Meet the Maker | Lunamar for the Planet

With the temperature slowly starting to rise and the summer only a couple of short months away, it feels about time to start thinking about what to wear to the beach. As part of Fashion Revolution Week, I thought this would be a great opportunity to meet with a maker who is conscious of her impact on the environment, passionate about her craft, and involved in various community based projects to help improve the life of people and the planet.

Marcela, the founder of swimwear brand Lunamar for the Planet, creates handmade bracelets, and swimwear in bright beautiful colors in unique silhouettes with love and intention.

~Turn your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow~:


The mission of her brand extends far beyond providing her customers with quality, handmade swimsuits; her ultimate goal is to raise awareness and opportunities  for programs related to ocean conservation, reforestation, endangered species protection, sustainable practice education and youth empowerment.

Marcela has been passionate about conservation since she was young, and realizes that the need to address all of those issues have never been more urgent than they are now. Which is why she has elected to donate 15% of her swim sales and 25% of her bracelet sales to three organizations she is passionate about.

She makes efforts to be as transparent as possible with respect to her charitable donations and provides in-depth information about the three organizations Lunamar is working with on her website.  The three organizations are:

Barefoot Conservation Project in Raja-Ampat, Indoneisa

The Natural Balance Project in Colombia, South America

Kijabe Environment Volunteer Project (Kenvo) in Kenya, Africa

I caught up with Marcela to learn a bit more about Lunamar, her love of travel, her inspiration behind the brand, and her commitment to the three organizations listed above.

 1. Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to start your own swim brand?

I was born in Colombia but left at the age of 16 to wander around the globe. I grew up swimming competitively and did my first scuba dive at 15, falling instantly in love with it. After traveling and diving for years, decided to stop in Thailand for a while to work certifying people to go on underwater adventures. From spending more time underwater than on land, and wearing bikinis all day long I was drawn to create my own personal swimwear since I found everything to be both low quality and very uncomfortable. After always getting great feedback on my pieces the idea of creating my own line came to mind.

2.Have you always felt connected to the environment and social issues or is this something that developed over time through your love of travel?

Yes, absolutely! It had always been my dream to create an organization where I could create a positive impact towards the Earth and the community, but being a gypsy traveler made it hard to commit to stay in one place. With Lunamar I realized I could combined my passions  of creating handmade pieces while helping the planet.

 3. I love how a portion of your proceeds from your suits and bracelets go to charities – why was that important to you and how did you decide where the money would go?

My dream was always to start a cause to help the planet while working with the community through education.

After seeing that with the pieces I create I could make that happen maybe not through my own projects, but at least being able to support others already doing it, I didn’t hesitate once. I learned through my travels that helping out towards good causes is what brings me the most joy! I started supporting ocean conservation, but after expanding and allowing myself to dream bigger I said to myself “what the heck, let’s do it”.

I researched, asked friends, read about tons of projects around the world and realized that I want it to spread the love to every corner of the world. I love trees and forest and I truly believe that the youth have the key to change the perception humanity has towards the planet, so being able to incorporate all this together was what simply made sense to me.

 4. Where are your suits produced ? Are you making them yourself or do you have employees? If you do have employees could you explain what facility they work out of and what type of relationship you have with them?

Yes, everything has been made in Colombia in an lovely private work space. I create all the designs and make all the cuts and finishing details by hand, while having a lovely lady called Beatriz help me with the machines. She used to work for the most recognized swimwear label from Latin America and now has her own independent work space. For my next collection I would like to explore other areas, but I would probably keep using the Colombian fabrics given their quality, but nothing is set in stone in detail for the next collection.

SALTY HAIR, COOL BREEZE, ADVENTURE IN MY SOUL with the Tayrona's Breeze Bikini available @bgsbali , and @hippiessurfshopsiargao #abikiniforthereef #bikinis #swimwear #Tayronasbreezebikini #beachlife #conservation #savethereef #oceanlover #bali #surf #kitesurf #islandvibe #siargao #coraltriangle #handmade #madeincolombia #sustainablefashion @beachstylefile #brunette #beachbabe #natural:


5. Can you explain your involvement in the non-profit organizations in Africa, Latin America, and Asia and how you work with them in various capacities?

Everything got serious with the second swimwear collection back in 2013.

For each bikini 15% was destined to help out the Coral Triangle (aka: the Amazon of the Ocean). The donations were supporting the ocean conservation program through education, sustainable fishing practices, reef monitoring and waste management. After seeing the success of this collection the idea of expanding came to mind.

Lunamar for the Planet was brought to life only two months ago in February 2016 after a year of hard work and research. We also introduced bracelets (handmade by myself) to the line and for every piece 25% will to the charity which includes ocean conservation, youth empowerment, and reforestation.

Our goal is to be as clear, focused and honest about how we support these three causes and creating real positive impacts in their programs. We are planning to be highly involved and that way we will be able to show all our supporters the change that was made thanks to all their help. We are still taking baby steps, but are highly focused and committed with the ultimate dream of being able to go with the team to take all the donations in person and witnessed the positive growth while volunteering our helping out as much as we can for these programs.

6. Do you feel as though the desire to buy local, sustainable, and/or ethically made products is becoming more mainstream?

Definitely, but I also think the “go green/ethical” idea is being highly mistreated to portray a sustainable business all for marketing reasons.

I have always been aware of this and never miss out on reading the labels or looking more into what is being marketed.

By doing so I have noticed how so many brands claim to help out charities when only 1% is being donated to big organizations where more than 90% goes to administration, leaving a very small percentage for the actual cause.

Another example is China selling fake recycled fabrics at much affordable price so brands can claim they use sustainable fabrics. All of these makes me much more aware of the ethics and choices I want to follow with Lunamar for the Planet.

7. What does shopping responsibly mean to you?

Asking myself these questions:

  • Did I Read the labels?
  • Where was the product made?
  • Who made the product?
  • What were the working conditions of the place the product was made?
  • Am I supporting a local/small brand or a big monopoly?
  • Am I willing to pay more for a good quality ethical product rather than buying cheap?

8. What are some tips you would give to someone who wants to make more responsible shopping choices but doesn’t know what to look for or where to star

Asking themselves the questions above and only going ahead when they feel the answers give them peace of mind.

9.What’s next for you and Lunamar?

Hmm, haha good question! What’s not next? Since opening the  site only two months ago the feedback and support has been simply amazing. All these leading to invite people to the team, to stay more focused, and to allow me to come up with more ideas on how to help more.

We also have a campaign inviting people to #saynotowaste, so there are a few cool things coming soon on that side of things. There is also the big project of a next swimwear collection, and few collaborations with other ethical brands.

All suits come packaged in reusable bags


10. Well, we can’t wait to see what’s next! Finally, since you’re so well traveled – and I know this is a tough question – but what is your favorite place in the world?

Hmm, hard one! I love the ocean and good food so I would have to go for South East Asia. Where exactly? I don’t know.. I would say Philippines would be my most favorite , but their food is not great, so then I can jump to Indo or Thailand to get that fix. I also need to explore more of Africa, so I’m sure my answer to this would change once I get to do that.


Check out Lunamar on Instagram


My Fashion Revolution Haulternative: Making the Most of What I have

I’ve really been rethinking my role as a consumer and, over the last year or so, have realized that having a lot of shoes, clothes, and things is, for me, a bit suffocating.    As someone who always liked to buy new clothes, or was always coveting something, it was a really defining moment for me when I actually stepped back, looked at my overcrowded closet, and realized that despite having plenty to wear, I didn’t really have much at all.  Having a closet packed full of clothes was ultimately daunting and oppressive; a number of items were rarely worn and just listlessly hanging there taking up space, while many other items didn’t really suit my style, were ill fitting, or didn’t make any sense paired with the items I actually did wear.  This realization was the first step on a long road I’ve since been on to develop a more minimal wardrobe that I really enjoy and is of quality and as ethical as possible.

Along the road to developing a leaner, more versatile wardrobe, I also began considering the impact my purchases as a consumer have in terms of what my dollar is supporting.

Questions like: who made my clothes, where were they made, and were they made in a way that would bring excessive harm to the environment, were questions that, upon learning the answers, I had only wished I had asked sooner.

This is why

The 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh, that killed 1,133 people and injured 2,500 others, was a tragedy of massive proportions that brought the dark side of the fashion industry into the public eye. The movie The True Cost further shed light on the real impact that fashion has on people and the planet.

Ever since learning about Rana Plaza and delving deeper into the ethics of how clothes are made, the impacts it has on people and the environment, and learning more through my peers in the Ethical Writers Coalition, there has been a voice inside my head reminding me of the impact my dollars have in terms of where I choose to spend them.

Spending your money is like voting; you’re essentially voting for a product when you buy it and that has consequences beyond your wardrobe.

For me, learning about Rana Plaza opened my eyes to the truth of it all and forced me really question more seriously where the clothes I was buying came from and to stop making excuses for continuing to buy clothes from brands who’s supply chain wasn’t transparent.

Can I really justify purchasing a $15 tank top from a fast fashion chain knowing that it could have been made by an underpaid person working in a potentially unsafe factory?  No.

Believe me, I’ve slipped up, I’m not perfect. But I’ve become more conscious of and strive to be more intentional in what I do buy.

If you think that Rana Plaza was an isolated incident and that most garment factories are safe, fair, and well regulated then you’re in for quite a shock.

Consider this:

A as recently as January of this year, Syrian refugee children were found working in factories located Turkey  supplying major brands like H & M and Next.

 Or this:

The leather tanning industry is one of the most toxic industries in the world. Some tanneries are responsible for effectively poisoning entire communities, laying waste to their land and water supplies with harmful chemicals.

Human Rights Watch issued a report in 2012 that detailed the conditions of the tanneries located in Hazaribagh, a neighborhood of Dhaka in Bangladesh, were there are around 150 tanneries and 15,000 workers employed during peak months.  Children have also been found to be working in the tanneries.

Asthma, skin diseases, and workplace accidents are horrifyingly common in these factories. Workers are exposed to hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen, and one of the Top Six Threats of 2015.

People living in the communities surrounding factories report, among other things, diarrhea and respiratory problems.

The report says,

“While other factors may play some part in these illnesses, the extent of documented tannery pollution, the results of interviews with residents, and the findings of studies showing a higher prevalence of these illnesses in Hazaribagh compared to neighborhoods with similar socio-economic characteristics, strongly suggest a causal relationship between tannery pollution and poor community health.”

The environmental impact has been detrimental to the area and has rendered , the Baringanga River, the city’s main waterway, completely polluted.

Leather processed in Bangladesh is imported all over the world, to places like Italy, Japan, and the United States, where it is turned into “luxury” goods.  Does it seem so luxurious now?

Hazaribagh is listed as one of the world’s 10 Toxic Threats

Also to consider:

The fashion industry’s environmental footprint is also pretty massive.

Some statistics:

 It takes about 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to make ONE pair of jeans


Image Courtesy of Fashion Revolution

The average American throws away 68 lbs of clothing each year


Can you make a difference?

I think if we all do our part – we can. This is why I’m joining Fashion Revolution, which works to “bring people from all over the world together to use the power of fashion to change the story for the people who make the world’s clothes and accessories.”

It is a revolutionary week where regular people like you or me can try to disrupt the status quo, motivate brands to change, and to evaluate our own personal choices when we shop.


So, the next time you’ve got a hankering to go on a big shopping spree, or  fret over the ever familiar “I have nothing to wear” moment, consider first making the most of what you have.

Since I started the process of making a leaner wardrobe I’ve been building a collection of essential, versatile, ethically made pieces that serve as the year-round foundation of my wardrobe.

Think: basics that can be paired with anything, tops or bottoms that can be both dressed up or dressed down, or items that travel well.

When you have that foundation you can really get a lot of bang for your buck.  For example, one plain black shirt can easily turn it into three pretty distinct and different looks.

Shirt made of recycled fabric: Reformation



Obviously this is a pretty basic look and is typically my go to: jeans and t, paired with boots. It works just out-and-about on a casual day, but could easily be made into a date-night appropriate get up by adding a snazzy jacket or accessories.


This same shirt looks just as good with a skirt I got at a local secondhand shop paired with  vegan leather sandals from Moo Shoes for a trip to the farmers market or a cruise outside on a nice afternoon.



Finally, the same shirt works really great for a more special occasion paired with heels- these are the Priscilla heels from Nicora Johns –  (or even the same boots from the first photo – versatility!) and accessories



Obviously a black shirt is the easiest piece of clothing  to imagine working with various outfits, but my point is – make your wardrobe work for you. Mix-and-match, wear something more than once before washing it.  You’ll spend less money, use fewer resources, and spend less time thinking about what you’re going to wear.


But, if you find that you’re really in the mood for something new, or that you really are in need of something that you don’t currently have, consider shopping vintage or second-hand before buying new.

If you’ve never shopped second-hand before it can feel daunting. But, the good news is there truly is something for everyone: uber high-end ultra curated vintage shops, run-of-the mill consignment shops, and massive super cheap Savers style warehouses. Think about your style, what you’re looking for, and how you like your shopping experience to be.


I was recently in the market for a jacket light enough to be worn in late spring or chilly summer evenings, but heavy and roomy enough that I could layer over bulkier sweaters when the temperature dipped in late fall.  After visiting only two vintage shops, I scored an L.L. Bean Barn Jacket in mint condition for way cheaper than it currently retails now.



By working with what you have and buying vintage or second hand if you can when you want or need something will allow you to save up your money to invest in a really special piece that is of high-quality, made to last, and is – best of all – going to a brand or designer that is paying their workers fair wages in a safe and regulated environment.



Image Courtesy of Fashion Revolution

Read more about the Fashion Revolution from other EWC writers


Eleanor Snare

The Peahen

Sustaining Life

Eco Cult

Leotie Lovely

Style Wise


Kamea World

Green or Die

Let’s be Fair

 Walking With Cake



5 Spring Nail Polish Colors That Weren’t Tested on Bunnies (or any other animal)

I doubt that anyone would willingly purchase a cosmetic product if they knew it was tested on animals.  There’s something about cosmetic testing that seems especially unnecessarily cruel.  In fact, the European Union issued a directive, which implemented a ban on testing the finished cosmetic product on animals in 2004, and further extended the prohibition to cover ingredients or combination of ingredients in 2009, all with the goal of banning testing by their target date of 2013. Other countries have followed suit, but the United States still has yet to issue any such ban. This isn’t to suggest that consumers and cosmetic brands in the United States don’t care whether or not their cosmetics are tested on animals ; on the contrary, the U.S is home to The Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT), which works steadfastly to research and promote humane science.

From their website:
We promote humane science by supporting the creation, development, validation, and use of alternatives to animals in research, product safety testing, and education. We seek to effect change by working with scientists in industry, government, and academia to find new ways to replace animals with non-animal methods, reduce the numbers of animals necessary, or refine methods to make them less painful or stressful to the animals involved.


Some of their funding comes from private cosmetic companies who would love nothing more than to have alternatives to animal testings; whether or not this is for ethical or  public relations reasons one can’t be sure, but it’s comforting to know that real efforts are being made.

While I look forward to the day when all testing on animals is banned, I can, in the mean time, buy cosmetics from brands who use ingredients that were not tested on animals.

Unfortunately, many of the brand name , mainstream, nail polishes that you’ll find stocking the shelves at your local drug store do test on animals or use ingredients that have been tested on animals, OPI and ESSIE are sadly among them.

And you might not be aware that nails are porous, so they can absorb some chemicals and actually damage nails, which means it’s best to shop for a brand that is free from chemicals like formaldehyde.

So,  before you buy, consider snatching up one of the following five perfect colors for spring from cruelty-free and vegan nail polish brands–and if you must have your nails professionally done at a slon,  you can totally bring your own polish!


HABIT in their creamy pale lavender-blue  Soft Focus

Habit nail polish is a 5-free brand, which means they’re free of: toluene,formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin,dibutyl phthalate, and camphor.   They also proudly proclaim their use of myrrh, which acts as a natural nail strengthener. I also love that they use a bamboo top cap instead of plastic, and package all of their polishes in FSC-certified paperboard.


AILA in their soft pink-purple Lilac

Aila is a physician developed nail polish brand which is 8-free meaning it does not contain all of the five chemicals listed above, AND does not contain: sulfates, parabens (which are estrogen agonists), or TPHP, which is a plasticizer and flame retardant.



LAUREN B BEAUTY in their clean mint green My Private Cabana

Lauren B nail polish is made in the USA and is 5-free



TRUST FUND in Why You Mad, Though?

If the light pastels aren’t quite cutting it, and you want something a little more sparkly, this is a fun, yet easy to wear option.

Trust Fund is a beauty brand that makes polishes and lipsticks in the US and EU. They’re a 7-free brand: paraben-free, dibutyl phthalate-free, toluene-free, xylene-free, camphor-free, formaldehyde-free and formaldehyde resin-free.

Why You Mad Tho?


ELLA + MILA in their happy and bright Limoncello

As they say on their website, “Because nothing puts you in the mood like a glass of limoncello in Rome.”

I’ve personally never been to Rome, but I would imagine a glass of limoncello there would be delightful.

Ella + Mila are a USA made 5-free brand. As a sucker for cute packaging, I must admit that love their adorable elephant logo.


Traveling Light : Embracing Minimalism On the Road

I thought this piece by Sophie O’Shea of The Ethical Wardrobe was really timely because of my most recent post about buying less and curating a capsule style wardrobe. And also because I’m slightly envious of her friends’, Courtney Hade, 9 month journey around Australia with her husband in an AWD vehicle. Sigh. What I wouldn’t give to drop off the grid for several months and travel with my husband. It’s actually something I daydream about often.

It’s also a nice insight into the fact that we truly can live without some of the trappings of modern life; once we’ve thrived without all the stuff we thought we needed we realize how fulfilled we can be (or even better off) without it all.

Originally posted on The Ethical Wardrobe, by Sophie O’Shea

Courtney Hade is my friend, ex-colleague (notable fact: I baked her a gluten-free rainbow cake for her last day at work and I am NOT a baker – so she made an impression!), intrepid traveller, health and wellness guru and one of my minimalist heroes, maybe without even setting out to be. Last year, Court and her new hubby Drew quit their jobs, packed up a 4WD and a caravan and took off around Australia for nine whole months. In this awe-inspiring display of grabbing life by the balls, Court not only lit up my Facebook feed with amazing pictures from corners of the country I hadn’t even heard of, she also inspired me to think differently about what a full life meant. I’d say Court’s a bit of a natural minimalist (she ate weird leftovers out of jars long before it was trendy), but life on the road cemented a lot of her ideas about what’s important. She’s the perfect person to share some insights about finding minimalism on the road – and taking it home again. Enjoy! 

The simple life - it's pretty effing beautiful, hey?
The simple life – it’s pretty effing beautiful, hey?

You and Drew went from living in a comfortable two bedroom apartment of your own to living in a caravan for nine months. This meant a pretty huge downgrade in the quantity of stuff you could realistically have. Was that daunting when you were preparing and starting out?

Hell yes! Drew and I set ourselves a major challenge to leave our jobs, downsize our lives to travel this gorgeous country of ours for nine months. Screw waiting for retirement, we wanted to see the sights while we were young enough to explore every nook and cranny.

We rented out our newly renovated apartment, bought a 4WD, packed up our tent and borrowed the family caravan to make our dream a reality. When preparing for our adventure around Australia, I’ll admit I was freaking out about how we would cope.

We were about to go from a two bedroom apartment filled with the mods and cons of contemporary living – air con, double shower, wardrobe bursting at the seams and a kitchen fully equipped to store all of the abundance of fresh food that I was consuming – to a 14 foot caravan, with no bathroom, no excess storage space and a teensy 40 litre car fridge and no power in sight to blitz  up green smoothies.

We still had all of the necessary items we needed to survive, but just the thought of ‘going without’ was pretty daunting.

Looking back now this seems very petty. In truth, while we ditched the everyday household items (television, washing machine, dishwasher, nice crockery, and of course a full wardrobe) we made up for with other camping paraphernalia (satellite phone, Weber bbq, camp oven) all of which we had to fit into a tiny space.

Hiking in the NT.
Hiking in the NT.

We definitely managed, and the result was a very organised car and caravan with only the essential items. Everything we took we used on an almost daily basis and everything had a purpose.

Tell us about your on-the-road wardrobe. Was fashion/dressing something you thought about during the year? Did you get bored of the things you had? Did they last? Were there things you missed? Did you shop along the way?

As we were to spend most of our time in the car completing the 40,000km trip, comfort and practicality was key. If an item didn’t fit this bill it didn’t get packed. We only had one Bunnings plastic tub each (about 1 metre long and 30 cms deep (see photo). Also as we planned to chase the sun around the country we needed sensible sun smart gear. There’s a reason you see country folk wearing Akubra hats and collared shirts, and it’s not so city folk have inspiration for Australia Day dress ups parties (BURN!!! – Soph).

Hanging out on a farm in SA.
Hanging out on a farm in SA.

I didn’t buy anything new for an entire year. Shopping was not even on our radar (or in our budget). Five months into our trip my sister sent me a package of about four long sleeved shirts she’d sourced from op shops which was the best gift ever after I’d sweated yellow marks through a few shirts already!

I started to prefer dressing in my flanny and shorts. I liked the lack of choice my little tub presented each day, it made getting dressed in the morning much easier.

I did notice though that I had greater anxiety dressing on the occasions that we were in major cities because I didn’t have much ‘good’ stuff’ and it seems when we are around more people we want to look ‘our best’.

Here’s what I packed:

  • 1 x ‘good’ pair of shoes and a dress for the odd occasion that we would go out.
  • Hiking boots, sneakers and a pair of thongs.
  • Shorts x 2
  • Jeans x 2
  • Raincoat x 1
  • Jumper x 2
  • Tshirts x 4
  • Bathers x 3
  • Long sleeved and collared shirts x 3
  • Beanie
  • Scarf
  • Gloves
  • Undies – surely no one wants to know how many? Ok, about 10…
Under bed storage
Under bed storage

Has your attitude to your wardrobe, and stuff in general changed since you got back?

When we returned to Melbourne I felt overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that we owned. We went from surviving – no not even surviving, but thriving – with so little possessions to facing boxes and cupboards and an entire shed filled with ‘stuff’ when we returned ‘home’. Stuff we’d managed to live without for nearly a year.

Trying to make sense of our stuff when we got back.
Trying to make sense of our stuff when we got back.

Bit by bit we are minimising our lives, giving away what we no longer need and actually using the stuff that we do have – like the Royal Dalton tea set that was my nanna’s I now use regularly, because what’s the point having things sitting on display unused?

I am consciously  trying to create a home where everything has a functional use, including my wardrobe, which I will admit has a bit of work to go.

But I no longer want to hold on to 3 sequin dresses just in case ‘one day’ I might get invited to a dress up party and want to go as a disco queen…

What does an ethical wardrobe look like for you?

One that is not filled with random items that are purchased for the sake of it because it was cheap. I still only hit up op shops but am trying to only purchase items for them $1 bargain bin if I absolutely need the item.

Setting up camp in outback WA
Setting up camp in outback WA

Do you consider yourself a minimalist? What does minimalism mean to you?

I get overwhelmed when I am surrounded by too much ‘stuff’. I find it weighs me down energetically, and when it comes to my home I like to have everything in its place as it makes me feel at ease. So I guess in that regard I am a little bit of a minimalist and I definitely believe people have too many possessions in general.

From our trip borrowing Drew’s family caravan and seeing how little we can survive from we’ve started to consciously find ways to do things without consuming for the sake of it. Our garden wedding recently was created using borrowed furniture from friends and family, gifts made from home produce and our new home is furnished with items others no longer need and have been happy to give away.

If we all pool our resources I think we would find we would all consume a lot less.

Driving through rivers on the Gibb River Road in remote WA.
Driving through rivers on the Gibb River Road in remote WA.


Check out more of Court’s lessons in minimalism learnt from life on the road, documented in her fab blog, Courtney’s Empire

Sophie O’Shea is the Australia based blogger behind The Ethical Wardrobe, who has made the commitment not to buy any new clothes, shoes, or accessories in 2016. Read along as she documents her journey to living a simpler, more fulfilling life.

Buying Less: Adventures in Curating a Capsule Wardrobe

It’s easy to literally buy into the culture of consumerism that constantly bombards us with messages inciting us to buy the latest and greatest gadget or to stay current with the newest trends by adding more to our wardrobes. Fast fashion makes it even easier to participate in this notion when clothes are sold so cheaply that they’re treated as disposable ; wear that dress a few times and toss it when it’s no longer in fashion, you’re sick of it, or it actually falls apart – whichever comes first.

I’ll admit that I fell deep into the consumer hole by buying things I didn’t really need or convincing myself I had to buy something on sale because I simply couldn’t pass up “a good deal.”  Over the last year or so I realized that I was beginning to feel burdened by all of the “stuff” I had been buying.   I found that I was actually equating satisfaction and happiness with the purchases, some impulsive, that I was making. When coupled with the fact that I was learning more and more about the prevailing ethics (or lack thereof) in mainstream fashion through my friends at The Ethical Writers Coalition, I decided that it was time to dig myself out of that hole and shed the proverbial weight of things I didn’t need or use, focusing instead on curating a quality, yet lean and versatile wardrobe with the goal of eventually building a capsule style wardrobe, all sourced ethically or secondhand.

As someone who has always lived in what I’ll generously call “organized chaos,” I found the process of editing my belongings down to the essentials and pieces that I truly loved and used a bit intimidating and overwhelming.

So, How To Do It?

The good news is that capsule and lean wardrobes are sort of en vogue right now ; apparently I’m not the only one who wants to embrace a more minimalist approach in life and in my closet.

There are myriad resources for tips and tricks to revamping your wardrobe (I really like the 10 Step Wardrobe Revamp by Into-Mind), improving your shopping habits, and adapting your current wardrobe to build the foundation for a seasonless capsule wardrobe.  Designers that offer capsule based collections each season are emerging more frequently; some, like Vetta Capsule, offer a few pieces that can be worn multiple ways for a truly minimal yet beautiful and versatile wardrobe.

Depending on who you ask or where you look, the number of pieces that define a capsule wardrobe will differ: 30 pieces, 40 pieces, 37 pieces… I’ve found that it varies.

Not sure if a capsule wardrobe is right for you? This flow chart might be helpful.

My Process

Since this is a process I decided that I would be less focused on a concrete number, at least initially, and first focus on what I have, what I need to lose, and what I need to acquire in order to be truly versatile.

I  did an inventory of what I actually have, removed the items that I don’t wear (all while resisting the temptation to keep them “just in case”), and noted which pieces I wore most often.

Next I wrote down the various outfit combinations that I found myself wearing most, which I refer to as my uniform (i.e. in the fall: tee shirt, flannel, denim, and ankle boots)  which is actually quite helpful in identifying how you really dress and what your style actually might be.

I quite like this aspect of the process in part because  one of my goals this year is to be more mindful and intentional in the choices I make, in my interactions with people, and generally how I live and move in the spaces I exist in – so I found that an exercise in identifying my personal style and how I most enjoy wearing clothes a really wonderful way to understand myself better and be more aware of what works and doesn’t work for me. Furthermore, truly understanding my style and knowing exactly what is in my closet means less time wondering what to wear and more time devoting energy to the things I love.

Once I really nailed down what my personal style is and considered how I spend my time and the pieces required for certain activities (work , travel, play , etc) I wrote down the items and quantities I would need. For example, for every day wear I love a neutral dress  with ankle boots.  This style can be dressed up or down and layered, so it’s a perfectly versatile piece for work, travel, dates, etc.  Since this is a style I wear most often in the spring and summer I decided 4-5 pieces would be warranted.  Buying in a neutral color palette ensures that you can mix and match shoes and accessories for different looks.

I have my sights on something like the Sami dress, by eco-friendly and sustainable brand Reformation

To further facilitate my vision in this stage of the process, I created a Pinterest board dedicated to ideas for my spring collection. This was very helpful in creating a visual representation of what I want my wardrobe to look like.

For acquiring some seasonless essential pieces that can be carried from season-to-season for year-round versatility, I turned to IMBY, an uber curated online shop of the essentials one needs for a lean, capsule wardrobe.

IMBY, which cleverly stands for “in my backyard,” is committed to providing ethically made and affordable pieces (everything under $200!)  all manufactured domestically in the U.S.A.

I had my eye on this Miakoda shirt for some time, and decided to make the purchase since it would be a staple in my wardrobe all year. I’m happy I did, because it’s so seriously soft and will take me everywhere from the beach to a date with my husband.



Shops like IMBY are especially perfect for someone who is starting this process  because there is no stress or guess work involved : everything available has been intentionally selected because of it’s quality, ethics and sustainability, and  versatility.

Sara Weinreb, the brains behind IMBY, offered me some insight into curating a leaner wardrobe. She says,

The idea of buying less, and wearing less can be challenging mentally and emotionally— we invest so much in our clothes! I would encourage you to think about the items you would pack if you were going away for a week or two. Which items can’t you live without? Which are on repeat for you? Those should be the basis of your capsule wardrobe. You don’t have to feel bad for constantly wearing beautiful items that you love!
On a more technical side, I would encourage you to find the right balance between bottoms (I would include 4-6 options) and tops (10-15 to mix and match) as well as some dresses and accessories— depending on what you like to wear. I encourage everyone to have 50% of their capsule be seasonless so you won’t have to constantly be buying new items! Start with what you have, and then supplement with the items you feel like would be perfect for that season.
I found her tip to think about the items I would pack for a week long trip to be especially helpful. These are the items that we typically love or bring because they can be mixed and match and are worn with ease so why wouldn’t our day-to-day wardrobe mimic that?

Sara’s favorite IMBY pieces of the moment

I asked Sara what were her favorites in the shop, and although it was hard for her to pick — she personally curates everything in the shop, after all, — she decided on these:

The Cut Loose leggings by Joah Brown

the moto sweatshirt by Seamly, of which Sarah says “I wear this constantly, especially in these seasonal transitions.”
The organic circle shirt, by Miakoda (I purchased in white, but it’s also available in black) Sara says, “It’s so easy to wear with jeans or shorts to the beach, or dress up with a blazer for work.”
And while this truly is a process that can take some time, I already feel that it has made a positive difference in how I get dressed in the morning and just knowing that the items I have been purchasing are responsibly made or are second-hand, so I’m preventing another piece of clothing from going to a land fill.  My wallet is also happier because the little voice telling me to buy something I don’t need is much quieter these days!
I’m really looking forward to getting to the point when I have a solid year round foundational wardrobe that will allow me to spend my wardrobe budget on a fun, more interesting piece to mix in for that particular season.
Sara was kind enough to offer a 20% discount to my readers. Simply use discount code : KINDCLOSET20, which is valid through May 15.



Color Me Spring : Ethical Pieces For Your Wardrobe, Inspired by Nature

Although I am a summer girl through and through, spring time is special to me because it’s when life begins to stir again: budding trees slowly start to bloom, valiant and hearty crocus flowers push up through the soil, and the sun finally returns.  Where I live, bright pops of color begin to revitalize a once bleak and gray landscape and the light at the end of a wintry tunnel shines bright.

Nature has the boldest and most beautiful colors, so I thought it would be fun to look for some spring wardrobe pieces that would reflect that.

For your spring wardrobe, consider adding one of the following ethical and vegan pieces emblematic of my five favorite iconic flowers of spring, sure to refresh and liven up what you already have in your wardrobe.


Spring is for the hearty crocus flowers in blues and purples, the first to poke their cute little buds up through the earth.

And for the adorable yet bold Kika Sandals, by Insecta Shoes.

Or for the Long Days Cape by Kow Tow, because spring time means (at least where I live) light-weight jackets.

Or, for a very wearable and more subtle pop of color, try the Violet Top, a timeless and casual georgette top by Reformation.


Spring is for the magnificent Magnolia, blooming to reveal gorgeous soft pink blossoms.

And for the Lawrence mini backpack in petal, by Matt and Nat.

or these U.S.A made, super soft slouchy twill bottoms from The Great

The Slouch Armies.


Spring is for bright yellow Daffodils.

And The Tea Length Opera Skirt by the Great. A versatile piece that would look as appropriate with sandals at a farmers market as it would paired with heels and a fancy top to a spring wedding.

The Tea Length Opera Skirt.

Or this NYC made organic hemp/cotton blend crop top by Vaute Couture (currently on sale at 35% off!)

Or a bold statement piece like this padded collar made from ahimsa cruelty free silk by a Rabari tribal artisan for Love Is Mighty.

Image of GOLD SUN

Spring is for tulips, blooming in every color imaginable.

And for Reformation’s back-baring, linen  Manon dress

Or this flouncy peplum top by Ace & Jig.

Or add to your basics with this organic cotton / hemp blend t-shirt dress by Jungmaven

Beach Dress Eggplant Purple

Last but not least, spring is for lilacs, my most favorite flowering tree.

And for this cruelty-free moto jacket by NYC based Dauntless.

Or the Boromo Bag, a post-consumer vegan suede, vegetable dyed bag from Freedom of Animals.


Or this vegan and palm-oil free lipstick shade called The Goodness by Axiology

The Goodness

Happy Spring!

Vegan and Palm Oil Free Easter Gifts

Holidays typically mean a lot of eating and a lot of gift giving, but no other holiday really corners the candy market (well, except Halloween) quite like Easter. Even if you don’t celebrate Easter you’ve probably chomped the head off a chocolate Easter bunny, or indulged in a cream egg (before you went vegan, of course).

It’s fun to get into the holiday spirit and gift friends and family with Easter baskets filled with themed treats, or to have fun with the younger members of your tribe with an Easter egg hunt. Unfortunately, this creates a lot of unnecessary waste and a lot of the typical store bought Easter themed candy contains non-vegan ingredients and palm-oil.

So, what’s an eco-conscious gal to do with only a few days until Easter?

If you act quickly, there’s still time to make a more environmentally and vegan friendly holiday with these 4 options:

Gift Easter themed marshmallow treats from Long Island City, NY based Sweet and Sara

Available for purchase online, or if they can’t ship to you in time, check out their site to see if there is a retailer near you!

Skipper Bunny

Sunny Chick

*Some of their products contain ingredients with palm oil, as they use Earth Balance, but these marshmallows do not.


Gift Chocolates from Lagusta’s Luscious

Floppy-Eared Bunny

Wrapped in compostable eco-plastic bags , everyone is sure to love these adorable vegan bunnies available in solid chocolate, or peanut butter mousse filled.

Peanut Butter Mousse Floppy-Eared Bunny


English Cream Eggs

The tastier, organic version of the ubiquitous Cadbury Cream Egg.

English Cream Egg


Purchase alone, or buy a basket of Lagusta’s cream egg and peanut butter eggs beautifully wrapped in a handmade porcelain basket.

Basket of Eggs



Hunt for Eco-Eggs!

These plant-based, compostable eco-eggs are a much more environmentally friendly alternative to the typical fillable plastic eggs sold everywhere.



Virtually Adopt and Endangered Orangutan

Treats are delicious, but you could give a loved one or friend a more meaningful and enduring Easter gift by virtually adopting  one of the beautiful orangutan’s rescued by International Animal Rescue in Indonesia. Many of the animals rescued by and in the care of IAR are victims of the palm oil industry and the catastrophic effects it has had on their habitat.

Adopting on of the orangutans, like adorable Gunung or Budi , enables IAR to continue their priceless work and rescue efforts.

You can choose a digital or postal adoption pack. Both packs come with an adoption gift certificate, photo of your adopted animal, fact sheet, and exclusive updates on your animal throughout the year.  The difference in the adoption packs is that the postal adoption pack comes with the choice of receiving a plush toy orangutan.


Happy Easter!



7 Dry Shampoos: Reviewed!

The Ultimate Dry Shampoo Review

Originally posted on The Note Passer

Written by Jacalyn Beales | Illustrated by Elizabeth Stilwell

Remember when dry shampoo wasn’t really a “thing” yet? People appeared obsessed with baby powder, the snow-white, powdery substance meant to soothe babies’ bums but which was actually used to hide greasy hair between washes. What was once a DIY attempt at refreshing our day-old hairstyles with diaper-rash powder is now a full-fledged styling product common to the bathroom shelves of people everywhere. That baby powder definitely got a face lift, and it’s called dry shampoo.

The uber accessible, cost-effective hair care brands you find littering store shelves and endless product aisles have all created their own versions of dry shampoo. Some are meant simply to absorb oil and refresh your hair, whilst others are specifically designed to act as bodifying sprays that mask greasy strands and add volume to limp, oily roots. If you’re as obsessed with dry shampoo as every other man or woman on the planet, then there’s a strong likelihood you’ve tried a vast array of generic dry shampoos. From Dove and Tresemme, to Batiste and Garnier, we love them because they’re cheap, always available and seem to do the trick.

But what if the drugstore dry shampoos you’ve used with wild abandon are actually full of bad ingredients? What are the alternatives to these artificial products that can seriously damage your hair?

According to publications like The Daily Mail and Wired, most of the dry shampoos commonly found on drugstore shelves are filled with nasty ingredients such as alcohols, liquified petroleum gas (seriously!), butane and other additives no one can pronounce. Maybe it’s time to put down the cheap dry ‘poos and opt for natural, nourishing ones instead.

The next time you’re looking for a dry ‘poo solution to greasy locks, give these natural, organic and artificial-ingredient-free solutions a try for refreshed hair you don’t have to feel bad about.


1. One Love Organics — Healthy Locks – $29

Healthy Locks by One Love Organics is a hair-nourishing dry shampoo made with Georgia Kaolin Clay and bamboo extract. With a light, playfully floral scent, the dry ‘poo helps to strengthen hair whilst absorbing oil and softening your locks. What’s great about this alternative to typical dry shampoo is its ability to eliminate grease from the hair without leaving your scalp feeling
dry, itchy or irritated. A little of the Healthy Locks goes a long way, making the 54mL bottle of organically farmed ingredients last.


2. Alder New York — Bergamot – $30

Alder New York’s Bergamot natural hair powder combines rice powder, organic horsetail powder and kaolin clay to help absorb oil and deodorize hair. Its citrusy, peppery notes and subtly sweet scent remind you of delicious Earl Grey Tea, and it doesn’t hurt that this dry ‘poo restores volume whilst smelling so, so good. It comes packaged in a glass bottle, which the brand
encourages you to recycle (high-five!). It’s also talc, paraben, sulphate, formaldehyde and cruelty-free (!!!!). When I use this dry shampoo, I receive a crazy amount of compliments on how wonderful my hair smells, but I really love it for the root-boosting abilities it has.


3. Fat and the Moon — Lavender & Cocoa Dry Shampoo – $14

Call me crazy, but I never thought to use cocoa powder on my hair as dry shampoo. But, thankfully, Fat and the Moon thought of everything when creating their lavender and cocoa powder infused dry shampoo. The cocoa powder adds a scrumptious scent which, when combined with scalp-soothing lavender oil, results in a delightful dry ‘poo that absorbs oil and nourishes your hair. I love that this dry shampoo doesn’t leave you looking like you stuck your head in a bucket full of drywall dust. It transforms and refreshes greasy hair without turning your scalp white. Huzzah! 


4. Zabana Essentials — Shimmery & Lavender Citrus Mint – $8.95-$9.95

Having tried both the Shimmery and the Lavender Citrus Mint dry shampoos from Zabana Essentials, I can confidently say that I am hooked. Ingredients like kaolin clay, arrowroot powder and mica absorb the access oil in your hair whilst fresh and floral essential oils add lovely scent profiles that lightly perfume your strands. But what you’ll love about ZE’s dry ‘poos just as much as I do is their volume boosting properties. I’m particularly obsessed with Shimmery, which refreshes my hair for days but adds a subtle shimmer and glow. It makes me feel like I can #runtheworld.


5. Lulu Organics — Hair Powder – from $10

If you’ve ever stressed over carrying bulky aerosol cans of dry shampoo with you everywhere, just ditch the store-brand stuff and opt for Lulu Organics’ range of travel-size dry shampoos instead. The talc-free selection of dry ‘poos are crafted with organic powders and essential oils help to refresh the hair, but the compact bottles shouldn’t fool you—a little bit of this miracle hair powder goes a long way. Each dry shampoo has its own unique scent combo reminiscent of days spent out in nature and connecting with the wild. But let’s be real: the reason you’ll fall all over these dry ‘poo alternatives is for their cute size, which make carrying dry shampoo with you seriously effortless. Just toss them in your bag and go!


6. Captain Blankenship — Mermaid Dry Shampoo – $24

Do you remember watching Ariel as a little girl and wishing you could just dive into the ocean and become a mermaid princess? Well, even if the idea of having a tail never thrilled you, Captain Blakenship’s Mermaid Dry Shampoo will get you pretty darn close to the princess part. A combination of organic powders and clay are paired with the essential oils of Rose Geranium and Palmarosa for a beachy, floral scent that is as feminine as it is effective. This dry shampoo works to absorb oil and grease for renewed hair and seriously soft locks. It sort of makes me regret never having stuck with the whole mermaid-princess dream, but it does give me voluminous roots and beautifully nourished strands. A good hair day is better than a throne, am
I right?


7.  Herbivore Botanicals — Coconut Texturizing Sea Mist – from $12

Okay, so this isn’t really a dry shampoo, but it’s a pretty neat (and exotic) alternative to the dry stuff. Herbivore Botanicals’ Coconut Texturizing Sea Mist is a light and lovely hair spray perfect for creating that cult-beach-wave style everyone longs for but only Blake Lively can seem to pull off. It’s carefully formulated with the same salinity as Pacific Ocean saltwater, with the added benefits of Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice and Coconut extract for seriously healthy hair. Spritzing it throughout the hair adds body and texture to otherwise limp or dull strands, whilst its delicious coconut and vanilla scent make you feel like a tropical goddess. An alternative to dry shampoos, this mist adds serious volume to your roots and worked to refresh my naturally wavy hair even after two days between washes and zero dry ‘poo. I love that it softens my hair without adding that crunchy hairspray texture that most hair mists cause.

Whether you’re looking to add body and volume to dull roots, or spruce up limp strands between washes, dry shampoo is a simple and convenient way to liven up your hair without restyling. But the generic dry shampoo brands littering drugstore shelves everywhere can do more damage to our coveted locks than good. After all, you get what you pay for—and often what we pay for is cheap, mass-manufactured dry shampoo. So why not opt for natural, nourishing alternatives that soothe, soften and salvage the hair? The next time you reach for that bottle of Batiste, consider whether your hair would thank you for the added dose of butane, or if it would truly rejoice in rich clays, organic powders and lovely essential oils. Step away from the aerosol can and grab a bottle of natural dry shampoo instead.


Another great piece by Elizabeth Stilwell of  The Note Passer // How to Talk to Your Teens About Ethical Fashion

Another great piece by Jacalyn Beales // The Perfect Beach Wave