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).

Handbags that Elevate Entire Communities

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Storytelling is in my blood, it’s at the core of who I am and, in a strange, roundabout way, it’s become my job. Telling the stories of brands who are adding to the global movement of responsible consumerism. Telling their stories because they deserve to be told. Telling their stories because they’re so much more valuable than a positive “blog review”. Story is what drew me to the ethical fashion space in the first place — once I realized that each piece I bought and put on my body either told a story of exploitation and unfairness or one of beauty and hope, I couldn’t stop telling the stories of these trailblazing brands. I wanted everyone to know that there are better options. And so this space, in my mind, functions as an online collection of stories, a virtual library of brands who are making the world healthier and happier.

Today’s edition is about a brand who, very quickly, grew very close to my heart for several reasons.

Elevate’s name doesn’t leave room for speculation — they’re upfront about what they’ve set out to do: lift people up through job creation and business development. Tucked away in an unassuming Nebraska town, Elevate sells handmade leather goods made by artisans in communities all over the world where they work with locals to develop leadership programs and, eventually, full fledged businesses.

I have a sweet spot in my heart for Midwestern brands. I lived in central Nebraska until I was 10, only a few hours where Elevate has their headquarters. The sense of home, community, belonging, and slow captured across endless landscape and small towns packed with rich history. In a way, it will always feel like home. And in urban settings where the rush of inspiration and convenience of connection is rampant, finding brands doing amazing things isn’t uncommon, in rural Nebraska, however, where resources for socially conscious businesses are limited and it can be hard to convince communities to think outside their tradition, it’s something worth celebrating.

I see so much worth celebrating about Elevate.

Their Process

Instead of setting themselves up as “saviors” coming to employ the locals in the communities they work in, Elevate sets up long term programs, with locals as the true leaders. People are at the heart of their mission — they seek to understand the true needs of these communities and their worldviews, not imposing their own ideals where’re better left at home.

Their mentor program is meant to draw out the leaders in each community, giving them the opportunity for business ownership. The business training can take six months to a year to complete, with the opportunity to accept a small low-interest loan upon completion. These small businesses create jobs for others in the community and their leather products are sold both locally and to the global market.

It’s a sustainable, measurable method that is setup to create long lasting change in the communities where Elevate operates.

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Their Products

Elevate creates a wide-range of (really, really) high quality products for all budgets. Each and every one of their pieces are exquisite and designed to last a lifetime - from their briefcase messenger bags, to their totes and backpacks, to their belts, journal covers, and wallets.

I have their Mid-Sized Zipper Tote in camel (because I can never choose anything besides camel) and it’s the perfect middle-of-the-road option between my large ABLE tote and my small leather clutch. It has interior pockets perfect for holding phones and wallets, and a spacious main compartment for a laptop, planner, or a daily stash of diapers. It can either be worn as a cross-body or as a shoulder bag — I usually leave the cross-body strap attached because I like having options.

Their pieces would make the perfect keepsake gift for anyone on your list, or of course, the perfect addition to your own closet built for real life that won’t wear out from heavy use.

You can use the code “Olivia10” for 10% off your purchase!

Elevate is truly a brand to put high on your go-to list — their mission is making a real impact and their products are build to last. What more could you ask for?


* Thank you to Elevate for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions, photos, and words are my own*