Friday, September 28, 2018

MZ FAIRTRADE // Fair Trade Textiles from Oaxaca Mexico

I love my Jagged Diamonds Leather and Wool Duffel Bag by MZ Fair Trade, it's the prefect getaway bag for fall
Shelley Tennyson grew up in a nice suburb of Chicago, Illinois. From a young age she was aware of economic inequality and studied social sciences and economics in college. She was most interested in community programs that helped alleviate poverty. Shelley's career choices over the years have included social justice programs and even an outdoor adventure company.  MZ Fair Trade (formerly Manos Zapotecas) was founded in 2009 after Shelley went to a small village in Oaxaca, Mexico, as a volunteer for a micro-finance program working with Zapotec indigenous artisans. Their traditional craft is handwoven wool rugs with ancient patterns. Each family household compound had several looms where almost everyone worked on their designs. These beautiful rugs were piled up in stacks in every artisans home. The volunteers were there to teach the weavers money management skills, but with no market for their craft due to lack of tourism and over saturation, there was little money to be managed.

Founder and CEO of MZ Fair Trade Shelley Tennyson stands with artisans Malena and Antonia
Shelley's first idea was to sell the rugs in the US and pay the artisans fair trade wages, in order to help the village economically and preserve the weaving craft. However, companies were already ordering rugs from the village at bottom dollar prices and selling in the US. Shelley then partnered with Liz Moffett and together they turned their focus to handbags. After a few trade shows they realized they had an ethical handbag business. Receiving orders from boutiques, resorts, fair trade stores and western apparel stores, the challenge then became one of production to keep up with the orders. The original group of artisans eventually had to hire additional artisans to help keep production on time.

MZ Fair Trade now carries wool rugs and wool pillows in a variety of patterns and colorways
MZ Fair Trade continues to grow both online and with products in retail stores across all 50 states, and a handful of stores carrying product in Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia. They're also expanding back into home decor with a select line of beautiful hand woven rugs and pillows. MZ Fair Trade never loses sight of their original mission which is to provide an economic boost to the indigenous artisans while preserving their cultural traditions. They feel they are succeeding at both, by sending over $200,000 a year in payments, employing over 50 people, while distributing their incredible designs internationally.

MZ Fair Trade's variety of styles and patterns at a trade show
Shelley feels this business is a natural result of all of her life endeavors, including a love of different languages and cultures, social service and responsibility, business entrepreneurship and adventure. She believes in some ways it was inevitable that she would start this brand. For the artisans, she see it as a way for them to continue their rich cultural heritage and weaving tradition, make a decent living and permit them to work from their homes to remain close with their entire family. Ultimately, MZ Fair Trade wants to educate the world on the production of socially responsible fashion items in hopes that eventually, everyone will choose to buy products that are ethically made.

See this absolutely beautiful hand made collection on MZFairTrade.com
and be sure to follow them on Instagram @MZFairTrade 

Until Next time...
Erin-Elizabeth
xoxo

I am so in love with my Jagged Diamonds Leather + Wool Duffel Bag by MZ Fair Trade, it has a leather base and siding, protective metal feet, two rounded leather handles, an adjustable and removable shoulder strap and an inner zip pocket. 
All of the MZ Fair Trade artisans looms are hand operated like this one



Sturdy but lightweight, this MZ Fair Trade Duffle is the perfect size for an overhead compartment or weekend getaway.
Ethically sourced wool sits on spindles awaiting to woven by MZ Fair Trade





Friday, September 21, 2018

NOW // Organic Plant Protein

Now is a Natural Products company that empowers people to lead healthier lives. I love their wide selection of organic plant protein shakes, vanilla, chocolate, toffee, and MORE
The NOW story goes way back to 1948. It all began with a man named Paul Richard, who bought his dear friend's company, Fearn Soya Foods, a natural soy product company. With his 3 sons by his side, they worked together in an industry, that at the time, was viewed simply as a bunch of granola-loving hippies. Paul was the first person to sell soy protein powder in the United States and his son Elwood recognized its undeniable benefits in his and his classmates athletic performance. It was in 1968 in the back room of his health food store when Elwood Richard founded NOW. Having grown up in the health food world, Elwood had always believed that natural was better from a very scientific perspective and wanted to provide quality, health products at an unbeatable price for everyone. To ensure quality and cut out the middle men, Elwood sought after real raw organic ingredients and even packaged every product he made himself. This is essentially the same business model for NOW today, only on a much larger scale of course.

NOW Celebrates 50 years of commitment to natural wellness
NOW's passion and mission is to empower people to live healthier lives. The ultimate goal is to create value in the health food industry and that's exactly how I came to find NOW products. I live a (mostly) plant-based lifestyle and needed a quality protein supplement. What mattered to me was the ingredients, the quality, the flavor, and let's face it, the price. I wanted organic ingredients I could easily pronounce, with no sugars or preservatives that wouldn't break the bank. I found NOW online and ordered the unflavored Pea Protein without any hesitation. I was sold from the beginning, it checked every box on my ideal protein list. The label told me everything I needed to know. This glorious find had only one, simple, organic, ingredient: Golden Peas. It also happened to be the best value for my money. I felt I'd struck vegan gold and I knew after my first order I'd be a customer for life. Here are some of my favorite, super simple, go-to recipes for the Unflavored Organic NOW® Sports Pea Protein Powder:

My favorite flavors in one, meet the Matcha + Banana

MATCHA + BANANA
1 banana (frozen is best, but any form will do)
1 C unsweetened almond milk
6 ice cubes
3 scoops NOW® Sports unflavored organic pea protein powder
1/2 t matcha green tea powder
2 scoops of NOW® BetterStevia® powdered stevia

Blend until smooth
BONUS: Add 1 C. Kale for extra greens, fiber, and vitamins!
SWAP:  The unflavored Pea Protein for the NOW® Sports Vanilla Pea Protein and omit stevia

PEANUT BUTTER + "JELLY"
1/2 C frozen blueberries
1 C unsweetened almond milk
6 ice cubes
3 scoops NOW® Sports unflavored organic pea protein powder
2 T. peanut butter
2 scoops of NOW® BetterStevia® powdered stevia

Blend until smooth
BONUS: Add 1 T. Chia Seeds, they help you stay hydrated and feel fuller longer
SWAP: The unflavored Pea Protein for the Vanilla OR Chocolate Pea Protein and omit stevia

When you need extra nutrients and antioxidants, go green with moringa, kale and chia seeds

GREEN MACHINE
1 C. kale
1 C. unsweetened almond milk
6 ice cubes
3 scoops NOW® Sports unflavored organic pea protein powder
1/2 T. organic moringa powder
1 T. chia seeds
2 scoops of NOW® BetterStevia® powdered stevia

Blend until smooth
BONUS: There isn't one, this whole shake will have you feeling so healthy
NOTE: Fair warning, Moringa has a very earthy/grassy taste, use sparingly if you're not into that.
SWAP: The unflavored Pea Protein for the Vanilla you can also swap the Chia seeds for Flaxseed/meal and omit stevia.

For everyone at NOW this isn't just a job, they are collectively committed the health industry and on a mission together. Because they are a privately-held company, it allows them to make investments and decisions based on what's best for the customers, not whats best for the investors. The best part? Pea protein powder is only ONE of their many natural and organic products. They have vitamins, beauty products, essential oils, natural foods and so much more.

See everything organic, natural and awesome at NowFoods.com
and follow them on instagram @NowFoodsOfficial

Until next time...
Erin-Elizabeth
xoxo






Friday, September 14, 2018

KOFFIESTRAW // Eco-Friendly, Reusable Silicone Straws

The KoffieStraw is a slim, reuseable, eco-friendly, silicone straw made especially for hot coffee and whiter smiles
In case you weren't aware, single use plastics are SO last year. In L.A. plastic grocery bags are no longer a "thing" and if you're caught using a disposable plastic straw in a hip part of town, prepare for some concerned looks or even a few opinions from total strangers. Don't get me wrong- I agree with plastic bag ban and the single-use, straw-hating, but here's the thing- I'm a straw person... (eek!) So I went on the hunt for a better alternative so I could keep sucking in a more eco-friendly fashion.

I found a variety of options of re-usable straws in terms of materials- but what chose was the Koffie Straw. Because lets be honest, if I'm not drinking water, I'm drinking coffee. This clever little number was founded by a family that wanted to solve a problem. In efforts to maintain a brighter smile some people drink their coffee through plastic straws- oddly enough most (if not all) of those straws have a warning on the outer wrapper that clearly states, it's NOT to be used in hot beverages. This is because the heat melts the toxins from the plastic into your drink. If you do this, knock it off right now and keep reading!

The eco-friendly Koffiestraw is perfect for sipping cold drinks too
If you've ever tried a metal straw it not only effects the taste of what your sipping, but also conducts the temperature of your drink. Glass straws are out there too, but if you're clumsy like me it might not be the best option. There are also jumbo-sized milkshake straws out there, made of silicone but flood your mouth if used with liquid, thus defeating the purpose of using a straw in the first place.

Together this family took their own straw-using experiences into consideration and designed and patented this slim, soft, flexible, BPA-free, dishwasher-safe, 100% silicone straw, made especially but not exclusively for coffee and the cups it travels in. Finally there was a way to enjoy hot coffee safely and keep a bright smile, all while reducing plastic waste on our planet. The Koffie Straw comes in packs of two at 7" or 10", includes a cleaning brush, has a slight bend like a traditional straw, and comes in shades of pink, blue, purple and brown so there's something for everyone.

Sipping on iced coffee with my Surf colored Koffiestraw
For me, making this seemingly small decision was a no-brainer. I remember when they had just banned plastic bags and grocery stores started to really push re-usable. At first there was a bit of resistance, but now only a few years later- when I walk in the store I'm one of MANY people bringing my own bags. I think about all of the single-use bags we all could have gone through since the ban and I'm so glad I chose something better and other people did too. You don't have to give up what you love to help preserve the planet- you just have to find or MAKE a product a little better, that could spark a change in everyone.

Check out these straws and get sippin' at KoffieStraw.com
and be sure to follow them on instagram @KoffieStraw

Until Next time...
Erin-Elizabeth
xoxo

I love the Surf colored Koffiestraw, the silicone can be easily cut to fit your to-go cup, comes in two sizes with a cleaning brush! 



Friday, September 7, 2018

KOOSHOO // Plastic-Free, Organic and Ethical Hair ties

Kooshoo's best selling, organic cotton twist headband- ENSO, can be worn with the twist in front for a cute, turban headband, or at the nape of the neck for a wide headband. Available in solid colors and "Batik" hand dyed colors as seen above. 
Kooshoo are the makers of the world's first plastic-free hair tie, expandable kids pants, multi-way shawls and super versatile headbands. It was founded by Jesse and Rachel, two yoga teachers that also happened to be soulmates- yes, they're married! They started their brand for one very simple reason- to help others feel good. For them that meant everyone involved in the process, from the farmers who grew the organic crops, to people like you and me who buy the end product, every person mattered along the way.

Meet the LILA hair tie by Kooshoo, Plastic free, 100% biodegradable, strong enough for thick hair, yet soft enough to not cause hair tie headaches.
While Kooshoo is designed in Canada, their dedication to ethical and sustainable practices lead them to family owned and operated businesses right here in Los Angeles. This brand provides jobs and opportunities for our local community. They weave the organic cotton, hand-dye, cut, sew, package and distribute every single product within a 20 mile radius of downtown L.A. The dye house is solar powered and every item is shipped in a 100% recycled paper bag.

The founders of Kooshoo, Jesse and Rachel with their daughter
The word Kooshoo means "feeling good" in Norfuk. Often used as a way to return a "Hey how are you?" "Kooshoo, you?" . Co-Founder Rachel and Kooshoo's product developer Leilani, are both from Norfuk Island. And although they both live in Canada now,  the island is forever apart of them and so it became a sort of moto and question- "does this feel KooShoo?" In other words, every time a decision was made within the company they asked themselves and each other "is this in support of the greater good?" Kooshoo believes businesses can be used for better thats why they donate product and profit to charity. Sometimes its the little things, like giving 1000 people from underserved communities yoga or meditation classes that can make all the difference.

The co-founder of Kooshoo, Rachel and her daughter in the Enso Twist Headbands

Kooshoo's ultimate goal is to think good, feel good, create good and share that goodness. I love my new wrap headband and my plastic-free hair ties, but what I love even more, is that someone cared enough about so many others and the earth, in order the make it in the best way possible. Its something I wear with pride and gratitude all at once, its not just another headband. It has me feeling "kooshoo" for sure <3
Check out all they have for EVERYONE at Kooshoo.com
and be sure to follow them on instagram @FeelingKooshoo

Until Next time...
Erin-Elizabeth
xoxo
I'm wearing an organic, Kooshoo ENSO twist headband in the Batik print