Watching the World Burn

found in Thoughts | 2

A couple weeks ago I experienced a forest fire. We were on a trip spending some time in the Okanagan which the night before had a huge lightning storm that started 20 fires in the area. There was a plume of smoke at the top of the mountain when we arrived and we watched it grow and move down the mountain throughout the day. Surreally we spent the evening sitting around with neighbours sipping wine and watching the glow of the fires and occasional columns of flames as whole trees caught. One was south of the town and another across the lake. We listened to updates of how our host’s friends down the road were being evacuated, reassurances that the fire wasn’t moving towards us and if winds changed there would be plenty of evacuation notice. Everyone was remarking how strange it is that something can be so devastating and beautiful at the same time, and it was weirdly beautiful to watch, the same way the flickering glow of a campfire is mesmerising. Binoculars were passed around and as the sun set the glow of the fires intensified.

Unlike the residents we had no home to worry about and all our belongings were basically packed up and ready to go. Our host came back with a stack of photo albums from their friend’s who was being evacuated and I considered what I would grab if a fire was moving towards our home, grateful to never have had to make that decision.

watching a forest fire in the Okangan
smoke from fires across the lake

We’ve left but the area is still burning; more evacuation orders have been put out but also fortunately rescinded and the last update I heard is that the fire reached over 1700 hectares but is being held. However the crazy thing is this is happening all over the world and at a much larger and more damaging scale. California is experiencing huge fires, and over in Europe Sweden seems to finally be on top of their fires (they had over 80), Greece’s fires have been tragically deadly, firefighters in Germany are using tanks because leftover WWII-era ammunition in the ground can be set off by the flames, and this is all exacerbated by a heatwave across Europe.

There’s no doubt that climate change will mean an increase in forest fires. A study commissioned by the EU found that with climate change dry areas are moving more north increasing forest fire risks. Areas of the sub-arctic in Canada, Sweden, and Latvia are burning and Greenland had a large fire last year just south of the ice sheet. According to this CBC Interview these arctic wildfires are even more difficult and damaging – peat moss releases large amounts of carbon dioxide when burned, the fires go deeper into the ground because of the moss and require more water, plus the soot and ash in the air blows north and blankets the arctic ice creating a dark surface and causing it to melt faster.

forest fire
photo: unsplash

Forest fires are only one reason on a very long list of why we need to care about climate change, be serious about implementing solutions, and stop politically polarising it.

I’m so thankful I have never had to live through a flood, fire, hurricane or any other natural disaster and can’t even imagine how terrifying and devastating it must be. Although I like to focus on positive stories and personal changes we can make to be more environmentally conscious I think it’s also important to remember why these changes are so important. Sitting by the lake with smoke blurring out the sun and the smell of fire everywhere, watching the fires, I couldn’t help thinking about how this planet is our only home, how we’ve carelessly abused it for so long, and how these kinds of natural disasters are likely going to keep increasing. We’ve already been setting record-breaking temperatures around the northern hemisphere this summer.

 

Now I don’t want to leave this post on such a heavy note and I always like to focus on actionable things, so what can we do? We all can definitely do our best to reduce our impact and I have lots of videos and other posts here on the blog about ways to do that, but something that is also really important is using your voice politically – contact your reps about climate policies and vote for people and parties who care about the environment and actually have plans and programs to help combat climate change. We need to demand our governments do better for the planet.

🌎

 

Dear Brands: I’m a Small Business Too

found in Thoughts | 6

 

Hey brands, we need to talk.

Every work day I wake up to emails and DMs that go something like this:

“We’re an eco-friendly/vegan/natural/fair trade company and we’d love if you shared a photo of our product on Instagram/wrote a blog post about us/made a video using our product!”

It’s really cool to see how many conscious brands there are now and how many are starting up, and if the company meets my criteria and seems like a good fit for My Green Closet, I typically respond back asking for more info and with a package about sponsored content options.

Then about 95% of the time the brand either completely ghosts or responds:

“We’re a small business and don’t have a budget to pay you.” 

But here’s the issue, I’m a small business too. My web hosting, camera, editing software, photographer, etc. all cost money, never mind paying myself for the typical 50+ hours I put into working on MGC each week.

Bloggers, Instagrammers, and Youtubers are often viewed like pitching newspapers or magazines where you can get free publicity for your brand, but the business model is completely different. We’re not paid a salary or rate per post and if there is any advertising/adsense revenue, it’s very minimal. So while traditional media uses their advertising to pay for writing and photographing a feature about you, most “influencers” don’t have a lot of or any alternate funding to cover that. The majority of revenue typically comes from sponsorships and in this eco/ethical niche it unfortunately seems very few brands are willing to pay for them.

The conscious brand and blogger relationship has to be a two-way street; creators can’t just be supporting brands, we should also be getting support back.

But you get “paid” in product!

First of all I know how bratty this might sound – complaining about getting stuff for free, 🙄 right? But please bear with me because there is a deeper issue and discrepancy here that brands, content creators, and consumers in the conscious fashion industry should be aware of. While sending out free products to “influencers” is a promoted and often advised way to market your brand for free/cheap it goes against some of the fundamental values we’re all claiming to support and work towards in a responsible fashion industry.

 

Conscious Creators Consume Consciously

Say that 5 times fast 😜

I’m probably at the more extreme end of this since I have a capsule wardrobe and live fairly minimally, but any creator who is promoting and actually living a more sustainable lifestyle knows the importance of mindful consumption. Having overflowing closets, drawers full of beauty products and piles of household goods, even if they’re eco friendly, still isn’t very sustainable.

There’s a balance to find as a blogger/youtuber though because people are looking for recommendations – if you’re thinking of purchasing something you want to make sure it meets your criteria and is something you’re going to like and use. The main mission of My Green Closet is to help and inspire people to live more sustainably and responsibly. One way of doing this is making it easier to shop in line with your values by sharing brands, products and better options. However I also have to to do this without going against my own values and ideas; how hypocritical would it be if I talk about consuming consciously and then every month share a new beauty line I’m using, have a totally new wardrobe each season, or post “hauls” (yes, I’ve had quite a few brands ask to be featured in a haul video 🤢).

If I said yes to every brand I like who wanted to send me stuff I would have a bursting closet and way more beauty and skincare products than I could ever use up, which is just wasteful! It is very exciting and encouraging to see how many sustainable brands and products are out there, but the main focus of my platforms is not to sell stuff.

I’m also trying to find other creative ways to share brands and products that I think the MGC audience would be interested in without compromising my own minimalist lifestyle. Doing things like borrowing clothes which can be sent back, only getting small samples of beauty products to try out first, or occasionally giving products to my Patrons/people who will use them, but I still have a set limit on how many partnerships I’ll do and that means only a tiny fraction of brands ever make the cut.

As a brand, if sending products to every conscious blogger out there is your marketing strategy be prepared for a lot of no-thank-yous. Most creators I know in this space only accept free product if it’s something they really want and likely would have purchased anyway. Be careful about “influencers” who say yes to any free product that’s offered, it’s important to do some research on who you’re contacting so you don’t get burned – there unfortunately are some “ethical” creators who use bots and fake followers and/or are just in it for the free stuff, so only approach creators you think are a good fit and align with your brands values, it’s not just about their numbers.

I know as a brand you need to sell your product, but you also need to give some thought to promoting conscious vs. mindless consumption or you’re just doing the same thing as fast fashion.

This also is important in your goals for a partnership, if you want to increase awareness about your brand and let people know about your beautiful products or the cool things you’re doing, great! Let’s talk 🙂 But if your goal is to have me get x number of people to purchase from you in the next week, I’m not interested. Promoting conscious consumption means I encourage people to think about their purchases and take time to make sure it’s something they will use and keep, not immediately buy the product (unless it’s actually the exact item they’ve been searching for).

 

Fair pay needs to include everyone

It’s hypocritical to tell me how you pay all your employees fairly for their work (which of course is very important) and then ask me to spend hours, sometimes days, filming and editing a video, taking photos, and/or writing content for you, unpaid.

Creators are helping you market your brand and should be part of your marketing budget. A ton of work goes into creating content for you and most of us are one-woman-shows; from researching, writing, editing, to styling, photographing, filming, modelling, responding to questions, and more, we’re doing it all! I assume you pay the models, photographers, social media people, copywriters, etc. that do work for you, so why wouldn’t this extend to the bloggers and youtubers?

 

I also wonder if your business is okay

If you tell me you have zero budget for marketing it creates concerns and doubts about your business – all brands should have at least some marketing budget.

It makes me question if you’re serious about your company and mission and I worry if you’re still going to be around in a year with no strategy to market yourself. This is especially concerning if you work with artisans or disadvantaged communities – if you’re employing people without a stable business and long-term plan in place what happens to them if your brand doesn’t succeed?

I want to work with brands who are passionate about doing things better and who create amazing products, but also who are committed to building their conscious businesses. Having no marketing budget makes it seem like you’re not serious about growing your business.

 

Plus, rates are LOW

If you’re used to just giving out free product, paying for a sponsored post of course can seem expensive, but the reality is most creators in this conscious lifestyle space are charging a lot less than conventional influencers. There’s been talk among my fellow sustainable blogger friends about the need to raise our rates which are significantly lower than industry standards. While I of course believe creators deserve to be paid fairly for their work, I’ve been hesitant and slow to do this because it’s hard enough as is to get sponsors, and will only get harder with a rate increase, even if it only is moving closer to a more standard rate.

I’m also extremely fortunate and grateful because I have the most incredible Patrons helping support my content. Having a consistent bit of income each month means I at least know I can cover basic costs of running MGC.

Additionally, I get some revenue from YouTube ads although I would LOVE to turn them off one day *fingers crossed* – it sucks having ads for brands I don’t support running on my videos, but currently I can’t keep making videos without them.

So thankfully not just sponsorships are solely funding My Green Closet which is why I’ve been able to keep going for 4 years, but most bloggers don’t have these supplementary revenue streams.

working on the computer

Guilt goes nowhere

Definitely don’t try to guilt or shame people into working for free. I’ve heard this from other bloggers too, when we ask for compensation for the work involved, the brand talks about how if we really cared about promoting ethical fashion we’d be happy to share their product. This is infuriating – there are so many amazing, dedicated creators in this space, working their asses off, giving up their free time to help spread awareness because it’s something they’re passionate about. Just because someone wants to spend their time talking about other topics instead of promoting your product doesn’t mean they don’t care about this movement.

Guilting and bullying people into sharing your brand by saying they’re lazy, greedy, or questing their commitment is just not cool. I promise you, if someone wants to make a lot of money and be lazy they don’t start an ethical fashion blog or youtube channel, people do this because they’re passionate about helping change things.

 

We succeed together

You have a mission to help improve the industry by doing things better and creating more responsible products. Myself and other content creators have a mission to spread awareness and help educate and encourage people to live more consciously. We want to support the success of brands like you but it’s honestly hard and frustrating to do that when the majority of brands don’t want to support us back and often try to get things as cheap as possible or try to guilt creators into promoting them for free.

We both play a role in this complex puzzle and are ultimately working towards the same goals, so let’s work together.

 

It’s not everyone

I want to acknowledge that some brands are amazing to partner with and totally get that people working for them and helping promote them deserve to be fairly paid for their work, and also understand the value of influencer marketing and have a budget specifically for it. However based on the brands I’ve been in contact with unfortunately only about 5-10% fall into this category.

I also want to say that I don’t think most conscious brands are purposely trying to take advantage of bloggers. Getting free or very cheap promotion is seen as “good business”, brands brag about how little they spend on social media promotion, and I totally get that when budgets are tight you want to save pennies wherever possible. A lot of brands also don’t seem to understand the difference between a PR pitch and a marketing request – letting me know about you is fine, I can do what I want with that info, maybe ask for a product to test out and include you in content if it fits well. However asking to have a video made about you, for a blog feature, or for social media posts (especially by a deadline) is not a PR pitch, you’re asking for marketing content which should be paid.

 

Overall I just think brands just aren’t looking at the larger picture and the relationship they’re building with “influencers”, don’t understand how much work goes into making content, and don’t realise how many pitches and free product offers creators receive (I currently am getting 1-5 pitches every day), so hopefully this post sheds some light from a content creator’s perspective.

And for some other conscious blogger’s perspectives (who are all much more skilled and eloquent writers that I am, video is my main jam 🙃) check out:

Leotie Lovely, Why Bloggers Should be Paid Fairly

World Threads Traveler, My Role as an Influencer – Working with Brands and Why It Matters to You

Honestly Modern, Paying for Promotion: In The Spirit of Transparency

Style Wise, The Business of Blogging: Why Fair Trade Rhetoric Muse Include Bloggers

Ethical Unicorn, Working With Bloggers & Brands: A Mini Guide

Ecocult, The 11 Non-Negotiable Reasons Why You Need to Pay Influencers for Coverage

 

You can also hear more of my thoughts on how conscious brands can work better with bloggers, and what you can do with tights budgets in my Spirit of 608 podcast interview.

 

 

 

Plastic Free July

found in low waste | 0

I’m doing the Plastic Free July challenge again! I’ve already talked about why I’m not zero waste, but I still think challenges can be a great way to learn and try out new things. Especially with our recent move back to Canada I’m excited to see what plastic free and eco-friendly options are available here. Things have also quieted down a bit this month so I’m also looking forward to having more time to test out some DIY recipes. 🙂

 

Setting a good foundation

With going plastic free, planning is definitely important so you can bring what you need. In addition to my essentials (water bottle, shopping bags, coffee cup) I’ll also try to bring snacks or maybe reuseable straws or cutlery depending where we’re going.

It also takes time to develop habits like asking for no straw or no bag, but I think a month-long challenge can be a great way to solidify some of those habits.

Plastic Free July must-haves

 

No one’s perfect

The downside to challenges like this though are that when you do forget or can’t figure out a plastic free alternative there can be guilt and feelings of failure. While I think a little dose of guilt can be helpful to remember next time, it’s important to move on and not dwell in those negative feelings. No one is perfectly sustainable and it’s about doing your best. Your living situation and what you have access too also plays a major role in how successful you can be at living plastic free. So focus on and celebrate the things you can do.

It’s a journey

More than anything I think this challenge is about being more aware of your plastic consumption and discovering ways you can make small changes.There are some amazing resources for getting inspiration and ideas:

💚 Going Zero Waste, Kathryn is seriously a one-stop shop for everything you could want to know about zero waste living and I love her approachable and non-judgemental attitude.

and because youtube is my first love, these are some great channels:

💚 Gittemary Johansen has a channel focused mainly on zero waste living, cooking, and travelling.

💚 Shelbizleee also has some great videos on sustainable and zero waste living.

💚 Alli Cherry, I love Alli’s channel and she has some lovely plastic free/zero waste videos.

and the Plastic Free July website has tons of great info and resources to help you out!

 

I’m sharing my Plastic Free July journey in weekly videos on Instagram’s new IGTV, the first week is now up and you can also see some of the low waste swaps and changes I’ve already made here.

Zero waste essentials

 

Please let me know if you’re also doing the challenge and how it’s going!

Summer Capsule Wardrobe

We’re settling into life in Canada and after about 10 years living in pretty cloudy places I’m really enjoying all the sun we get in Edmonton. ☀ Living in a new place also means thinking about my capsule a little differently due to the weather. We can get really hot and sunny days but also cool, cloudy days, and even some pretty intense rain/thunderstorms. So I had to plan for a good mix of clothes for different kinds of weather. I also needed a few new pieces for this capsule wardrobe and you can check out my video where I went secondhand shopping for them.

Also I’m now going into my 5th year of capsule wardrobes which is pretty crazy, I can’t believe how long it’s been!

outfit from summer capsule wardrobe

The items in my summer 2018 capsule wardrobe:

  1. Blue tank – secondhand
  2. Draped tank – old, upcycled from a dress
  3. Purple tank – Comazo Earth
  4. Navy tee – Lanius
  5. White linen tee – Lanius (read more about my love of linen)
  6. Brown oversized tee – old
  7. Black tee – Funktion Schnitt 
  8. Long shirt – ArmedAngels
  9. Striped oversized shirt – secondhand
  10. Plaid draped shirt – secondhand
  11. Beige cardigan – old
  12. Denim jacket – secondhand
  13. White oversized jacket – old
  14. Green shorts – ArmedAngels
  15. Black denim shorts – secondhand
  16. Blue Tencel pants – Recolution*
  17. Dark jeans – Mud Jeans*
  18. Linen skirt – NotPerfectLinen* (read more about my love of linen)
  19. Yellow skirt – handmade & dyed
  20. Ikat jumpsuit – Matter Prints* (more about ikat and the jumpsuit)
  21. Silk romper – secondhand
  22. Floral dress – handmade
  23. Grey/black tank dress – old
  24. Grey tee dress – Kowtow
  25. Beige purse – Angela & Roi 
  26. Backpack – Matt & Nat (please read why I no longer support Matt & Nat)
  27. Black hat – secondhand
  28. Beige hat – old

Summer 2018 capsule wardrobe pieces

My capsule wardrobe is adapted from the Project 333 challenge. Over the course of creating many capsule wardrobes I’ve been fine-tuning them to figure out what works best for me. Last year I decided to no longer include shoes as part of my capsule wardrobe, I feel I have a good core “shoe capsule” and the one thing I occasionally seemed to miss was a certain pair of shoes. This has worked well this last year and I will continue to have a separate shoes from my wardrobe. My “shoe capsule” includes a pair of boots, heeled boots, sneakers, sandals, slip-ons, heels and athletic/running shoes.

I also no longer try to hit a specific number, just build a wardrobe I think would work well. It usually ends up being around 30-35 pieces, often on the higher end in fall/winter and lower in spring/summer.

pants and t-shirt from capsule wardrobe

Hope you have a beautiful summer! 🌴☀

 

*item was gifted from the brand

Cut, Colour, Carat… Clear Conscience?

found in secondhand | 4

Giving or receiving jewellery is often part of important celebrations and significant milestones like weddings, engagements, birthdays, or anniversaries. Besides being beautiful these pieces can express love, commitment, and many other meaningful things.

Unfortunately though, the reality of jewellery production is anything but joyful – full of corruption, human rights abuses, and environmental destruction. No one would say they want a special occasion like an engagement to contribute to such horrible things… so does this mean giving up your ring dreams? 💍 Don’t worry! There are ways you can still have those special pieces without supporting the harmful practices.

But first, what are the problems?

Maybe you’ve heard of “blood diamonds” or “dirty gold“, these names represent major issues in jewellery production and supply chains.

The mining of diamonds and precious metals can involve child labour, forced labour, and abusive conditions. Groups fighting for control of mines, theft, and workers/communities trying to stand up for their rights has resulted in incredibly violent conflicts and torture over diamonds and land. It’s a lucrative and corrupt industry with little protection or concern for the safety and welfare of those involved.

Mining also has a terrible impact on the environment, from destroying the Amazon rainforest to polluting water systems with toxic chemicals. On average mines need to process about 1 tonne of rock for every 1 gram of gold (a wedding ring can use anywhere from 2-12 grams) and diamonds are much higher – requiring about 50 tonnes of rock per 1g and only about 35% is actually gem quality. Pit mines can be so large they’re even seen from space.

A diamond pit mine in Russia – it looks alien and is hard to imagine the scale.

diamond pit mine
By Vladimir (Мирный) [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

 

“Conflict-Free” isn’t a Guarantee

Due to movies like Blood Diamond people are more aware of the ethical issues surrounding diamonds and look for conflict-free alternatives. The Kimberley Process was set up to stop trade in conflict diamonds but it’s not solving the problems, smugglers say it’s easy to get around and hasn’t stopped the black market. Conflict diamonds are “naturalized” to develop a new provenance, Global Witness interviewed diamond traders smuggling diamonds from the Central African Republic who say it’s an “open secret”, they “mix [trafficked diamonds] with other stones, get the right papers, and send them on their way”.

Brilliant Earth, a company who is often promoted as an ethical option and goes so far as saying their diamonds are “beyond conflict-free” was even found to have suspicious diamonds. An investigation into their “Canadian” diamonds found they actually have a shady chain of custody with the diamonds they looked into likely having an unknown origin.

 

So what can you do?

Buy secondhand! You probably already know that I’m a huge advocate for secondhand shopping. It’s incredibly environmentally friendly because nothing new is made and no new resources have to be used/extracted. You also aren’t supporting companies with unethical and unsustainable practices, or with jewellery, corrupt, damaging, and violent supply chains. Plus it’s a lot more affordable and who doesn’t like to save money?

There are lots of places you can buy secondhand or vintage jewellery either in person or online through sites like Etsy. I especially like looking through the jewellery at antique markets.

Finally, there’s a lot of jewellery just sitting around

How many of us have jewellery that was gifted or passed down which is never worn and just sits hidden somewhere slowly tarnishing? Like with our closets we tend to reach for the same pieces. I know things like jewellery can be difficult to let go of, but if they aren’t being used or appreciated isn’t it better to give these pieces new homes? Plus you can spend the money you make re-selling them on something you’ll actually get a lot of use from! It’s a win for everyone and the earth. 🌎

Alternatively you can also have old pieces remade or reworked into something you’ll actually wear. I think a lovely way to do this for wedding rings is use old gold jewellery from both sides of the family to have melted down and made into new rings. 💚

 

There are a lot of different ways you can still have those beautiful and special pieces but also with the comfort of knowing you aren’t supporting the dark and destructive industry practices.

 

UPDATE: this post has been updated to remove the previous brand partnership since Brilliant Earth had apparently contacted the brand and was upset about my comment about them.

Meow Meow Tweet baking soda free deodorant

Finally found a Baking Soda-Free Deodorant that Works!

found in product reviews | 5

I’ve been using deodorant with baking soda as the active ingredient for years (you can get my easy DIY recipe here) however when I talk about how much I like baking soda deodorants I always get comments from people who can’t use it because they find baking soda irritating. I also get asked for recommendations of BS-free natural deodorants – so I made it a mission to save your red pits and find a good one! 🙂

I’ve been testing out a few different ones and can finally say I found one that works! It’s the Baking Soda Free Deodorant Stick by Meow Meow Tweet* which I tried in the grapefruit scent. This also was the one I had the highest hopes for because I’d heard good reviews of it, and I actually am pretty impressed.

Meow Meow Tweet baking soda free deodorant stick

It holds up great during the day. If you’re sweating a lot it’s not the freshest by nighttime, but on a typical day I found it worked really well. I also got their Underarm Primer* which I love using. I did notice a difference in staying power when using the primer and deo together – especially if you’re going into a second day, the primer gives your pits a little refresh.

I also conducted a very scientific (and kinda gross) test to see if it actually worked as well as I thought: I wore the MMT deo + primer on one armpit and my regular BS deo on the other for a whole, normally active day. At the end of the day, for another opinion, I asked my husband Ben to smell both (yeah… 😬 glamorous life of a blogger-husband🥇) and he verified that he couldn’t smell any difference!

baking soda free deodorant

The deodorant has a coconut oil and arrowroot base, just like my DIY one, but instead of baking soda it uses magnesium hydroxide (a mineral also often used in antacid tablets), as well as cacao and shea butter, and essential oils. The stick application is really convenient to use. I don’t mind cream deodorant application but I get that some people prefer not to use their fingers. It’s also sustainably packaged in a cardboard tube! Plus if you’d like to just test it out and see if it works for you they have a “mini” size.

I’d recommend getting the primer if you have very sensitive skin or want some extra smell-defense. You can also use the primer with their baking soda deos to help with irritation and especially with transitioning to natural, baking soda deodorants; when I first started using a BS deo I initially found it a little irritating but then my body adjusted to it and there weren’t any issues, the primer is designed to also help with this transition.

Meow Meow Tweet underarm primer

 

Also awesome – Meow Meow Tweet* is a vegan and cruelty-free brand, they even replaced their use of palm oil with blends of other plant butters and oils. I was initially drawn to their fun packaging and adorable illustrations and love their focus on natural, organic ingredients and sustainability. 💚

 

 

*indicates an affiliate link – I am a MMT affiliate but that did not affect this review, my opinions are always my own. If you’d like to try out their products, purchasing through my links also supports My Green Closet with a small % commission, thank you!

Dyeing Clothes With Vegetables

found in Fashion, secondhand | 1

It’s Fashion Revolution Week and one aspect I love is the Haulternative campaign which promotes secondhand shopping, vintage, mending, renting, DIY – basically avoiding buying new clothes for a more sustainable and conscious wardrobe. 💚

This year I polled my Patrons about what they would like to see as a Haulternative and ended up creating a video about how to naturally dye your clothes!

 

I dyed an old cotton skirt (which was also originally dyed with coffee) using yellow onion skins, and a silk top from the thrift store with purple cabbage. This is a very simplified and easy version of natural dyeing, but here’s what I did:

  1. Collect and cut raw dye material into pieces
  2. Put in a large pot* and cover with about 2 parts water
  3. Simmer for about 45-60 minutes
  4. Strain out dye material
  5. Add garment to dye water
  6. Stir gently
  7. Let sit 12-24 hours, occasionally stirring
  8. Remove garment and rinse to get rid of dye
  9. Let air dry

*you shouldn’t use equipment you cook with for dyeing

Like I mentioned in the video, protein fibres work best and only dye natural materials. Also if you want the dyes to be even and more colourfast you should properly scour (especially for undyed materials) and mordant the fabric.

 

Natural dyeing is really fun to experiment with and I love how you can never be totally sure how it will turn out! A few other easily accessible foods you can use for dyeing are:

  • Coffee (brown)
  • Tea (brown)
  • Turmeric (yellow)
  • Avocado pits (light pink)
  • Red onion skins (orange/red-brown)
  • Most berries (purple/pink shades)

 

Some more DIY projects to inspire you to create or transform your wardrobe:

New to sewing? Check out Joan’s easy skirt tutorial.

Join in the fringe trend but instead of buying new, make your own fringed denim with Leah’s tutorial.

Add cute embroidered flowers to your clothes with Fashion Revolution’s video.

Create a simple poncho from vintage fabric like Alli did.

Or check out Coolirpa’s Thrifted Transformation series for tons of ideas on updating thrift finds.

 

Noumenon tencel ruffle dress

Sustainable & Fair Fashion Lookbook

(this post is a partnership with the featured brands, all thoughts are my own)

One thing that I find challenging is wanting to – and getting requests to – showcase and share more sustainable fashion brands but being limited by the space in my capsule wardrobe. So this spring I decided to try a new project idea and partnered with 3 of my favourite European conscious fashion brands to shoot a lookbook. I created a mini “dream capsule” for spring with an outfit from each brand that could also be mixed together!

Each of these pieces are really lovely and could easily become wardrobe staples. I also wanted to have a mix of casual, dressier, and versatile pieces since that’s really important in my wardrobe.

 

Look 1 | Recolution

Recolution fair fashion vegan hoodie and pants

This incredibly comfy outfit is from Recolution, a German sustainable, vegan, and fair fashion streetwear brand. I met one of the co-founders this winter at the trade shows and really love their products, sustainability initiatives, and design projects like partnering with artists to create their graphics and prints. It’s also a favourite of my husband who owns a few pieces.

Recolution eco fashion outfit

The hoodie is actually knit from a light, soft organic cotton yarn (GOTS certified) and I especially like the more fitted cut. I have a similar grey knit top in my wardrobe with just a crew-neck, but I actually think the hood adds a more unique element to the style and especially looks good layered under jackets.

The pants might be my favourite piece from the whole lookbook because they were just so damn comfortable. They’re made from Tencel (lyocell) which is a sustainable material created from eucalyptus wood in a closed-loop process and has a very soft, silky feel and drape. They’re a slim cut and have an elastic + drawstring waist, the material has a denim-like look while being way more comfortable than jeans. I also really love how they can easily be dressed up or down and when I need a new pair of trousers I’ll very likely replace them with these.

 

Look 2 | Lanius

Lanius linen lace-up top

The next look is from Lanius, a lovely womenswear brand I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know since moving to Cologne – I even interviewed the founder Claudia Lanius a few years ago! They always make beautiful pieces that could work for the office, events, or casual days.

Lanius floral maxi skirt made from Tencel

When I saw this floral maxi skirt, I knew it would be the perfect statement piece in the lookbook and perfectly captures the cherry blossoms that are now out. It’s made from a gauzy lyocell fabric with a comfortable elastic waistband and pockets! Even though the print is primarily pinks and reds it also has blue, green, and black accents which is always helpful for versatility and having colourful pieces in your wardrobe.

The white top is an organic linen knit with a lace-up front detail. I’ve owned a plain white linen tee from Lanius for the last few years and it’s a staple in my summer wardrobe. Linen is one of my favourite materials both to wear and because it’s really sustainable!

 

Look 3 | Noumenon

Noumenon deadstock jacket

Noumenon is a newer brand who’s founder Dena I also got to meet this winter. They are a passionately cruelty-free company and have a seasonless, “slow design” philosophy focusing on quality, longevity, and sustainable vegan materials. I particularly love their unique styles and how they utilize upcycled and deadstock materials.

Noumenon tencel dress and deadstock upholstery fabric jacket

This flared-sleeve jacket is actually made from deadstock furniture fabric! This makes it a really unique, one-of-a-kind statement piece while also being warm, durable, and sustainable.

The dress is another lyocell piece giving it that beautiful drape, and the loose cut makes it really comfortable and easy to wear. It’s a really versatile style and can be dressed up or down, you can also belt it, and wear the ruffle on the shoulders, off the shoulders or just on one shoulder (all shown in the video below). I also like the stripe detail along the sides which adds an interesting design element.

Noumenon tencel ruffle dress

 

This was such a fun project to shoot and I hope you enjoyed seeing the pieces and learning more about these awesome brands. It’s also really important to mention that all of the brands not only are sustainable but are also transparent about their production and work closely with, and have ethical standards for their factories. 💚

 

You can see the clothes in action in the video! As well as some behind-the-scenes of the photoshoot and how I styled the pieces together to create some different looks and outfit combinations.

 

I’d love to know what you think of the lookbook and which look was your favourite!

 

All photos shot by Dennis Wilhelms Photography.

Spring 10×10 Challenge

I decided to do the 10×10 Challenge again this spring. It’s such a fun way to do a “mini capsule” and try out some different combinations.

These are the 10 items I chose

pieces in my 10x10 challenge

  1. Denim jacket
  2. Beige cardigan
  3. Grey cotton jumper
  4. Navy tee
  5. Sweater
  6. Cropped trousers
  7. Yellow skirt
  8. Jumpsuit
  9. Ankle boots
  10. Sneakers

I really wanted to include the yellow skirt in my 10×10 because it’s a “new” piece in my capsule (newly dyed) and I wanted to try out some combinations with it. The piece I was most excited to wear more was the jumpsuit. It was in my winter capsule wardrobe but isn’t the easiest piece to wear in winter since it needs layers, but I’m excited to get more wear from it this spring and summer!

The outfits I woreDay 1-4 outfits of the 10x10 challenge

This past week was extra busy for me – I had a shoot for an exciting new project, we had an open house to find another tenant to take our apartment, my dad came to visit, and we are going on a trip to Croatia soon so there’s lots to get done before that. It was wonderful to keep the outfits simple and have to think even less about what to wear each day.

Day 5-8 outfits of the 10x10 challenge

I really enjoyed the blue and yellow colour combination with the skirt, and the jumpsuit was exactly what I hoped it would be – an easy garment that’s really comfortable which can be both casual or dressier. I also realized it’s a great piece for biking in because there’s room for movement and even though the legs are quite wide, since they are shorter so you don’t have to worry about them touching the chain/spokes. 🚲

Day 9 & 10 outfits of the 10x10 challenge

Day 9 ^ was a “fail” for me though. We surprisingly had a really gorgeous weekend with 25°C weather and decided to have a BBQ in the park with some friends. I planned on wearing the wool sweater and skirt that day but this was not going to work for the weather or hanging around in the grass. Unfortunately since it was almost the end of the challenge, my jumpsuit needed to be washed and I was going to wear the tee the following day so I didn’t have any suitable options left from my 10 pieces and just decided on jeans and a top from my regular capsule. Sometimes unexpected things happen. 🤷‍♀️

 

I didn’t get as creative this season as I’ve tried to do before and it wasn’t the most successful challenge with the weather changes, but overall I’m really happy I did it again. It not only was it fun to put together and share the looks but I loved following the other #10x10friends on Instagram and seeing everyone’s outfits! It’s always inspiring to see how people mix-up and create looks with their pieces.

 

Have you tried the 10×10 challenge? Or would you ever try it?

 

 

Spring Capsule Wardrobe

(please note: this post contains some affiliate links)

 

Time for another capsule wardrobe! I’m pretty excited for spring and have brought a few lighter colours into my closet through natural dyeing (which I’ll be doing a video about later). Here are the pieces I have in my spring capsule wardrobe:

 

Capsule wardrobe tops

  1. Knit tank – handknit
  2. Velvet bodysuit – Underprotection (read a brand review)
  3. Purple silk tee – secondhand/dyed
  4. Navy tee – Lanius
  5. Black tee – Funktion Schnitt 
  6. Grey jumper – People Tree
  7. Flower shirt – Amour Vert & dyed
  8. Grey/brown sweater – Izzy Lane
  9. Black sweatshirt – Dedicated*Capsule wardrobe layers and jackets
  10. Long shirt – ArmedAngels
  11. Plaid draped shirt – secondhand
  12. Beige cardigan – old
  13. Gold/green jacket – secondhand
  14. Brown jacket – handmade
  15. White jacket – old
  16. Denim jacket – secondhand
  17. Grey jacket – Näzcapsule wardrobe bottoms
  18. Black pants – People Tree
  19. Light jeans – MUD Jeans* (I will be replacing these this season)
  20. Wool trousers – secondhand
  21. Linen skirt – NotPerfectLinen* (read more about my love of linen)
  22. Yellow skirt – handmade & dyedcapsule wardrobe dresses
  23. Ikat jumpsuit – Matter Prints* (more about ikat and the jumpsuit)
  24. Black dress – People Tree
  25. Tee dress – Kowtow
  26. Tank dress – old
  27. Draped wool dress – secondhand
  28. Beige purse – Angela & Roi 
  29. Backpack – Matt & Nat (please read why I no longer support Matt & Nat)
  30. Black hat – secondhand

30 pieces in my spring capsule wardrobe

My capsule wardrobe is adapted from the Project 333 challenge. Over the course of creating many capsule wardrobes I’ve been fine-tuning them to figure out what works best for me. Last year I decided to no longer include shoes as part of my capsule wardrobe, I feel I have a good core “shoe capsule” and the one thing I occasionally seemed to miss was a certain pair of shoes. This has worked well this last year and I will continue to have a separate shoes from my wardrobe. My “shoe capsule” includes a pair of boots, heeled boots, sneakers, sandals, slip-ons, heels and athletic/running shoes.

I also no longer try to hit a specific number, just build a wardrobe I think would work well. It usually ends up being 30-35 pieces, often on the higher end in the fall/winter and lower in spring/summer.

 

Hope you have a beautiful spring! 🌼🌷

 

* this item was gifted from the brand
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