Grace Talks: Haley of Mae Movement on arm candy and fair trade

Today I am super-excited to share with you an interview that I have been wanting to do for years now.

Haley Cairo is a college student and the co-founder (with her mom) of Mae Movement, a line of bracelets made by artisan women in Nepal. The bracelets give the women a safe, enjoyable trade, and keep them home and safe, away from the rampant sex slavery trade that plagues many Asian countries.

Haley’s bracelets are beloved by YouTube stars and girls around the world for their trendy colors and incredible cause. Haley is one of the most positive women I have ever interviewed. I couldn’t have asked for a better conversation to have on Fashion Revolution Day! Here’s what Haley had to say about fair trade, shopping, and beauty!

MM
Dee and Haley

(GC- Grace’s Way founder Megan, MM- Haley Cairo)

GC: Tell us about how you came up with the idea for Mae Movement.

MM: I have always been passionate about helping others and finding the bracelets and my lifestyle change to be fit and healthy happened at the same time. I was a junior, or 11th grade in high school, and was a part of the state student senate. I used my personal story as a platform to speak to youth about achieving your goals and dreams even at a young age. It really motivated me to take this globally ! We thought making the bracelets a part of it was a perfect fit because they empower women in Nepal, plus we did fundraisers to start selling the bracelets, and donated a portion of the proceeds to different organizations.

GC: You got a lot of support from YouTube stars like missglamorazzi. How did that happen? Were you surprised that the bracelets caught on so quickly?

MM: Omg thinking About this still MAEks me excited! Dee (Mama Mae Movement ) and I were in New York for IMATS, which is a makeup trade show that all the beauty gurus attend. I went to share our bracelets and give them as gifts to some of my favorite YouTubers. I gave them bracelets and my card. Dee and I were walking back to our hotel that night and Ingrid (missglamorazzi) texted me! She and the other girls loved the bracelets and the movement behind them, so we planned to meet up the next day and have a little hang out and bracelet party at the Mercer in SoHo- it was so much fun! I really could not thank them enough for sharing our bracelets!

Haley's Springtime Accessories
Haley’s Springtime Accessories

GC: Wow, that is so great that they jumped on board like that. So, from all this, what kind of things have happened for these women as a result of Mae Movement? Have you been able to check back with them?

MM: Yes ! Most definitely! These women are earning a fair trade wage 3x the amount of the standard salary in Nepal. Not only can they afford to take care of their families and provide a good home for them but our artisans are provided with two free meals a day, and health care. We are also able to continue to employ more women!

GC: So obviously, brands like yours really make a difference. Have you noticed that there is a movement among young entrepreneurs towards creating social change?

MM: Absolutely! I think it’s human nature to want to feel like you are giving value to this world, and so much of what we are fed on television and the Internet is junk. I have seen such a trend lately with people who start off promoting themselves, their brand in a more worldly almost superficial way, and are now trying to bring on a more philanthropic aspect to their work, whether its with life advice or hosting fundraisers on their social media platforms.

I hate to say that giving back is trendy but in all honesty it is and it should be because there is so much in this world that is swept under the rug and goes unspoken. That why I am so passionate about Mae Movement, because there is no limit to what or who we are MAEking known 🙂 it could be an issue in a third world country or right here locally, like bullying.

GC: On the fashion side of things, how do you design the colours and patterns for the bracelets? (My favorite this season is the Cotton Candy set!)

MM: I LOVE that one too!

I grew up wanting to be in the art and fashion industry so I was always paying attention to trends and forecasting for the upcoming seasons. So I take a similar approach to creating our collections. I can tell you, Mae Movement is about to get a little MAEkover with our collections – we will be launching them faster and will have some new products !

The Mae Movement Cotton Candy set- love!
The Mae Movement Cotton Candy set- love!

GC: I’m excited to see what’s next. You sound super busy- What do you do when you are not working on the new Mae Movement campaign…or do you have any spare time at all?!

MM: Oh boy haha I am always working. I am also a freelance illustrator and photographer, so I am either working on a commission or doing a photo shoot. Another huge part of MM is my YouTube so I film and edit videos. Then I have my schooling. I am currently a student at the Institution of Integrative Nutrition! We will be launching personal health and lifestyle coaching very soon! I am also training a lot I wake up anywhere from 4-5 am to go to Crossfit or the gym.

GC: On that note, we know you are a fan of the Tone It Up girls. I’ve been watching them since college, by the way- love their videos! Who or what are some other influences on your personal style and lifestyle choices?

MM: Well, for lifestyle, my number one is my savior Jesus Christ. He has brought me through some of the hardest times, and I know he will always be there.

My Mom. I have never met anyone with more love in them then her. Not kidding, and anyone who meets Dee would tell you that I am so blessed to have her, she is my biggest cheerleader.

My grandmother “Nonners”, she is the my best friend – she has given me life advice that I will always reflect on. She is my absolute fashion icon. She introduced me to Vogue when I was little and she continues to give me her issues after she reads them. I use to play in her closet, and we definitely have had one or two…well a lot of bonding time over shopping. She always told me to be elegantly understated, and I would say I dressed older than my age in high school. I appreciate a good leather driving shoe and a killer bag.

As I have gotten older my style has developed and I would say I get a lot of inspiration has come from being so into fitness. I wear a lot of casual basic and dress them up with statement jewelry and cool shoes. I love how Victoria Beckham has mastered wearing black. And Nicole Ritchie is great at being a chameleon with her styles. Then of course Rachel Zoe the queen of accessorizing. Those are currently some icons of mine.

GC: Speaking of style icons, shopping is a huge part of following our fashion idols. Why do you think it’s important for young women to think about how the things they buy affect others?

MM: This one is huge for me because a lot of people don’t think about. One of my goals is to really push a new type of ” haul ” video on YouTube, with more fair trade or even USA and locally made products. These products may look glamorous, but if they saw the conditions of the factories and how the workers are treated it would give them a whole different perspective on what they buy.

Cosmetics is a huge one too. I love finding new fair trade beauty products I am currently loving my face lotion by Everyday Coconut. They are empowering the people of Togo with their products and they use local ingredients, it so awesome.

Haley's Girl Power Video on YouTube
Haley’s Girl Power Video on YouTube

GC: Personally, how do you decide on whether you will buy something or not?

MM: I am a quality over quantity so I will spend more on something knowing it came from a good source. Since starting Mae Movement I have become much more aware of it. I would say I especially pay attention to this with food! I try and buy organic and locally and I love supporting companies that use fair trade ingredients. I would love to say everything I have is some kind of empowerment product, but I do have some favorites that are not.

I am also a supporter of small businesses and independent designers. If you follow me on Instagram I post a lot of photos with shirts that say Dyer Brand on them. My cousin Mason is an incredibly talented surfboard shaper and men’s fashion designer. All of his clothing is American made and high quality. I probably wear his shirts more than anything else.

GC: That is so great. So, besides Mae Movement, do you have any other fair trade brands that you enjoy?

MM: I am in love with the Nena and Co bags from Guatemala I do not have one yet but I am planning on splurging for my birthday in June! These bags are made by women artisans in Guatemala using a traditional weaving technique. They have a ” peace pilgrim” that gives back to these women and their families providing fresh water and education.

GC: I’ve never heard of them, I will definitely check them out!

MM: Yeah, and I also love Wakami, another Guatemalan product! Their jewelry is awesome ! They have a great team of people who are really passionate about life and giving back to these people.

One that is special to me is Nepali by TMD. They have women artisans in Nelal who make the most beautiful scarves I have ever seen. They are super popular right now and I am so happy to see them getting mainstream attention!

GC: I am a scarf-aholic, so that sounds right up my alley. So, we’ve covered fashion…what is your favorite beauty tip?

MM: My favorite beauty tip?!?! That’s so hard I have a few ! Haha.

My grandfather is an orthodontist so my whole family are teeth freaks! A smile can change someone’s whole day so why not let your beauty affect others?! Take care of your teeth!

But on a more glamorous note….Beauty really comes from the inside out so having a diet high in vitamins and antioxidants will give you radiant skin! I drink a lot of green tea and lemon water! My grandmother always made sure I took care of my skin so sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen everyday !

Lastly people always ask me how I do my “no makeup” makeup look…. My secret is gold toned highlighter. I use Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in radiant light, but I not only high light my cheekbones but my eyelids to! I know it sounds weird but you look like you just got back from a vacation in the islands!

Mae Movement Arm Candy!
Mae Movement Arm Candy!

GC: Our final question: What’s next for Mae Movement, and for you?

MM: This is an exciting question! So many things! We are launching an apparel line! We have some new jewelry concepts but most importantly our involvement and community will be taking on a whole new role in Mae Movement! Really aim to have our day MAEkers our “movers” have a place to find not only awesome products with a purpose but a place where they can get life advice, health and wellness coaching, recipes, fashion tips, everything! A full on lifestyle brand! We will have a much more active blog and will be having some pretty exciting collaboration too!

GC: You really do have exciting things ahead! We’ll be following them for sure, and looking for how Grace’s Way can partner with you. Thanks Haley!

MM: Thanks so much for featuring us!

You can shop Mae Movement here. Be sure to follow Haley on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

MM Daisey
The Daisey bracelets, inspired by The Great Gatsby, are 1920s glam!
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Let’s dress like Grace Kelly and save the planet!

My closet full of vintage lovelies.

Audrey Hepburn, Coco Chanel, Grace Kelly, Daisy from the Great Gatsby- what do all these women (real and imagined) have in common? They were born into an age when your favourite dress came from a shop down the street, or was tailor-made for you and worn for years. It wasn’t mass produced in a factory across the world, where the people who worked on it are payed less than your lipgloss cost you. It didn’t fall apart after a couple summers. It stayed beautiful for years. Maybe this is why we can still buy dresses from the 40s, 50s, 60s- even 20s- today, and continue to wear and enjoy them.

 

Vintage shopping is nothing new, but it’s gaining popularity with trendsetters from Taylor Swift  to Violet magazine creator and star stylist Leith Clark (who has dressed Kierra Knightley, Clemence Poesy, Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams to name a few).

 

One designer who is vintage inspired is the iconic Orla Kiely. In a video on her collaboration with ethical clothing producer People Tree, Kiely talked about “fast fashion” vs. quality designs: “The race to buy cheap clothes…and you know, they don’t last, they fall apart, and I just think there’s so much to be said for quality now.” Kiely encouraged customers to “invest in pieces that they love and that will last,” and to “think about what they’re buying.”

Orla Kiely People Tree SS14 Dress

Of course, we often don’t think they have the luxury of buying ethically, because of how much we think it will cost. On her blog, Wildfox Couture designer Kimberly Gordon gave us some advice about this. “When I was younger I shopped at places like Forever 21, now I realize what that company has to sacrifice to keep their prices so low, including low pay for their employees, bad fabrics (in many ways), cheap factories, and the stealing of other people’s creativity and hard work,” she said.

Kimberly
Kimberly Gordon of Wildfox

As an alternative, Gordon suggested “looking for local brands or vintage.” “If you regularly shop somewhere cheap check out its history and make sure you aren’t supporting something you don’t believe in!” she warned.

 

Those things that you may not believe in include art theft, in other words, when brands like Anthropologie and Forever 21 steal a struggling artist’s work and use it for their own profit. As the sister of an artist, that does not sit well with me.

 

An even bigger problem with high street fashion, is that the less you pay, the less wages and rights someone on the other side earns to get them to you. According to the Guardian, hundreds of people have been involved in making the shirt you are wearing. Many of them were paid $2 a day. Last year, the Rana Plaza Disaster in Bangladesh made use realize the impossibly high cost of of high street brands like River Island and Primark. Though most of the brands whose clothing was being created in the factories have signed The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, many are wondering if they will actually change their ways. Horrible things like Rana have happened before- fires, the discovery of factories without washrooms, of children working long hours…and little to nothing has changed.

 

Here’s the thing- by investing your money in quality pieces, you actually save in the long run. You won’t have to buy as much, or as often, since your clothes won’t fall apart. Get creative, and wear what you have, adding a fair-trade statement piece or a new pair of recycled sole shoes.

 

Quality is another pro of second-hand shopping: if a dress is in a vintage shop, chances are its been loved enough that if it hasn’t gone to piece by now, it’s not going to for another long while. Plus, there is always that shot in a million that it once graced the beautiful frame of one of your fashion inspirations.

Marie Claire’s 8 favourite online vintage stores

Buying used clothing is also a way to keep our planet beautiful. The process of making your t-shirt the colour of your favourite flower is actually one of the most serious threats to that flower. You know the sweet “Fabric of My Life” ads with a celebrity twirling in a cotton sundress? The industry that made that dress is responsible for 25% of the insecticides used worldwide.  That’s a lot of chemicals going into the plants and animals around us. By buying a similar dress at a vintage store, you cut down on those chemicals and save our natural resources. Plus, you look unique and adorable doing it.

 

Grace once said, “ If there is one thing that is foreign to me it is shopping for pleasure. On the other hand, I believe that it is right to honor all those who create beautiful things and give satisfaction to those who see me wearing them.”

 

In buying cheap products, are we really honoring those who made them? Or are we saying, “My desire to look pretty and own pretty things is more important than your life?” Do you, like Grace Kelly, want to be remembered as someone who did her best to help others, or as someone who just looked pretty?

 

This is what Grace’s Way is about- following the example of women like Grace Kelly. It is about resisting the urge- and the incessant marketing- that pushes us to buy more, at cheaper prices (and lower quality), rather than save up and spend more for pieces that will last long enough to become our favourites. It’s about acknowledging the beauty of the world and people around us, and loving enough to protect them.

 

I believe that beautiful things can be ethical too. Starting today, Earth Day 2014, I am making a commitment to the earth and the people on it. I commit to buying only vintage and sustainable clothing for this year. Will you make the pledge with me, and believe that beauty can do good? If you will, tweet or post on Instagram with the hashtag #gracepledge2014. Let’s join the movement of fashion for good!

What would Grace Kelly do?

Happy Earth Day 2014 from Grace’s Way! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest!