Beauty Is ... / Inspiration / News / Real Talk

Beauty Is … Vulnerability | Victoria Sowell

07.27.17

Photos c/o Reed Sowell

Victoria is a pastor, blogger, and freelance writer who lives in the Bay Area with her husband Reed. She is passionate about womanhood, creativity, spirituality, and learning how to savor life. You can find more about her and read her work over on her lifestyle blog, www.victoriatruthfully.com.

I remember the first time that vulnerability felt like a dirty word. I had just experienced a hard and messy fallout in a friendship (something we rarely, if ever see coming), and I was summarizing the details to my younger brother.

He asked how I was feeling, and I responded with an indignant, “fine.” He reminded me that “fine” isn’t really honest, and asked me to be vulnerable with him.

There, in that moment, I un-friended that word. Vulnerability, what Webster’s defines as “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally,” was the last thing I wanted to be.

How, in my already wounded state, could I position myself to potentially receive even more exposure? How does a hurting person willingly do that? I knew he extended the invitation with love, but the risk of falling apart felt too high.

For months, I walked around with a theoretical hello-my-name-is “fine” sticker on my chest. Pain can do that… turn an open hand into a closed fist, causing us to believe that vulnerability is the surest route to another heart break.

My decision to not allow anyone in, or be honest with how I felt, threatened to push people away. Friends, beautiful and loving friends, came knocking at my door, and kind messages frequented my voicemail box.

The more I insisted I was “fine” and kept my community at an arm’s distance, the worse I felt. Perhaps openness was not the route to more pain — isolation was.

Slowly but surely, I opened up my hand and my heart. I sought counseling, met with my pastors, confided in family members, and spent time with friends. I got honest, really honest, and in doing so, returned to myself.

As author and researcher Brene Brown says in her book Daring Greatly, “Numb the dark, numb the light.” I could not experience the depth of hope without exposing the depth of my pain!

Unveiling my raw and emotional state actually allowed joy to come back to me! Vulnerability was no longer a dirty word, but a way of life — a freed life. In telling the truth, I felt my courage grow, and despite the discomfort, it became easier over time. What I’ve learned is this: healing is often a road, and vulnerability the vehicle.

If we’re honest, some of the most impactful, beautiful women we know are the vulnerable ones. Women rarely shine as bright and pure as they do when they are unguarded.

Deep honesty bridges the gap between enemies and strangers and reminds us we belong to each other. When a woman decides her vulnerability is not a weakness, she experiences a deep freedom that flows out of her onto everyone she touches.

With perfection as the standard, the whole world wonders if there is another way — a better way. Vulnerability answers that longing, and when a woman wears it, she becomes a magnet for the hurting.

Is this easy? No, and that is part of the value. Walking into the discomfort of vulnerability refines us and makes us more empathetic to the stories and pain of others. We can know where they are, how they feel, and not rush them out of that place. Instead, vulnerability gives us the tools to love people well.

Our unguarded self is our most beautiful self, because it is real.

 In a time when everything is curated and filtered, vulnerability reaches through the surface to reveal a true look into our lives. More often than not, our honesty signals a resounding “me too” in response, when all we thought we would get is silence.

This truth is a reminder that we cannot compare our behind-the-scenes to someone’s highlight reel. When we decide that vulnerability is a means of connection we become more trustworthy, and therefore more influential! I have encountered several people who have experienced the same pain I thought I was an island in, a few years ago! Together, we share, grow, and embrace our stories…mess and all, creating a beautiful community. What community could bloom from your willingness to be open? Risky it may be, but it is a beautiful way to live.

We all have a story. And perhaps you feel like the best thing to do is hide the ugly parts, because of how they might reflect on you or your worth. But if healing really is a road, and vulnerability the vehicle, maybe it’s time to jump in, and see where it takes you. Don’t go alone. Don’t doubt your beauty. Instead, invite the unpredictable process of vulnerability to make you the truest you, you have ever been.

XO,

Victoria

 

Capsule Wardrobe

OUTFIT : Summer Stripes

07.25.17

I’ve had a lot of time for instagram browsing in the past few months while I’ve been on maternity leave, and I’ve spent a large amount of that time investigating new fashion brands. This outfit represents a few new favorites of mine.

The top is from Me + Arrow, I love their minimal basic pieces. I officially own too many stripes, but I love this soft cotton-linen blend boxy tee.

These pants are my new favorite from Ilana Kohn. She makes really dramatic silhouettes in beautiful neutrals. I also own this jumpsuit from her that is totally capsule wardrobe material for me. Her pieces are investments but I recently discovered an Instagram account where people list their old clothes, so I managed to grab these for almost 50% off retail and they were brand new. Have you ever missed the return window on an expensive item? Try selling it here!

My sandals are by Beatrice Valenzuela, and I love her minimal (sensing a theme here) aesthetic and her passion for ethical production. I love supporting brands that not only make beautiful clothes but pay workers a fair living wage.

Also, this bag!  It might not be super practical for my life right now but pretty things make me happy so sometimes I like to #treatmyself

Sometimes you only manage to nab a few shots before your kids need you. So then the next best option is just to put them in the photo, clearly.

Yeah I’m not sure he is real, either.

xo

Em

photos by Gina Foti

Motherhood / Real Talk

Real Talk Real Moms | Adult time Vs Family Time

07.21.17

In the back of your mind you know that your life is going to change drastically when you have kids, but it’s a whole new world when they actually burst into the picture. Everything changed for us, and in the beginning, it felt like this new life is just overwhelmed with THEM. Their schedule, their food, their sleep; it can be all-consuming, and frankly, it made me frustrated. I needed more balance.

There are some things we have tried to integrate into one whole package. Our living space is a shared space – we have a few baskets for toys that can be brought out and played with, and we have a small toy kitchen next to our kitchen.

It makes sense in our living space – we have one large open room where we all spend our time. This also helps us keep tabs on the amount of toys we keep around, it’s easy to become buried in kid’s toys quickly. We find that when it’s a part of our space we are more motivated to keep it pared down to a reasonable amount.

A goal that we have for integration is dinnertime, but it’s a work in progress. It’s so fun to make food with Charlie and see her try new foods for the first time, and she loves to cook.

I’d love to have meals together be a part of our regular routine, but it doesn’t happen every night. Some nights the kids are melting down and they get a peanut butter and jelly or chicken nuggets and we get them in bed asap – because we prioritize sleep first in our house. My kids are like me, a nightmare when sleep deprived.

On those nights we use it as an excuse to treat ourselves to some take out. I don’t know what parents did before food delivery.

We also try to balance our free time with kids stuff and our time. We aren’t the best at date nights because we aren’t great planners, but one thing I really appreciate is how willing Aaron is to let me have nights out and off.  He’s a champ at solo parenting (I’m working on it.)

The common theme for us is balance. When we make everything about our kids I believe they feel the imbalance too. Someday they will grow up and live in a world that isn’t all about them, so I hope we can prepare them for that.  Our old lives are gone, but I love sharing our world with these tiny humans. And they happen to be pretty cute, too.

xo

Em

This post is part of the Real Talk Real Moms Collaboration. See more posts on this topic from other amazing women below!

The Effortless Chic

Design For Mankind

A Daily Something

The Life Styled

Sugar and Charm

Boss Ladies

Boss Ladies | Claire Zinnecker

07.20.17

Photos c/o Kelly Christine

Claire Marie Zinnecker is the founder of Claire Zinnecker Design, a boutique interior design group based in Austin, TX. Claire is a firm believer that every space tells a story. Her unique style paired with her passion for clean, affordable design has become her design aesthetic’s trademark.  She founded Claire Zinnecker Design in 2013 in order to combine her passions for residential and commercial interiors with her love for designing and making furniture, lighting and accessories. 

Growing up I really wanted to be
Veterinarian or a rapper. When I found out that vets had to put animals to sleep and that I couldn’t take my rapping skills past karaoke I quickly changed my ambitions to becoming an architect.

My most-used emojiis are
Sparkles, girl raising hand, heart eyes, collision, and clapping hands.

My go-to order at a coffee shop is
An almond milk cappuccino. I can’t live without my caffeine.

I don’t know how I ever lived without
My dogs. They love me no matter what. Monte also gets me more than more humans do. Strange but true!

One thing people don’t know about me is
I’m left handed! I’m pretty proud of it. My brother, dad and both grandfathers are as well.

My real life hero is
My mom has always been my biggest fan. She has stayed strong and supportive for me from day one. I was incredibly sick when I was born and most didn’t think I would make it but she never gave up on me. She’s remained this way through all the ups and downs in my life.

What I love about my work is
I love being able to enter into someone’s life, learn about them and their story, then help to create a space specifically for them. Seeing people’s joy at the end of project brings me so much happiness. Being able to run my own schedule isn’t too bad either!

The hardest thing about my work is
Balancing life/work. I tend to veer towards the workaholic side of the spectrum and can burn out quickly if I don’t force myself to put away my phone and computer and recharge.

How I got started with my current career
I went to school for interior design and have been working ever since! I graduated without any job prospects (2009 – economy crash!) and never planned to start my own company but here we are and I couldn’t be happier about it.

My typical day looks like
Every day is different, but I always have to start with coffee. I have zero routine but I’m okay with that. I get up, make my coffee and check my emails. From there I either spend the morning answering emails/following up on clients or heading out to meetings. I get calls/emails/texts non-stop from all my projects, so my brain is constantly multitasking. Usually I spend most of the time in the car or in meetings so at the end of the day I still have quite a few hours of follow up. This is when I battle the workaholic side of me. I could easily work until 2 am but sometimes I know I need to set it aside and go on a run with the pups or grab drinks with a girlfriend. Balance!

I used to think success meant
Husband, kids, a comfortable income and pretty things (the American dream).

My current definition of success is
Finding joy in everything. Whether it be in my work, myself or my plans for the day I am trying to stay present and focus on all the positives in my life. No sense spending my life stressing about all the things out of my control.

An example of when I had to push through my insecurities
I feel like I do this all the time. From styling events to speaking engagements I like to challenge myself to try new things and see if I can conquer them. I spoke on a panel last month and did live podcast last week. I was terrified but it was actually easy and really fun!

I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
When I haven’t made time to work out 3 days in a row. Running or walking is my therapy. I can tell I am in need of it because I get snappy and dramatic. My mom is always like “hang up the phone and go for a run right now!”

The last time I created something I was proud of was
I’m currently finishing some cabins in Wimberley, Texas. It was a fast-paced project on a tight budget and everything fell into place easily. The property has an incredible history and I feel honored to be a part of giving it new life. I’m my toughest critic so if I can stand back and be satisfied with it I know I did well.

 I wish I could tell my younger self
All those plans you’ve made? Forget about them because not one of them is going to happen the way you want. Let it go, you will be much happier with the way this life is.

The legacy I hope to leave is
That you can pursue your dreams, take risks and be successful without being married and having a second income. I know that sounds silly, but in Texas so many girls ask me if I’m married and tell me they are scared to start their own company if they are the only one bringing money to the table.  Any time I start to stress about my next project I remind myself I can go back to a 9-5 at any time and I’m happier now than I ever was with a typical career.

XO,

Claire

Motherhood / Wellness

Glitter Guide Feature : Tips for Coping with Postpartum Anxiety

07.18.17

Motherhood is, without a doubt, the roughest road I’ve ever been down. It’s the most joyful and amazing, too, but learning how to navigate the hard parts has proved trickier than I ever could have imagined. I constantly wonder, is this normal? Am I crazy? Is this going to get any easier?

Nine weeks ago, I had my second child. Experiencing life with a newborn the second time around has really given me new insight on just how deeply dark things were in my own mind with my first child. I knew then that I was experiencing postpartum anxiety, but it strikes me now that it was so much worse than I even understood at the time. Being on the other side of it with my second is also helping me see what works when I’m feeling those old anxious feelings start to creep in on me. Read on for five things I did then, and also what I’m doing now to cope with postpartum anxiety.

1. Create a network of support.

While it’s important to be able to discuss with your partner the things you’re experiencing, it’s also extremely valuable to be able to be honest with other new moms as well as a mental health professional. I was almost five months postpartum before a friend of mine, hearing me talk about what I was experiencing, told me she thought I should seek out a counselor. Talking to a psychologist really opened my eyes to what was going on in my life, and after discussing my anxiety at length, she helped me realize that medication could really help me. In the end, that’s what started to lift me out of the dark place I was in.

2. Make it a priority to take care of your body.

Getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising are all incredibly important in our body’s response to anxiety and depression. My anxiety began to get worse and worse as my sleep debt began to mount over the weeks and months of having a baby, and when I wasn’t sleeping enough, I turned to junk food, and it all continued to accumulate. This time around, I notice how much even an hour or two less of sleep can impact my mental state the next day. With a new baby, you can’t always control that, but usually there’s at least an hour or two each night where I’m staying up watching TV or on my phone, so I try to be mindful of that when I’m feeling particularly stressed or tired.

3. Say ‘no,’ and say it often.

This applies to a wide variety of things—work that you don’t need to take on and social commitments that you don’t have to really go to. Last pregnancy, I made plans for a lot of work very soon after having my daughter. This put me in a very difficult position when I realized I was struggling through postpartum issues, because I had already said ‘yes’ to so much. This time around, I didn’t have anything on my calendar for a few months at least. This has given me so much space to take better care of myself and I am incredibly grateful that I learned my lesson the first time.

4. Take breaks from social media.

Of all the types of accounts I see on social media, I find it hardest sometimes to cope with other moms online who look like they always have it all together. Motherhood is the most unglamorous of all roles I have ever filled, and the contrast between the reality of motherhood and the curated feeds of motherhood are very drastic. If you are suffering from postpartum anxiety or depression, nothing will make your own story seem darker than in contrast to another mom on Instagram. I will be the first to admit I still have trouble putting the phone down these days, so this is an area where I am seeking to make changes in bits here and there. If I can, I leave my phone at home when we go out to dinner, and I’ll try not to look at it in the middle of the night when I’m up with the baby.

5. Start a gratitude journal.

Along with taking care of my physical body, I have found that I need to force myself at times to dwell on what I am thankful for, even if it’s a small thing, each day. I’m training my brain to focus on the good and not the bad parts of my life. When I used to have anxiety attacks, I remember there was a constant story I repeated to myself—”I can’t do this. Why is this so hard for me?” The things we dwell on have a way of creeping in and holding on. As a mom, I think the best thing we can do is remind ourselves that we are doing a good job, we are going to get through this and sometimes, it’s just babies being babies.

xo,

Em

 

This article first appeared on The Glitter Guide. Thanks for the feature, ladies!

Life / The Refined Collective

Molly Hartman // Rye Workshop // NYC Profile

07.13.17

Molly Hartman // Founder, Rye Workshop // Photos c/o Kat Harris, The Refined Woman  //  Written by:  Kitty Williams for The Refined Woman

Four stories above the Industry City streets of Brooklyn sits a small studio. One wall, from floor to ceiling, has shelves packed with boxes, vases, and jars of every imaginable size and style, and everything decorative. The summer evening light streams through the large windows to give life to the many flowers and plants that call this room home.

Lounging on a couch, a glass of Rosé in hand, Molly Hartman speaks fondly of the magic of New York City. “I never get over that moment of being in a cab with all of our flower boxes and going down 7th Avenue and zooming past tall buildings and small buildings and West Village and cobblestones,” she says. “You go through seven worlds in one 45-minute drive.”

Hartman is the founder and creative director of Brooklyn-based event design company Rye Workshop. Along with her team, she works on brand events, weddings, and other collaborations, bringing ideas to life in beautiful ways.

Living in a cramped New York City apartment has its downsides, and being an event designer who carts boxes of décor and flowers around a bustling city just adds to that. But it’s worth it to Hartman. “There’s a reason we make our lives so hard,” says Hartman. “It’s because we love this New York City life so much.”

For many, there is an epiphany in which they realize they have found what they love to do.  For Hartman it hasn’t been a single moment, but rather a constant feeling and reminder that she is doing what she loves.

Now seven years into this adventure, Hartman says they have achieved what she refers to as flow: “this great balance of where you’re feeling super challenged but also actively and productively learning and meeting your new needs.”

However, where success lives, challenges grow. This past year she focused on personal growth. Working in a creative field, she finds it is impossible to escape certain self-reflections.

Feeling insecure and placing blame on herself, Hartman realized she needed to make a change. “I needed to be brave and honest in ways that I didn’t necessarily want to be yet,” she says with a laugh, now that she has come through the other side.

Luckily she has a wonderful support system to help her through challenging times. “You need someone who, when you reveal those demons, will hold your hand and be like ‘you’re still a good human being,’” says Hartman, gesturing toward Wedding Design Director Julie Guinta across the room.

She expresses great appreciation for Guinta and everyone on her team. “It is never a one person thing,” says Hartman.

The most important thing for Hartman during this time was “letting go of the reins a bit more.”

As a creative director, Hartman finds her work can be constant if she allows it to be. “I can only achieve rest when I ask for help,” she says. Handing a project off to someone else is not always the preferred option, but she is beginning to recognize when it needs to be done.

She also credits her husband for being a great support system. He works in a completely different field as an engineer, but they manage to give each other “space to grow.” They’ve been together since she was just sixteen years old, and their marriage has been built on kindness and celebration.   

After college, she began working in television and production in D.C. She was always drawn to projects that gave her the opportunity to work with her hands.

Even as a child, she showed signs of becoming someone who would one day work in a creative field. “I was a kid who ran away all the time,” she recalls. “I would run away from home and make homes somewhere else.” From the age of three, she could be found designing spaces for herself, using anything from a picnic bench to a rhododendron bush as her house structure. “My poor mother,” she laughs. “My poor, poor mother.”

Looking forward, Hartman sees the Rye Workshop continuing to operate as a small team as they begin to make their way into the interior design scene. She also hopes to set aside the time and space to have art shows and showcases celebrating their passion projects.

Though she’d enjoy having a chicken coop upstate, Hartman remains in the gentle grip of New York City. So here she stays in her fourth floor studio: a place of beauty that can sometimes get messy in the service of making beautiful things happen.

Life / The Refined Collective

The Refined Collective // Creating Space

07.11.17

Photos c/o Sara Kerens // Wardrobe:  Anthropologie

Breaking into the finance world in New York City can mean working 80 plus hours a week for a huge portion of your career. Some of the big corporations tell their new hire they shouldn’t plan on dating for the next 8-10 years of their lives. On top of working an obscene amount of hours, they often have to entertain out-of-town clients during the evening.

I could handle that type of schedule for approximately three hours before wanting to curl up in a ball and cry.

A friend of mine graduated, came to the city and started climbing the financial corporate ladder. He longed for a meaningful relationship and wanted to eventually get married. But the demands of his job kept him at the office until all hours of the night and he was single for many years. There was no way he could invest into another person when he barely had enough time to take care of himself.

After years of this, he finally hit a breaking point. He realized if something didn’t change he would end up rich — and alone. So he made a decision that changed everything: he created space.

He started leaving work by 6:00 p.m. He wasn’t dating anyone, but he wanted his life to have margin for the things he really wanted, so when the time came he would be ready for it.

It wasn’t easy, and it was counter cultural in his industry. But he understood that we need to create space in our lives for the things we value. How we spend our time reflects our priorities.

Our culture loves stories of overnight success. Or the magical, often unrealistic, instantly-head-over-heels-in-love plot lines of romantic comedies. However, those stories are the exception, not the rule.

A few years ago I got a huge break in my photography career and booked one of my dream editorial clients. The opportunity seemed to fall into my lap. I was at the right place at the right time.

Perhaps I was. But the reality is, when that dream job came knocking I was ready for it. I had been working hard for years honing my craft, building my team, and developing a respected reputation in the fashion and photography world.

An opportunity can happen suddenly, but if we haven’t put in the time, or created the space and margin for it, the opportunity can blow away as quickly as it came.

My aunt often says, “nothing happens suddenly.” Our all of a suddens don’t happen in a vacuum, but when we faithfully and intentionally show up in our lives over a long period of time. Then when the “suddenly” moments happen we are ready for them.

This is true for relationships, but also our careers, finances, and personal growth.

A few years ago I spoke at a women’s conference, and it was a turning point. I realized one of my life callings is to speak truth and hope to women. After the conference I was on fire to start speaking more often, but I was busy running two businesses. I blinked and six months flew by. Speaking at the conference seemed like a dim memory.

My excuse was I didn’t have enough time. I felt like if I couldn’t put all my energy into it, I couldn’t do it at all. It was my business coach who finally shook me awake to the idea that it didn’t have to be all or nothing. I realized that if speaking is important to me — and it is — my life needs to reflect that.

And like my friend who longed for a relationship and created space for the thing he desired, I had a decision to make. He didn’t sell all of his belongings, leave New York City and hire a matchmaker. He simply made a strategic decision to leave work at a reasonable hour so that when he met someone he’d already have space in his life for her.

(By the way within a few years he was married with a baby on the way.)

So I chose to start creating space for speaking. It was only an hour or two a week. But I knew that time was dedicated to investing into my speaking — whether that was writing a keynote, practicing out loud, or reaching out to conferences and women’s groups about speaking at their events. And slowly opportunities started coming my way. When they came I was ready for them, because I had created space in my day-to-day life for this dream.

What are the things you long for but don’t have yet? Is it a relationship, financial freedom, a travel adventure, a promotion? It could be as simple as getting up 15 minutes earlier and doing a jog around the block if the goal is to be in better shape.

Think about your day-to-day life. Does the way you spend your time reflect your priorities? How can you shift something in a small way to make room for the relationship, the dream, the goal?

This series is apart of The Refined Collective.  Be sure to check out the other ladies apart of this collective on Instagram today–as well as the articles on their blogs:  Jackie V., Joanne Encarnacion, Lauren Scruggs, Sarah Shreves.
Boss Ladies

Boss Ladies | Sara Combs

07.06.17

Photos c/o Rich Combs

Sara Combs is an artist and a designer who focuses on creating intuitive and meaningful experiences. She uses a variety of mediums; everything from design for both web and apps, to pattern design and illustration and interior design. Since moving to California after graduating from the Maryland Institute College of Art, she’s been in love with the state’s landscape and laid back way of life.

Growing up I really wanted to be
An artist or a ballerina (one of my first paintings was of me as a ballerina — with no arms, of course).

My most-used emojis are
The cactus, what I call the magic emoji (glitter emoji), and the heart.

My go-to order at a coffee shop is
Either a chai or latte with almond milk.

I don’t know how I ever lived without
The desert.

One thing people don’t know about me is
My husband and I were high school sweethearts.

My real life hero is
Bob, who runs the Sky Village Swap meet in Yucca Valley.  His main focus in life is what he calls unshakeable happiness. He asked himself what he wanted in life, and the answer was happiness. His next questions were, “how do I get it and how do I keep it?” His answer is to find it in the simplest of moments, something that can’t be taken away.

What I love about my work is
I do it because I love it, and it often doesn’t even feel like work.

The hardest thing about my work is
I can work around the clock or through weekends before I notice I haven’t taken time to rest and reset.

How I got started with my current career
My current career is a mix of many things I love: interior design, web design, and illustration. Each area feeds the others. For example, I was able to start doing more Interior design by buying a house and renovating it with money earned from my web design career. Renting that space via Airbnb gives me the freedom to only to do web or illustration projects that I’m truly excited about. It all comes full circle.

The dumbest thing I did when I was starting out
Undervalue my work.

My typical day looks like
It’s taken me a while to learn, but with busy days I need a calm start to keep me grounded. Lately that’s been a morning yoga session. Next, I dive right into emails and messages while eating breakfast. Since we’re currently renovating our kitchen, breakfasts have been simple: a granola bar and a glass of orange juice or coffee. Otherwise, I love a good green smoothie!

Messaging is a large part of my day. Usually emails are the source of new web design projects, illustration projects, photo shoots etc. Though an important part of my day, emails are also a source of major distraction . If I see a new email pop up as I’m working on a separate project, it’s difficult not to take a look. Same goes for Instagram!

Besides working on design projects or home renovations, we also check in on our Airbnb rentals at least once a week to make sure everything’s running smoothly.

Somehow the day turns into sunset. Whenever possible, I love to take a sunset hike before dinner to process the day.

 

I used to think success meant
Being busy.

My current definition of success is
Having free time to explore and stay curious.

An example of when I had to push through my insecurities
My husband and I quit our full-time jobs at the same time to start our own design studio. We both had many moments of “what did we just do?!”

I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
When my husband and I start arguing, we know we’re working too much. We usually rectify that with a hike or simply spending more time outside.

The last time I created something I was proud of was
I’m incredibly proud of the house we are currently renovating. There’s nothing more satisfying than designing the experience surrounding us.

I wish I could tell my younger self
Don’t spend time worrying about what others think you “should” be doing. If you feel passion in your gut, pursue it. Time does not wait.

The legacy I hope to leave is
An appreciation for nature, and motivation to live a life of passion and love.

XO,

Sara

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Capsule Wardrobe

Capsule Wardrobe // 5 Tips to Sustainable Shopping

07.05.17

Photos c/o Tutti del Monte // Top:  Vetta // Bottoms:  AYR

I used to pride myself on buying really inexpensive clothing. I’d feel very clever when someone complimented a dress that I bought for $10 at Target or Forever21, and thought that I was somehow beating the system. But in the end I realized the system was beating me. It was also beating down everything in its path, including the workers who made the clothes and the environment.

My cheap clothes would quickly fall apart or go out of style, and I’d have to be constantly be buying new things to keep up. I was on the fast fashion treadmill and I didn’t even know it. When I learned about poor working conditions in sweatshops during college (over 10 years ago), I knew something had to change. It took me 5 years to work up the courage, but in 2012 I decided that for a year I would only buy clothing if I knew where it came from. I’ve been buying second hand or fair fashion clothing exclusively ever since.

It was really hard at first, I’m not going to lie. Most of the sustainable brands back then were really expensive, and second hand shopping was a chore. Over the years, I’ve learned some tricks that have made shopping ethically easier – and more fun! Here are five tips to shop sustainably without breaking the bank:

  1. Shop Consignment

The easiest and cheapest way to shop sustainably is to go to your local consignment store. By shopping second hand, you’re making use of clothing that already exists rather than using resources to create something new. Consignment store chains like Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads have locations across the US, and are stocked with good quality and low priced clothes that are well organized. These stores hand-select the merchandise, so you have a lot of great in-season and often on-trend items to choose from. You can also shop local or online consignment stores (my favorites are Poshmark and Tradesy). After you make it a regular habit, you will wonder how you ever paid full price for anything, and you’ll feel good about rescuing clothes from the landfill.

2.  Shop Thrift Stores

If you’re up for it, thrift shopping can be even more rewarding. Some people can’t stomach digging through a bunch of old stuff, but If you can there are gems to be found (usually for $7 or less at places like Goodwill). I recommend doing some research and identifying your favorite thrift store in your neighborhood, and finding out what days/times they restock the floor. Then, keep a running list of things you’re looking for, so you don’t walk out the door with a bunch of things you don’t need. For example, if you’re looking for a basket purse and vintage levi’s jeans, you can just check those sections and be on your way if they don’t have what you’re looking for. This will help keep your search time to a minimum.

3.  Shop Online Vintage

Another favorite sustainable option is vintage shopping online. You can find some really amazing clothing from the 50s, 60s, and 70s that is still in great condition – and no one will have that piece but you. One of the best places for this is the vintage section of Etsy, especially if you’re looking for something specific. You can look up something like “gingham dress” and then filter by category, price, and color. They have almost everything, and the prices can be really reasonable. If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, and would rather have a selection curated for you, check out online vintage shops like Fenix Vintage, Shop Exile, and American Archive. You can even shop via Instagram! My favorite is Na Nin vintage, which is super stylish and cheap!

4.  Buy less, but better

If you’re not interested in shopping second hand, there are a growing number of ethical brands with high quality products that you can buy without going into debt. My favorites right now are Amour Vert, Everlane, Grana, Reformation, Urban Renewal, and VETTA. *VETTA is my brand, so I’m biased on that one. 😉 These brands are all fairly priced, but they’re not as cheap as fast fashion brands if that’s what you’re used to. Shopping from ethical brands requires a change in mindset, because you are paying someone a fair wage so it’s not going to cost $10 for a dress. Instead of buying things on a whim, you’ll need to think carefully about what your wardrobe needs. Make a list of what’s missing in your closet, and keep it with you on your phone. If you can forgo a few cheap impulse purchases, you will be able to pay more for something you really want (that’s higher quality and will last longer). In the end, your wardrobe (and the earth, and the people who make your clothes) will thank you.

5.  Be Sale Savvy

Lastly, some sustainable brands offer discounts for their products, so you can take advantage of those special offers. Many ethical brands offer loyalty or insider discounts when you join their mailing list. For example, you can get 15% off at Amour Vert or 10% off at VETTA by joining the email list. Or you can tell a friend about a cool new brand, and get store credit that way – for example, you can get $25 at Everlane or $20 at Grana right now by referring a friend. You can also follow brands on Facebook or Instagram to be notified of special sales and offers. While most sustainable brands are moving away from the constant discounts of traditional brands, you can still find deals out there.

I hope these tips can help you build a wardrobe you love, and can feel good about! It’s a process, and it can take time to create new shopping habits. But I can tell you that the satisfaction of making a difference with every purchase beats the satisfaction of that $10 dress every time!

XO,

Cara

Founder, Vetta Capsule

Capsule Wardrobe / Motherhood

Ch ch changes

06.27.17
So this is the second time I’ve had a baby, and I’m noticing a pattern to what happens immediately afterward:
– My passion for personal style is revitalized
– I feel excited by new designers
– I start planning my summer wardrobe and shopping on my phone as I while away the hours nursing a baby
Perhaps it’s a result of finally not having to dress a bump, which is challenging since I usually feel physically terrible and just want to wear sweatpants and lay in bed.
After I have a baby I’m always impatient to wear real clothes. While a reasonable person would be patient and simply wait for their pre-pregnancy clothes to fit again, I find myself shopping and thrifting for new items.
Most days when I’m momming it up I find myself in an oversized men’s button up and vintage Levi’s. I want my style to feel natural, unfussy. I’ve always loved linen and now more than ever I’m mixing in flowy linen tops. I’m invigorated by vintage and secondhand shopping because it feels like a low pressure way to test out styles like ruffles or super bohemian dresses.
Fashion helps me not lose myself in the often all-encompassing role of being a mom. Sure, i have every excuse to wear yoga pants and nursing tank tops every day, and if i’m feeling tired I can default to those staples.
But I love having a way to express myself and finding clothes that are comfortable, nursing-friendly and exciting. It makes a big difference in my days.
What we’re wearing (a few new favorite designers + vintage) :
smocks (mine + charlie) by innika choo / vintage levis thrifted and cut by me – selling now at emjaynescott / sandals by beatrice valenzuela / baby jumpsuit by arq
xo,
Em
Pssssst ….. Other posts where I’ve worn dresses as shirts here and here