Sari Bari || The Diaper Bag with a Story to Tell

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The theme of “new life” is an easy one to trace in my life lately. My home is currently full of newness — a new life in the literal sense after Aria joined us, a fresh “rebirth” for me as a mother of three, a new life for my older two as they navigate the world of older-sisterhood, a new path for AJ and I to forge together as a family of five.

There’s another form of “newness” too, woven into our lifestyle that, although different than the fresh start we have currently, is made even more impactful when compared with the newness around me now.

A piece that I use everyday — something every mother needs and uses — was sewn by a woman who was given a new life of her own; pulled out of the horrors of Kolkata’s red light district.

Sari Bari, a brand I’ve followed and admired for several years, has created a safe haven to empower women rescued from the expansive sex trafficking industry in Kolkata. They train these women with a marketable skill (sewing), give them a safe place to live, work, and recover, and provide them with post-trafficking treatment to ensure their new life is met with hope and true health.

Each bag, blanket, and pillow that Sari Bari sells was made by a woman who is, in the most literal sense, creating a new life for herself and her family. It’s the most glaring contrast of darkness and hope, being trapped and experiencing freedom.

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And I’ve decided to use this piece, something so meaningful and beautiful, in the most menial way: as a bag to carry spare diapers, swaddles, and snacks. It seems almost like a step down for the work of art that it is, but perhaps that’s what gives Sari Bari’s pieces their final mark of beauty. The maker’s themselves are given a chance at real, true, beautiful, messy life — and then we, the ones who buy and use their handiwork, give their pieces a new life of their own, likely one that’s just as real, true, beautiful, and messy. To carry dirty diapers and containers of cheerios is a noble task in itself.

Sure, a diaper bag can be any shape/style and from just about any retailer, but I’m a firm believer that if there’s a way to support a greater cause with even the most practical of purchases, you should do it. Give new life with your diaper bags, support the freedom of someone else when you buy new clothes, spend your dollars where they’ll be put to good use.

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The Process

Each piece from Sari Bari is made from vintage, upcycled saris (another piece of the “new life” metaphor that I clearly can’t get enough of). The artisans use a technique called Kantha to handsew five layers of sari together, giving the piece true uniqueness and quality. In true Kantha tradition, each piece is signed by the maker as a finishing mark, as if the seamstress is leaving the mark of her freed, empowered life in each piece she makes.

The Partnership

In addition to job training, Sari Bari also provides “wholelife care”, leadership training, school support for their children, well woman checkups, and HIV/aids treatment and care. (To partner with Sari Bari and support their artisans in one of these ways, click here). This partnership allows the team and staff at Sari Bari to truly help these women start over and build a new life.

The Products

Using techniques passed down for generations, the women at Sari Bari use traditional patterns to create modern pieces like bags, backpacks, bed and table linens, baby blankets and more.

Click here to shop their collection!

Use the code “SIMPLYLIV” for 20% off

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The fact that something as simple as a new diaper bag to make my life easier (it converts to a crossbody too, for even more versatility!), has such a powerful story behind it is almost more than I can wrap my mind around.

If you’re on the hunt for a new wallet, purse, bag for travel, or even a new bed spread or baby shower gift for a friend, consider shopping with this incredible brand that does so much more than just create gorgeously unique products.

And when you do, don’t forget to use SIMPLYLIV for 20% off (not an affiliate link, I just want you to save money while shopping for good). ;)


*This post was sponsored by Sari Bari. As always, all words, photos, and creative direction are my own. Thank you for supporting these amazing brands!*

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.

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