Rose quartz crystal candle

The Mindfully Stylish Gift Guide to Christmas 2020

2020 has been a hard year for so many people. It is my hope that this small business gift guide makes Christmas a little easier – and a little pinker – for you, dear reader. This list is a curation of some of the most beautiful handmade and artisanally-crafted items I have found along my journeys that have made me smile, hunkered down in my little attic room in London with a cup of steaming herbal tea beside me. I hope they do the same for you! Let’s get started and make 2020 the pinkest Christmas yet.

1. Handmade Wall Flower Letters

Flower Letter by SDesignFloral – £42.15+ – Available on Etsy

Our first stop on our Christmas list is SDesignsFloral. Meet Santa Vidina, the wonderful lady behind these stunning floral creations who has her home in the rural city of Coventry, UK. I stumbled across these hanging wall flower letters in her shop on Etsy and I was immediately hooked. Each piece is handmade with the finest quality silk flowers. Santa has this heartwarming message about her inspiration behind her designs:

Hello, my name is Santa and I am a mum to my little angel. Truly passionate about crafts and art. Anything and everything floral is beautiful. Obsession with flowers began when I started decorating my girls bedroom, just than I realised how beautiful and versatile flowers can be. The amount of joy I get when working on these floral decors is unreal so when buying from me you can expect detail and precision with each product. I love challenges and love experimenting with colours and materials. I put my heart and soul into each creation. My child is my biggest inspiration.

Santa creates not only hanging letters but wreathes and floral picture frames too. You can shop all her beautiful items on her Etsy shop. A couple of my other favourites:

Floral Frame – £27.50+ – Available here

Custom Made Flower Wall – £68+ – Available here

2. Made in England Organic Skincare

Nourish Moisturiser – £24.50 – Available here

The only skincare range I’ll ever use. Botanicals is a small business in beautiful Leicestershire, crafting their skincare for years from organic, vegan and cruelty-free ingredients in the English countryside. I swear by the rose and camellia products myself and I would highly recommend the Nourish Moisturiser for day time moisture and the Repair and Renew Night Balm for overnight use. Leaves your skin feeling so hydrated, soft and supple. Shop here.

Repair & Renew Night Balm – £26 – Available here

3. Luxury Cashmere Pieces

Carmen Pink Cashmere Jumper – £195 – Cove

Designed in-house in a picturesque Essex village in the UK with three mindful women at the helm, Cove have this to say about their production process:

Designed by ourselves and made in one of a small selection of hand-picked factories in Nepal and China depending on the particular yarn and design of each piece. It goes without saying that technical production and skill are paramount when selecting a manufacturer but no less important to us than the ethical practices and environmental impact of the factory.  Having ‘met our makers’ we are confident in our choices and delighted to be working alongside family run companies.

And who doesn’t love a pink poncho?!

Fliss Pink Reversible Poncho – £96 – Available here

4. Recycled Silver Moon Jewellery

Moon Studs – £50 – Amai Jewellery

These stunning little earrings are made from recycled silver by small jewellery brand Amai Jewellery, founded by British jewellery designer Katie Egan:

Katie currently splits her time between the UK and Bali, where the concept of Amai Jewellery was born. Her collections are inspired by the people and places she has visited whilst travelling the globe and Katie works closely with a local, family run silversmith business to bring her designs to life.

Each piece is imbued with feminine symbolism and created using age-old Balinese techniques. The collections combine contemporary classics that can be worn every day, alongside stand-out statement pieces.

Amai Jewellery is passionate about caring for our beautiful planet, so all designs are made from 100% recycled materials and presented in eco-friendly gift boxes.

And there’s more – £5 from every sale is donated to the Bali Life Foundation – an organisation where the founder of Amai Jewellery, Katie, volunteers. The Bali Life Foundation helps women and children out of poverty by running workshops where the women can learn jewellery-making and make a wage whilst their children are at school. So every sale helps a woman and child in need. So many good reasons to shop.

Mini Moon Necklace – £75 – Available here

5. Your Favourite Perfume Made Vegan & Cruelty-Free

Just Rose Vegan Perfume – Eden Perfume – £18

I’ve been obsessed with Eden Perfumes for years and they have since expanded from their flagship store in Brighton, UK to open a London shop in Notting Hill – hurrah! My favourite thing about Eden Perfumes is that they really have thought of everything – not only are their perfumes vegan and cruelty-free, they also have this handy search tool where you can search for your favourite perfume – Tom Ford etc – and it will match the scent with the vegan alternative! Have a play here or visit one of their stores!

6. Charitable Sunglasses That Give Back

Becky – DIFF Eyewear – Available here

The most charitable sunglasses I’ve ever come across. For every pair sold, DIFF Eyewear provides the gift of sight to someone in need “through eye exams, glasses, medicine, and surgery. To date, we’ve donated over 1.5 MILLION pairs of glasses worldwide”. So every purchase is giving someone back their sight. I love the concept and I love the styles. Another of my favourites:

Becky II – DIFF Eyewear – Available here

Shop the full range.

7. A Fair Trade Floral Party Dress

Jagger Maxi Dress in Pink Hibiscus Mix – £55 – Available here

Dancing Leopard was born out of a two man band, Jade and Jack, when they travelled to India and were inspired by the fabrics and culture there. They began sourcing material from Goa’s vibrant fabric markets and never looked back. Every garment is still produced in India and Dancing Leopard work closely with a small factory there to ensure fair trade standards are met. Another of my favourites:

Kassidy Dress in Plorange Leopard – £59 – Shop here

They have also just launched an eco-friendly swimwear line made from 100% regenerated nylon, sourced from ocean and landfill waste, which you can shop here.

8. Made In The UK Vegan Make-Up

Nicmac Beauty Into Space Highlighter Palette – £30 – Available here

Made in the UK with 100% vegan and cruelty-free ingredients and plastic-free packaging, this Nicmac Beauty Palette ticks all the boxes. You can even refill your favourite shade once it’s run out! Every eyeshadow and highlighter palette is made and packaged by the brand’s founder, Nicola, who started Nicmac Beauty in response to a hole in the market for eco-friendly, vegan make-up. I am SO glad she filled that gap. Another of my favourites:

With Love Palette – £35 – Available here

Shop the full range here.

9. Handmade in Brighton Silk Lingerie

Megan Pink Silk and English Lace Knicker – £28 – Available here

Ayten Gasson in the seaside town of Brighton, UK has been my go-to source of stunning handmade lingerie ever since I wrote my article Be A Minx In English Lace… Top 5. Eco-Friendly Luxury Lingerie Brands. Known as a supporter of the British textile industry, Ayten Gasson designs and crafts every piece in her shop in Brighton, using as many eco-friendly materials as possible:

Ayten Roberts is also well known for her use of upcycled vintage laces – including Nottingham lace – highlighting the traditional skills which the UK was once celebrated for. In addition to this, organic fabrics such as Bamboo and Peace Silk regularly feature within her collections as a testament to her ethical and sustainable approach to production.

Ayten has the most fascinating story to tell about how she became a talented maker:

I was lucky enough to grow up in a neighbourhood filled with designers and makers. I grew up in Archway, North London in an area surrounded by clothing factories, while my mum worked as a sample machinist at home. By the age of 8 I was helping ‘turn the loops’ – which meant making rouleau straps for my pocket money. I would sit in my mum’s workroom – which she still has set up today – surrounded by fabrics and using the off cuts to make outfits for my dolls.

Become a part of the story and shop Ayten Gasson’s gorgeous creations here.

Florus A5 Watercolour Print – £8 – Available here

10. Ethically Sourced Crystal Candles

Rose Quartz Candle – Hoof & Paw – £32

I couldn’t believe it when I stumbled across Hoof & Paw. They combine three things I am really passionate about – ethically sourced crystals, natural essential oils and hand-poured candles. This Rose Quartz Candle is embedded with a Rose Quartz crystal in natural soy wax, along with Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang and Black Pepper essential oils:

The ultimate candle for love, its purpose is to strengthen and heal love on all levels. This includes self-love, romance, friendship, family, heartache and grief. Love is a source that never runs dry, it just needs to be let in.

This candle is for anyone wanting to strengthen and reaffirm their love for another. For anyone who is currently experiencing heartache and grief. For anyone who would like to attract romance into their lives and most importantly work on self- love and self-worth.

Madeleine, the owner and founder of this magical company, lives with her family in Oxfordshire, UK and blends and hand-pours every candle herself. Her journey with Hoof & Paw started when she left her old life behind and flew to Australia. Here she fell in love and longed to be able to package up the energy she felt and take it home – Hoof & Paw was born. Why Hoof & Paw? Ah, you’ll have to read the full story here…

11. Art & Books Inspired By The Universe

Dreamy Moons is a small business based in Australia founded and led by the ever-inspiring Annie who loves hiking in Nature, horses and New Zealand among many other things. I have always loved her art as it reminds me of space, the stars, the moon and the cosmic workings of the Universe that I believe affects us all to some degree. Annie sells many beautiful diaries, books and affirmation cards that help you journey inward and learn more and more about yourself and I think perhaps that is one of the most thoughtful things to give someone at Christmas.
May 2021 be the best year yet!
IMG-4494 (1)

Girl With A Pink Earring

How do you like to be loved? Most people I ask this question of answer with two simple words: “With patience”. Patience. It’s such a rare commodity in today’s over-worked, over-stressed society. What does patience mean to you? To me, it means not being put off by my paranoia. It means not getting angry with me when I get frustrated I can’t do something. It means accepting my mistakes without judging me as a person.

When I was growing up there was, outside of my closest family, someone who did all of this – my Nana. Her name is Muriel Lewin and I won’t share her age with you here because she would be very angry with me. I remember particularly my homework – countless after-school hours spent with me and her kneeling on the floor at our small table in the living room in our little cottage, helping me with Maths equations and deciphering difficult words. Endless encouragement when I couldn’t do something – “Don’t worry darling you’ll get it. Let’s try again after dinner”.

I remember my entrance exams to my secondary school – a high-pressure public boarding school for an 11-year-old. Intimidating, confusing, I was overcome with a fervent desire to prove myself. A weekend spent away from home, away from my family with strange girls I didn’t know. And yet I knew in my heart it was where I belonged. I desperately wanted to get in. Tears of anxiety and helplessness that summer as we waited for the results – of the letter coming through the door telling me of my future. I remember so vividly my Nana pushing her warm forehead against my own as I sat in our summer holiday caravan and wept, saying in the strongest quietest voice I have ever heard, her conviction stays with me to this day “Don’t fret Fran, if it’s what you really really want, I just know you’ll get in. I just know it”.

And the letter came and I’d done it. I was in. But I never forgot that moment when my Nana shone like a beacon of reassurance and hope beside me in our little caravan, her forehead pressed reassuringly and firmly against my own. Alongside my sister and Mama, she has been my greatest cheerleader, sharing in my wins as avidly as if she was living it herself. The happiness in her voice on the phone, the complete curiosity in my life when I call her is something that brings a lump to my throat even now. And I haven’t called her yet to thank her for something. Something very special – her birthday present to me. These earrings, handmade by Eveline at Flamingo Jewellery.

As the years have passed it has become more and more difficult for us to speak. Sometimes it’s her hearing, sometimes it’s technical problems with the phone, sometimes I just don’t know what to say. My Mama chooses our birthday presents for her now since she can’t go shopping and tells her what she’s bought us. So I know that my Nana – my wonderful patient ever-interested Nana – would love that I have got quite a lot to tell her about her birthday present to me now. Because I was so taken by these earrings that I reached out to the designer and founder of Flamingo Jewellery, Eveline, and asked her 10 short questions. To my greatest joy, she replied with answers that made me want to learn more and more about this eclectic and uplifting jewellery brand and the woman behind it. This is for my Nana for her more precious-than-gold patience and for Eveline for bringing a smile to my face with her beautiful handmade in London jewellery. And for giving me so much to talk about with my Nana… Thank you to you both.

Q: When did you first start making jewellery?

Eveline: I remember making my first pair of earrings around this time two years ago. I was inspired by some Australian jewellery makers that use polymer clay as their medium. So I decided to have a go! I’m so happy I did!

Q: What is your biggest creative inspiration?

Eveline: My biggest creative inspiration is my daughter. She is only 11 but loves art and always shows me her paintings.

Q: What would your ideal superpower be?

Eveline: Ideal superpower would be curing people’s mental health! As a psychologist, that will always be my dream and thing to aim to.

Q: Favourite city?

Eveline: My favourite city is London! Such an inspirational place that always offers something new!

Q: If you could go anywhere right now, where would it be?

Eveline: I really miss the seaside and the beaches on the south coast of England. Normally at this of year, me and my daughter would spend weekends there.

Q: Happiest when?

Eveline: I’m the happiest when I can create.

Q: Favourite food?

Eveline: I love fish and chips! Will never get bored of it!

Q: Puppies or kittens?

Eveline: None of them. I have a cute chinchilla boy called Rasin.

Q: What is your favourite season?

Eveline: Favourite season for me will always be end of Spring. It’s when I get my flowers for my resin jewellery, it’s also time to create new pieces for the seaside collection. And being able to spend more time outside makes life so much better!

Q: And finally, what would you desert island item be?

Eveline: Desert island item would be a notebook with a pen to write down all of my memories.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about the wonderful Eveline from Flamingo Jewellery! If, like me, you are in love with her jewellery and would like to treat yourself to some, please use code Molly30 at checkout for a 30% discount! You can shop all of her pieces here!

Stay safe.

In Love&Light, MM XOXOX

nihui-hortus-botanicus-33

10. Titbits To Brighten Your Day, Vol. 10!

1. Crafted Patch Embroidery Armchairs

Pink Vintage Style Handmade Boho Armchair – £895 – Fire House Co.

In my ideal home, I would have a plain white fabric sofa with bright Mexican-style hand-embroidered cushions scattered over it and a patchwork armchair like these for curling up and reading in. A girl can dream!

Velvet Patchwork Multi-Coloured Armchair – £895 – Fire House Co.

Velvet Patchwork Multicolour Armchair – £895 -Fire House Co.

These limited edition pieces are available on Etsy and were made with the help of Bohemian Designs in Gujarat, India.

See more beautiful handmade designs from Fire House Co. here.

2. Biodegradable Unicorn Glitter

Cosmic Purple Unicorn Bio Glitter – £3 – In Your Dreams

I am always on the look-out for stunning and unusual mixes of biodegradable glitter. I have been known on several occasions to adorn myself and others with a splash of glitter if I’m feeling a little blue and I never attend a party without it! This bio glitter from In Your Dreams is festival-ready and eco-friendly. It biodegrades in home compost as well as marine and waste water, and is made from renewable, non-GM ingredients. All 5 colours are currently on sale!

Cosmic Purple Unicorn & Golden Mirage Bio Glitter – £3 – In Your Dreams

3. 100% Organic Make-Up Tutorial

So here is perhaps a slightly strange window into Mindfully Stylish – one of the things I do to calm down or chill out if I’m really anxious is watch make-up tutorials on YouTube. For some reason having someone suggest things to do to my face, methodically carrying them out on screen and then seeing the finished look at the end I find really reassuring. Today, I wanted to share one of my favourites with you here because this is a make-up tutorial by Aussie Heidi Mustafa on my go-to organic and vegan make-up brand, Inika Organic.

Watching her using products I actually own and use every day is really inspiring me to try out new things and create new looks but probably on the most basic level, I just find it really comforting being with someone who clearly has their life together for at least the 10 minutes and 8 seconds that this video runs for. Take a look and see if it has a similar effect!

You can shop all Inika Organic beauty products here and watch more Heidi Mustafa YouTube tutorials.

4. Leslie Caron: Then & Now

Leslie Caron is one of the few actresses who has performed with dancing greats Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. Born in 1931 in Paris, Caron originally trained as a ballet dancer with the Ballet des Champs Elysées dance company where she was spotted by Gene Kelly. He immediately cast her to star opposite him in An American in Paris, the 1951 Academy Award-winning musical comedy film inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition of the same name by George Gershwin and shot in Hollywood. Looking back on this now, it really is noteworthy to say just how incredible this was – Caron was clearly very talented but it is also very fortunate that Gene Kelly was in the same place at the right time to see her perform.

Leslie Caron with Gene Kelly in her first film, An American in Paris (1951) – on her way to stardom

For me, I was first captivated by Leslie Caron in one of her later musical films – ‘Gigi’ (1958)

I used to watch this curled on the floor at my grandparents’ house, a marmite and butter sandwich with the crusts cut off nestled in my lap, getting as close to the screen as I could and singing along with my Nana to all the best songs. Highly recommend watching it if you need a little lift!

 

An accomplished singer, dancer and actress, Caron went on to appear in over 45 films during her career and continues to act today. She is fluent in French, English and Italian, and received an honorary degree from the American University in Paris in 2009. Proving that talent is timeless, her performance in the long-running, popular television show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit won her a Primetime Emmy Award in 2007. From June 1993 – September 2009, Caron also owned and ran a hotel in France called Auberge La Lucarne aux Chouettes (The Owl’s Nest).

I think one of the things that really stands out for me from watching her films and television appearances is her strength of personality. During her Hollywood years when stars were expected to look and dress a certain way, Caron disagreed. Shunning protocol, she wanted a short pixie cut hairstyle in comparison to her female co-stars’ long luscious locks and when the director didn’t comply, she took matters into her own hands. In this clip, she explains how she cut her hair herself in a motel room mirror with a pair of hand scissors and how the film company reacted:

May we all dance through life with the same determination, independence and elegance as Leslie Caron!

5. The Perfect Kaftan Dress for Travel

Organza Kaftan Dress – £39.99 – H&M Conscious

One of my favourite things about summer is the opportunity to wear long floaty loose dresses that look effortless but are really hiding the prosecco and picnic you just consumed in the park with your friends. When I went to Florence in Italy last year, going inside churches in revealing outfits was a problem as it (probably quite rightly) was considered offensive to bare your legs and shoulders. Airy kaftan dresses solve this as they cover you up whilst remaining cool. This one in particular by H&M Conscious has caught my eye as the polyester content of the dress is partly recycled. On my wishlist for summer!

Shop more H&M Conscious here.

6. The Jardin du Jour

I don’t know how I missed this on my first trip to Amsterdam but I will definitely be going back to visit here and have a coffee!

This is the Hortus Botanicus, located at the centre of Amsterdam. It was founded in 1638, making it one of the oldest botanicals gardens in the world! The restaurant pictured here is the Laranjazaal on the top floor of the massive Orangery. It has floor to ceiling windows and looks out over the garden.

If you choose to hire out any of their event spaces or visit the gardens, you are helping fund the upkeep of the garden and buildings. The Museum Cafe has loads of vegan and vegetarian options with fresh homemade dishes, many of which have organic and farm to table ingredients. You can plan your next trip to the Hortus Botanicus here.

7. Mouth-Watering Vegan Pink Treats!

I’m back on my ‘sugar once a week’ diet and it’s going well but sweet things are never far from my mind! Rather than posting a cake or flapjack, I thought it might be helpful to feature a recipe for something pink and pretty but sugar-free. Et voila! Here is a recipe for No-Bake Energy Balls with Dates and Raspberries by Plantiful Heart for that guilt-free treat!

Find more vegan recipes by Plantiful Heart here!

8. Handmade Recycled Silver Jewellery

Recycled Sterling Silver ‘Rising Sun’ Necklace – £67 – Jewellery by Juna

Jewellery by Juna necklaces and rings are my ideal blend between chic and earthy. Handmade in Brighton, UK, from recycled sterling silver and ethically sourced gemstones, these pieces are the best accessory to give your outfit that understated edgy vibe.

Solitaire Gem Necklace with Citrine or Iolite – £38

Asymmetrical Sun & Moon Stud Earrings – £35 – Jewellery by Juna

Recycled Sterling Silver Eye Necklace with Topaz Gem – £59

Shop more Jewellery by Juna pieces on Ethical.Market.

9. Edinburgh in Spring

For some reason, Edinburgh has been calling me recently. I think it might be because I am reading a book by William Boyd called New Confessions about a Scotsman who grew up in Edinburgh and I want to wander the same streets. There’s a big part of me that just wants to up sticks and spend a weekend there, hunkering down in a centuries-old pub for a drink, letting the locals chatter around me, or going in search of the city’s vintage shops like I did with my best friend when I was younger – we found some gems.

But what I really want to do one year is go to the Beltane Fire Festival on 30th April held on Calton Hill! This is a festival that welcomes the turn of the seasons with people dressed in pagan costumes, flame throwers, and drumming. This is so my kind of thing I can’t tell you, plus it would make up for all those years I missed the same festival at Stone Henge (I’ve always been meaning to go)!. So far, the best guide I’ve found to the city in Spring comes in the form of good ol’ Lonely Planet – have a read and go armchair travelling with me here.

10. My Monday Mantra

How am I feeling today? Well, to be honest – today I’m feeling proud. A couple of years ago, I was confronted with some pretty complicated feelings – and I didn’t know what to do with them. So I tried to shut them out. Today, two years on, I’m happy to sit on the floor with myself without anyone else around and just be with my own thoughts, travelling my inner landscape in my own head. I think it’s interesting and I think the little girl inside me is very brave, and that’s a good feeling. I let myself in in small ways – treating myself to pizza, making my favourite drink, reading a funny book. And in bigger ways – therapy multiple times a week, a full-time job, saving money. Everyone has their own way of doing it, but it’s important to find that way – the way to bring yourself back that only you know how, things that make you happy and more content that are so personal to you. What are they? Write them down and they’ll be there when you need them.

In Love&Light, MM XOXOX

image_93700bca-bd89-4270-b441-3cb926a0a079_1200x

A Shout-Out To My Longest-Standing Eco-Friendly Followers In Honour of Earth Day!

My goal with this blog and with my Instagram @itsmollymayfair has always been to build a community – a community of like-minded brands and readers who share in the knowledge of Mother Earth’s importance and the hope that we can live peacefully with the environment, treading lightly on this world. It seems like a long time ago that I started this journey but really it was only three years ago back in 2017! And since then I’ve had the pleasure of learning about some truly amazing people through my supporters and research. With everything that is going on right now, I wanted to share some hope and inspiration to remind us all that although these are truly difficult times, there is still so much happening to be hopeful for. So in honour of Earth Day, this is a SHOUT OUT to some of my longest-running followers – brands and individuals who inspire me every day and are working to make the world a more sustainable place. I’ve loved learning more about them over the years and now you can too! I reached out and asked them to tell me one thing they are most grateful for at this time and I’ve placed it alongside a summary of their ethos. Have a little read of their answers and see what resonates with you below…

1. All Natural Soap Co.

Rose Geranium Soap – £6.50 – All Natural Soap Co.

The All Natural Soap Co. is an award-winning natural soap brand who are committed to providing sustainable products and a personalised customer service every time. Their soaps are fully biodegradable, vegetarian (mostly vegan – see their full range here) and Palm Oil free, and they only offer accessories that are plastic-free and ethical. You could even eat the majority of ingredients found in their soaps and you get a free mini soap with every order! During these challenging times of COVID-19, All Natural Soap Co. say this: “The situation in the human world right now is making us sit back, pause and count our many blessings. In the first few days of the lockdown, gratitude for things we are so used to taking for granted – like hot water – really stood out”.

Check out their full range of soaps, shampoos and accessories on their website here or follow along on their journey on Instagram.

2. Thrifty Canadienne

Jessica, the woman behind @thriftycanadienne is a fellow sustainable fashion and thrift-shop addict. Her Instagram is, in her own words, “an account to hold me accountable & share conscious & vintage finds”. She has introduced me to the brand who made her beautiful wedding dress above, Héroïnes Paris, who make limited edition pieces in Europe, as well as one of the only affordable ethically made sun hat companies I’ve come across, La Boutique Équatorienne.

In her ethically-made sun hat

Jessica also wove many aspects of sustainability into her wedding itself, including using an independent florist who could tell her where her flowers were coming from, whether they were in season, and how she could make sure they were coming from Europe. She also used recycled centrepieces for her dining tables and decorated the tents with ivy from their garden! For dinner, her guests enjoyed fish instead of meat and hyper-local organic wine and local champagne. I reached out to Jess and she told me she was most grateful “for video chats with my little sister, spending time with my husband, and the privilege to have a great health care system and job protection provided by the French government. Not everyone is so lucky, so I’m trying to be still and acknowledge that when things get “tough” mentally. Also, I’m very grateful for yoga with Adriene on YouTube!”

I’m definitely going to be using these tips for any weddings or events I might attend in the future! You can follow along for updates or check out @thriftycanadienne here.

 

3. Reclaim Mallorca

Reclaim Mallorca’s motto is ‘Redefining Luxury’ and this is precisely why their founder set up the sustainable luxury brand on the island of Mallorca in 2009. They produce one-off, handmade bags from high quality upcycled materials – ‘designed to last’. Their bags are made from ‘a combination of leather that has aged naturally through a lifetime of use by thoroughbred racehorses, or spirited polo ponies, combined with century-old Mallorcan fabrics and surplus Italian cashmere’. The SOLLER backpack, for example, is based on the 19th-century design the founder’s grandfather used to have.

Grey Red Floral Soller Rucksack -€695 – Reclaim Mallorca

And the people behind these stunning luxurious bags?

Teal Floral Orient Tote Bag -€595,00 – Reclaim Mallorca

Local talented craftspeople on the island of Mallorca itself – and Team Reclaim believe in “keeping our workers happy, whatever that may take”. When I reached out to the brand, they told me something that really made me smile – quietly and behind the scenes, Team Reclaim have been using their network to get ventilators sent from Tesla (a sustainable energy company) directly to hospitals in Madrid to fight the Coronavirus pandemic. You can read more about the donations here. At the moment, Team Reclaim’s head designer is most grateful for ‘the incredible blessing’ of being able to spend quarantine in the middle of the countryside with ‘her two furry besties’.

She says: “I am so aware of those families with young children who are locked into small apartments, wishing I could offer them my wild garden to run around in”.

Such a beautiful message and I just want to say – GO TEAM RECLAIM! Hats off to you, good luck with your truly inspiring project and stay safe.

You can check out Reclaim Mallorca here and follow along on Instagram here.

4. Little By Little Jewellery

Spinning Seville Necklace – £130 – Little by Little Jewellery

Little by Little Jewellery are a sustainable jewellery brand on a mission to help change lives with every piece sold. They do this by partnering with Luminary Bakery – a charitable partnership based in London that offers disadvantaged women the opportunity to build a career by using baking as a tool to equip them with transferrable skills for the working world. By offering courses, work experience and paid employment within the bakery, Luminary and Little by Little Jewellery empower women to build their career – for every purchase, Little by Little Jewellery funds one woman to train at the bakery for a day.

Their transparency in the production process of their jewellery and sustainability of their brand really stands out. The Peruvian factory they use to create their jewellery has been running for 32 years and is noteworthy in that it gives jobs to people with no prior technical experience and trains them in the art of making jewellery. The brand’s founder, Annabel, also visited the factory to ensure it is a safe, spacious and well-equipped place to work.

Seville Hoops – £80 – Little by Little Jewellery

The silver used in their jewellery is local Peruvian silver, some of which is recycled, and comes from companies ‘with environmental certification that meet with strict Labour standards and comply with human rights laws’, with an ultimate goal of supporting local miners and communities, whilst reducing their environmental impact.

Wedge Ear Jackets – £100 – Little by Little Jewellery

And one of the most unusual things about the brand? Their jewellery is all inspired by FOOD! Like these Wedge Ear Jackets, inspired by the graphical form found in the watermelon slice. The Seville Dome Pendant below is also inspired by food – this time, the Andalusian oranges of Seville.

Seville Dome Pendant – £125

When I reached out to Annabel and Georgina, the founders of Little by Little Jewellery, to check in with COVID-19, they said this: “We’re most thankful for the sunshine and simple pleasures in running a business at a slightly slower pace. The weather has lifted our spirits and we’ve had time to pause, reflect and be grateful for fulfilling orders, albeit at a slightly more gentle pace!” I love this message and the ethos behind their business – you can also check out their Instagram here. Stay safe Little by Little!

5. Purepod Studio

Pollinator Dress – $100 – Purepod Studio

At times like these, I was grateful to be able to hear from a fellow sustainable brand in Australia. Purepod Studio has a ‘vision for a fashion industry that holds planet, people and passion at its core”. Their collections are made by either local artisans or internationally, complying with Fair Trade standards, and are created with premium sustainable textiles.

Bee Vintage Waistcoat in Raw Linen – $149

These include organic cotton, organic denim, hemp, silk, bamboo, merino wool, raw linen and soya bean textiles – all naturally dyed and hand-printed. They have won many green fashion awards since their conception in 2007 (when, as they say, sustainable fashion was ‘still in its infancy’) and has been invited by trade shows to represent the Australian ethical fashion industry.

Bee Vintage Waistcoat in Raw Linen – $149

This Bee Vintage waistcoat is a perfect example of the care and traceability that goes into each and every Purepod piece. It is made from raw linen with a print design by Abby French of Bursaria Workshop in New South Wales, Australia. The material is then printed on using Abby’s design in Melbourne at Frankie & Swiss and the waistcoat itself is made in Canberra, before being hand embroidered by Kelli herself, the founder of Purepod Studio! A true Australian-made piece.

Reed Skirt – $140

Despite COVID-19, Kelli is still able to post orders and she is most thankful to have this time with her beautiful daughter and to be living in Canberra where they have a “big backyard and lots of bush around us to go for walks!” The Reed Skirt and Pollinator Dress posted here are from Purepod Studio’s Native Pollen Collection, created to highlight the importance of using bee-friendly materials to make our clothes. You can read more about fashion’s impact on the bees here in this Purepod blog post and their Instagram is here.

I hope you enjoyed learning about these wonderful brands!

Have a wonderful Friday and stay safe!

In Love&Light, MM XOXOX

33436849716_8f3277c608_b

5. Essential Responsibly Chic Outfits For French Girl Style

As I get older (ah, me) I find myself turning again and again to more minimalist styles. It’s not something that anyone who knows me would ever put with my name – I’m certainly no ‘minimalist’ – I love and live big, but when it comes to style… I think I might be a convert. And French style, in particular, has got me thinking. It’s chic, smart, an evocative mixture of tomboy and feminine with more than a hint of girl boss ‘don’t mess with me’ vibe. So here are some mindfully made wardrobe essentials for emulating la fille française and a taste of that Paris trip you so desperately want to book… don’t worry dear reader, we’ll be sipping our café again on the Rue St Germain in no time at all…

1. Bicycle Chic

One image that has become synonymous of French style is the girl running errands dressed casually on her bike. For this look, I’ve pulled together some straight-legged blue jeans, a classic Breton striped shirt and comfy yet chic flat-soled trainers, as well as a little ring for your finger to wink at you over the handle-bars whilst you’re loading your basket…

Vintage Slim High Ankle Jeans – £24.99 – H&M Conscious

Fair Trade Organic Cotton Nerissa Striped Shirt – £39 – People Tree

The Carbon Neutral Court Sneaker – £80 – Everlane

Handmade In The UK Sterling Silver Why Not Ring – £40 – Oh Someday

Safe travels!

2. Café Style

One of my favourite things to do in Paris when I lived there was to enjoy a milky café latte on my local terrasse before heading to work. It was Autumn and a fresh almost sorrowful crisp breeze tousled my hair and made my nose sting with the smell of rotting leaves. I pulled my coat tighter around me and headed out…

Aviator Jacket – £65 – Monki

Monki, Monsoon and H&M are my preferred big high street fashion brands for mindful fashion. Monki has come to my attention recently as they have pledged to ensure all their materials are either sustainably sourced or recycled by 2030. Their cotton is already 100% sustainably sourced and their stores all run off renewable energy and offer garment and textile recycling. For me, this is a step in the right direction and earns their Aviator Jacket a place on my list.

Black Recycled Polyester Turtleneck – £19.99 – H&M Conscious

Mom Ultra High Ankle Jeans – £24.99 – H&M Conscious

Carbon Neutral Aviator 2 Boots – £106 – Will’s Vegan Shoes

Becky II Charitable Sunglasses – $95 – DIFF Eyewear

3. Belle At The Boulangerie

Mmmm I can almost smell those warm steamy baguettes as they’re laid on the shelves for early morning shoppers to take home to their families. But what to wear to pick one up? Sensible yet eye-catching, you never know who you’re going to meet along the way… it is Paris after all…

Short-Sleeved Cotton Shirt – £17.99 – H&M Conscious

A-Line Skirt – £24.99 – H&M Conscious

Oxford Brogues – £82 – Will’s Vegan Shoes

18k Gold Coin Necklace – £25 – Oh My Clumsy Heart

4. Picnic By The Seine

A floaty summer dress, a rattan bag and a pair of lace-up espadrilles are all you need for the exquisite ‘picnic by the Seine’ vibe. Here are some affordable mindful essentials:

Linen-blend Dress – £24.99 – H&M Conscious

A simple black linen-blend dress, perfect for dangling your legs over the river and sipping champagne. This style also comes in equally chic white or a quirky lemon and green patterned – whichever one you choose, the style is so classic and easy to wear you could pair it with so many kinds of shoes and bags you already have in your wardrobe, but here are some recommendations.

Cassie Espadrille Wedges in Black – £80 – Boden

A pair of lace-up wedges. This is a must for a summery French wardrobe and I’m lusting after these black espadrilles from Boden so badly! I really looked into the ethics behind the brand before choosing these and I have to say I’m impressed by their transparency. You can read about the makers behind the clothes in great detail here. For my American readers, I recommend Matisse Footwear for some equally well-priced, mindfully made espadrilles and wedges.

For the baguettes, cheese and charcuterie you’re planning on nibbling on this picnic, grab an oversized woven market bag from The Little Market and get packing. This one is hand-woven from palm fronds and trimmed with cognac leather in Ghana by the women artisanal cooperative Bolga Basket Weavers and seeks to empower with every purchase. For my UK shoppers, take a look at what I found here.

14k Gold Hoop Earrings – £18 – Oh My Clumsy Heart

To complete this effortless, breezy summer look, don a pair of plain gold hoops – nothing too big – like these ones from my new go-to handmade in the UK brand Oh My Clumsy Heart. For something similar in $, you can also check out these on ethical marketplace ABLE.

Enjoy your picnic! 😉

5. A Glass of Vin Rouge

And finally, we round off our day with a street-side glass of vin rouge. What better way to style-watch as people pass by? One thing I’ve noticed about ‘chic’ looks is that no one ever looks overly done-up. It’s always minimal make-up and toned down block colours. So that’s what we’re having for our look of the evening – and I thought we’d splurge a bit on this one…

The Pleated High-Waist Trouser – $129 – Vetta

The Lace Button Up Blouse – $99 – Vetta

Point Flats in Stone – £75 – Will’s Vegan Shoes

Organic Vegan Lipstick in Auburn Ambition – £19.50 – Inika Organic

And a little rouge of colour to make the outfit pop next to your wine!

Hope you enjoyed our little trip!

In Love&Light, MM XOXO

646008e7fd932fbd75ceeee13c39007b

30. Budget-Friendly & Beautiful Ethical Fashion Items & How To Style Them

My mother messaged me the other day having read my recent article What To Wear When Covid-19 Is Over and said: “Hi Panda! That post was awesome… just wish I had the odd £10k to buy it all! We’re all going to be broke after Covid-19 so maybe you need an ethical budget alternative post next!” SO! Here we are! I’m going to be honest and say that everything on this list is less than $150 as that is my personal limit when it comes to investing in clothes – and if I’m spending that much it has to be something that I wear many, many, many times. I’m sure you will have a different budget in mind, so – just so we cover all bases my budget scale (listed beside the outfits below with a $ sign) is this:

  • $ = ethical items below $50
  • $$ = ethical items from $50-$100
  • $$$ = ethical items $100-$150.

You’ll find items within these budgets in each of the five outfits I’ve styled below, but for the more expensive ($$$) items like jackets and shoes, I always remember a trick my mother’s best friend told me when she took me out shopping one time. She said before you buy something at the upper end of your price range first style it with the rest of your wardrobe in your head and work out an estimate of how often you’re going to wear it, then divide the price of the item by that number. So if a pair of ethically made shoes costs me $115 and I estimate I’m going to wear them 100 times, that means every time I wore them would cost me $1.15 – would you be willing to pay this? Personally, I would – so I’d probably go ahead and buy that pair of shoes. Of course, everyone budgets differently, but I think within these outfits there’ll be something for all. Let’s dive in!

1. The Laid-Back Lady ($-$$)

Whether it’s pouring over your books, lounging around the house or enjoying a lazy coffee with friends, comfort is the order of the day. So I’ve chosen these black organic cotton dungarees by Lucy & Yak and a white crew-neck cotton t-shirt to go underneath. Both have that crisp yet roomy relaxed feel about them – timeless classics that you can wear again and again and both closet staples.

Organic ‘Umi’ Cotton Dungarees in Midnight Black – £40 – Lucy & Yak

Lucy & Yak are a quirky and affordable ethical clothing company who are committed to paying every single person along their supply chain the Living Wage as appropriate to their country. They have also invested in a new, larger factory in India, which has solar panels fitted on the roof so soon the factory will be running off 100% renewable energy. As it says on their site: “It’s so important that all of our staff are treated with respect, no matter how big or small their role is. Whatever country they are in, they will always be looked after.”

Essential Crew in White – $25 – Kotn

A basic white cotton tee is an essential part of any girl’s wardrobe. This one is by Kotn, a brand on a mission to solve the cotton crisis in Egypt. Did you know that there has been a 95% decline in demand for cotton farmers in the Nile Delta by big corporations, who have chosen to go with cheaper options? As you can imagine, this has caused significant problems in the community there. Kotn was founded in 2014 by three friends who wanted to change this. The brand now buys its Egyptian cotton directly from the farmers, ensuring a guaranteed price – “Like farm-to-table, but for your clothes”. The material is sent to a nearby factory outside Alexandria which employs local craftspeople and is responsibly run. You can read more about their work here.

Sterling Silver Heart Ring – £18 – Oh My Clumsy Heart

Simple jewellery is a must when it comes to completing this relaxed vibe. I love these sterling silver rings by Oh My Clumsy Heart – they’re so endearing. I have to say I’ve slightly fallen in love with this brand and not just because of its really reasonable prices. Everything is handmade in their studio in the UK and they only produce jewellery in small batches to keep the cost and waste to a minimum. They also only work with responsible suppliers who provide them with fair trade gold and silver, use lab-grown diamonds rather than mined, and are experts in the jewellery industry. You can learn more about their materials here.

The Trainer in Off-White – £80 – Everlane

A pair of white sustainably made trainers is such a worthwhile addition to your closet. It can be styled up or down depending on the occasion – shopping with your girlfriends, dinner at your favourite bar, or travelling fresh paths on a well-earned city break. This low impact eco-friendly trainer by ethical clothing brand Everlane is crafted from leather tanned in a gold-certified tannery and its soles are made from a blend of natural and recycled rubber that is 94.2% free of virgin plastic. If you’re looking for a vegan alternative within the same price range check out Will’s Vegan Shoes here.

Drawstring Backpack in Natural Grid – $44 – Baggu

This casual eco-friendly backpack would be great to throw over your shoulder, completing our laid-back look. I love how smart the colour is but that it has that slightly crumpled canvas look – like you’ve just shoved your books and laptop in it in the morning, late for work or class. Baggu has crafted this backpack from 65 % recycled cotton and uses environmentally responsible dyes, which are fully absorbed by the bag’s material rather than creating run-off and pollution.

2. The Bohemian Babe ($-$$)

Feminine floaty dresses with a feel of the desert about them… giggling girls rocking around in a musical vintage van… I thought this vibe would be hard to find in an ethical fashion brand since, surprisingly, a lot of affordable mindful fashion is quite plain cotton basics…

Aisha Maxi Kimono in Talise – £66 – Tamga Designs

Not so with Tamga Designs, I was overjoyed to discover them! I absolutely love their eco-friendly bohemian print dresses and feather-light kimonos, mindfully made in Bali. This will be the most expensive part of your outfit, but it’s well worth it.

Indiria Midi Dress in Muna – £90 – Tamga Designs

Tamga Designs’ fabric is made of eco-friendly fibre Micro-TENCEL® – this is an extra-fine and light cellulose fibre made from sustainable wood sources. The process spins wood pulp from certified sources into cellulosic fibres, which has a low ecological impact by recycling water and reusing the solvent in the fibre at a recovery rate of 99%. You can read more about TENCEL® here.

Cimmaron Western Boots – $45 – Matisse

I’d pair Tamga’s bohemian dresses and kimonos with these vegan western boots by Matisse and a lot of layered long & dangly gold jewellery for that ultimate free-spirited look. Matisse do loads of affordable boots that would match here and I particularly like the transparency of this brand. They say on their website: “We produce our footwear in five countries. Most of our factories are family-owned and operated and have been partners with Matisse for over 30 years. All factories used are socially audited to ensure workers are compensated accordingly and treated fairly based on standards set by Matisse. Our factory partners are a very important part of our company and the Artisans that produce our goods are an integral part of our team.” They go on to say that recycled leather and textiles are used in the heels and uppers of the shoes wherever possible.

Many Memories Necklace – $29.99 – Ten Thousand Villages

This stunning Many Memories Necklace with Mother of Pearl discs is a fair trade creation by artisans working with TARA Projects. TARA Projects stands for “Trade Alternative Reform Action”, a project working in a 125-mile radius of Delhi, India which facilitates hundreds of members to sell their items internationally. Further benefits for communities working with TARA include: medical insurance, interest-free loans and advances, a savings program and skills training. Interestingly, Ten Thousand Villages, the online ethical store where I found this necklace, has purchased products from TARA since 1986.

Mixed Gypsophilia and Eucalyptus Flower Crown – £23 – Pixiewood Flowers

And no peace-loving flower child would venture far from home without their crown. This dainty little flower crown is handmade by Pixiewood Flowers in England from real flowers which have been dried and then woven together to form the perfect bohemian headpiece. You can find more handmade flower crowns in varying colours and styles from Pixiewood Flowers here.

Iraca Shoulder Bag – $72 – Hope Made

Finally, the ultimate road trip crossbody bag. For those unexpected adventures, grab this 100% woven iraca fibre bag and hit the road! The iraca fibre comes from a tropical palm that produces very robust fibres so you can be sure of this little bag’s sturdiness. Every item on Hope Made comes with the story of the maker and this bag is no exception – it was crafted by a woman called Juanita, who used the age-old weaving techniques of the Asociación de Tejedoras Juanita to create it – an organization of approximately 100 artisans – heads of households – whose main economic activity is weaving and craftsmanship. Juanita and the Asociación are located in Sandoná, Nariño in Colombia. Hope Made also offer Home Decor and Accessories as well as bags with similarly important stories.

3. The Chic Muse ($-$$)

It seems that every great artist had a muse. Someone to inspire them. Picasso had Dora Maar, Rossetti had Elizabeth Siddal… Flicking through black and white photographs of them now, they seem endlessly elegant and captivating. But you know what both these women also had in common? They were both celebrated artists in their own right. And just like them, I believe we are our own muses, creating our own art because we are the canvas. Simple, graceful colours and silhouettes have that effortless ‘less is more’ look and you can highlight your lips with a burst of bright red to make the whole outfit pop. Here’s my very own ‘chic muse’ outfit…

Lyocell-blend Dress – £34.99 – H&M Conscious

This long, flowing yet structured dress is made from a soft, patterned eco-friendly fabric Tencel™ lyocell and viscose weave. To me, it’s a cross between English sensibility and French chic. What do you think about big high street fashion brands like H&M doing a ‘conscious’ range? Personally, I think it’s a step in the right direction but I think they could do more – for example, their range could really benefit from a background story about where the items are made and I’ve yet to see any other big brands other than H&M taking up the gauntlet and follow suit with similar responsibly produced ranges. It’s 2020 – COME ON GUYS!

Tie-Strap Sandals – £69.99 – H&M Conscious

These shoes. So stylish and I love that they have that unusual grape vine tie tassel effect with the gold bunch of grapes at the end. It gives your muse outfit a classic uniqueness and a little bit of je ne sais quoi. These sandals are made from a vegan imitation leather called VEGEA™ – a “leather-like vegan material made from bio-waste produced during the winemaking process” – hence the bunch of grapes detail!

Oh My Clumsy Heart – £20-£28

I put together this set of gold jewellery from ethical independent jewellers Oh My Clumsy Heart, but they have loads of pieces on their website so you can mix and match! Clean lines and simplicity are essential for me when choosing jewellery, but you may prefer something different. The 14K Gold Personalised Letter Necklace, Diamond Ring and Arc Earrings are similarly modest and compliment each other well.

Riki Gold Tech Crossbody – £45.37 – Melie Bianco

Like my shoes, I like a bag with some unusual detailing and this vegan crossbody bag with its gold chain shoulder strap and art deco-inspired design by Melie Bianco fits my muse. This brand’s vegan bags are made ethically in China – “sculpted with love in a cruelty-free, animal-friendly environment, using fair trade principles”. Workers get fair pay, equal opportunities, free lunches and paid vacations. Melie Bianco also operates under a Profit Sharing Model, which means the employees get a share of the company’s profits.

beccy II – $95 – DIFF Eyewear

There is nothing like a pair of oversized black sunglasses to complete this look. These are by DIFF Eyewear – a designer charitable eyewear brand based in the United States. In the 4 years I have been following them, they have donated over 1.5 million pairs of glasses worldwide to people in need – every pair of glasses sold provides one person in need with reading glasses. They’ve partnered with Sightsavers for 2020 to go even further – “Now, every pair of DIFFs sold helps to provide the gift of sight to someone in need through eye exams, surgeries, glasses, medicine, and more”. You can read all about their partnership here.

4. The Office Belle ($-$$$)

High-heeled court shoes clicking on marble lobby floors, manicured fingertips flying over laptop keys and sharply tailored suits. The working girl is one to behold – she’s ambitious, driven and switched on. Especially in this outfit.

Mirren Blazer in Black – £139 – People Tree

Office wear is when I turned to my tried and trusted old friend, People Tree. Their Sale is always really good and they stock investment pieces that can be worn heaps of different ways, like this Fair Trade blazer made from 100% organic cotton.

Dorothea Shirt – £49 – People Tree

The handwoven Fair Trade Dorothea Shirt is a favourite of mine because of its loose, relaxed fit. I prefer longer top halves as then you have the option to wear it out, tuck it in, or tie it for that breezy office look. The Dorothea Shirt and 100% organic cotton Fair Trade trousers below are both in the People Tree Sale, so if you are looking for similar ethical items at this price point I recommend checking out Thought Clothing.

Jeannie Fennel Print Trousers – £42 – People Tree

Point Flats – £75 – Will’s Vegan Shoes

I love these Point Flats in rose pink by Will’s Vegan Shoes for a splash of colour in your workday outfit. Ethically made in Portugal from vegan leather created with bio oil. This oil is sourced from organic cereal crops grown in Northern Europe. Their insoles are also made from recycled rubber in Spain.

Keepsake Silver – $39-$49 – Kestan

A day at the office can be stressful and I always like to have a little glitz on me to cheer me up. Kestan is a new find of mine with loads of jewellery under $50 and all sterling silver. I thought the Malibu Sterling Ring and Avalon Earrings would go well with this. Their ethos is that beautiful items should be made by happy workers and to this end, they spent 6 months in the factories they now use to make certain they complied with Kestan’s standards. They also do a clothing range that uses eco-friendly fibres and you can take a look inside their factories here.

 

Arlie Satchel – £98 – Matt & Nat

This Matt & Nat satchel is made out of vegan leather alternatives and its lining is made from 100% recycled bottles. Approximately 21 bottles are recycled for every bag this brand produces so you’re doing good just by carrying this bag to work – no matter how the rest of the day goes! 😉

5. The Hollywood Starlet ($-$$)

Marilyn White Off Shoulder Wiggle Dress – $98 – Frock L.A.

When I first saw this glamourous Old Hollywood-inspired ‘wiggle’ dress I felt like I had stars in my eyes! Handmade in Los Angeles from eco-friendly fabrics, the Marilyn Dress design has stood the test of time and that’s exactly why it’s on offer at Frock L.A. – a brand that prides itself on slow fashion, creating pieces that will be in style season after season.

$98 – Frock L.A.

This is such a versatile classic piece for your wardrobe. It’s formal yet sexy – perfect for dinner dates, cocktail parties and black tie events. A standalone piece, you could choose to keep your jewellery to simple, delicate silver or gold tones or layer on bold statement items with bursts of colour – a chunky bejewelled sapphire necklace, bracelet or earrings (or all three!) spring to mind. Rich hues would really highlight the snow-white-ness of this Little White Dress and give the impression you’re just dripping in gems. And where to find such jewellery?

I’d have to return again to the affordable ethical marketplace Ten Thousand Villages for their Harmony Necklace – $37.49 and Blue Rhapsody Earrings – $12.99. So well-priced and such high quality. Paired with the Marilyn Dress, it would be difficult to tell these beautiful pieces apart from ones that are ten times their cost and not nearly as ethical in their origin. The Harmony Necklace, for example, is made by artisans working with CFM Market Linkages – “a fair trade partner that helps makers in India develop skills and earn fair wages to support their families”. Meanwhile, the Blue Rhapsody Earrings are made by the women artisans of TARA Projects, working in and around Delhi, India.

Nina – $57.50 – SUSI Studio

For the shoe, I would have to go for a demure yet sleek white heel. These Nina Heels from SUSI Studio compliment the sultriness of our Old Hollywood dress and they’re ethically made too using vegan recycled microsuede and rubber. The Hong Kong factory SUSI Studio works with is also owned and run entirely by women. SUSI’s founder, Bianca, visits the factory regularly, has formed friendships with them and ensures all workers receive “fair wages, reasonable hours and environment”.

Beatrix Beaded Bag – £45 – Monsoon

This Beatrix Beaded Bag by Monsoon is the ultimate elegant piece to round off the look. Monsoon is a familiar sight on many city high streets around the world, but unbeknownst to many, this fashion giant has helped over 10,000 disadvantaged and vulnerable women and children throughout Asia through its charitable foundation, the Monsoon Accessorize Trust. Monsoon believes “in the positive, empowering, life-changing power of trade rather than aid. And we want to do right by the people who make our beautiful things”. They were a founding member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and since then they have been “at the forefront of driving sustainable improvements in working conditions and livelihoods wherever we do business”. You can read more about this company’s fascinating history and ethos here.

I hope you’ve found some ethical fashion and jewellery treasures here! If you’d like even more affordable mindful shopping ideas, check out my article 11. Affordable Ethical Fashion Brands You’re Going To Love.

In Love&Light, MM XOXO

b78c75867de14799893e446784689c7b

10. Titbits To Brighten Your Day, Vol. 9!

1. Handmade Embroidered Cushions From India

Hand Embroidered Cushion Cover – £15.06 – Etsy

Set of 2 Handmade Mandala Flower Cushion Covers – £29.18 – Etsy

The set of 2 Mandala Flower printed cushion covers are “made according to centuries-old, traditional Mughal Crewel embroidery art” by a family-run workshop in Kashmir, North India. Crewel embroidery is “a type of surface embroidery using wool. A wide variety of different embroidery stitches are used to follow a design outline applied to the fabric. The technique is at least a thousand years old”. Perfect to decorate your home with a story behind it to match!

2. Wild Flower Temporary Tattoos

Temporary Tattoo Set of British Wildflowers – £4.00 – Etsy

13 stunning wildflower temporary tattoos based on watercolour illustrations of British Wild Flowers by illustrator Eleanor Longhurst.

Printed onto non-toxic, skin-safe temporary tattoo paper. These tattoos can last up to a week!

I love temporary tattoos for festivals or to liven up a summer garden party outfit! It’s always good to have something unexpected up your sleeve as a good conversation starter…

You can find the Garden Bird Temporary Tattoos also pictured here.

3. An Unlikely Friendship

I don’t know why this touched me so much today. Unlikely friendship videos are the best to watch when you’re feeling a bit down. I also watched countless videos of labradors befriending cheetahs, a spunky penguin defending his penguin mates from danger, and a video of a puppy that couldn’t stop smiling, but this one stuck out. I think it’s because right at the end the narrator says, “If a dog and duck can put aside their obvious differences then why can’t we?” It isn’t that simple but I just wanted an uplifting message today. Call it quarantine blues 🙂 I hope you like it too!

4. Then & Now: Julie Newmar

For those of you wondering ‘who is Julie Newmar?’, she was the very first Catwoman! Born in 1933 in Los Angeles, Julie was always drawn to the performing arts, dancing as a prima ballerina with the Los Angeles Opera when she was just 15. Slender and tall (5″11), she is best known for her recurring role as Catwoman in the 1960s television series, Batman.

Julie Newmar with her Catwoman stunt double

Some other little known facts about Julie Newmar:

  • Her Catwoman costume is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution in the United States, a collection of museums nicknamed “the nation’s attic” for its eclectic collection of over 154 million items

  • Her mother, Helen Newmeyer, was a dancer in the acclaimed Ziegfeld Follies and was described as having the most beautiful legs of any of the dancers in the company

The Ziegfeld Follies

  • The master tapes to her first ever sitcom, My Living Doll – where she plays a robot (1964-65) – were lost in the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles! But producers finally pieced together 11 episodes – enough to make a DVD – from the smaller 16mm film tapes that survived

Julie Newmar with co-star Bob Cummings in My Living Doll

  • Her first big career break came when she was cast as Dorcas in my favourite 1954 musical film, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (if you haven’t seen it, watch the Barn Dance sequence as a taster!), which is where I first discovered her

Julie Newmar as Dorcas in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, 1954

Watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers to see her incredible dance moves!

  • Julie Newmar was also an entrepreneur during the 1970s, patenting a design for panty-house and one for a brassiere
  • Today, she is still active in the film and television industries, as well as being something of a real estate mogul in LA, credited by one commentator as being “partly responsible for improving the Los Angeles neighbourhoods on La Brea Avenue and Fairfax Avenue”

Newmar attending a fictional entertainment and comic book convention in Phoenix, Arizona in 2014

But one of the things I love most about Julie? She’s still just as daring in her dress sense today as she was in the 1960s:

I aspire to this!

5. The Perfect Handmade Lace Tea Dress

Toulouse Mini Dress – £329.55 – Filly Boo

Handmade from delicate 100% cotton lace, each Filly Boo piece is created by skilled artisans in small family villages in Bali, India and Java, Indonesia. This is the dress I would wear to tea with my Grandma if she owned an echoing country house, sipping daintily out of chintz floral-patterned china cups as we chatted lazily about the summer.

Of course, I have been known to make extravagant fashion purchases on little more than a whim and I’ve never needed a country house to wear it in soooo… this might be in my closet sooner rather than later! Browse more beautiful hand-crafted styles from Filly Boo here.

6. The Jardin du Jour

This open-air grotto of a fairytale restaurant is The Grounds in Alexandria, Sydney, located on a former 1920s industrial site with brick walls and an organic garden. This is definitely one to add to the Wanderlust List if you’re ever in Aus!

“The Grounds of Alexandria is a landmark cafe, restaurant & bar, garden, bakery & patisserie, coffee roastery, animal farm, florist, markets and more…The Grounds provides a wholesome, produce-driven menu that is fresh, fun and innovative”.

You can check out their Menu here!

7. Mouth-Watering Sugary Pink Treats!

Vegan Vanilla Cake with Raspberry Jam – The Vegan Jetsetter

I am obsessed with this vegan vanilla cake. It is so pink and fluffy and I SO want a slice! I’m starting to think it’s quite unkind of me to write about sugary pink treats when I can’t have any myself… but you can! This recipe uses coconut oil, vegan butter and non-dairy milk to make it cruelty-free and I am ALL. ABOUT IT. Check out how scrumptious this would be to make:

Find the full recipe here for the perfect lockdown baking project.

8. Handmade in London Pink Earrings

For the most eclectic selection of pink glittery, floral and resin earrings, head over to Flamingo Jewellery. All handmade by Eveline in London. These also happen to be the earrings I was given 5 pairs of as a birthday gift from my Nana this year – thank you Nana! – and a fun Q&A with Eveline will be coming soon! Watch this space!

9. Paris in Spring

Whenever Springtime comes around, I feel myself missing Paris. I lived there back in 2014-15 and, whilst it wasn’t the happiest time of my life, I will always hold a place for this city in my heart. Spring is the time the avenues and gardens start to burst into colour with blooms and the sun starts to shine, making your morning coffee at your favourite street-side café that little bit more special. It feels like my heart is waking up too. I can’t wait to go back and visit here once lockdown is over. Here are a couple of good travel ideas for Paris to start your musing:

Follow Me Away

Lonely Planet

A Luxury Travel Blog

See you soon Paris!

10. My Monday Mantra

Why have I chosen this as my Monday Mantra today? Well, because I’m feeling a little low. And one of the things I tend to do when I’m feeling low is beat myself up. Like my weight (about 3 stone off what I want it to be). Like the fact I’ve had 2 cigarettes today and I was on a winning streak since last Wednesday of not smoking. About not being able to make a living the way I want to make a living. All very petty really, a bit cliched, and to some people perhaps insignificant compared to all the other terrible events happening in the world. And I agree. But it’s at times like these that the old insults start creeping in. ‘You’re fat’. ‘You’re weak’. ‘You’re a failure’. Even as I write this I can feel a little lump in my throat because they’re such horrible things to catch yourself saying and thinking. You’d never say them to anyone else and yet when it comes to you does your brain just get a free pass? So I’m putting this quote here to say ‘NO! IT DOESN’T! YOUR BRAIN DOES NOT GET A FREE PASS!’ But you are the one who controls this and that is a very hard thing to come to terms with.  So here is my handy go-to guide of what to do when you’re feeling low:

  1. Write down in a diary all the things you need to hear today. Imagine you’re sitting in front of a friend and you’re explaining how you feel. They’d be sympathetic and they’d say encouraging things. What are they? What do you most need to hear to be kind to yourself? Here’s one of mine: “It’s okay that you aren’t where you want it to be. This does not mean that you won’t get there one day. You have a beautiful body that does what you ask of it and functions for you and looks after you. You are safe. You are loved. You are incredibly fortunate. Feel the deepest gratitude for that and let the other things go”.
  2. Light a scented candle, lie on your back on your bed and place your hands flat on your stomach. Focus on the steadiness of your breath making your stomach and chest rise and fall. You can think or say out loud all the encouraging things you just wrote down in your diary. It’s a little trick of self-love I do quite regularly. If you need a calming soundtrack to help you along, have a listen to this Relaxing Music with Nature Sounds.
  3. Drink a herbal tea with lemon juice squeezed into it. Guys – I do not know why this works but it really does perk you up a bit. Lemon and hot water are incredibly cleansing for the body and great for the skin, so it has fab health benefits too.
  4. Have a hot bath with lots of bubbles (if you don’t have bubble bath the trick is to use shower gel instead just as you start running your bath and froth it up with your fingers). Whilst bathing, you can also listen to an uplifting podcast such as Fearne Cotton’s My Happy Place or Oprah Winfrey’s SuperSoul Sundays. Both have helped me before when I’m feeling down.
  5. Do your make-up. When I feel down about myself, I put on lipstick. And if I’m feeling like an extra pick-me-up, I do my whole face – mascara and all. Take a moment to look at your work in the mirror and admire your face. Say something nice. It helps.

Sending Love&Light to anyone who needs it today, MM XOXO

221200000-coinpurse-panda-love-650x650

Fair Trade Purses Vs. Reality

Panda Love Felt Coin Purse – $17 – Fair Trade Winds

I found the most incredibly cute fair trade felt coin purses on my new go-to ethical store, Fair Trade Winds. They are hand-felted by a women’s cooperative in Nepal and each of them features a different animal in a variety of poses. So I thought it would be fun to find their real-life counterparts! This is a ‘silly Friday’ post because I’m in the mood for that.

Sleeping Fawn Felt Coin Purse – $17 – Fair Trade Winds

I think these would make the perfect small gifts for kids as well as adults who are in touch with their inner child. Stocking fillers at Christmas springs to mind or a present for an acquaintance on their birthday.

 

Happy Llama Felt Coin Purse – $17 – Fair Trade Winds

This Happy Llama Purse is particularly interesting. The only time I’ve seen a llama out and about is in a muddy field as part of a petting zoo in England so I was intrigued to find out the story behind the scene depicted on the purse of a llama with a kind of blanket on standing amongst some cacti. Turns out, the llama is native to Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina and holds special significance to communities in Peru especially.

This is due to the fact llamas were used in many different areas of life by the Incas centuries ago, such as for transport, meat, and their fur for blankets and clothes. Llamas are highly social creatures, make great pets and their fur is still used today to make blankets which are sold in many markets in Peru. I did some digging and found one traveller’s account of a llama blessing ceremony in Peru, where he was invited to witness a herd of llamas and their babies being “decorated with flowers & natural colours as prayers are spoken” as “cocoa leaves, incense, feathers, and other items are gathered up in a pouch and burned. Special water is thrown over the tops of the llama herd… At the end of the ceremony, the people dance around the herd with flags and vibrant clothing until all the llamas are released back into the mountains”. You can read the full account here.

The brightly coloured llama costume you see in the pictures above is donned by owners who dress up their llamas in traditional Andean costume for celebratory occasions and also for the benefit of tourists who pay them a tip in exchange for a picture of them and their llama.

I think they look amazing. Anyway, moving on from our Peruvian pitstop…

Felt Coin Purse Fox – $17 – Fair Trade Winds

SO – funnily enough, there aren’t that many pictures out there of a placid little fox with a bird balanced on its tail. That’s not really their style… However, I did find this truly breathtaking photo of the moment a bald eagle in San Juan Island National Park, Washington, attempts to snatch a rabbit a fox has just caught by swooping down and grabbing it in its talons straight out of its mouth! The struggle lasted 8 seconds and ensued 20 feet in the air for photographer Kevin Ebi of LivingWilderness.com to capture it on film. Read the full article here.

Swinging Sloth Felt Coin Purse – $17 – Fair Trade Winds

I am ALL ABOUT SLOTHS! I love that they take the world at their own pace. I love that they’re known for sleeping and moving slowly as well as being incredibly sweet. It gives me hope my boyfriend looks upon me like that when I don’t get up until 4 PM on the weekend… Some little-known facts I found about sloths:

  • Sloths are half blind and half deaf
  • They move about 3 feet per minute
  • They can take up to 30 days to digest one leaf
  • Scientists estimate they make HALF of the rainforest biomass as they are so common in Central and South America
  • They can turn their heads up to 270 degrees, looking almost completely behind themselves
  • They’re great swimmers

Baby Felt Fox Coin Purse – $17 – Fair Trade Winds

And to finish, a fox cub peaking out from behind a tree! Take a look at all six hand-felted fair trade purses on Fair Trade Winds and browse so many other beautiful fair trade items here.

Happy Friday!

In Love&Light, MM XOXOX

 

 

 

 

 

 

which Threads of Peru describes as including “layers of bright, colourful traditional Andean clothing… capes, shawls, embroidered skirts, and vibrantly coloured hats”.

original

What To Wear When Covid-19 Is Over: The Sustainable Edit

The Winslow Dress in Ivory – £260 – Reformation

I was watching one of my favourite fashion influencers the other day and she turned the camera around to show the floor of her bedroom. You literally couldn’t see the bottom of it for packages – clothes half in half out of boxes, heels poking here and there. She said: “I told you – when I’m bored – I just shop!” How amazing would it be for that to be your job? Well, I decided to join her. I’m not going to be posting about fast fashion brands, but I am going to be making some sustainable stylist recommendations for your wardrobe. This is for you dear reader – each outfit is styled from hand-picked mindful fashion brands and themed to suit your needs this upcoming summer… when COVID-19 is far behind us…

The Summer Wedding

Beautiful long flowing dresses, champagne fizzing from the bottle into your waiting glass, happy chatter amongst the guests, and the scent of roses from the bride’s bouquet… Summer weddings. There’s nothing quite like them. For me, soft heels and delicate jewellery are a must. I pair these with an elegant maxi dress and eye-catching headpiece for full-on glamour to stand out amongst the crowd. Insider tip: just don’t outshine the bride! 😉

Winslow Dress in Macademia – £290 – Reformation

Reformation is one of my favourite go-to brands for occasion wear. They are working to minimise their impact on the environment and each item has a group of stats with it that shows how much waste and water was saved in the making when compared to other fast fashion brands. The Winslow Dress in Macademia has saved:

  • 7.0 lbs of carbon dioxide
  • 3.0 gal. of water
  • 1.3 lbs. of waste

Pearl Headband Small – £1,260 – Jane Taylor London

If you’re on the hunt for a statement headpiece that you’ll wear with everything from dressing for garden parties to attending Ladies Day at the races then look no further than the eye-catching luxury pieces by Jane Taylor London. Before she became the sought-after milliner to dress The Royal Family in England, Jane Taylor started her business while living on a houseboat in Kew, London in 2007. Seven years later, she launched her boutique and studio on the King’s Road. I love to keep shopping local! If you’re looking for something more affordable, try these DIY hair pieces and flower crowns from Sophie & Luna or buy one pre-made!

Rose Halo Necklace in Rose Gold – £79 – Lee Renee Jewellery

This Rose Gold Halo set from Lee Renee Jewellery suits the whimsical floral print on our maxi dress perfectly. All Lee Renne Jewellery is handmade in her London studio from recycled silver. You can pair the necklace with the single matching slider earring and to give your look a quirky twist, I recommend adding the Ladybird Bracelet in Rose Gold.

Ladybird Bracelet in Rose Gold – £58 – Lee Renee Jewellery

Now for shoes. A nude or soft pink heel to match, preferably something sturdy to give your feet a rest from all that standing. These are RAFA USA, handmade in Los Angeles and crafted from recycled textiles. The Simple Sandal in colour Gobi is a good choice but they do many other shades too.

The Simple Sandal, Gobi – $250 – RAFA USA

Finally, our clutch. Since we’re wearing a pearl headband and our jewellery is dainty, a petite clutch bag is a must. To keep it sustainable, I prefer to shop for vintage finds, like this vintage pearlescent bag from the 1950s that I found on Etsy.

1950’s Vintage Pearlescent Beaded Evening Bag – £35 – MyVintage

The Beach Holiday

Sand, sea, sunshine… breeze in your hair, salt-spray on your lips, the cry of gulls above you… oh how I wish I was at the beach. Shopping for bikinis and swimwear is bringing me that little bit closer though! And I know the perfect brand to keep it sustainable: Fisch Swim. I like an understated, smart resort wear look at the beach. Think Coco Chanel circa 1937 if she’d worn a swimsuit.

This black one-piece has caught my eye…

Rajalin Jet Black – $260 – Fisch Swim

This Rajalin Jet Black one-piece is inspiring all my beachside dreams. Its fabric is woven in Italy and 65% of this swimsuit is made from the sustainable material Econyl® (fishing nets and nylon waste).

Long Khadi Cotton Kaftan Mila – La Mandarine Beachwear

And something ethical to cover it up with – I love kaftans. They’re the best thing to throw on when you’ve spent a heavenly day at the beach and the sun is just starting to dip beyond the horizon. This long kaftan is handmade in India using the traditional Indian techniques of hand printing and hand embroidery, and this piece is hand-loomed too. I also like the Delphine Embroidered Kaftan – £55.00 – if you’re looking for something shorter.

Summer Seagrass – $139 – Will & Bear

Whilst on the hunt for sustainable hat brands, I came across Will & Bear and my sun hat issues were solved. All their hats are made from 100% natural or recycled materials and for every hat sold, they’ve partnered with Trees.org, to plant 10 trees in West Africa as a way of giving back to the planet and their community. You can read more about their story and their factories here.

Sable Noir Vegan – 70,00€ – Momoc Shoes

Carrying on with Chanel herself in mind, my top pick for beach shoes would be this vegan lace-up style by Momoc Shoes. All their items are made sustainably in Spain. The soles of these particular shoes, for example, are made from recycled rubber. Perfect for comfort and grip whilst walking along the sand.

Upcycled Sail Cloth Beach Bag with Pocket – £54 – Sails & Canvas

Now on to our bag. It turns out – upcycling old boat sails into tote bags is a thing! And I am so happy it is! This Sailcloth Beach Bag from Sails & Canvas is a total hit from me. Not only is it reducing waste by reusing sails that would otherwise be thrown away, it is also very roomy, waterproof and great for the beach! I searched through loads of brands online offering a similar thing but this one’s design stood out.

The City Break

My ideal city break would include…

  • Breakfast at a cafe that serves pancakes
  • Sight-seeing in comfy trainers
  • A glass of refreshing Pinot Grigio at lunch
  • A stroll, hand in hand with a lover (or loved one) down the embankment to the river
  • Shopping in independent bookshops and vintage boutiques
  • Dinner at a restaurant with views of the city

So my outfit would need to go effortlessly from day to night. I’ve chosen a cream lightweight silk slip dress and bright white trainers to keep it simple yet chic, with a black vegan backpack and vintage leather jacket to throw on in the evening – all ethically made or sustainably sourced in line with our mindful mindset.

The Sumi Slip Dress – £110 – Clemmie Rose

Clemmie Rose is a women-run fashion brand which focuses on empowering women by providing a safe and fair working environment for them to thrive in. Their About page says: “Made by women, for women… a luxury and ethically focused fashion brand that aims to support and empower women from all different walks of life… These pieces are made with love by a team of strong, fierce, brave and exceptionally talented ladies in a small and safe factory in South India that focuses on providing sustainability to better the life of a woman who has previously been in a vulnerable situation and had a low chance of employment”. Hats off to that.

Black Lamb Bomber by Dolce&Gabbana – $1,208.90 – Found on Tradesy

Looking for an investment streetwear piece you can throw on over anything to give it that edgy, ‘fresh off a road trip’ look? I highly recommend a preloved luxury leather jacket. Leather lasts forever so this will immediately become one of your wardrobe staples. This one is from Tradesy, a luxury fashion resale marketplace on a mission to clean up the fashion industry. In 2019, Tradesy reached $1 billion in sales – “equivalent to 25,000 garbage trucks of fashion waste prevented, with the same environmental impact of taking 100,000 cars off the road”. This brand encourages customers to sell any unused clothes hanging in their closets on their resale platform, whilst also offering rare and luxury finds for these same customers’ next shopping spree, thus creating a circular fashion economy. Pretty clever, no? If you’re looking for something more budget-friendly, check out Beyond Retro’s vintage leather jackets here.

Solid Gold Interlocking Stud Earrings – £275 – Lily Flo Jewellery

I’m also obsessed with gold chain jewellery at the moment. I think it makes such a statement when paired with a streetwise yet feminine outfit. These Solid Gold Interlocking Stud Earrings from Lily Flo Jewellery are a striking addition to a dainty silk slip dress and oversized leather jacket. Lily Flo Jewellery is an ethical, fine jewellery brand, who handmake all their jewellery in London. I recommend the Eternity Round Link Chain Bracelet and Interlaced Gold Chain Necklace to match.

Interlaced Gold Chain Necklace – £1,896 – Lily Flo Jewellery

Looking for budget-friendly jewellery alternatives? Check out the 100% brass, handmade and Fair Trade, jewellery on People Tree here. These pieces are made by Bombolulu, “a Fair Trade social business in Kenya that creates beautiful hand made jewellery. Bombolulu provides opportunities for people who have physical disabilities”.

Venturi Hexamesh Gravel Natural Grey – 140,00 € – Veja

Trainers! I LOVE shopping for ethically made trainers. Veja is the company I turn to time and again for effortlessly chic, comfy trainers. Just some of the great things about this brand:

  • They use organic cotton, recycled polyester and recycled plastic bottles in their trainers
  • The soles are made with wild rubber from the Amazonian rainforest, utilising traditional sourcing techniques of native communities to forage it sustainably for them
  • Each pair of shoes is made mindfully in Brazil in fair, transparent working conditions with the goal of providing many new jobs to workers in their local community

You can learn more about their mission here.

MIA Pinatex Backpack – 195,00 € – Maravillas Bags

And now, the perfect companion to any conscious city break – a vegan backpack made from Piñatex™ and crafted mindfully in Mallorca, Spain. Piñatex™ is “an innovative, natural and sustainable non-woven textile made from pineapple leaf fibres… a green and animal-friendly alternative to leather and petroleum-based materials”. Check out how to care for your Piñatex™ bag here.

The Dinner Date

Whether it’s out with your girlfriends or the love of your life, dinner dates are an essential part of our calendar. Getting dressed up in your slinkiest LBD, sparkling with that new diamond bracelet, and bronzing your cheekbones until they shine and shimmer because it makes YOU feel good. That’s when the compliments come flooding in and that warm fizzling sensation in your stomach. Who said romance was dead? It’s just on our terms.

Ava Dress – £48 – Bullet

I’m one of those ladies who doesn’t like to flaunt it. My Little Black Dress gives everyone a taster – a bare shoulder here, a low-cut back there. Bullet offers the perfect understated yet sexy yet slightly androgynous (which I LOVE) piece in the form of their Ava dress in black. It also comes in a range of other colours at budget-friendly prices. Bullet is a small independent fashion brand based in Liverpool who moved into e-commerce in 2015.

Wedge Necklace Gold – £145 – Little by Little Jewellery

The best thing about an LBD is that you can really spice it up with accessories. Add a splash of colour to your wrists, neck and ears with The Wedge Collection from ethical jewellers Little by Little Jewellery. This collection is inspired by the ‘vivid green’ found in the watermelon slice and is crafted from gold plated 925 Sterling Silver and green enamel. To match, find the Wedge Bangle and Wedge Ear Jackets here.

Wedge Ear Jackets – £100 – Little by Little Jewellery

Wedge Bangle – £115 – Little by Little Jewellery

Little by Little Jewellery is partnered with the Luminary Bakery – an innovative “social enterprise designed to offer opportunities for women to build a future for themselves. We provide a safe and professional environment where women can grow holistically… We use baking as a tool to take women on a journey to employability and entrepreneurship, equipping them with transferrable skills for the working world”. You can read more about their ethos here.

Nina Gold Tumbled Vegan Leather Strappy Sandals – £225 – Beyond Skin

I’m going neutral for my shoes and bag to make the green colour really pop. These Nina Gold Tumbled Strappy Heels are vegan and mindfully made in Spain by cruelty-free shoe brand Beyond Skin.

The Envelope Chain Crossbody in Ivory Lizard – £60 – JW Pei

And finally, our bag. This cute yet smart little envelope crossbody bag can also double up as a clutch if you tuck the chain inside – two bags in one! JW Pei have been on my radar as a one-to-watch sustainable bag company for a few years now. They even made my Sustainable Shopping List for Meghan Markle – Our Next Princess To-Be back in 2018. Just a few great things to expect from your new bag:

  • Minimalist design and sustainable vegan materials
  • Linings made from recycled plastic bottles
  • Bodies made from eco-friendly non-leather material alternative Patina™ which needs no water or pesticides to produce

The Open Air Festival

There is a whole other side to me when all is said and done that shuns the ‘elegant/chic’ pristineness and just wants to roll in a tub of sparkly glitter, don massive pieces of jewellery, wear the brightest of colours and get mud all over myself at a music festival. Which is precisely what I’m advocating here. For the ultimate ethical festival look, I recommend sifting through your local vintage or charity shop as I do quite regularly in London. Look for anything with sequins, bohemian patterns and coloured faux fur. I found these on Rokit but you could also check Beyond Retro and eBay:

90’s Gold Sequin Party Blouse – £28 – Rokit

Escada Black Sequin Mini Skirt – £45 – Rokit

When it comes to footwear, I can’t stress this enough: preloved preloved preloved. There is so much to be found on online resale marketplaces like eBay that doesn’t break the bank. Depending on the weather, I’d look for:

Preloved Gladiator Sandals

Preloved Cowboy Boots

Preloved Glitter Trainers

Preloved Wellington Boots

Just make sure under the Condition section that Used is checked so that you are sure it’s preloved. I also found some amazing sequin shorts here.

Now for the all-important GLITTER and FACE GEMS. For eco-glitter, it has to be my old friend Glitterlution. They make biodegradable glitter that doesn’t harm the environment and they do heaps of colours. Check them out here.

For face gems, I recommend finding reusable ones as these aren’t biodegradable or recyclable so when you throw them away they’ll probably end up in landfill and take many hundreds of years to break down, polluting the soil around them. We want to avoid that as much as possible! The Gypsy Shrine offers many reusable face gems – they just advise applying eyelash glue/special FX glue to the edges of the jewel when reusing.

And no eco-festival would be complete without the addition of the ultimate good vibes jewel to adorn yourself with from Third Eye Pinecones. Have you heard of them? Let me introduce you. Their motto is “buy a cone, plant a tree”, so every time you purchase a pinecone pendant (pictured above) “your money goes to work right away, not only supporting us as artisans, but also planting a tree via American Forests in areas of the country that have been negatively impacted by logging, wildfire, or pollution”. I honestly can’t wait to get my hands on one. Staying true to my blog’s heritage, I, of course, went for pink:

Rhodochrosite with Gold Seed of Love – $124 – Third Eye Pinecones

Rhodochrosite is “reputed to be an excellent stone for the heart and relationships, [it] assists in all aspects of giving and receiving love…It is also highly desired for its ability to balance the emotions, and is used by spiritual healers to gently facilitate the processing of trauma and old wounds”. That sounds like something we could all really use right now. Do you believe in the healing power of safe Nature? I do. I believe that what’s on the heart gets steadied by being around and close to Nature that is calm and serene. And what’s on the heart right now is uncertainty, confusion, disappointment – complicated emotions. But by focussing on happier days ahead we can allay some of these fears. I hope our sustainable styling journey has helped you think of better times to come…

Stay safe!

In Love&Light, MM XOXO

1221787_1_1

10. Titbits To Brighten Your Day, Vol. 8!

1. Handmade Bohemian Chests of Drawers

The Lohko Floral Inlay Pink Chest of Drawers by Oliver Bonas. “Hand-carved by our master craftsmen in Rajasthan, the bone we use in these furniture pieces is buffalo bone and is a by-product of the meat industry. The bone we use in all our pieces will never be obtained from exotic, wild-caught or endangered animals.” I have also found an equally pretty pink handmade vegan alternative that uses glass inlay instead of bone here: Bohemian Artefacts – choose the glass inlay option.

2. Festival Fairy Face Gems

These Moonchild Face Jewels from The Gypsy Shrine are perfect for summer parties and festivals when you want to release your inner goddess or festive fairy and they’re super affordable! They are reusable so you can reapply them as many times as you like! Note: The Gypsy Shrine recommends applying eyelash glue/special FX glue to the edges of the jewel when reusing.

3. Seal Pups Taking Their First Steps In The World

This National Geographic short documentary on Harp Seal pups really does justice to some of the cutest creatures on Earth! Seals are my favourite marine animal – they are so graceful in the water and then on land you just want to give them a hug! If you don’t have time to watch the whole video some of the most interesting takeaway points are:

  • Mothers leave their pups after just 10 days and never return. The pup is then left to fend for itself on the ice – feeding itself (!) and learning to swim. It’s a race against time before the ice they were born on melts beneath them!
  • Pups must put on at least 4 pounds per day if they are to survive – that’s an entire bag of sugar!
  • Mothers ‘kiss’ their pups on the nose when returning to feed them so that they make sure they’re not feeding the wrong pup in a colony of thousands of seals – this is how they recognise them!
  • Sad fact: in 2017, the ice broke up so quickly due to our warming climate that the entire year’s pups drowned overnight 🙁
  • Mothers use their bellies in the water like a big waterboard that they can balance on whilst teaching their pups how to swim!

4. Then & Now: Jean Shrimpton

Jean Shrimpton: 1965

Nicknamed ‘The Shrimp’ for her long legs and slim figure, Jean Shrimpton grew up on a farm and attended a secretarial college before she considered a career in modelling. At the age of just 17, a chance meeting with a director encouraged her to attend an academy for modelling. One day, on a photoshoot for Kellogg’s corn flakes, she met the famous 1960s photographer David Bailey. She became his muse, posing for hundreds of photographs with him over the years, and was catapulted into stardom, subsequently becoming the world’s first supermodel and gracing the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair and Glamour amongst others. In 2012, Time Magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in fashion of all time.

Today, she runs the beautiful Abbey Hotel in Penzance, Cornwall, UK (with her husband Michael and son Thaddeus) with views of the famous Mount’s Bay. The dining room, where breakfast is served every morning, is over 600 years old. In an interview in 2011 with The Guardian, Jean Shrimpton notes that some of the most recent publicity about her – a 1990 ghostwritten autobiography – was undertaken purely to pay for the renovations to The Abbey’s roof and admits: “I never liked being photographed. I just happened to be good at it.”

5. The Perfect Rose Petal Tea Dress

A mindfully made Rose Petal Blossom Mini Dress by conscious fashion brand For Love & Lemons: “We produce all of our Ready-to-Wear, Knitwear, Swim and a portion of our Lingerie garments in our factory in Zhejiang, China. However, unlike other factories in China, it’s held to rigorous standards to ensure that it’s clean, operates efficiently and provides its employees with fair wages and a great work environment. We have never and will never use sweatshops!” The health and wellbeing of all factory employees are important to For Love & Lemons and you can read all about office & employee life, and see inside the factory, here.

6. My Monday Mantra

My Monday Mantra today is about focusing on yourself. Have you ever had the feeling that life is happening to you rather than for you? That things are spinning out of control, beyond your reach, and there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do about it? I have that sensation a lot. It’s especially prominent in our psyches right now because of COVID-19 and the global pandemic we find ourselves in. But there is something we can do about it. I’ve recently realised that if you have a strong internal compass – a firm inner rudder that you steer alone – and you feel happy and secure in yourself, it’s easier to deal with the things life throws at you. I’ve been experimenting with what exactly makes me feel like I have that strong internal compass and here’s what I’ve found:

  • Quitting sugar (except for one day a week when I allow myself a ‘treat day’) – this was HARD you guys! I’ve eaten chocolate for breakfast ever since I can remember – it was the only thing that got me out of bed! Tips: eat fruit (but don’t go crazy!) in the morning and have lemon juice squeezed into hot herbal tea when you’re craving something sweet!
  • Drinking less and only vodka & soda water with lemon when I do (I recently heard this drink dubbed ‘The Skinny Bitch’ because it has so few calories. I’ve adopted this)
  • Eating 100% MORE vegetables. Oh if you had seen my diet before quarantine… it was a lot of falafel and halloumi wraps with chilli and garlic sauce (YUM but HIGH in fat content!), cheese, crisps, wine… all that good stuff. My favourite vegetables now are: carrots, potatoes, broccoli and cabbage – going to try to eat healthily this week after the binge of Easter!
  • Quitting smoking… Yes… that’s right… I smoke. In fairness, only occasionally but I am going to try to cut this right out before lockdown is over so that I feel more in control of my health – I didn’t smoke once for 5 out of 7 days last week and I felt A LOT better about myself
  • Writing encouraging things to myself in my diary and celebrating my wins!

I’m sure what feeds your soul/internal compass will look different to mine, but these are some of my ideas!

7. The Garden Du Jour

Petersham Nurseries Garden Centre in Richmond, London, UK: “A place of beauty, an emporium of goods, a celebration of the seasons”. Located inside a stunning, light and airy glasshouse restaurant (glasshouse = massive greenhouse!), the Petersham Nurseries Cafe offers seasonal food and a dining experience inspired by the garden centre’s Kitchen Garden – so all meals are fresh and sustainable. Plus, you get to dine amongst refreshing greenery and sip your wine (yes – they have a wine list!) beneath the beautiful scented curling tendrils of flowers and plants, such as the bougainvillea and jasmine that surround you. This secret garden restaurant is top of my list once lockdown is over! Check out the menu here.

8. Mouth-Watering Sugary Pink Treats!

This colour-popping recipe for Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars from Sally’s Baking Addiction has been saved on my Pinterest for YEARS and I have to tell you – after all that talk about quitting sugar – the one thing that has truly made my week recently was a similarly bright and sugary birthday cake that my mother bought me from Lola’s Cupcakes. I’m going to be trying this recipe out soon… maybe on treat day?

9. A Handmade in London Rose Gold Necklace

This Rose Halo Necklace in Rose Gold by Lee Renne Jewellery is hand-crafted from recycled silver in Lee Renee’s studio in Hatton Garden (the jewellery district of London): “It features 6 tiny intricate roses, leaves and foliage, nestled on a simple halo circle pendant that appears to be floating on the delicate chain”. Simply stunning. I love anything that is made from recycled metal as there is so much out there in the world that needs using. I also like keeping it local by supporting London-based small businesses. This pendant has a matching ring that goes with it. You can browse more beautiful designs here.

10. Tour The World’s Most Iconic Landmarks From The Comfort Of Your Own Home

The Guardian have clubbed together probably one of my favourite quarantine activities to be suggested by the media in recent weeks which is touring the world’s most famous landmarks from the comfort of your easy chair. Journey along with them and explore wonders such as Machu Picchu in Peru, the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Taj Mahal in India and of course the Eiffel Tour. Perfect for a lazy lockdown afternoon!

That’s all for now.

In Love&Light, MM XXXX

 

 

 

 

IMG_3908

A Whistle-Stop Tour Round The Historic Town Of Chichester

So here it is – our romantic hideaway for the weekend of Summer 2018. Cobbled quiet streets leading to rows of quaint, trellis-covered terraced houses, the lilting birdsong of a blackbird mixing with the solemn bell toll from a nearby church, a garden bathed in bright sun-trapped light. This unusually warm April reminds me of it oh so well… I’m going to encourage you to take a little trip around this city with me and explore slightly further afield into the villages and country walks of West Sussex. You can come along from your armchairs, as that’s as much travelling as we can do right now! Inside this three-storey Georgian period house in Chichester is a red leather armchair where I curled up every morning to sip my coffee over that glorious weekend in May – when thoughts of COVID-19 were very far away…

Welcome to the historic city of Chichester in rural West Sussex, England – the perfect spot for anyone who dabbles in secondhand bookshop hunting, ancient cathedral wandering, afternoon tea-sipping and dipping their toes in the good ol’ seaside even if the temperature is slightly brrrrisk – we are in England after all! Chichester was founded by the Romans all the way back in the 1st century and thus has many historic monuments that visitors can explore. The city itself, for example, is surrounded by a wall circuit nearly 1.5 miles long, built by the Romans in the 3rd century to protect the city from attacks from the coast (Chichester is very close to the sea, as we shall see later on in this guide). Chichester is also West Sussex’s county town and the only city in the county with a cathedral. Chichester today holds true to its heritage as a medieval market town – at the centre of the town is a buttercross called the Chichester Cross.

Chichester Cross – this city’s ‘buttercross’

This stunning monument is more elaborate than most buttercrosses – the name originating from the fact buttercrosses stood at the centre of market towns where people from neighbouring towns would buy dairy products and eggs. But where is the best place to settle down, unpack your bags and explore all of this from? Well, I’ll show you…

Stay…

I really recommend checking out AirBnB to find somewhere beautiful and quaint to stay. We found this gorgeous Listed Georgian House in Chichester which was just perfect for us. It even had a piano with loads of 1940s sheet music stored in the stool so we spent our first afternoon singing old classics such as ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’ and felt very grateful to have a host who shared our love of music! But I think the best thing about it was the garden – it was like a little Alice in Wonderland alcove with shady bowers, a garden shed with model ships lining the windowsills and a table and chairs placed strategically to catch the most of the suns rays…

When you’re on a budget (as we were), finding a little place that has a spot outside where you can enjoy a home-cooked meal or sip your coffee at breakfast is essential as it means you can have the most beautiful setting and not have to spend loads of money eating out. This is what we did and I really recommend it. It also means you feel a little bit more like a ‘local’ and can wander into town to do your shopping.

With regards to location, Chichester is quite a quiet town in general – it’s certainly not London where you choose your spot based on the likelihood that you’re not going to get woken up by sirens screeching at 3 AM! Our house was located just on the outskirts of the main city walls but because Chichester town centre isn’t massive it was easy walking distance to get everywhere we needed to go. I really recommend our romantic getaway spot for any couples looking for somewhere beautiful to stay! Here are a few more pictures:

Eat and Drink…

There are many pretty spots to grab a bite to eat in Chichester. For Breakfast, we chose Charlie Harper’s Cafe Brasserie, located at 5 Eastgate Square and open from 7.45 AM – 4 PM Monday-Saturday and 9 AM – 3 PM Sundays. This is the best place in Chichester to come for a Full English Breakfast and it is perfect for anyone searching for a vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free menu too, which is why I picked it (along with the reviews, which are all fantastic).

Full English Breakfast

Eggs Benedict

For Lunch, we treated ourselves to another traditional British cuisine – Afternoon Tea and Cake at The Chichester Harbour Hotel and Spa –served from 12 PM – 4 PM, Monday-Friday and 2 PM – 4 PM Saturday-Sunday. We went for the Champagne Afternoon Tea with cream teas, scones, and a selection of cakes and finger sandwiches, all served in the very smart airy setting of this restored Grade-II listed period building with views of Chichester’s stunning cathedral. I highly recommend booking ahead to reserve your spot!

Dinner was a pub meal. Pubs are such a staple on our getaway guides – we love to plan our day around them and turn up with comfortingly aching legs from all our exploring, ready for a glass of something cold and refreshing and a hearty feast. For this meal, we chose The Park Tavern for its proximity to Chichester’s beautiful sprawling Priory Park and its cricket grounds. We took our pre-dinner drinks outside into the warm late afternoon sun with the locals to listen to the dull thwack of cricket balls hitting bats and watch the men in their cricket whites playing on the dusty green pitch. For dinner, we had a Sunday roast as this was the day our trip fell on so we were very lucky, but the pub also offers a simple gastro menu featuring burgers piled high and bar snacks.

View from The Park Tavern

And now! What to do to tire yourself out long enough to really enjoy all of these tasty meals?! Let’s find out where to…

Visit…

Chichester Cathedral

Chichester Cathedral & Gardens

Chichester Cathedral is a very important central architectural place in the city’s history, dating back to the 12th century, and well worth a visit. My partner was particularly excited to come here as he loves the British poet Philip Larkin and one of his most famous poem’s, ‘An Arundel Tomb’, is inspired by a real tomb that you can see inside the cathedral. I think it is a really touching sculpture.

The cathedral also has its own gardens which are absolutely stunning and very peaceful. They are called Bishop’s Palace Gardens and can be found to the rear of the cathedral through an archway on Canon Lane.

You can also have a quick rest stop and bite to eat at either The Cloisters Cafe, located adjacent to the cathedral within its cloisters or the beautiful ancient building of The Buttery at the Crypt just down the road on South Street. My mother used to take my sister and I here regularly, catching the train at the weekend from our little home village of Pulborough and riding along towards the South Downs until the cathedral peaked into view. Later on, when I was at boarding school, I used to come to the cathedral to play my violin with the school Chamber Orchestra, and I have fond memories of my grandparents attending those concerts and sitting in the very front row to wave and clap…

The Novium Museum

If you’re looking for a museum to visit in Chichester I highly recommend The Novium Museum on Tower Street. This is the city’s local history museum and displays artefacts and history of the area over the past 500,000 years! This is a relatively new museum, finished in 2011, and it has a really interesting story. The remains of a Roman bathhouse dating back to 1st century AD were uncovered during an excavation in 1974 but could not be explored or put on display, as archaeologists and locals battled to see off a multi-storey development that would see the ruins lost forever. Eventually, a temporary car park was built over the top of them and the archaeologists covered the remains in sand to preserve them. Finally, in 2010, work began on the museum that would display them fully on the ground floor and protect them for generations to come. You can visit the remains of the Roman bathhouse and many other facets of Chichester history here.

The Roman Baths at The Novium Museum

Shopping

One of the most attractive things about Chichester is that it really offers so many independent shops and art galleries. I try to only buy from small businesses when I visit somewhere new as I think it gives the local economy a boost and I like chatting to the owners. So here is a brief list of the best indie shopping spots in Chichester…

Kim’s Bookshop

Perfect for diving into a treasure trove of literature spanning subject areas such as ‘Sussex’, ‘Railways’, and ‘Local Folklore’. You could spend hours browsing in this quiet rambling shop and we did! My partner bought me this and it is fascinating:

Ebony Boutique Jewellers

I love finding independent jewellery shops in market towns and I always look for ones that are budget-friendly rather than selling loads of fine jewellery that I could never afford. Ebony Jewellers is housed in a really olde Englishe building on South Street leading to the centre of town. You can browse everything on their website here.

Art Galleries

Chichester is just buzzing with local talented artists who take inspiration from the historic surroundings, stunning countryside and the seaside that envelops Chichester and many are proudly displayed in several privately owned galleries dotted around the city itself. With this in mind, the art galleries that I would recommend most seeing are:

Pallant House Gallery

Whitewall Galleries Chichester

Candida Stevens Gallery

Cloud Nine Fine Art Gallery

These four galleries are close enough to the city centre that you don’t have to travel too far and the walk to get to each of them is very pleasant. You can purchase smaller artworks and sculptures by local artists if you’re not on the hunt for something larger (and more expensive). I will never forget my mother bought the most beautiful carved sculpture of a naked woman in copper at an art gallery in Chichester when I was very young. It was one of the most prized possessions in our little cottage in Pulborough until one day my chicken Jesse, who was more of a house pet really, jumped through the living room window and knocked it off the window sill! She was in the dog house that day or should I say chicken coop!

Pallant House Gallery

Activities…

Walk The City Walls

This is probably one of the things I look forward to most when visiting Chichester. As the walls circle the city and have been incredibly well looked after since they were built by the Romans in the 3rd century AD, they offer several beautiful viewpoints over Chichester. The walls are preserved by the Chichester Walls Trust, who also offer Guided Walks for those looking to learn a little more about their history.

Canoe Down Chichester Canal

The Chichester Ship Canal is a leisure canal that runs for 4 miles and connects Chichester to the sea. You can walk along the canal path if you would rather stay on dry land, but you can also rowboat, canoe, and take a narrowboat trip along its waterway.

Canoe here

Rowboat here

Cruise trip here

The cruise trips for me are particularly special and I can’t recommend them enough. This is because they offer themed seasonal events along with the cruise itself, such as Easter Bunny Boat Trips and Father Christmas Boat Trips. My Nana and Grandad used to take my sister, mother and I on the Father Christmas Boat Trip almost every year and it was exhilarating getting onto the boat in the freezing winter with a flask of hot chocolate made by my Nana knowing that we were about to meet Santa Claus and tell him all our wishes in his bright red and white suit!

Take Your Lunch (And Bathing Suit) To The Beach

The beach closest to Chichester is West Wittering, located outside of the city itself about a half an hour bus ride away. The bus departs from the city centre at bus stop ‘Cathedral (Stop P)’ and runs every 20 minutes so it’s perfect as a day jaunt if the weather is beautiful, which it was for us. I recommend taking a packed lunch with you including sandwiches and pastries. We stopped off at a little sandwich deli called Spires Bakery & Coffee Shop at 3A Crane Street – it was really, really yummy and satisfying eating our little lunch on the beach with hardly anyone around and then whipping off our shoes and socks and going for a paddle in the sea!

Jellyfish!

Take A Train Ride To A Nearby Village

The great thing about Chichester is that it is located on a train line that includes stops off at some of the most beautiful (in my opinion) towns and villages in southern England. We decided on two towns to visit – Arundel and Pulborough. If you are ever at a loss for what to do in Chichester and fancy a short train ride to explore further afield these two picturesque locations will delight. Both deserve a whole other article on their own, but I will share with you some pictures of the walk my partner and I did on Pulborough Brooks and the pub we visited afterwards as this might give you a little inspiration for your next trip! Enjoy!

A view of the South Downs from Pulborough Brooks

Wiggonholt Church – I highly recommend taking this in on your walk!

Wiggonholt Church

A view of the ever-peaceful River Arun

The Brooks themselves

The White Horse Pub in Pulborough – the best end to the journey!

That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed our little trip!

In Love&Light, MM XOXO

POPPY-MIX-CO

Spotlight on Sophie Pittom: The British Brand Pioneering Ethical Embellishment & Sustainable Luxury

Selena Slip Dress with Lace Overlay in Navy/Off White

Fragrant white-pink trellises twisting their delicate flowers over a country house… A woman sits beneath them as their sweet scent envelops her, honing the silk in her hands, threading it through most careful fingers…

Pink Geometric Print Hand Embellished Clutch

Feminine delicacy, precision, a floral burst of joy – these are all images that float up to meet me when I think of Sophie Pittom. Started in 2017 by the eponymous young British designer, this is a truly artisanal brand that is carving out a path in the fashion industry for luxurious, one-of-a-kind pieces championing embroidery and embellishment.

Handmade from vintage lace or luxury end-of-line fabrics sourced from designers such as Sophie Hallette, Sophie Pittom explains that each piece is created with sustainability at its core: “I felt that there was a gap in the market for a brand that offered luxury, embroidered pieces but in a sustainable and ethical way. I was inspired to create one-off embroidery designs for every garment that paired perfectly with an ethical way of working as we only produce small collections with a limited number of runs. It keeps it exciting and every piece is totally unique!”

Black Poppy Hand Embellished Clutch

So was running a luxury ethical fashion brand always on this designer’s horizon? “I have always wanted to run my own business since school, but I was keen to get a few years’ experience in the design industry before doing so. I am still working in the industry now while my brand grows…” Sophie, who runs the business with her mother, Samantha, says it’s a partnership that works perfectly: “We LOVE working together! The best thing is that we have the same values and vision for the brand but also different strengths. My mum is incredible at hand-embroidery and has a great eye for colour combinations. My strengths are creating the silhouettes and machine work so we make the perfect team”.

Selena Slip Dress with Lace Overlay in Navy/Off White

Based in Warwickshire in the historic town of Leamington Spa, Sophie takes inspiration every day from her surroundings, particularly the area’s celebrated architecture and stately homes dotted amongst its rolling countryside: “I am hugely inspired by [their] interiors – I love the grandeur and decadence they have”. And it’s an enthusiasm that extends far beyond the walls of Sophie’s studio: “When I am not designing, I am working on my house! I am currently renovating my lovely Victorian house as interiors and all things DIY is another huge passion of mine. This is also what has led me to create some home-ware pieces with our signature embroidery… a limited edition collection I am excited to release later this year.” This interiors influence can really be seen in the intricacy and elegance characterised in each piece – like a modern tapestry, Sophie weaves her embroidery of colourful patterns into a creation of wearable luxury – clothing and items perfect to be worn whilst wandering romantically through a country house, brushing blush-coloured silk against your skin as you pass through its echoing rooms…

Selena Slip Dress with Lace Overlay in Yellow/Off White

But this isn’t the only source of inspiration feeding into these designs. The floating, unfitted Kara T-Shirt Dress with Chiffon Overlay and faintly androgynous Charlie Sweatshirts speak of another layer to the vision: “Other influences come from menswear… I love to mix delicate feminine embellishment with relaxed silhouettes that inspire the casual pieces in my collections”.

Navy Kara T-Shirt Dress with Chiffon Overlay

These ‘relaxed silhouettes’ teamed with layers of lightweight fabrics and softened explosions of colour give the impression of an effortless, endlessly chic atmosphere around the brand, but head designer Sophie speaks openly of one difficulty encountered so far: “I think the biggest challenge of being a sustainable brand is making people aware of how you are sustainable and the impact this has. For example, our pieces will always be a slightly higher price because we source the highest quality organic cotton and then spend many hours creating our embellishments in a way that creates the least possible amount of waste. We try to be as transparent as we can about our production process so customers can see they are buying a quality piece that will last as long as you look after it for”.

Navy Kara T-Shirt Dress with Chiffon Overlay

This is a challenge being played out on the global stage as ‘slow fashion’ designers look to shift consumer perceptions around price points and the benefit of purchasing longer-lasting items. Yet there is a chasm of difference between the slower production of sustainable fashion brands and the much faster turnover and throwaway culture of the high street stores. It is a difference that needs to be learned from and a transformation that is long overdue. Indeed, Sophie herself explains that she would like to see “a big change in seasonal fashion and the seasonal buying format. We are proud to be a ‘non-seasonal’ brand to encourage slow fashion and re-styling key pieces to be worn multiple times through all seasons”.

Selena Slip Dress with Lace Overlay in Yellow/Off White

So what’s next for this pioneering young brand? “I would love for us to be involved in another pop-up shop opportunity. We did one last year and it was a huge success as I love getting feedback from customers and people can really appreciate the hand embellishment work up close which is lovely to see”. With so much attention to detail that goes into each piece, it follows that some of the best interaction the brand can offer its new customers is to see and feel the designs in person. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next pop-up so I can attend myself and I think it’s fair to say that Sophie Pittom is now well and truly on my wish list. Now about that country house…

You can shop the full range of Sophie Pittom designs on her website and browse her Instagram here.

In Love&Light, MM XXX

 

87BFA711-75C1-4189-B2D7-F798B21D65C6

What To Buy A Girl For Her Birthday: The Ethical Edit

I’ve been getting a lot of questions recently about what I want for my birthday – 9th of April – whoop whoop! Of course, the only things I would like are those that are traceable, ethical and green, but that’s difficult for my family and friends who are buying for me to know exactly what I want. So I thought I’d put it all here for ease. Here is my 2019 birthday wish list – I hope there are some gift ideas on here for you too!

Something pretty…

Handcrafted Jewellery

Crystal Star and Moonstone Dangly Earrings from Arborea Jewellery

£22.00

These moonstone earrings are handmade by conservationist Christy in Devon. On her website she explains: “The birthstone for April is diamond or clear quartz… Clear quartz is said to bring strength and clarity to the intellect, aiding concentration and memory retention, and filtering out distractions”.

Drop Tassel Earrings from YGN Collective

£15.00

These earrings from YGN Collective are handmade in Yangon, Myanmar “by women who are supported through social enterprise, which provides stable regular income and free training”. There are a couple more cool styles here:

Long Tassel Earrings

£20.00

Tiered Tassel Earrings

£20.00

You can shop more on their website.

Geometric ring AQUA by Jewellery by Juna

£58.00

Have you ever wondered whether you’d ever be able to find an ethical version of the earthy, esoteric jewellery that you see sold by the likes of Urban Outfitters? Well, here it is! Jewellery by Juna is one of my all-time favourite jewellery brands who use recycled silver and gold in their collections and only source gems from like-minded suppliers, such as RubyFair, Nineteen48, Ward Gemstones & Kernowcraft. All of their packaging is also recycled and sustainable. I love this brand! Some of my favourites:

Opal stacker ASO- Silver stacking ring with opals

£49.00

Earrings ‘Day and night’ with gems

£38.00

Something useful…

Handwoven Bags

BASKET IN REVERSE BLUE STRIPE

In Medium – £40.00

The only bag I want is this one – handwoven near Mandalay, Myanmar, by families supported through social enterprise via YGN Collective. Or this one:

ORIGINAL BASKET IN GREY & WHITE

In Medium – £40.00

Sustainable Shoes

Sable Rose – 95 euros 

Momoc Shoes

A luxury yet sustainable shoe start-up, Momoc Shoes are based in Spain and these are their vegan sandals. They source naturally-occurring or recycled materials local to them in Spain in order to cut out air miles. Go Momoc Shoes! A couple more styles I like:

Sable Bleu – 95 euros 

Sable Noir – 95 euros

La Mouette Burgundy – 130 euros

Shop more here. 

VEJA X MADEWELL PEONIES WHITE

125,00 €

These peonie-covered ethical trainers by Veja are crafted from a combination of wild rubber from the Amazon Rainforest, organic cotton from north-east Brazil, vegetable tanned leather (although they do some without leather too), and B-mesh – the fabric Veja created for themselves out of recycled plastic bottles.

A couple more styles I like:

V-10 EXTRA WHITE PETALE DRIED PETAL

125,00 €

V-12 YUCCA

125,00 €

V-10 VEJA X MADEWELL WHITE GLITTER

140,00 €

V-12 WHITE NATURAL

125,00 €

And finally: