

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.*