Ethical Products for the Fashionable Geek Girl

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Ethical Products for Fashionable Geek Girls

 

Geek girls, unite! With these amazing options from socially conscious brands, there’s never been a better time to let your geekiness show. Whether you love Star Wars, Marvel, or studying the skies, you’ll find a fair way to celebrate your fandom.

Space Mission Alpha Patch from MokuyobiMokuyobi creates whimsical, retro patches and pins. Add a few space patches to your favorite denim jacket or bag for an instant, geek-friendly statement. All Mokuyobi products are made in the USA. $6.

Baby Groot Earrings from RockLove  — I found RockLove through their Star Trek collection on ThinkGeek, and I’m in awe of their gorgeous jewelry designs. Licensed pieces featuring Guardians of the Galaxy, Stargate, Firefly, and more are available in hand-crafted, thoughtful designs made from recycled silver and other consciously sourced materials. Each piece is made in New York City. $70.

Wonder Woman Undies from  Naja — Get ready to conquer the day with these Wonder Woman-inspired undies from Naja. Digitally printed to reduce environmental impact, these undies are made in a factory that employs female heads of household and provides fair wages and healthcare. $22.

Constellation Tank from Krochet Kids — A cool graphic tee is a wardrobe essential, and this one shows off your science-y side with a star chart. Krochet Kids employs women in impoverished areas and provides job training, steady income, and education. $42.

Rad to the Bone Dress from Retrolicious — ModCloth received a lot of bad press when it was bought by Wal-Mart, but I think the site is still a great source for made-in-the-USA and fair trade clothing brands. This Ms. Frizzle-worthy dress is made in the United States and is available in sizes up to 4X. $90.

Stormtrooper Backpack from State Bags — While I’m not a big fan of the buy-one, give-one model of some “do-good” companies like State and Toms, I’m happy when any brand that strives to be ethical gets official licensing deals with mega-brands like Star Wars and Disney. For every backpack purchased, State Bags hand-delivers a backpack full of supplies to an American child in need. $95.

Star Wars Sneakers from Po-Zu — Speaking of official licensing deals, Po-Zu is making waves with their Star Wars collection this year. As the source for Rey’s original boots in The Force Awakens, Po-Zu quickly became popular with geeks and cosplayers. Now they’ve released their officially licensed Star Wars collection, including these amazing, limited-edition silver sneakers. Po-Zu products are made in fair trade factories from eco-friendly materials. I own a pair of their Rey boots and can attest to the comfort and craftmanship. $196.

I’m excited to find options that are sci-fi AND fair, and I love spreading the word. Have you found any geek girl essentials that are responsibly made? I’d love to hear about it!

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The Story of BRANDED: Fighting Trafficking One Number at a Time

BRANDED Cuffs. Photo by Elaine Akin.
Each BRANDED item is stamped with a number and the initial of the survivor who crafted the piece. Photo by Elaine Akin Creative.

BRANDED Collective is a Nashville-based company creating employment opportunities for survivors of human trafficking. Just as trafficking victims are often branded by their captors, each of BRANDED’s classic, minimal jewelry designs is stamped with a number and an initial to symbolize the millions of people trapped in human trafficking as well as those who have found the way out to freedom.

BRANDED’s founders, Lauren Carpenter and Emily Mahoney, recently shared with me about their company and ethos.

What inspired you to start BRANDED?

Emily and I (Lauren) met in 2011 through a community group at our church. We realized that we both had the strong desire to help survivors of trafficking in Nashville. We are not doctors, lawyers, or counselors — people that a survivor typically needs — but we decided to take the skills that we have to create a fashion line that raised awareness about trafficking, and also donate a portion of our proceeds back to an anti-trafficking agency here in town called End Slavery Tennessee. We are now fortunate to not only raise awareness, but to also empower and employ survivors, helping them move forward to the next step in their journey.

Textured Mixed Metal Disc Earrings. Photo by Elaine Akin.
Textured Mixed Metal Disc Earrings. Photo by Elaine Akin.

How did you come to partner with End Slavery TN?

We did a lot of research on anti-trafficking agencies here in town and met with many of the non-profit leaders doing awesome work. When we met Derri, the founder and CEO of End Slavery Tennessee (ESTN), we knew we wanted to help her organization. ESTN is doing work right here in Middle Tennessee as the single point of contact for trafficking victims. They provide safe housing and restorative services, providing for all of a survivor’s needs to get them ready to move forward on their own. Our partnership with ESTN has been a great one that has changed and evolved into something even more powerful since our founding in 2012.

How do you ensure the women in your program feel protected and valued?

This is one of the most important parts of our work. We provide a safe working environment by working in our own space housed at the ESTN offices, where survivors already feel comfortable and safe. We have an employee manual and we have rules designed to protect [the employees], just like any other job. We also really get to know the person and try to tailor the work toward the individual. We spend time at the beginning of every work day checking in with each employee about how they’re feeling. That helps us know what things we might need to be sensitive to as we go about our day of work. We also have lots of fun together and do activities that allow us to bond — like having lunch together, singing to favorite songs, or taking silly photos. I recently attended one of our employee’s baptisms, which was one of the most amazing things I’ve been a part of. We’re also excited because next week we’ll be going as a group to see Emily’s current play, Sense & Sensibility, at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. For one of the survivors we employ, this will be her first play. It’s so fun to be a part of these big moments.

Mixed Metal Lariat Necklace. Photo by Elaine Akin.
Textured Mixed Metal Lariat Necklace. Photo by Elaine Akin.

Do the survivors work as volunteers, or are they paid?

Survivors are paid! The purpose of our program is to provide not only job training but employment as well. Survivors make a starting wage of $12 per hour and they have the opportunity to make up to $15 an hour within the first three months. Our goal is to help them strive toward financial independence and smart money management.

Is your goal full-time living wage employment, or part-time job skills training for the survivors?

Right now we are able to provide part-time work for two survivors, however our goal is to have both part-time and full-time employment for survivors. We envision an expanded workforce and a place where survivors can both transition to other jobs or make a living with us long-term.

How do you source the metals for your jewelry?

As a company, we have always been intentional about ethical manufacturing. That’s why we did a ton of research, and we only use metals sourced within the United States. We order all of our metals for cuffs through a small mom-and-pop shop out of Nolensville, Tennessee. The pieces for our necklaces and earrings are ordered through two companies that are well-known for transparent manufacturing. With other supplies, we try to support small businesses if we can. For instance, we buy the polishing wheels for our cuffs through a small jewelry supply business out of Atlanta, and we order our tissue paper and other packaging supplies through an eco-friendly Nashville-based company.

Displaying Jewelry from BRANDED Collective. Photo by Elaine Akin.
BRANDED Collective’s Fall Line. Photo by Elaine Akin.

What keeps you going when the business gets tough?

The women! We exist to see them succeed, and we are inspired and motivated by them every day. Another thing that keeps me going when things get tough is the simple fact that this is really fun! Making jewelry and working with machines and talking with patrons and laughing with survivors… we really do have FUN even on the hard days.

BRANDED recently released a mixed metal fall line in addition to their classic cuffs. Visit BrandedCollective.com to see the entire collection and learn more about the survivors employed by the company.

Thank you to BRANDED Collective for letting me a part of your fall shoot, and special thanks to Elaine Akin Creative for the beautiful photography.

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Dresses!

This post contains affiliate links to support this site. Actually, just one affiliate link, which I thought about deleting so I could skip this disclaimer, but you know. Blog life. 

You won’t find any tiny dresses at my boy-dominated house unless my 3-year-old niece is visiting. However, I definitely appreciate the finer aspects of dresses that are as good for tree climbing as they are for picnics.

If you want to dress your kiddo in style while knowing more about who made their clothes, try these brands on for size:

Alice + Ames
Seriously, every time I see an Alice + Ames dress I want it for myself. It’s probably good that I don’t have a daughter, because then I would try to steal her clothes, and that would be awkward. Alice + Ames dresses are made in California and range from $40 – $50. (Pictured: The Short Sleeved Ballet Dress in Slate)

Ateljee
Ateljee features GOTS-certified organic fabrics that are digitally printed in Europe and then sewn in California. Their dresses include quirky cactus, lizard, and feather prints and come in sizes ranging from infant to about age 9. Priced from $33 – $66. (Pictured: The White Cactus Baby Dress)

City Threads
If you need a budget-conscious, accessible way to buy made-in-the-USA dresses for your littles, City Threads is your brand. City Threads manufactures their clothing in Los Angeles, and the majority of their items are made from locally knit cotton jersey. Dresses are priced under $30 and are often available through Amazon Prime(Pictured: The Twirly Short Sleeve Dress in Pink)

Eden by Elegantees
Eden is the latest line from Elegantees, a clothing brand that employs trafficking survivors from a non-profit organization in Nepal. Workers are paid double the minimum wage, and Eden’s net profits go to Kingdom Investments Nepal to fund rescue operations. Prices range from $22 -$32. (Pictured: The Lydia Dress in Gotham Grey)

Winter Water Factory
Specializing in beautiful, screen-printed designs, Winter Water Factory manufactures their clothing in Brooklyn, New York, from organic cotton. While they offer a variety of styles for boys, girls, and women, their dresses really steal the show. Girls’ dresses are priced at $58; women’s dresses are priced at $108. (Pictured: The Aspen Dress in Magical Forest Grey)

Know any brands I missed? I’d love to hear about your favorites!

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