When One is All You Have- #1Dress1Month

Growing up in Senegal, I knew that many of my friends only had one nice outfit…or one outfit at all. As a fashion lover since the age of about three, I would spend days or weeks planning what to wear to a party (a habit I haven’t grown out of), and my Christmas and Birthday wish lists always included that one item I felt would complete my sartorial bliss. Meanwhile, some of my friends would wear the same shirt and pants to every party, and every Sunday at church.

I’m well aware of this disconnect between the life I have lived and that of so many of my friends. Some of those dearest to me have recounted memories of being picked on at school because they wore the same shirt every day. I remember that very thing happening in my Canadian public school to the children of families on social assistance.

As hurtful as being bullied for your appearance is, not having enough clothes gets even more painful when the weather changes, as it is changing now. It’s this season that makes the difference between those who have, and those who don’t, a fatal gap.

That’s why, this month, I’m putting things into perspective for myself. For the entire month of November, I will wear one thrifted, little black dress. This dress:

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As I go through the month, I’ll be posting pictures of my black dress ensembles on social media, and raising awareness about how important warm clothes is for children in winter. Through my project, I hope to inspire those of use who are blessed with more than enough, to give the gift of warm clothes to kids in places where winter is bitterly cold, like Romania, through World Vision’s gift catalogue.

For someone who loves the creativity and self-expression of getting dressed in the morning, you might think this is a sacrifice. But it’s not. I get to choose from a myriad of accessories, sweaters, shoes, tights, and outerwear as the temperature drops. And, in choosing what piece I would wear for the month, I picked from about a dozen (mostly thrifted) dresses, including no less than four black dresses. This is an adventure- living without winter clothing in places like Romania isn’t.

When I was 17, I visited Romania on a high school music tour. One day we drove through a little village on our way to a local tourist attraction. As we passed the houses, I caught a glimpse of a little girl standing in a doorway, very close to the road. She was bundled against the March chill, and on her head was a warm hat in the design of a strawberry.

The image of that little girl has stuck with me. As I go through the month, I’ll be keeping her and her winter hat in mind as a symbol of what I want to achieve- that every little child we work with will have proper winter clothing this year. I’m hoping that’s a dream that will catch on.

PS- See some of the looks I’ll be taking inspiration from on my Pinterest board! To learn more about why I shop ethically (including the thrift store, where I bought my black dress), check out this post.

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Three things I’ve learned from two years of ethical living

Two years ago today I started this blog as a community for women and girls who wanted to live gracefully. To me, that meant making choices that respected the planet and everyone who lived here- especially the women and children most affected by forced and low-wage labour.

It’s been a windy road since my first post. I moved from Egypt to Canada, started a new job at World Vision Canada, and, most recently, got married! Through it all, I’ve tried my best to ensure that my choices are, as much as possible, conscious ones. Here are three things I’ve learned from that process:

  1. Shopping ethically can be HARD, but patience and saving do pay off.

Sometimes finding that perfect ethical item can be extremely frustrating. But saving up for quality items, hunting for the perfect ethical find, and revisiting thrift shops DO pay off. Here are a couple examples from my Instagram feed of patience and saving in action:

I wanted an item from Everlane for a long time. When fall rolled around last year, I realized I didn’t have a good trench to protect from the elements. So I saved up for this Swing Trench, waited for the colour I wanted to come back in stock, researched what size would be best for me and ordered it. It’s become one of my most-worn items, and I know I’ll have it for years to come.

On the other hand, I had just started thinking about how much I used to love my moccasins, but worried that they were too expensive and unethically made when some women from work and I went on a thrift store shopping trip. I was trying on last-minute finds when my coworker walked over to me, asked, “Are you a size 8?” and handed me these shoes from the exact brand I used to get in college…for $9.99! I have so many stories like that, I’ve learned to be patient when I need or want something- and to value and enjoy what I have in the meantime. In my experience, it always pays off.

2. No one can be 100% ethical all the time.

This one is often a tough pill for me to swallow, but the truth is that finances, necessity, and just a general lack of knowledge contribute so much to not being able to be totally ethical. The hardest area of my life to be ethical in is my diet…and after reading this article on checking our food privilege I realized I am not alone. Eating as a conscious consumer is tough on a budget. Although I try to buy fair trade and local as often as I can, I know that I just don’t have enough information about much of the products I buy to be able to tell what is and isn’t ethical.

And that’s where we need to give ourselves some grace. It sounds terrible to say we need to choose our battles, but for our own sanity and health, we do. However, that doesn’t mean we should just give up. We can each take small actions to limit our impact on the earth and those that live here. For me, that means not eating shrimp anymore due to the reports of forced and child labour in the industry. For many of my friends, I know that means leading a vegan lifestyle to limit their environmental impact. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you know the facts, and then put your whole heart into it. Every small action for people and the planet counts.

Lattegram from Guelph this weekend. Photo by Laura. #vscocam #vsco #lattegram

A post shared by Megan Radford de Barrientos (@megradford) on

3. The conscious consumer movement is amazing…and GROWING

Back when I started this journey, finding the products and information I needed to make “graceful” choices could be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Since then, the sustainable, fair-trade, and conscious consumer movements have exploded. Every day I find a new brand, blogger or group on Instagram dedicated to many of the same principles that drove me to start this site.

That, my friends, is what change is about. Back in 2014, sitting on my bed pouring over the Guardian’s interactive documentary The Shirt on Your Back, I felt appalled and moved to action. But I also felt a sense of helplessness, not knowing how my choices could affect change, or even where to start.

I don’t feel like that anymore. I’ve learned that our actions as consumers, and our interest in ethical products DO make a difference to industry. Our opinion has pushed Cadbury to expand its Fair Trade chocolate options. It’s birthed new ethical companies. It’s protected our natural resources. And I am certain it has made a difference in the lives of the men and women in the fair wage enterprises we support. Maybe those things are small, but they give me hope. The hope that my next two years of (attempting) ethical living will be just as rewarding. The hope that soon ethical living won’t be a special lifestyle choice, but the norm.

So Happy Fashion Revolution Day Graces! Here’s to another year of living gracefully.

xoxo,

Kindness, Smiles and Shoes – Loly in the sky

Loly in the Sky Giusy shoes worn by Megan Radford

It’s been a painful week. None of us could have avoided that photo, and I admit it’s been difficult to think of anything else. In my new role with a relief and development organization, I’ve had an outlet to push for change (here are some suggestions if you would also like to help). But still, I’ve been left reeling, unable to imagine a world where we could allow this to happen.

And then, on Friday evening, my doorbell rang. It was the mailman, bringing a smile. Bringing shoes.

It might seem frivolous to be writing about shoes at a moment like this. But these weren’t just any shoes- they were by a brand called Loly in the sky, a company run by a young female entrepreneur and designer from Mexico. They are handmade in her home country, creating jobs for skilled shoemakers, and inspiring girls around the world.

When I took the package and signed my name, I think I smiled my first real smile that day. As I opened the boxes, rainbow confetti scattered around me onto the floor. There were two shoe bags, a note just for me (in Spanish!) and my two pairs of Lolys. They weren’t perfect, but they were hand-crafted and beautiful.* A dream from Lorena Vazquez’s sketchbook, just for me.

Loly in the sky boxes and shoes, with confetti all around!

A week like this helps us understand the ways we are responsible to one another. For me it goes right back to the choices we make with our money, and our time. Our world is in serious need of kindness. By supporting artisans, small businesses, and companies that treat their workers with respect, we give it that, at least a little.

I’m choosing to hope that we are moving towards a time when kindness, supporting one another, and hope aren’t so far away. It’s the reason for my first blog here in a year, and it’s what I’m working towards. Will you join me?

gracefully yours,

Megan

PS- If you would like to read more about my thoughts on the ethics of name-brand footwear (like Keds, Converse and Vans), head on over to my personal blog. You can also follow me on Instagram @megancradford for a weekly dose of flowers, inspiration and ethical living.

*For you animal lovers, Loly in the sky are also vegan-friendly and work to be environmentally responsible.

Loly in the Sky Amelie worn with a red dress

Watch how my Lolys were made!

No Shopping for 365 Days?! Katie of Sustainability in Style

For those of you who aren’t familiar with my blog, let me introduce myself.

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My name is Katie and I am an ex-fashionista now Environmental Scientist and Sustainability major on a self imposed 365 Day ‘Wardrobe Workout’ shopping ban. Abstaining from purchasing clothing, footwear or accessories for a year has been a great way to learn how to stretch my current closet contents and Graces Way has asked me to share some of my tips with you.

Do some homework:

In order to get the most out of what you own you need to work out your personal style. The most incredible tool I have found to assist in the process is into-mind.com. The genius behind it all, Anuschka, has step-by-step programs that will help you identify your personal style and streamline your closet and best of all its free and fun.

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Creating a mood board is a great way to have a visual reminder of the style you want to convey.

The finished mood board!

The finished mood board!

Go Shopping and leave your purse at home:

Heading in store or online and checking out the latest styles without intention to spend can be a surprising experience. So often we are drawn to things we already own. If you have a feeling of shopping déjà vu there is a good chance you will find something similar in your own closet. On day 191 of my challenge I was lusting over a cardigan in the store window only to realise I have a shawl identical to it in my closet and could easily replicate the look. Take inspiration from what you love in store and try to style something similar at home, you will be pleasantly surprised at what you can come up with a little lateral thinking.

Inspiration Look...

Inspiration Look…

...and my version!

…and my version!

Make a mess:

Being creative can be messy. Get some crates or tubs you have lying around and label them ‘recycle’ ‘rethink’ and ‘repair’ and start sorting anything you haven’t worn in the last year (or ever) into categories. ‘Recycled’ goods are ones you know you will NEVER wear; these can be given to charity, used for fabric scraps, or repurposed into cleaning rags. Your ‘rethink’ box is for things you like but for some reason aren’t quite right. Most items in my rethink box have changed colour or shape a couple of times throughout my challenge. If you use INTO MIND to determine your idea colour pallet and preferred proportions, you might find yourself with a whole new wardrobe of clothes simply by dying (look for a copy of ‘Eco Colour’ by India Flint for dyeing options) or altering a few hemlines. If you just like the fabric you could use it to make a cushion or a purse.  The repair box will be full of old favourites, the things you long to wear but need some TLC. If you’re not sewing savvy find a great local tailor. Its much less ‘expensive’ time wise to invest a little money getting your favourites repaired than it is to find a perfect replacement.

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Be thoughtful about your look, and don’t be afraid to plan!

Take some time to appreciate what you have:

Have you seen ‘THAT’ person, the one that turns heads with their seemingly effortless and authentic style? That person could be you and you don’t even know it. Being OK in your body and your life can give such a radiant and positive glow to your persona. If you don’t believe me spend an afternoon on Stylelikeu.com. It is the most wonderful collection of personal stories of style and has some great insights into how style is not about what we wear, its about what’s underneath, our spirit. I personally recommend the ‘What’s Underneath’ Project and the ‘Second Skin’ series (BYO popcorn as you will likely be watching for a while, its addictive).

By shopping your closet you not only save money, you will save time, liberate yourself from the constraints of consumption (and yucky department store fluorescent lighting), and find your own style ‘groove’.

If you be brave and have fun with your style then outfit compliments are guaranteed!

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Megan from Grace’s Way here! As some of you will already know, Grace’s Way is promoting a one year, buy ethical challenge with the hashtag #graceswaypledge on Instagram and Twitter. For an even bigger earth-friendly challenge, let Katie know you are joining her cause with the hashtag #sustainabilityinstyle and #365DayChallenge!

Also, for those of you who are having problems with the giveaway widget, you can also enter the Luminance Skincare giveaway though their blog. You can also leave question for Luminant Skincare on this post to be entered! 

A Luminant Skin Giveaway

Before I even fully opened the box, a sweet, almond note wafted to my nose. Intoxicating, it carried me away to a blissful paradise of marzipan heaven. Luminance Skincare sent me some handpicked products to try, and the foodie opening had me enthralled.

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The handcrafted Sweet Marzipan soap smells so good that I haven’t used it yet. But with skin-loving ingredients like Coconut Oil and Red Morrocan clay, this soapie already knows it’s going to be a favourite. It’s also huge- I’ve begun favoring soaps over body washes because they don’t have packaging (using less resources), they are convenient, and they make my skin feel clean, clean, clean.

The other products I received come in luxurious glass jars, spray and pump bottles. I am blown away at the quality of these products, and the company’s attention to craftsmanship and detail. The line was created by a man whose wife became allergic to the chemical scents in conventional products. My sister is allergic to scent (and a whole lot of other things), and both of us have sensitive skin, so their story hits pretty close to home.

I am going to be reviewing the Luminance Skin Care Line side-by-side with some of my everyday favourites. Many of them are similar in form and function- but not in ingredients. While I’ve been slathering chemicals on my body’s biggest organ, Luminance Skin Care products contain only natural and beautiful ingredients. But do they work? Let’s find out.

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My usual cleanser: Purity Made Simple by Philosophy

I’ve been using this cleanser for years. It’s gentle, and it gets off every bit of makeup without making my skin dry or red. But, like the other products, it’s not as “pure” as it claims!

Luminance Skin Care’s version: Delicate Face Cleanser $18

I was dubious about whether a cleanser with this much liquid could work. But it does! All you need is one or two sprays, and it lathers like a dream, leaving your skin squeaky clean. No redness or eye irritation either!

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My usual toner: The Body Shop Vitamin E spray

I love this stuff for a refreshing spritz, and to set my makeup. It smells like roses.

Luminance Skin Care’s version: Rosewater Face Toner $18

The better, cleaner version of the one above! It’s pure rose water, which means that the only ingredients water that has been infused with rose petals. It smells more herbal than my perfumey Body Shop spray, and much lighter. My pores are noticeably smaller after using this. I plan on keeping it in the fridge for hot summer days. A winner!

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My usual facial moisturizer: The Body Shop Vitamin E night cream

In the winter, I loved the Body Shop cream, but I’m starting to notice now that it never really fully sinks in to my skin.

Luminance Skin Care’s version: Hydration Face Moisturizer $27

No such problem with Luminance. Lighter, and more effective? Yes please! I can see this working equally well in the winter. The texture is not as thick as The Body Shop. It sinks in quickly and leaves my face soft and glowy.

Overall Impressions: It’s only been a few days, but I already notice a difference in my skin. The skin around my nose has been rough and red lately. My skin is much smoother. These products really have made my skin luminant.

 

My favourite product from the line- the Rosewater Toner!

My favourite product from the line- the Rosewater Toner!

 

My usual body moisturizer: Palmer’s Cocoa Butter body cream

I bought this because it smells like chocolate and vanilla…and because Clare Bowen from the show Nashville uses it! But there are some pretty nasty ingredients in this stuff.

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Luminance Skin Care’s version: Skin Butter Rich Moisture $18

You know the scent when you beat together butter and sugar to make cookies? This is it. As with all their skincare products, it is very light, and is the natural fragrance of the lovely oils they use, not an added scent. You will smell it when you put it on, but then no one else will- making it perfect for scent-free workplaces. It doesn’t leave your skin greasy, but gently softens dry patches. I think those who suffer from eczema would love this.

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My usual deodorant: various

Since my Lush T’eo ran out, I have been trying several different things. Some days I use aloe mixed with lavender essential oil, which works pretty well, but has a very strong scent. If I need a touch up, I carry a Pacifica solid perfume in my purse- it contains coconut oil, which many use as deodorant. On really hot days (which have been plentiful here in Cairo), I go back to normal deodorant.

Luminance Skin Care’s version: Deodorant $15

This has a really fresh, herbal scent similar to Caudalie’s beauty elixir, and it feels refreshing. The scent fades after a minute, and I can’t detect it after that. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me. I wore this during a day working at home. It was around 27 degrees C in the house, nothing super-sticky. I was wearing a thin, 100% cotton tunic. I put the deodorant on when I woke up, and added another spritz about four hours later. But at the seven hour mark, this stuff fell short. I had to add some of my Pacifica solid perfume to make up for it. I think there was too much water diluting the active oils and extracts to make this an effective product.

I won’t be using this as a deodorant, but it could be nice as a refreshing spray on the back of the neck, arms etc. on hot days.

Lush T’eo is still the only natural deodorant that works for me on my tropical adventures.

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My usual facial sunscreens: Olay Sensitive Skin SPF moisturizer, Lovea SPF 15 with monoi oil, Avene mineral sun cream SPF 50

I am not a huge fan of any of these. The Olay and Lovea clog my pores (though the Lovea is great for a body sunscreen, as it is natural), and the Avene is way too heavy.

Luminance Skin Care’s version: Sun Screen $25

Red raspberry seed oil is said to have an SPF of around 28-40. This sunscreen is mixed with other oils, so I would say it probably shares an SPF factor with the Olay or the Lovea. It absorbs immediately, moisturizes well, and leaves your skin soft and not at all greasy, with a natural raspberry herb scent. I haven’t been able to test it out in the sun yet- so I will let you know how it does.

Even brands that claim to be natural often have ingredients that make me cringe- fragrance, phenoxyehtanol (which I am allergic to), or excessive plastic packaging (I’m looking at you EcoTools).

With Luminance, I couldn’t find any of those flaws. Every single product feels lovely on the skin, and, with the exception of the deodorant (and possibly the sunscreen- the jury is still out!) they worked. Also, can we just talk about the packaging for a second? Glass jars, like an old-school chemist, with modern black labels = perfection.

The price point is also great for such incredible ingredients. When compared to similar products from One Love Organics, these are a steal. Yes, they are a bit more than drugstore brands. But they work better, and they have none of the chemicals that more and more people are becoming allergic too. I would compare the prices of their facial skincare with The Body Shop products. My only suggestion would be to make a thicker deodorant, with aloe, baking soda or cornstarch, and the oils already in their current product.

Luminance Skincare and Grace’s Way have a treat for you. They are offering a giveaway of $50, $100 and $150 to spend on their website! All you have to do is click this link:a Rafflecopter giveaway
, enter your email, and comment on this blog with a question for Luminance Skin Care. If you are having problems with the link, you can also post to the Giveaway on our Facebook page. Luminance will check back and answer your question, and you will be automatically entered in the giveaway. The giveaway will be open until August 5th- so you have almost a month to post comments! You can ask as many questions as you like, but try to make them real questions, ok? To get you inspired, check out their website and the rest of their product line here.

Luminance Skincare has also graciously offered all of you 20% off on your order- just for being Graces! So if you don’t win the giveaway, you can still enjoy their beautiful skincare saviors. Just use the code GRACESWAY in the checkout.

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Disclaimer: I received these products for free. The opinions above are my honest thoughts, and I am not being paid for this post.

Fashion with a Purpose: GoEx’s buyer tells her story

Megan Dodd – Go Exchange buyer and fashionista!

 

I always imagined buyers being the type of women pounding the pavement in NYC wearing tight black pencil skirts, slicked back ponytails and 5-inch heels. I’ll admit there was a point in my life where all I did was dream of being one of those women. Feeling powerful and in charge. Having the ability to make decisions and watching others marvel at my excellent taste. Well, I don’t wear 5-inch heels and pencil skirts aren’t my thing, and yet, here I am. The only difference? I’m in Haiti. Wearing yoga pants, Birkenstocks and a ripped chambray shirt trying to make my sweaty hair look semi chic in a top knot, but meeting with a designer, buying a fall line nonetheless. This day was profound for me. It was as if an adolescent dream came true today. Only, it came in a way I never would have predicted for my life.

 

I spent my childhood growing up in a setting where world travel was normal. I took my first trip to Haiti at age 11. I thought from a young age that helping in a country like Haiti was my purpose in life. I felt like I had purpose when I was in Haiti. I felt like I was making a difference. I have my amazing parents to thank for exposing me to the poverty of Haiti from such a young age. I went through phases where I felt closer to my passion for Haiti and phases where Haiti felt very distant. I traveled there regularly with my dad until college.

 

Megan in Haiti, age 18

Megan in Haiti, age 18

Growing up, I also developed a love for fashion, design and merchandising. My mom let me buy my first copy of Vanity Fair when I was 12, because Mary-Kate and Ashley were on the cover. I kept that magazine and read it cover to cover each day until it fell apart. That was my first real exposure to fashion. And I was in love.

 

I studied business in college, and decided fashion was my calling. I remember having breakfast with my friend Caroline one morning shortly before we graduated and saying to her, “I feel like I will be unhappy forever if I don’t make fashion my career”. I remember her encouraging me to pursue my passion if I felt so strongly about it. I went with my gut, and I moved to Los Angeles. I managed a retail store. I saw celebrities. I lived what aspiring fashion gurus would say is “the LA dream”. And in some ways it was my dream too. But it was lonely. It was expensive and eventually, I left.

 

I came home to Kansas City looking for something new. Something to do other than manage a retail store and “babysit” my associates day in and day out. I wanted more meaning in my career. That’s when I got a call from an organization called The GO Exchange. The GO Exchange (GOEX) is essentially an online boutique. Our passion is orphan prevention. By providing living wage jobs to the artisans making the products we sell, they are able to keep their families together. Many times parents give their children up to be adopted, because they cannot afford to feed and clothe them.

A sneak peak of GoEx's fall jewelry line!

A sneak peak of GoEx’s fall jewelry line!

I met with someone from The GO Exchange shortly after moving home, just explaining my interests and my background with fashion. And then, on a random Tuesday I got a call with a job offer. No application. No formal interview. Simply, will you come work for us? I accepted the offer before the person on the other end of the phone could even finish their sentence. I knew this was what I had been looking for. I started working at GOEX shortly after, and quickly became enamored with the process of choosing products to sell on our site. I have a strong opinion and I know what women shop for, and to the dismay of the men I work with at GOEX, I believe I’m usually right. Lesson to be learned: don’t let a group of middle-aged dads choose products for women (just saying). I share my thoughts and express my feelings about our products enough that Mike, my manager, decided to let me come to Haiti and pick out our fall line.

 

A child Megan met at a GoEx sponsored orphanage.

A child Megan met at a GoEx sponsored orphanage.

As I walked around the factory today, seeing the workers, learning about the entire production process, it really hit me hard. These workers making t-shirts, handbags, pajamas, etc. are working so hard to provide for their families. This is their life. This is how they will feed their children. Great fashion does not have to come at the cost of cheap and unfair production. It’s completely possible to make beautiful products and not sacrifice the good of the worker. I am proud to say that I know the people producing the products I sell. I know they have proper work environments, clean bathrooms, lunch breaks and room to move around.

Workers at the Papillon factory pound rocks into dust for clay beads.

Workers at the Papillon factory pound rocks into dust for clay beads.

It seems counterintuitive- looking for ethical production rather than cheap production. If you want to make a buck, cut your costs wherever you can. That’s all they taught us in business school. But how did we get so caught up in that business practice? When did we start putting the product above the worker? Why don’t we even think twice about the worker when we buy a garment? It’s possible to have both- a beautiful garment and an ethical production process. And it’s gaining momentum. We thought it was a fad when brands started popping up a few years ago with an ethical bottom line. But this generation has proven it’s not a fad. It’s an innate desire to help. To give back. To be ethical. Our generation is changing the way products are made.

Megan Dodd – Go Exchange buyer and fashionista!

Today I became that buyer I dreamed about becoming as a teenager. It’s funny how life comes full circle sometimes. My passion for Haiti, my obsession with clothes and design, it all connected today in a way I never dreamed it would. Ethical business was never on my radar when I dreamed about what I would be when I was growing up. But today, I am proud to say that’s what I do. I’m part of the movement. And I will commit to valuing the worker as much as the product.

 

Story and photos above by Megan Dodd.

 

Find out more about the Go Exchange, and shop their fun store here! The products that Megan chose will be coming out with their fall line. Follow them on Instagram to keep up to date.

GoEx provides employment for moms so they can support their families. Photo: goex.org

GoEx provides employment for moms so they can support their families. Photo: goex.org

Belated Graceful Favourites- May!

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I am a few days late with this, but May has been an extremely busy month. It’s was my birthday month, and I’ve been traveling, working several jobs at once, and there is construction happening in my garden that disrupts my schedule. I will try to post my favourites in a more timely manner next month. And now, on to my favourite fair trade, natural, ethical, graceful things of the month!

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Beauty:

This month, I have been using two oldies but goodies quite a bit. One of them has been in my collection for years, and the other I received at the end of the month from my family.

Shorts Story by OPI is a lovely pink. It’s one of those colours that you just can’t look at with a frown, and it is a staple for me.

Bikini So Teeny by Essie is the most perfect periwinkle blue I have ever seen. I’ve been eyeing it for so very long, and I couldn’t believe it when I opened my birthday package from my family and found it there, wrapped in pretty polka-dotted pink paper. Thank you Mom, Emma and Beth for reading my colour-loving mind! The polish is a cream formula, with tiny shimmers in it. It does take some working with- I put on two coats one day, and a third the next morning for full opacity. But the colour is worth it. In the shade, it’s an almost-mod periwinkle leaning on the blue side. In the sunlight, it takes on a more sky-blue shade that I can’t take my eyes off of.

Both of these formulas are free of the main three chemicals that make nail polish toxic. I’ll be posting more about the levels of nail polish toxicity, and what you can do to keep your pretty fingers and toes from hurting the planet (and you!) soon.

Pink Blossom lip balm- Burt’s Bees lip balms are a cult favourite. This tinted formula is the perfect in-between for girls who aren’t into full-on lipstick or lipgloss. It’s buttery smooth, with a poppy-pink tint. Oh, and it’s almost totally natural.

EOS lip balm in honeydew melon- I’ll be honest, my first EOS (summerfruit) didn’t get that much use. But this one seems to be softer for some reason. My mom and sister bought the four pack in Costco, and asked me which flavour/sent I wanted. I’ve been using it a ton this spring, after borrowing my little sister’s strawberry one every night when I was home. Like the Burt’s Bees, it’s natural, plus it is sweetened with steevia. My only complaint is the excessive plastic packaging.

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Skincare:

I’ve been going back to basics at bathtime, and skipping the shower gel for the more traditionally made soap. This one is by Fragonard, a beautiful centuries-old parfumeur in Grasse, France, and a gift from my cousin Laura. I visited the factory while I was staying with Laura in Nice, and we got to see how they extract flower essences to make beautiful fragrances. This soap is a lot more natural than my Bath and Body works shower gel, and it feels so old-school glamourous. The delicate rose fragrance reminds me of Grace Kelly. I can picture her taking a quick jaunt to the Fragonard store to pick this up- the factory is only a few hours from Monaco. It came in a lovely keepsake box of four- lavender, verbena, rose and freesia. I only have the freesia left now, and then the box will hold trinkets and treasures.

I’ve been having some issues with dry patches on my face, and this Calendula cream from Weleda really soothes and heals them. It’s made to be used by all ages, so it’s very, very gentle. The whole Calendula line from Weleda is great if you have sensitive skin like me.

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Fragrance:

My first fragrance is not natural, per se, but I have been wearing it almost every day since I got it as a gift. Wild Bluebell from Jo Malone smells like a dew-spattered field of green grass and flowers, with a hint of sweetness. If you were a fairy, this is what you would wear. I’ve wanted it for years.

Since bluebells are an endangered wildflower, Jo Malone recreated their scent with lily of the valley, briar rose, orange flower and cloves. They also made a large donation to the Woodland Trust, to help preserve Britain’s beautiful bluebells. That sounds pretty graceful to me.

My natural fragrance pick of the month is Malibu Lemon Blossom by Pacifica. If you want to hear my full review of this fragrance, click here. It’s been traveling in my backpack, my purse, and my beach bag all month.

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Fashion:

When I like something, I wear it over and over and over. This was the case for my two fashion favourites this month. The first was a daisy dress that I bought at a used clothing market. It was originally from H&M, and I wore it every week. It got snagged on a nail, so it is in the mending pile right now, but it will be back for June! You can see more photos of it in my outfit post.

I received this necklace from my parents at the end of this month, but they showed it to me on Skype on my birthday. I have worn it almost every day because it matches EVERYTHING. I’ve never been a silver girl, always preferring gold, but this may just convert me. Thank you to Shakespeare’s Sisters for crafting such a unique piece, the lovely vintage-inspired Avenle for stocking it in their webstore, and my wonderful family for sending it to me!

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Food:

I am a tea addict, and this month, there have been tea that I have come back to over and over.

The first has been a favourite of mine since moving to Egypt, but I just recently discovered the “more than fair trade” story behind their products, which you can check out here. Dilmah strawberry tea is lovely with honey and milk when I have a sweet craving. It reminds me of the first time I tried flavoured tea. I was eleven years old, at an American Girl doll (remember those?) tea party in Dakar, Senegal. I had always loved drinking milky tea with my Dad, but at this party, they served us raspberry flavoured tea with milk and sugar. It was a revelation to me. Tea can have flavours? I was hooked on experimenting with tea from then on.

My other favourite has been the chai green tea from local health food store Imtenan. I like to make a cup of iced tea with this in the morning to wake me up. It’s a little spicy, which is a nice change from regular green tea.

Incredible colours at Abdel Zaher

Incredible colours at Abdel Zaher

Lifestyle:

Notebooks, notebooks, and more notebooks. Put me in a stationery shop, and I may never come out. That’s what it was like when I visited Abdel Zaher for the first time. The store is in a little nook, off the beaten path near the historic Al Azhar mosque in Cairo. A friend steered me into it on my first visit to Cairo and bought me this notebook. I’ve been waiting till I use up some others, and now it is my little travel journal!

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This lavender and gold softcover is from another Egyptian brand called Colors & Shapes. Their designs are really cute, and they are made here in Egypt too. This one I am using to write down poems, quotes, and good things.

 

That’s all for now. I hope all you had a graceful May, and that June is even more full of wonder, beauty, and joy. There are exciting things coming to Grace’s Way this month. Sometime next week, a buyer for a not-so-average fashion brand will be sharing her incredible story with us of how she went from L.A. to Haiti- and loves it!

 

gracefully yours,

 

Megan

The Scent of Wanderlust

Coming up for air out of the salty sea, spices from far-away lands, a juicy pink guava for a tropical breakfast, a leafy bower of delicate lilac blossoms…

 

What does Wanderlust smell like to you?

 

Scents can trigger so many memories, and that what the brand Pacifica built itself upon. The company uses all-natural oils and essences to make their bright, beautiful perfumes. Each one if inspired by an exotic locale, and with their inexpensive price range (from $8-$20 for the perfumes), you can experience a little escape whether you are in an office or at the beach! I have been a fan for about five years now, and I wanted to share some of my favourite scents with you, and why I love them.

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Beachy: The scent I generally associate with the beach and summer is coconut. But, while they do have a coconut scent, my favourite beachy Pacifica perfume (and my all-time favourite from the line) is Malibu Lemon Blossom. It has notes of salty air, lemon, and the flower angelica. As soon as I smelled it, I was transported to my favourite place in the world- the Phare beach in Dakar, Senegal, a place where I have so many special memories. I’ve been going on a few excursions to the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, and I bring it along in my beach bag every time.

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Fruity: Hawaiian Ruby Guava is a favourite of both my Mom and my sister, Emma. Neither of them are too into perfume, and this deliciously ripe, citrusy-sweet scent is perfect for them. It was one of the first Pacifica scents I fell in love with, in the form of a candle.

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Floral: If you are a fan of the cult-favourite Kai perfume oil, but don’t want to shell out $48 for a tiny rollerball, I would give the lush florals Waikiki Pikake and Tahitian Gardenia a try. Similar to Kai, both of these scents are pure, exotic white flowers. Waikiki Pikake is my favourite of the two. It was inspired by a Hawaiian princess, and is simply magical.

 

Personally, I am on a subtle, delicate flower kick right now. French Lilac is definitely next on my to-buy list. It smells like soft spring blossoms, and reminds me of springtime walks in Canada, and the green hills of Grasse in France. I have a candle in the fragrance, and I keep it in my pajama drawer. It really adds such a beautiful scent to my sleepwear, so I can drift off to dreamland in peace.

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The lovely Pacifica French Lilac candle in action

 

Spicy: Tibetan Mountain Temple is my cold-weather favourite. It smells like warm spices in a sandalwood base, but the orange zest keeps it from being overpowering. This is a cuddly fragrance for fall days and winter nights. It’s also kind of unisex, and I bet it would smell just as great on a guy as it does on me.

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Sweet: Island Vanilla is such a unique vanilla for me. It’s not overly sweet, but it’s also not deep, like some vanilla fragrances. It falls somewhere between, and manages to have a refreshing tone to it. I love putting this in the ends of my hair. The oils and coconut wax smooth split ends, and I get whiffs of the scent when I turn my head.

With summer beginning here in Egypt, I’ve also been really craving coconut scents. If you’re on the same page, I think Indian Coconut Nectar would hit the spot. It’s a milky, light , sweet coconut scent is simply divine.

 

Pacifica scents are made to be layered, so you can create your own signature fragrance, or wear the perfectly blended versions on their own. They carry natural body care products and home fragrance products in their scents. Pacifica has also branched out into skincare and cosmetics, and just released a line of 7-chemical free nail polish! Hopefully I, or one of my Grace’s Way partners, can test out those soon.

 

Pacifica products can be found in Whole Foods in Canada, the US, and the UK, as well as various other natural stores. If you want to shop online, go directly to their website!

 

If you’ve tried anything else from their line, let me know! I am always looking to expand my Pacifica arsenal, and I’d love some enabling. Happy scented travels.

 

gracefully yours,

 

Megan

A Daisy Chain OOTD

“Don’t you think daisies are the friendliest flower?”-Meg Ryan, You’ve Got Mail

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I have a slight obsession with flowers. Daisies are some of my favourites ever since You’ve Got Mail made it into my top 10 movie list. Who didn’t love making daisy chains when they were young, stringing them in their hair and pretending to be a fairy princess? There is just something about daisies that is so inviting and innocent.

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I’ve been looking for a daisy dress for quite a while. I was super lucky when, on my first trip to one of Cairo’s vintage markets, I found one! It was a grand total of six dollars Canadian. It’s so comfortable and easy to wear.

 

The trick with vintage markets, or any vintage store, is to keep an open mind, and look for colour and fabric first, not style. As you scan the racks, your eyes should be tuned to looking for interesting patterns and colours. I am always attracted to pretty pastels and floral patterns. According to your personal style, have an idea of the kind of thing you are looking for, but don’t get too detailed before you go. If you have a general idea of what you want- say, simple dresses- you will have much more luck than if you are looking for a specific colour or style. Also, if you do need a specific piece, you may need to go back on multiple occasions to get a sense of where things are, and when new pieces arrive. Have patience, and you will be rewarded with something unique and lovely.

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Dress- vintage

Belt- vintage

Locket, ring and pearl earrings- gifts from my lovely parents!

Flower hair clip- old: similar

Sandals- Birkenstock discontinued style: similar 

 

I’ve worn this dress at least four times since I bought it a couple weeks ago. I also took it on a weekend vacation to the Red Sea, and it was so easy to throw over my swimsuit. I love bringing dresses on summer holidays, because they save space in my suitcase, and they work at the pool, on the beach, going for a stroll in the garden, and at dinner jazzed up with some jewelry! In Cairo, I generally have to put leggings on underneath, for cultural reasons. But at the resort, and in my garden, with the flowers, I’m as free as…well, a daisy!

 

I’ve also uploaded a little outfit of the day and mini get-read-with-me video!

Do you guys like these short videos? I am still getting used to filming and editing, so they are nothing fancy, but I think they add a little something to a normal outfit post.

 

Also, this is not the only dress I bought that day. The other will be make an appearance in another post soon. Until then, happy sustainable shopping!

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If you have a beauty, fashion or lifestyle brand you think we should feature, or would like to do a guest post, please email me at contactgracesway@gmail.com! I have been in contact with so many of you, and some of those collaborations will be coming to Grace’s Way very soon.

 

PS- My favourite flower will be revealed on Instagram for this week’s #flowerfriday!

 

Photography by myself and Ahmed Badawi.

In My Dreams- A Wishlist

Graces Way In My Dreams Wishlist

 

For me, Pinterest is all about dreaming. Whether it’s a make-you-think quote, an interesting DIY, or a magical pair of shoes, I can spend hours finding inspiration in the pretty pictures. My birthday is in a few days, and since it’s a time when no one can tell me not to put my head in the clouds, I’ve put my In-My-Dreams Wishlist on the Grace’s Way Pinterest.

Here are some lovely things I am swooning for. Starting from the middle and then going clockwise from the top, we have:

 

Puff Piece Adornments Petal Flower Crown– $18

Designer Krystin not only makes these works of art incorporating upcycled materials, but she is also just a lovely person. Her hand-made crowns are sold on Avenle and Etsy. Plus, her prices are so incredibly reasonable for such fairy-tale items.

 

Mae Movement Roller Girl Set- $36

If you haven’t read our tell-all interview with Mae Movement founder Haley, click here! Her bracelets give women in Nepal a wage three times that of the average salary in their country. They also give them a way to stay out of the sex slave trade. Oh, and they are bright, fun, and adorable pieces! The pastel greens and corals in this set were basically mae-d for me!

 

One Love Organics Travel Set– $50

I have heard such great things about this brand, especially from Ashley of makeupTIA. Their products are pretty expensive by my standards, but very special. This travel pack comes in a cute little bag that says Love in pink letters. I think it would be a great way to see what all the fuss is about.

 

Mermaid Shampoo and Conditioner– $60 for the set

I’ve been looking for a new natural shampoo and conditioner. This is it. Coconut and orange blossom scented and sulfate-free, I want these to be my new best friends. Basically a dream in two bottles.

 

A ticket to a Staves concert– $?

This one fits into the lifestyle category. I have been loving the Staves for a couple months now, ever since I asked a friend in the music production business to recommend some musicians similar to Scarlett O’Connor on my current favourite show, Nashville.

The Staves are three sisters with hauntingly beautiful voices and melodies, and lyrics just as poetic as their sound. I would love to see them in concert one day!

 

Della LA Travel Bag– $24

Can you tell I have a thing for cute little travel bags? I am always traveling, so I can justify the many I already have. They are just so helpful for organizing the bits and bobs I bring with me. This pretty purple zip-up case was handmade by artisans in Ghana by super-chic up and coming fair trade brand Della. The lilac and aqua tie-die is one of my favourite colour combinations.

 

Sole Rebels tooTOOs– $65

This brand makes fair-trade, eco-friendly footwear. I am loving their adorable tooTOOs style- a fabric ballet flat. I’m not ashamed to admit that I want every colour, but I’m kind of on a lavender kick, and the light purple ones are calling my name. Then again, the grey ones look really practical…hmm…

 

Mermaid Perfume No. 1– $50 for the perfume spray, $25 for the mini oil rollerball

I definitely don’t need another perfume, but…just the name makes me want to close my eyes and dive under salty waves. From the makers of Mermaid Hair, Mermaid No. 1 is an orange blossom scent that so many lovely ladies have raved about. Meghan from Briar Rose Blog wore it on her wedding day.

Sarah from Vintage Magpies pranced in a field wearing a breathtaking cobalt dress with it in tow.

I already love it for it’s all-natural ingredients, mystery, and lovely aesthetic, but the scent of orange blossoms is also special to me for its presence in the picture-perfect town of Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia. After climbing to the top of the hill, there is a little café where you can drink orange juice under the blooming orange trees. The town, with it’s white buildings and blue doors, coastal views, and laid-back atmosphere, was my very favourite place in Tunisia. I would love to have a perfume to remember it by.

 

RMS “Un” cover up– $36

RMS has been on my radar for a number of years. Recently I’ve been thinking I need to switch out the toxic, chemical-ridden stuff in my makeup bag with more natural fare. I have allergies around my eye area, and I have to be so careful with concealers and foundation. This one really intrigues me because it is meant to enhance your skin, not totally cover up- something I was never a big fan of with foundation anyway. It’s packed with lovely ingredients like coconut oil, which my dry skin definitely needs.

 

She And Reverie Mermaid Skirt– $148

Have I mentioned that I love mermaids? This gorgeous skirt by hand-made loungewear company She And Reverie is made of softest cotton and printed with beautiful mermaids and roses in pink, blue and aqua.

 

The Grace's Way Pinterest Board

The Grace’s Way Pinterest Board

Whew! I thought this was just going to be a few, but when I sat down and thought about it, there are so many lovely things I’ve been checking out lately. For more details on where to buy them, click through to my wishlist Pinterest board! Some of these are a little pricey, but hey, I get one blow-out-my-candles wish right? Now which should I choose…

 

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Let me know what’s on your wishlist in the comments below, or with the hashtag #gracesway on Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram! Happy pinning 🙂

gracefully yours,

Megan