A Very Fair Trade Christmas: Use Your Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping to Change the World



This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for your support.

We all know that the Christmas season is probably the largest spending time of the year, especially in the United States. Traditionally, Black Friday and now Cyber Monday as well have become a major part of that experience.

However, it’s easy to overlook how our Christmas shopping can be a tool to create social and economic change. There are some ethical companies offering great deals this weekend. Even by making just a few ethical or fair trade purchases as you do your holiday shopping allows artisans all over the world to create better lives for themselves and their families.


The Root Collective

If you haven’t figured it out already, I really love The Root Collective. Founder Bethany Tran has put together a great collection of shoes, scarves, jewelry and more by artisans primarily from Guatemala and Kenya.  You can see the artisan who made each item and learn more about his or her story.

In case you needed yet another reason, the items are gorgeous and unique. Plus I love knowing that the artisans have been paid a fair wage for their work and my limited buying power is a tool toward providing better lives for young women in Kenya or former gang members in La Limonada.

The Root Collective is offering 25% off all items (including those already on sale) through December 2 with the code JOYTOTHEWORLD. But don’t worry, all the artisans have already been paid in full.



What if you could by unique clothes and provide housing and employment to victims of sex trafficking? You can! Elegantees creates clothing that is stylish and beautiful but also practical and washable. (As a mom, that sounds perfect to me). Their products are produced in New York City and Nepal by victim’s of sex trafficking who are building new lives for themselves.  These amazing women are learning a trade that will allow them to financially support themselves while also being counseling and mentored.

These beautiful tops, dresses and scarves will be 15% off until December 2 with the code THANKS, plus any purchase of $50 or more receives a free gift.


To The Market

This is basically an online market for products from all over the world. They carry a little bit of everything and you also get the story of each artisan.

“TTM showcases handmade goods made exclusively by proud and passionate artisans who have overcome the perils of abuse, conflict, and disease. By assisting local partners around the world in bringing these goods “to the market,” we take an active role in equipping the survivor’s that they employ with economic independence, while raising awareness of the challenges that they face.”

I don’t think there is a better way to describe this amazing site. If you find the sheer number of goods a bit overwhelming (I know I did at first), check out their holiday gift guide.

You can search by country, item (such as bags, accessories or jewelry) or cause. If you have a passion for victims of HIV/Aids or Human Trafficking, for example, you can search for goods made specifically by those fighting those challenges. Even better, you have the option of consulting a personal stylist to help you choose an item for yourself or a gift for someone else.

So as you field the blitz of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday deals, don’t overlook the chance to be a more conscious consumer and make a real impact with your purchases.


Learning to Ride: A Beginner’s Intro to Ethical Shopping

Photo courtesy of The Root Collective

As we head into the biggest shopping season of the year, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress and excitement associated with the holidays especially when it comes to our buying habits. It’s not just about how much money we spend, but how we choose to spend it. Today I’m pleased and honored to share a guest post from Brooke Fontoura, blog manager of the Root Collective, about how we can make our buying choices more consciously. (This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support.)

They say you never forget how to ride a bike. Once you’ve learned, it cannot be unlearned.

The same can be said of conscious consumerism. Because once you’ve seen the atrocities that occur daily in many garment factories across the globe, you cannot unsee it. Poor working conditions, low wages, child labor, etc.

It sticks with you.

And that’s a pretty scary thing. Because you’re left feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, and lost. Like a five year old on a bicycle.

But the best thing about learning to ride a bike… is that there are training wheels.

Becoming an ethical shopper isn’t always easy. It takes knowledge, effort, and a whole mess of patience. It takes honesty, persistence, and heart. Like any new challenge, it needs to be met with understanding. It’s easy to say that you are going to completely change your shopping habits overnight, but the reality can become a bit less easy. (This may or may not be from my own experience of picking up and then putting down the same LBD ten times at a fast fashion outlet, my conscious and vanity competing with each other.)

Photo courtesy of The Root Collective

Below are some (what I hope will be) helpful suggestions and tips for riding through the murky world of shopping. Remember to keep your helmet on and don’t stop peddling.

  • Keep calm and think of why you’re doing this: Be real with yourself. Ask yourself, “Why am I committed to changing my purchasing habits?” Is there a personal story that effected you? What was it about that story that caused you to rethink how you spend your money? Keep that in mind when you shop. Remember why.
  • Do your research: Researching isn’t just for term papers. Like any important change in life, researching is going to be the golden rule in your journey to an ethical closet. Knowing where your goods come from is important. It may seem overwhelming at first, but you’ll be surprised at the amount of resources a simple Google search can yield. And always read your labels. (I suggest this post from The Art of Simple for a handy list of awesome, ethically sourced companies.)
  • Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to raise your hand. Generally speaking, a quality ethical company will be transparent about their supply chain. However, if while researching a company, you find that they may not be as see-through as you’d like – ask! Ask where they source their goods from, how their workers are treated, or anything else you can’t seem to find the answer to.
  • Don’t beat yourself up: Life is tough. Some of us have a flock of kids in the backseat, others are college students with not a lot of spending money, while others are in the somewhere between. Do what you can. Don’t feel awful about yourself if you find that one of your favorite companies may not be on the ethical shopper’s good list. We’ve all made mistakes before and that’s okay. It’s part of the learning process. Instead of buying from that brand, search for an ethical company with similar products. If that search is taking a bit of time, try buying used products from that brand at a local thrift shop while you wait. (There are also awesome online used clothing stores. The Root Collective featured some for our weekly blog series, #FashionFriday.)
  • Take it one step at a time: What do you normally buy most? Scarves? What do you need at the moment? A good pair of shoes? Look for an ethical supplier (like The Root Collective!). After that, incorporate something else – like jewelry, then handbags, etc. When you make one step, you’ll start making more and then it all becomes second nature. (Also, many companies offer more than one fashion category. Your search for ethically sourced leggings can lead you to dresses, skirts, hats, and more!)
  • Sharing is caring: Share your findings with others. Often times, shoppers feel discouraged by what they feel is a lack of options. They simply don’t know that there is another choice out there for them other than what they see in the stores, on T.V., or on a billboard. They may already know of the abuse within the fashion industry, but don’t know what they can do themselves. When you talk about your favorite new ethical fashion brand or wear your new earrings to the office Christmas party, share the story behind your purchase and let everyone know how they can contribute to the change.


Taking on a new way of life is frightening stuff and starting an ethical fashion journey is no exception. It’s a big step, a genuine step, one with the opportunity to create real change. It may be a bumpy road but you’ll notice the difference with each turn of the peddle. And, donned in your ethically sourced fashion lovelies, you’ll look pretty great doing it.

Brooke photo

Brooke Fontoura is the blog manager for The Root Collective, an ethical fashion company with a mission for good. She’s a tea drinking, chocolate loving, book reading girl next door who pins more things on Pinterest than she actually makes. A fair trade activist and animal lover, she can usually be found singing silly sings out of tune with her little one. She also has difficulties writing her own bio.

Don’t forget that The Root Collective is offering the coupon code JOYTOTHEWORLD that is valid from Friday to Tuesday for 25% off your purchase! (Don’t worry, all the artisans have been paid in full.)

Guest Post at The Root Collective: Baby Steps to Ethical Fashion



I’m honored to have a guest post today featured at The Root Collective.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never thought much about where my things come home. I know that most of what is purchased in the United States is made overseas, much of it in poor conditions. But like many other things I just couldn’t think too much about it. Mostly because I didn’t think I had much choice in the matter.

I am however, a frugal mama at heart. I think it comes from getting married when I was still a student and we spent every dime of our paycheck almost every month on essentials like food and rent. Then we bought a house and I decided to stay home with our children. Frugality for the win again as I learned to make things myself, buy fewer packaged foods and generally get by on less. After ten years of living like this I became frustrated and wanted to upgrade my style a bit. I found some sources for inexpensive and trendy accessories. Some of them I loved. Others were cheap disappointments. Ever so slowly I started thinking about whether these products were a bit of a waste.

Read the rest here.



Prophesy Hope Through Accountability: Frumps to Pumps


As  a quick note before we continue our Frumps to Pumps series today, this is officially my 300th blog post. I’ll write more on that later, but for now I just wanted to acknowledge the milestone and thank you all for reading. Knowing that there are people out there who are being encouraged by my words keeps me writing.

The whole reason that I am doing this blog series is because I know that I need the accountability. Knowing that readers and friends (and yes, my mom too), are reading this forces me to take it more seriously. Plus, I know that there is encouragement in numbers. It’s like a diet or a new exercise program, it’s always easier to do with a friend. So I’m sharing my journey with you.

It really isn’t about the clothes, though they certainly play a role. It’s about speaking positive, hopeful things over my life. Realizing that there are good and wonderful things in store for me, both today and in the future, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now.

Challenge: How can I bring hope to someone else today. Today I chose to do that with a picture.

20130902_113700[1]This is me after getting dressed. I may not be wearing make up or even the latest fashions, but I am wearing an outfit I feel great in it that is still practical for my daily life. This is quick shot my husband took of me with my tablet, so I know it’s not very glamorous, and that’s OK. I may not be at my ideal weight or in top physical condition, but I’m learning to love my body as well as the mind and soul inside it. If I can do it, you can too. If you haven’t already, take a step and join me in the Frumps to Pumps challenge. Make this just one little thing that is about you, that you can do for yourself.

Next- Frumps to Pumps: Make the Decision

Just joining us? Get caught up

Week 1 : Join the Challenge

Week 2: Know Your Why

Week 3: Dress Differently, Act Differently

Frumps to Pumps: Dress Differently, Act Differently

Frumps-Pumps-Draft-350-231x300 I already talked about this last week in my Know Your Why post, but I really do notice that this is true. No, getting dressed is not a magic pill to make me an easy going, always patient, never frustrated mom. But I am more likely to respond to conflicts with my children in a positive way if I’m not quietly resenting them because I’m still in my pajamas. When I was working full time outside the home, before I had kids, Saturdays were a time to wear sweatshirts and jeans to just enjoy bumming around the house. Now it’s the opposite. Saturdays are the days when I have the time to get ready and we’re usually out of the house all day running all kinds of errands so I can check things off my list. So how can I produce that kind of energy during the week so that I don’t burn myself out every weekend?

 Inspiration I’ve gathered

As much as I hated wearing a uniform to school, studies show that wearing a uniform improves concentration and attitude. So consider getting dressed to be donning the uniform of the day, the way a doctor would getting ready to go into surgery or a lawyer into the court room. You are starting the day off right as you get ready to be mom, wife, household manager and all the other things you do and are. So when I get dressed, I’m setting the stage for a positive, successful day and telling my kids that mommy is ready to do her job. When I stay in my pj’s too long my daughter now asks if I’m feeling OK, and why I’m not dressed yet.

Challenges I’ve pursued
What is the biggest hurdle to my getting dressed in the morning and how can I avoid it? While it doesn’t always work and in certainly won’t work in every season of life, I try to get up before my kids, even if all I do is wash my face, brush my teeth and do my hair. They can wait a couple of minutes, even if it requires fussing, while I do that. I’ve also found that laying my clothes out the night before can help so I don’t have to think about what to wear. I suggest reading The No Brainer Wardrobe, which will help you to build a simple capsule wardrobe so that getting dressed will be easy but exciting.

Suggested Additional Challenges: Make your kids part of the challenge. Make it a game where you all get dressed together, perhaps even a race. This helps teach them valuable life skills and helps keep you motivated as well.

Next – Frumps to Pumps: Prophesy Hope Through Accountability

Just joining us? Get caught up

Week 1 : Join the Challenge

Week 2: Know Your Why

Frumps to Pumps: Know Your Why


If you are just joining us for the Frumps to Pumps Challenge, read the opening post here.

This week’s challenge focused on knowing why you get ready. I know that may sound silly but it makes all the difference. For a long time I didn’t bother. You want to know my logic? No one sees me but the kids. My husband says he doesn’t mind. (Thought I’m not sure if I fully believe him). I have nowhere to be. No one cares how I look.

Can you see the mental downward spiral into self deprecation and depression? We all have a reason why we should get ready in the morning. It won’t be the same for each of us. I get ready because I want to set an example for my kids. For months my daughter would barely ever get out of her pajamas, and I realized I wasn’t setting the best standard for her. I noticed that she was a happier more active child when she didn’t just wear pajamas all day. The same goes for me. I wanted to be a happier and better mom. For me, part of that entails getting dressed. I also do it because it makes me feel good to know that I look good. I can be more spontaneous because I don’t need a 20 minute warning so I can quick get ready.

My husband is another factor. I love this man with all my heart and he has seen me through many difficult times. He deserves to come home to a wife who looks like she is happy with her life. I can’t keep the chaos at bay very long in our house. I can’t stop the kids from making messes, always get dinner ready on time or make sure the cute outfit I put on doesn’t get smeared with something while cooking (though I’m beginning to embrace aprons and realize why they wear a staple wardrobe item of women in previous generations). But I can show him that I’m making an effort. If he came home to find me in the same clothes I wore to bed, glassy eyed on the couch cuddled up with my laptop and headphones while the children ran around in circles, that makes it look like I don’t value or enjoy my life. I’m not talking about the occasional bad day, I’m saying an everyday pattern of low self-care and low interest in my daily life.

I don’t always love my stay-at-home mom life, but I’m grateful for it. I don’t relish every moment with my children, but I realize how blessed I am to be able to stay home with them. Dressing myself is my way of saying, yes, this is the life I’ve chosen, not the life I got stuck with. I’m choosing to make the best of the difficult days and try to provide a ray of sunshine, just by taking a few minutes each morning to focus on myself. That is why I get dressed.

Inspirations I’ve imbibed

Know your why. This is a hard one for me some days, especially when I don’t want to get out of bed and face another day of dishes, laundry and screaming kids. But ultimately, I know that I am here for a reason. I am the best mom for them. Why kind of mom do I want to be? I know that I feel better about myself when I get dressed, I am happier and more positive. This in turn makes me a more patient and joyful mom. So, in part I get dressed for my kids. But I also get dressed because I like to feel good. When I feel good I am more energetic and efficient. I like getting to check all those items off my to-do list and feeling like I really made some kind of progress in my day. I know that is unlikely to happen if I don’t get dressed. I’m also getting dressed as a way of honoring the God who made my body. He has great works for me to accomplish, even if it seems like I’m just a mom. How can I be available to him if I’m not dressed and ready?

 Challenges I’ve pursued:

Getting dressed everyday. Morning exercise helps with this. After a run, I’m so gross that a shower and change of clothes aren’t really optional, so it’s not much work to pick real clothes instead of glorified pj’s.

Suggested additional challenges: The book suggests writing down your “Why I Get Dressed” and put it someplace you will see it as you get ready. This may be as simple as a post-it or index card on your bathroom mirror. But if you want to get crafty with it, go ahead, Pintrist away. Make a collage, create a graphic image, frame a favorite photo and write on the glass. Anything that helps. Just don’t let your excitement distract you from getting dressed.

 So how have you done with this challenge so far? Are you getting dressed everyday? When you don’t, what are the obstacles that keep it from happening?

Next – Frumps to Pumps: Dress Differently, Act Differently

Catch Up Here:

Week 1 : Join the Challenge


Frumps to Pumps: Join the Challenge


Contrary to what the title might imply, this book is not about being more stylish, at least not directly. It’s really about self-care, which has been a big theme in my life lately. I remember that after my son was born, I would feel so depressed if I wore the same pajamas all day. Then, even when I would change my clothes, I started to hate always wearing stretched out leggings and baggy t-shirts. Initially the excuse was my postpartum figure, but soon that reason ran out on me. I always made some effort to look nice for church and for years it was the only day I wore makeup.

Why I Am Doing This

I have no illusions that getting dressed each day in clothes that flatter me and make me feel good about myself will solve all of my problems. But one thing is for sure, staying in my pj’s wasn’t helping and was probably making things worse. Hopefully I’ll be posting here each week as I work my way through Frumps to Pumps. The book suggests that you read part of the motivational (the author’s term for half devotional half motivational book) each day. Personally, I know that is unlikely to happen, so I’m focusing on reading one chapter a week. If you want to pursue this as a daily challenge, feel free. Otherwise you can join me as I work through it at a slightly slower pace. I’m finding this book very encouraging so far. The suggested challenges haven’t always been easy, but I find that when I do them I feel better about myself. On the heels of reading the No-Brainer Wardrobe which focused more on the nitty gritty of developing a cohesive style with a small wardrobe, this seemed like a great way to get at the heart of the matter. So today we begin.

Who Are You?

This chapter focuses on our identity in Christ, was coincidentally (or perhaps not) was a sermon topic at my church  recently. I am a beloved child of God, first, last and always. I am not defined by my brains, my talents or my body, as beautiful as I may or may not think it is. The hardest thing she said that I needed to hear is that we don’t need to try to earn the love of our Father. We already have it and nothing we can do would earn in anyway. I have an achiever by nature, some would say an overachiever. This is part of how I’ve always defined myself. So when I decided that I was going to update my look and focus on creating a wardrobe I would feel good in, I went at it full force, probably spending far more time, energy and money on the project than I ought to. I forgot, at least for a little while, that yes, dressing to please myself can help with my mood and outlook, but it can’t replace the unconditional love offered to me by my Savior and Father God. I needed that reminder.

Inspiration I’ve gathered

I am beautiful just the way I am. God made my body amazing. It may have changed since I had my kids but it is still beautiful. Most of it works well, and I can be grateful for that. I enjoy many activities with it. God made me, all of me to be beautiful. That is who I am, my body is only one part of who I am. I need to focus on all of me and ultimately on the one who made me beautiful, inside and out.

Challenges I’ve pursued

 I’ve been getting dressed. I don’t always succeed, but I’m working towards getting dressed everyday in clothes that make me feel good about myself. If I’m going out, my goal is also to put on some make up. Just enough to smooth my complexion, covering blemishes and dark circles. For me, the magic time is noon. If I haven’t exercised by noon, I change out of workout clothes. The book recommends that the official getting dressed time be before 10 AM. I am shooting to move the time up, kind of pretending that I have a morning meeting (which I sometimes do) so that I force myself to get dressed. So join the challenge. For the next week, focus on getting dressed everyday. Not just throwing clothes on your body, but putting on something that will help you feel ready to face the day. If wearing makeup makes a difference to you, then do it, even if it means the kids have to wait for their breakfasts for an extra 2 minutes. They will survive, and hopefully you’ll be feeling better about yourself and thus in a better mood to start the day.

Additional suggested challenges

The book suggests finding an accountability partner, a spouse, friend or even your kids. Someone to help you remember to take care of yourself by getting dressed and someone to cheer you on as you invest in yourself. Also, try creating a chart or calender and marking off each day that you get dressed. If you make it through the whole week, plan a small reward for yourself, in additional to the great emotional payoff that comes with taking care of yourself. Happy dressing ladies (and perhaps a gentleman or two who has decided to join us), see you next week.

Next: Frumps to Pumps: Know Your Why