Friendly Friday: The Little Market

there were two girls named Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvarla who both had a fiery passion for improving the lives of women. They traveled to El Salvador, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nepal, Tanzania, and Uganda—all over the globe—and dreamt about how they could support the highly talented artisan women they met along their journey. Women who were designing magnificent treasures, but simply lacked a thriving market to sell their incredible products in. They needed some type of space where they could sell their goods to large numbers of people, and the Little Market was born!

Lauren and Hannah co-founded the Little Market a little over a year ago to create a gathering place for the community to support artisans around the world who were creating unique treasures that deserved to be shared. The Little Market operates as a social enterprise, combining business and social justice to maximize social /economic impact on partnering artisans and their communities. Through community development, employing women under fair trade principles and fair wages, providing a safe workplace and healthy working environments for the artisans, the Little Market has profoundly made a sustainable impact on little markets and real people all over the world.

From accessories, to baskets, to blankets, candles and other home decor — its the socially conscious store that never ends, in the best way. Whatever the occasion (*mothers day soon*), this is your fair trade one-stop-shop.

Check out their Instagram here, or head over to their blog to see what the Little Market is up to throughout the week. There are hundreds of unseen, little markets across the globe, waiting to be discovered--discover them through The Little Market.

 Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern 

Wildcard Wednesday: What ESPEROS is Made Of

As the common saying goes: if you can't pronounce it - it’s probably harmful. At ESPEROS, we not only value products that are made ethically, but also products that are made without any harmful dies, materials or substances. So, those 4-aminodiphenyl, Benzidine, 4-chlor-o-toluidine, and p-chloranilin chemicals that you have been stressing about....worry no more! Our bags were tested arsenic, lead, silicon, aluminum and zirconium free. 

                              

 

At the end of the day, this just means that we carefully craft our bags to be eco-friendly and as safe as possible. Made with military grade canvas material, we fashioned our bags to last the test of time, over and over again. It is important to us that you feel our bag is protecting your health while also providing education to kids who need it most. So rest easy at night, knowing that those Xylidine chemicals aren't following you around; your ESPEROS bag is made with healthy, safe and high quality materials! 

 

 

 

 

Written by Grace Mueller

Spring Intern 2015

Monday Muses: Malia Grace Mau

Today we are inspired by artist Malia Grace Mau! Malia has been in the jewelry making business for quite some time now, collecting beads and creating pieces from her mom's vintage jewelry since she was 12 years old. Each piece of her jewelry is carved by hand and made from recycled metal in Los Angeles. You might recognize Malia's work from our previous blog post on Jessica Mau! (Yes, they are sisters and yes, they are the coolest sisters around).

M. Grace Jewelry 

Hey Malia. Lets start simple: what kind of artist are you?

I am a jewelry designer. I carve little sculptures out of wax. I would say that is my art at the moment!

Where do you call home?
I call Topanga canyon and the north shore of Kauai home. Me and my boyfriend travel back and forth between the two places.

 

                  

What gets you inspired?

I get inspired by nature, rock formations, plants,the desert, mountains etc. I also get inspired by crafts done in the old way. Textiles, pottery, block printing, jewelry making to name a few. 

What does "carry hope" mean to you?

To me when I hear "carry hope" I think about an idea spreading from one person to the next, influencing people in a positive way.

Who inspires you? 

I am inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe at the moment. 

Is education important? Do you think it always comes in the form of formal training?

I think education is very important but I don't believe it has to come in the traditional/ formal sense in a classroom. I think you can learn by traveling, by watching your elders and by experience. Also by not being afraid to take risks and falling and getting back up again. 

Favorite ESPEROS bag? 

I love the khaki classic back pack in yellow! 

Hobbies, random talents, near death experiences?

Some hobbies of mine are vintage hunting, interior design, cooking, rock collecting, learning about herbs and animal spirit cards!

       

 

 

Check out Malia's incredible jewelry at mgracejewelry.com, and follow her for more inspiration @mgracejewelry

In the meantime, have a happy Mau Mustache Monday : ) 

 

Written by Grace Mueller

Spring Intern 2015

Friendly Friday: Mitscoots

If you live in Austin, TX, you have seen and experienced the number of people who call the streets home. In fact, if you live anywhere in the United States, then you surely have encountered one of the 610,042 individuals who were homeless in January of 2013. This number represents real people, people who for any number of reasons have a barrier to housing. From domestic violence, substance abuse, lack of affordable housing, mental illness or lost jobs—we live in a broken kind of world that cant be solved with one simple solution. Within homelessness alone, one might look at the issue and think that it is hopeless, that there’s nothing we can contribute to undue the millions of people who are without a home. 

But…that is where we are wrong. There is no deed too small, people! Even the smallest “something” means everything to someone who has nothing. And for our friends over at Mitscoots—that “something” is socks!

Since 2008, Mitscoots has helped transition men and women out of homelessness by giving them work, fair wages, and warm socks.  For every pair of socks that you buy, Mitscoots gives a pair to a person in need and employs the less fortunate along the way! 

Give + Get + Employ

 

Mitscoots socks are made 100% in the USA, manufactured in North Carolina and packaged in Austin, TX. These socks last because they are designed for individuals who absolutely depend on them lasting. Though they are solely in Austin at the moment…Mitscoots is dreaming and working towards opening small packing facilities in metropolitan cities across the United States. The more they grow…the more individuals who are employed, and the less feet that are cold. 

Who knew socks could combat homelessness in such a real way?! Everyone loves a good pair of socks…and I think we just found our new favorites. Sign up for their newsletter here to get 20% off of your next pair of Mitscoots socks! If you're tired of reading my words, check out their sock blog for stories and updates about the growth and impact of Mitscoots. Their instagram is killer too (@mitscoots).

And to the team at Mitscoots, thank you for your vision to end homelessness. It takes real commitment to tackle an issue as pervasive as homelessness is, but hear us when we say that you're changing lives. There are a whole lot of people who are better off because of your commitment to make a difference! It just goes to show...there is no problem too big. Who knows, maybe one day we will tell our great, great grandchildren about this thing called "homelessness," and how the road to its extinction all started with a pair of socks...

 

 

Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern

Wildcard Wednesday: Summer Dream Reads

Retweet, Dr. Seuss. Retweet. At ESPEROS, we really believe that reading is fundamental and fun-ducational for those who seek to continue their education, even after mandatory college readings (RIP English Lit). From serious reads, to some not so serious reads, it doesn't matter what you’re reading as long as you’re learning! Here are a few office favorites to add to your summer reading list...(& if you don't have a summer reading list - this is your chance to start one!)

 

 

 

For adventure -->
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery 

 

For whimsy -->
Love Does by Bob Goff

 

 

 

  

 

For a profound read -->
Walking on Water by Madeline L'Engle
 
For love -->
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

 

 

Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern 

Monday Muses: Seek Wander Share

Jennifer Harding and Melissa Rivera are the creators and co-founders of Seek Wander Share, a lifestyle blog based out of the greatest city (ATX, holla) where they share adventures, experiences and dreams through travel, food, art, culture, & community. Their love for what they do shines through every part of the Seek Wander Share blog, and they carry hope in more ways than one! More than your average blog, Jennifer and Melissa seek to provide socially conscious businesses with a platform to share their mission and products with the world. We are infinitely thankful for the opportunity to work and talk with them!

 

Hey Melissa and Jennifer! So, explain what you guys do.

Melissa: By day, I work in sales at a travel company. By night, I focus on my passion, fashion and beauty. I'm able to express my love of all things fashion on my Austin based blog, Seek Wander Share, that I co-founded with my best friend and partner in crime, Jennifer. 

Jennifer: I work as a Reporting Analyst for a small Tech start up in downtown Austin. It's challenging, exciting and a lot of fun. I also co-founded Seek Wander Share with Melissa! 

What does Carry Hope mean to you?

Melissa: Carry hope means opportunity. It's helping others in need who may not have as much as you and giving with an open heart. 

Jennifer: Carry Hope to me means not giving up on yourself and your ability to continue to grow, adapt, learn, better yourself and share with others.

Do you think education is important? 

Melissa: Absolutely! Knowledge is key to discovery and innovation! The more time you focus on education and learning, the more opportunities become available to you. 

Jennifer: Education has always been very important to me and my family. For years my dad put on a golf fundraiser, The Becky Harding Golf Tournament, to raise money for scholarships for kids with dreams of college and education. It's something that incredibly important to me and is very near to my heart.

Why do you like ESPEROS products?

Melissa: First and foremost, they're stylish and functional. Second, who wouldn't be a fan of a company that gives back to helping children gain an education? It's that's simple! 

Jennifer: Honestly, when I wear my ESPEROS backpack around town, either to hike the green belt or go to the office, I feel way cooler than I usually am.

Where would you use an ESPEROS bag? 

Melissa: Seriously...everywhere. I carry the tote to work, meetings, gym, beach, farmers market...you name it! I also wore the Classic backpack to SXSW 2015 and it was the perfect carry all bag. It was super comfortable, light weight and durable. 

Jennifer: I take my backpack with me to work, when I ride my bike down to Deep Eddys or hiking around town. I can see myself packing a blanket and snacks for blues on the green or movies in the park this summer, really anywhere.

What makes the brand unique enough that you are interested in sharing our story? 

Melissa: With a mission to provide an education to an underprivileged child, there is nothing more important than nurturing a developing mind -  it creates opportunities for individuals to dream BIG! 

Jennifer: I find that alot of people recognize a need to do something …but to actually do it is incredibly inspiring and exciting. It's the kind of stuff we should be sharing and talking to our friends about because it's meaningful and propels everyone else into action too.

What drives your creativity? Melissa: My creativity is driven by all the beauty that surrounds me. I love to sit outside, soak up the sun, be one with my thoughts and the ideas just come flowing. 

Jennifer: I've always been creative. I think my creativity comes from wanting to embrace connections. Connections with the world, with the things I see around me, the people I meet, the people I don't meet. For me, creativity is about capturing that connection or moment of feeling connected to more than just myself.

Tell us something unique about yourself?

Melissa: Living in Austin means I have a love of two things: queso and fitness. Seems a bit contradictory but I love to try new fitness routines and, as a reward to myself, I eat queso! 

Jennifer: My hobbies are the blog! Seek Wander Share is a labor of love, and I wouldn't exactly call working out a hobby as much as I would "necessary torture.” Perhaps late night online shopping? Does that count as a hobby?

 

 They also featured our Burgundy Classic and our Jackson Everyday as the SXSW "it" bag ! #honored

 

 

Thanks for chatting with us, Melissa and Jennifer. We can't wait to see what kind of adventure you find yourself on next - take us with you anytime! If there is one thing we love to do, its carry hope and find adventure. Follow these guys on Instagram @seekwandershare / Pinterest / or like them on Facebook

 

 

Happy Monday & stay rad - 

Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern 

April 06, 2015 by Oliver Shuttlesworth

Friendly Friday: Warby Parker

703 million people.  

This is the number of people in the world who currently need their vision restored. For 703 million individuals, the most basic activities are difficult, trying and frustrating. Even more, 90% of these 703 million live in the developing world, and simply cant afford or don't have access to quality eye wear. Children are less productive in school and workers become less efficient in vision-demanding professions, affecting their ability to earn a living and support a family. All because they cannot see clearly.

Enter Warby Parker

Warby Parker is a socially conscious business (#friendlyfriday) who promises that with every pair of their glasses sold, they will donate a pair to an individual suffering from loss of sight in the developing world. Though this BOGO business model would be incredible on its own, Warby Parker really gets sustainability and takes their solution a step further by empowering entire communities. Warby Parker partners with VisionSpring to train men and women in developing countries to give eye exams and sell glasses to their communities at affordable prices. Not only are the "sellers" gaining employment and earning fair wages, they sell high-quality glasses that are affordable and offer clear sight to their entire community. 

To this day, Warby Parker & Vision Spring have distributed over a million pairs of glasses to people in need and trained over 18,000 men & women in over 35 countries to date. No big deal…(its a huge deal). Just one pair of glasses has the power to increase an individuals productivity by 35% and increase monthly income by 20%—multiply this by one million! Big things are happening in the developing world because of Warby Parker's dedication to providing eye sight for those who need it most.

             

And the most lovely surprise: you would never look at a pair of their glasses and think that they are doing so much good. No burlap, tribal pattern, or any other sign that screams “I AM A SOCIALLY GOOD” product. These babies are sweet. Optical lenses AND sunwear, double whammy. For the hipsters, the classy, the geeks, the near/far-sighted, and everyone who lives in a place where the sun shines (sorry Seattle)…check ‘em out! 

And when you buy a pair, feel dang good about it. Because you’re changing the world! 

 

 

Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern

 

Wildcard Wednesday: Behind the Lens

With a single snap shot, a photo can communicate a million details, capture a child’s emotion, and give insight into an entire community of individuals. Pictures are powerful, they are certainly worth more than a thousand words. Time and time again, we marvel at pictures without attributing them to a person--but the truth is, every picture we see couldn't happen without the artist capturing it behind the lens. 

Today, we are excited to highlight a few photographers who deserve some serious credit. Their photos are the reason we know what it looks like in rural Kenya, or on the banks of the Amazon River, or in the slums of Bangladesh. These photographers use their photos to inform the public, create inspiration, show beauty, and make different perspectives visible. From a variety of social businesses and non-profits around the globe, meet the real world changers!

Nick Onken, Pencils of Promise

Laura Reinhardt, World Vision

Josh Durias, Compassion International 

Lindsey Minerva, World Vision 

Behind every picture, there is a photographer. They usually let their work speak for them, but sometimes they deserve a little recognition. Thanks Nick, Laura, Josh, and Lindsey for all that you do, the world would be a different place without your photographs! 

 

Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern

 

Monday Muses: Kate + Sly

Meet Kate and Sly! Sly, also known as Sly5thAve, is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and arranger. He has several projects coming out this year, including Sly5thave EP series, IGBO debut project, Strawberry Jam full length album, Headhunters vinyl project with Jesse Fincher, and several ClubCasa Chamber Orchestra releases. He's a busy guy! Luckily, he and his lady took time to sit down and talk with us about how they #carryhope in the midst of the musician life. 

How did you meet?

Sly: We were introduced by our friend Sene. Kate had a cat, "Vida", that she couldn't keep because her roommate was allergic to cats. He introduced us and I adopted her animal. We hit it off immediately and started dating shortly thereafter. Our first meal together, I made a cornbread and catfish casserole and Kate came over with some other mutual friends for dinner. I didn't know at the time but she was a vegan. She still ate every bite of it.                                                               


What kind of artists are you? 

Sly: Musician. 

Kate: Can't really say that I am one. I doodle,and make noise on the piano every now and then, but I'm more of a behind-the-scenes artist. A marketer and manager and supporter of artists. 

How long has your craft been an artist? How many years have you been performing?

Sly: 17 years. Since the 6th grade. I'm 28 now. 

Kate: I've been working with artists for 8+ years. Started out in LA as an intern for Tyrese, and then assistant to MURS, then moved into marketing for Snoop Dogg's agency.  The rest was history. 

What does "carry hope" mean to you?

Sly: Carry something you can believe in. Your laptop with your latest project. Whatever it is you need to get to the next place. 

Kate: Always look on the bright side. Have a little hope in your back pocket even when things get hairy. 

Where do you live?

Kate + Sly: Crown Heights, Brooklyn

What do you love about each other? 

Sly: I love her face. And talking to her. She is one of the most driven and beautiful people I have ever known. 

Kate: I love that Sly is so passionate about what he does for a living. He lives and breathes music. It inspires me not to settle for anything less than doing what I love. I also like his butt. 

Is there a song you can't stop listening to at the moment?

Sly: "Street Life" by Chicago

Is education important to you? Do you think it always comes in the form of formal training?

 Sly: Yes it is important to me, no it does not always come formally. Take it where you can get it; everything is a learning situation. 

 Kate: Definitely. Always keep learning. We just started Rosetta Stone this year in an attempt to become conversational in Spanish. And no, formal schooling isn't for everyone. A good friend of mine teaches a program called Fresh Prep - where the kids learn history lessons via music + raps. Scores improved drastically on their standardized tests after the course.  

 Any unique hobbies, hidden talents, random things we should know about you? 

 Sly: I really like cooking. 

 Kate: Hot yoga, Traveling to weird places, Going to movies + concerts, Spoiling our dog + cats, Cooking for friends (well Sly cooks, I drink wine). Thrifting. Hiking. 

When/where are you most creative? 

Kate: After a few glasses of wine? (Ha!) No, actually when I'm running in nature. That's when new ideas flow for me. 

When do you use your ESPEROS bag? 

Kate: Living in NY without a car, you end up taking everything you need for the day in one bag -- laptop, gym clothes, lunch, etc. My ESPEROS backpack works well for this!

How do you support each others trade?

Sly: We act as each others' barometers. Listening to each other and trying to do whatever we can to help the other move forward. 

 

 

Thanks for taking your time to talk with us, Kate and Sly. Photos by Katherine Clark Photography, follow her @operationworldtakeover! Happy Monday, everyone! Find something to inspire your creative side today.

 

Written by Grace Mueller

Spring Intern 2015 

 

Friendly Friday: 31 Bits

In the world we live in today, we are faced with a multitude of decisions. The decision to get out of bed, the decision to engage or disengage with the people around us, the decision to make the purchase. Between purchasing basic necessities (food & water) or luxuries (quality clothing or higher education), we make decisions based on purchases every single day. What to buy, what not to buy. What we have the money to invest in, what we don't. But in the midst of our purchases...we stop asking a really huge question: what is the impact of all of these purchases?

Many of us may think there is no impact at all. Buying a pair of shoes just impacts the buyer (you) and the seller (DSW) - right? Wrong. The impact of our purchases ripples far beyond what we see. Consider the makers of each shoe, the materials, the shipper, the warehouse location and on and on. With each purchase, we are effecting a lot more people than just the buyer and seller. 

What does this mean? Our purchases, when made thoughtfully, really can make a difference for good. The clothing, shoes, and jewelry we buy can empower, liberate, and catalyze incredible change—without the sacrifice of quality or style. And we couldn't think of a better example of a company who is doing this right than 31 bits. 

31 Bits: using fashion and design as a method of empowerment, helping individuals rise above poverty. 

31 Bits recognizes the power of the individual woman and the impact she can have on her family and community when given the opportunity. Empowering others at the very core of 31 Bits, working to equally benefit the purchaser of each piece of jewelry (you + me) with a quality, fashion forward product, while also caring and attending to the creator of each piece of jewelry  (women in Uganda). The beneficiaries don't only earn a sustainable income, they also receive counseling, health education, finance training and business mentorships. And its ALL funded by product sales.

Rewind to the very beginning—it all started when these girls were juniors in college. It only took a single trip to Uganda for Kallie Dovel to realize the stark differences between the 20-somethings in the United States and the 20-somethings in Uganda. To say that their lives were drastically different is the understatement of the century. From living situations to family life to education to everything in between—the women Kallie met in Uganda faced incredibly different situations, but possessed incredible drive, skill, and will to succeed. Above all else, these women were resourceful. They made jewelry out of old posters and bits of paper...jewelry that is now sold in over 300 stores across the United States - thanks to the vision of Kallie Dovel, Alli Swanson, Anna Toy, Brooke Hodges, and Jessie Simonson!

These 31 bits founders have taken the art of jewelry making, and transformed it into a process that does GOOD - giving us (the consumer) the opportunity to change a life with every purchase. Their jewelry is phenomenal and a fashion statement to say the least.

This thing called "conscious consumerism" is a movement, challenging you and I to be education on where the products we purchase are coming from, and it involves every one of us. It means knowing your purchase makes an impact one way or another, why not make it a good one?  Whether you’re buying jewelry, a backpack, or your morning coffee—we challenge you to think about where your money is going. If you're looking to change the world, or invest in some really great jewelry, support 31 bits. They are truly doing it right.

 

 

Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern 

 

March 27, 2015 by Oliver Shuttlesworth