Sustainable Living

Happy #FashionRevolutionDay

Today is Fashion Revolution Day. The movement urges individuals to shop in an ethical and socially responsible way, and to truly know where our clothes are coming from. I am a big fan of the movement, and not just for the day, but as a lifestyle.

My outfit for #FashioNRevolutionDay. Top and pants thrifted and made in USA, thrifted necklace, Seamly.co motojacket, warby parker glasses.

My outfit for #FashionRevolutionDay. Top and pants thrifted and made in USA, thrifted necklace, Seamly.co motojacket, warby parker glasses.

My friend Kristin started an apparel company called Seamly.co, where she manufactures beautiful, timeless, and versatile clothing in the USA. She is intimately involved with sourcing the fabrics (which are often surplus from places like J.Crew, who will throw out the fabric because of the slightest imperfections*) and the sewing of each garment in Denver, CO. I have been a big fan of Seamly.co since the beginning (you may be familiar with my versalette challenges!).

*Can you imagine what society would be like if we dismissed everyone who was imperfect? Why should we treat our clothing this way? Isn’t imperfection what makes the world beautiful. Just a thought.

Through one of the versalette challenges (seamly.co sells an item called the versalette which you can wear in dozens of ways, and Kristin has challenges to wear it 7 days straight!), I was introduced to Kestrel of Awear, and immediately took her pledge to be more cognizant of the clothing I purchase. Since February 2014, I have only purchased clothing items that are either thrifted, made in the USA, or socially responsible in their practices (she has some other options like vegan items, organic, etc.). It has been a wonderful and rewarding (and sometimes challenging) experience.

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

  1. Being mindful is important in all facets of life. Before I started following Seamly.co, I really never thought about where my clothes came from. Since then, I have realized how often we aren’t mindful at all, whether that’s with shopping, what we eat, who we spend our time with, or how our jobs make us feel. It is so important to decide what matters to you and pay attention deeply. To doing things with intent.
  2. I really don’t need much. I have so many clothes already from before the pledge that I really don’t need anything new. So I only purchase things I really love, and things I feel good about purchasing. I used to shop just to kill time, shopping at places like Forever 21 and buying ridiculously quantities of cheap clothing.. Seamly.co’s items are more than I used to spend at Forever 21, but I feel great purchasing them, they are much higher quality, and I need less of them to be happy. Now I shop when I really want something new and can find something that meets my requirements.
  3. Just because I care about conscious consumerism doesn’t mean everyone else does. This topic is something I am really passionate about, but I can’t expect everyone to feel as passionate about it as me. I am sure many friends have passions that I don’t share! So I often share with people how I shop and answer their questions, but I choose not to proselytize them to join the cause. Issues like this are only powerful when they mean something to you.

So, as I write this in the flagship TOMS Shoes store in Venice, CA (which is plastered with signs saying things like “GIVE” and “we exist to make a difference”), I see myself continuing with the pledge in perpetuity, and I hope to expand it to other facets of my life. I often feel a bit like a fraud when I only buy ethical clothing but don’t pay as much attention to other things I buy. But you have to start somewhere, and this has been a rewarding and meaningful place to start.

Speaking of starting somewhere, how do you consume consciously? What do you pledge to pay more attention to this year?

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Social Innovation

In the box

While we are on the topic of change, let’s unpack that a bit.

Change is uncomfortable for many because of the fear of the unknown. If things work, why change? And if things are working well enough, can’t we just patch the holes and make it work perfectly again?

In the box is a comfortable place to be. It’s our realm of known. While life, and work, in the box may not be just right, may be leaving some of our significant goals by the waste side, it feels better, safer than engaging with all the possibilities, including failure, that live outside the box.

Many people come to me looking to use innovative techniques and creative methodologies to verify that their in the box work is the best place to be. The problem is, with that mindset, out of the box is out of mind, is besides the goal. Out of the box is ignored, or worse, actively rejected in favor of trying to cram all new innovation into the box.

I can’t stand for that. If you want to grow, if you want to make change, if you want to leave a mark on the world, you can’t be seeking the validation that the old, the small, the typical is right.

How do you crawl out of the box when it feels comfortable and the big bad world outside of the box seems too much to consider?

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General troublemaking

Don’t like it? Change it.

The troublemakers mantra: if you don’t like or agree with the way something is done, don’t do it that way. Find a new way. What’s stopping you?

This seems unbearably simple. Unnecessary to post about. So why is it so often ignored? What fear is holding you back?

My dad reminds me regularly: it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

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General troublemaking, Professional Growth

The temptation of mediocrity

Mediocrity is pretty tempting. It doesn’t require much effort, much stress, or lack of sleep. Just show up, and do what you are told. Why push to change things? Why make things hard than they have to be?

If you want to be a troublemaker, mediocrity is not an option. Being average is not what makes change. It’s when you stand up for what you believe in, when you take the uncomfortable steps towards the unknown, when you power through the setbacks and strive towards something better, something stronger, something more powerful, that’s when you reap the benefits of being above average.

If you want to change the world, you have to be the changemaker. It’s not easy, and not always glamorous, but it has to be done. Why not be the one to do it?

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Healthy Living, My favorite things

Why I love selling tahini

Something you may not know about me: at night I moonlight as a tahini saleswoman.

Okay, that’s a gross exaggeration. But I have now helped out the fabulous women at Soom Foods sell their products on two occasions, and both times I have had a blast. I like to help them for a few reasons:

  1. Soom Foods was founded by three sisters, one of whom is my former boss, mentor, and dear friend, and consequently have grown to love the other Soom sisters.
  2. I truly believe it’s the best tahini you can buy in the USA.
  3. It aligns with my values of healthy, clean eating (if you don’t know, tahini is made from sesame seeds, a super food with wonderful health properties such as lots of protein, calcium, iron, and omega 3-fatty acids).

And their product sells itself, because it’s that good. It’s healthy, delicious, and inarguably something you need to have in your pantry if you are dedicated to that lifestyle.

Today it became obvious to me the reason why I love helping them selling their products:

You stop “selling,” and start inspiring, when you are selling something you believe in.

This sentiment extends well beyond the sale of tahini. It extends into the work we do and the things we love. Work no longer acts as “work” when it’s something you love, something you believe in. When you are working for a product, service, organization, or otherwise that you must share it with other people, that it beings you joy or excitement to spread the gospel, and that you genuinely believe in, things are different.

Let’s work towards finding that thing. Because time is precious, and your talents are not worth spending on anything that is otherwise.

 

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Entrepreneurship, General troublemaking, Troublemakers

Ruckusmaking, Troublemaking; Let’s just make something

Hello, dear friends. It’s been a while. I have been lost in the chaos of my own personal and professional troublemaking and have neglected to catch you up on my learnings. We have so much to get done. Here we go.

Last weekend I attended a workshop called Ruckusmakers with the one and only Seth Godin. Having been a big fan of Seth’s work for a while, I was delighted, nay, thrilled to attend this workshop when my colleague Todd invited me to do so (thank you again, Todd!!).

Seth’s work focuses on the importance of making change. Change is at the nexus of improving society, being happier, being productive, and making a difference. Change is what allows us to grow in ways we never thought possible, to push the boundaries of our personal and professional lives, and to advance our agenda. If you aren’t changing, well, you’re moving backwards.

Right off the bat, I know Ruckusmakers was my jam. Ruckusmaking sounds pretty darn close to troublemaking, and to be in a room full of people who love to cause a scene is the place I always want to be. It’s easy in our daily lives to fall back into complacency, to accept the way the world is because it’s easy and comfortable and what we are taught in school. We are taught to study to pass a test, to know the right answers, to only speak when we are called on. Nowadays that just doesn’t fly. The way of the future is to make ruckus, to make necessary trouble, to make something you believe in. There simply isn’t time for otherwise. If we aren’t creating, we aren’t contributing. And the world really, really needs us to step up.

At Ruckusmakers learned a LOT, both hard skills and soft. I met some pretty inspiring people. And while I am still digesting it all, I hope to frame it back to you so that we, together, can continue on our journey towards challenging the status quo, not giving in when others laugh or roll their eyes, and trek forward on a path we believe in. There just ain’t no other way.

I will leave you with one nugget from Seth that I have been thinking about constantly. He shared with us:

Failure is just learning one way not to do something.

Let’s succeed, let’s fail, let’s just do. We will figure it out eventually.

Onwards.

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General troublemaking

The trouble with troublemaking

Trouble making is hard. Really hard. You can care– care deeply– about a fundamentally important issue and life still manages to peek its head in and get in the way of you taking action.

I am a passionate person about many topics, if you couldn’t tell already. Some of these topics include conscientious consumerism, refugee issues, and homelessness. I try to bring these issues to the forefront of my life, to make them a central piece of who I am and what I practice and how I live and breathe.

But then there’s work.

And there are bills.

And there are really, truly, only 24 hours in a day.

And all the sudden the things you care about, the issues that keep you up at night start to keep you up for an additional reason– because you feel you aren’t doing enough. Because you feel that you should have an answer to homelessness, or you shouldn’t have bought a couch that wasn’t ethically made.

I am telling you this, my dear troublemakers, because as someone who works with hundreds of troublemakers every day, as someone who knows many of the “answers” on how to take sustainable action, I struggle, constantly, as most troublemakers I know do. We never feel like we are doing enough. We often, if not always, feel like there’s something grander, something more impactful, we could be doing. It’s important we all know that so we can support each other in those times of “what the heck should I do now?”

It’s during these times I remind that my thoughts, my intentions, are important and world-changing. While I strongly believe that ideas don’t change the world, and action does, I also believe action stems from an intention, from caring about something. That intention will ultimately drive me to my goal.

I also turn to my community, which is what I aim to build here. Surrounding myself with other troublemakers (which I am fortunate to do in my day job as well as my side job!) propels me forward. It inspires me to action. And it teaches me how to pursue the things I care about the most.

How do you live and breathe your passions? And if you don’t, how do you balance your desire to change the world with your day-to-day?  Let me know in the comments.

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