Choose Love: Refugee-Made Gifts

A friend once told me that her immigrant father loves Valentine’s Day. He thinks the idea of a holiday that encourages us to love one another is beautiful. I usually dismiss Valentine’s as a commercial holiday designed to sell chocolates, but my friend’s story reminds me I can choose to find a deeper meaning.

With all the strife in the world right now, how beautiful to remember that we can show love through our choices and actions. Today we’re taking a quick break from our vegan series to share a few ideas for Valentine’s gifts that are made by refugees from around the world.

Valentine's Gift Ideas That Support Refugees
1. Chapati Box Candle from Prosperity Candle: Featuring a beautiful, hand-embossed box from India, this soy-blend candle is available with custom scents and fragrance strengths. Prosperity Candle is a certified B Corp working with refugee women in the United States and female artisans around the world to make hand-poured creations. $36.

2. Chari Necklace from MeltGoods: This delicate, minimalist necklace is crafted from raw brass with a gold-filled chain. MeltGoods employs women refugees resettled in the Dallas, Texas, area. $40.

3. Hammered Brass Bangle from FORAI: A beautiful cloisonne bead makes this bangle a stand-out accessory. Founded on fair trade principles, non-profit FORAI employs refugee and immigrant women in the St. Louis area to make high-quality jewelry through home-based business. $10.

4. Sisterhood Soap from Preemptive Love: Made by refugees in Iraq, Sisterhood Soap and Kinsman Soap are crafted from olive oil and other natural ingredients. Each bar of soap empowers men and women who have fled ISIS to support their families with the work of their own hands. $10.

5. Fatima Scarf by Liz Alig: These scarves are created in partnership with Sew for Hope, a Nashville organization providing low-cost sewing classes to refugees seeking marketable job skills. Each scarf is made from recycled t-shirts gathered from a local thrift store. $36.

Can’t decide on a gift? Consider Anchor of Hope, a monthly subscription service featuring curated collections of goods made by refugees, trafficking survivors, and others in vulnerable situations. $34 a month.

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Guest Post: Easy Steps to a Vegan Wardrobe


This month we are exploring vegan fashion options here at Beyond the Fried.  Today we’re featuring a guest post from Sica Schmitz, founder of vegan, fair-fashion boutique Bead and Reel. Sica shares her thoughts on easy ways to create a vegan wardrobe. P.S. – Read to the end to find a special discount code for Beyond the Fried readers!

So you’re ready to move towards a vegan wardrobe, but don’t know where to start. Don’t worry, a compassionate closet is so much easier than you think, and we’re here to help!

Rest assured: you don’t have to ditch your old purchases as you move towards a vegan wardrobe, in fact, the most sustainable thing you can do is to keep the things you’ve already bought and already love. Wear out your leather bags and alpaca sweaters, but when it comes time to buy something new, that’s when you should start investing in quality vegan pieces.

There are lots of responsible ways to dispose of the things that no longer fit your body, closet, or life. You can sell your gently-used fashion on PoshMark, ThredUp, or TheRealReal, find a local consignment shop, or donate to a reputable charity shop. You can even donate your furs to PETA to help the homeless.

And once you start collecting vegan fashion, when you’re ready to pass it along we’ll buy it from you for our Rescued Collection.

The main thing to know when building a vegan wardrobe is to try to avoid leather, suede, wool, silk, and other animal products. Fortunately, this is super simple with classic natural fibers like cotton, hemp, and linen and innovative synthetic textiles like modal, lyocell, and bamboo. Check out our vegan textile guides for more information on the wide variety of options and choose the ones that work best for you.

We’re not the only vegan shopping resource; these days you can find so many great brands with PETA Mall and Farm Sanctuary’s Vegan Shopping Fashion List, or find vegan style inspiration and meet new designers with Ethical Style Journal or Vilda Magazine.

If vegan shopping still seems a bit overwhelming, hire an expert! Our founder, Sica Schmitz, is a professional sustainable stylist with a focus on compassionate closets and she can help you create your dream vegan wardrobe.

This article originally appeared on Bead and Reel’s blog. From now through March 1, 2017, Beyond the Fried readers can get 20% off their purchase from Bead and Reel with code “BEYONDTHEFRIED.”

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Vegan Style from Vilma Boutique

 Vilma Boutique kindly sent me a product to review for this post. No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.

Leather totes, leather booties — they’re all the rage among minimalist fashionistas. But leather is problematic for consumers seeking to be cruelty-free. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing  sustainable fashion options that are vegan for shoppers wanting to create animal-friendly wardrobes.

Today I’m reviewing a gorgeous clutch from Vilma Boutique, a vegan accessories company based in Greece.

Vilma Boutique was founded by Vilma Vaskeviciute, a Lithuanian-born designer with a passion for a cruelty-free life. When Vilma started her boutique, she wanted to extend her vegan lifestyle into the products she designed and created.

All Vilma Boutique designs are hand-cut and machine-sewn at a small studio in Greece. Vilma seeks out suppliers who share her values of sustainability, cruelty-free products, sweatshop-free craftsmanship, and high quality materials.

I don’t usually carry a clutch, but this purse has become one of my favorite “night out” accessories. I love the soft, supple feel of the exterior, and the inside lining gives the clutch a high-quality feel. Adorable polka dots on the inside of the purse add a touch of whimsy — they caused quite a stir on a recent girls’ night. I do have to remind myself that this clutch has a snap closure and no zipper, as I tend to hold it upside down and spill small items out of it.

As a newcomer to vegan fashion, I love discovering a high-quality brand like Vilma Boutique who offers cruelty-free products at an affordable price.


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