Beyond Flowers & Brunch

Before we had kids, our dog, Daisy would send me a Mother’s Day bouquet at work. It usually came during a staff meeting (well done, Frank!) and the real mothers in the group were always a bit jealous. I never understood this until having human children. There’s definitely a difference. This year will be my first year of receiving a handmade gift. (Bea is having the hardest time keeping it a secret!) As our family has grown, the gift of time seems more and more appealing. Clearly, each year is different.

Before I start, let me say: I love fresh flowers and brunch so I’m definitely not knocking traditional Mother’s Day gifts. But, if you’ve procrastinated or just need some filler ideas, I have a few suggestions.

63972_10152997022327005_3404827055315220030_nFair Trade Friday
If your mom loves jewelry, Fair Trade Friday offers several monthly club options – from earrings and bracelets to a full box of goodies. Each item is handmade by women in vulnerable areas of our world. Each artisan receives a fair price for her product, giving her the resources and skills to become more independent. I’ve received both a box and earrings and love the unique quality they offer.

11960223_10206009339885032_1077253324444733695_nThe Mom Quilt
Over 60 moms contributed essays to this collection (including me!) It’s filled with a wide range of experiences and realizations. Compassionate, funny, and honest, the moms who have shared have done so from their current experiences, which makes this book encouraging for moms of all walks. Plus, all proceeds go to Mercy House Kenya, the same organization behind Fair Trade Friday. Mercy House equips young mothers with health education as well as job training.

12512411_10208144234217534_6513410687910768109_nLoving My Actual Life
My friend, Alex just wrote a book about loving the life we’re in right now. Whether or not you’re a mom, this book resonates with finding peace in our experiences. But, since Alex is a mom of four, this book will especially resonate with mothers who are in the mode of day-to-day and may need encouragement to step back and love their own messy, actual life.

The-Mother-Letters_cover_smallThe Mother Letters
just started this one, so can’t give it a full review. But, so far? These honest pieces of advice could be just the encouragement a mom in the midst of raising kids needs.

mercy-house-she-is-priceless-social-media7-460x307Give a Donation
Mercy House Global has compiled a list of organizations at sheispriceless.org that help empower mothers, specifically. Tuesday, May 10 is Global Giving Day, and they are encouraging women to wear pearls as a reminder of healed wounds. For the mom who has everything, empowering another mom may be the best gift.

If you’re a mom, what’s your favorite type of Mother’s Day gift? What’s a favorite gift you’ve given to your mom?

When You Wear a Story, You Change the Story

On Monday, I shared my Earring of the Month Club experience. Today, I wanted to share a bit more of the story. Fair Trade Friday started by sending out boxes featuring 3-4 pieces of jewelry or accessories. They’ve since grown to include home goods and a kids box, as well. The Mercy Shop also carries items a la carte. I’ve been eyeing the tote bags and paper bowls. I’m thinking this option will be great for the holidays!

FTF Goodies
FTF Goodies

Shortly after receiving my earrings, I decided to take the plunge and try their one-time gift box. Within days, my box was shipped and I received a variety of beautifully wrapped goodies, including a clutch from India, soap and chapstick from Zambia, and a bracelet from Uganda.

I loved that each item in my box came with a tag telling me about the country it was made, the organization who made it, and even the specific woman who worked on my bracelet and clutch. It made the experience much less about getting a box of beautiful accessories and more about recognizing that by choosing fair trade, I was helping another woman build her future.

IMG_7847One of my favorite items is the clutch. Especially in this stage of carrying a gigantic bag holding diapers, snacks, and an assortment of toys, whenever I go out without Bea, I like to carry the smallest possible purse. My clutch by Joyn is perfect. It fits my wallet, phone, and other small items without the need to transfer anything individually. I’ve taken it out on girl’s get-togethers and informal dates.

Melody, who founded Joyn in India says,

“We are so thankful for this partnership. Our hearts align and our missions align. Fair Trade Friday purchases JOYN products – each one made some of the most marginalized and oppressed people in the world – individuals with leprosy, disability, those who have grown up begging on the streets, former prostitutes, former addicts and your purchase employs at least 70 of our artisans with every order.”

Fair Trade Friday’s monthly boxes allow companies like Joyn to plan and produce more product than they could on their own. By having regular subscribers and even a waiting list, Fair Trade Friday is able to more accurately predict what needs to be produced each month. It also allows FTF to expand, as needed.

Image courtesy of Fair Trade Friday.
Image courtesy of Fair Trade Friday.

Founder of Mercy House Ministries and Fair Trade Friday, Kristen Welch says,

“I’ve sat across from founders from small non-profits who work in Afghanistan and India and Kenya and I’ve heard the worry and frustration in their voices wondering how they will continue to empower women when they cannot move the fair trade product that is piled up without a buyer. I’ve witnessed their discouragement and heard the heavy sighs of their burden to help women. We simply must do our part to work together to help each other help more women.”

There is currently a waiting list for the FTF monthly subscription box, but I’d highly recommend getting on it! And, don’t worry about waiting too long. New members are added each month. In fact, to celebrate their one year anniversary in August, 75 new spots will be available for FTF subscription boxes.

Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY for a pair of Earring of the Month Club earrings! Click here to comment and I’ll pick a winner on Friday, July 3.

I received a complimentary pair of earrings as part of the Fair Trade Friday Blogging Team. I purchased the Fair Trade Friday box without any compensation. All opinions are my own.

Change the World. Look Good Doing It.

I think I first became aware of fair trade products in college. My circle of friends consisted of political scientists and social-justice minded people who thought deeply about their purchases. As we talked about changing the world over cafes and wine, sustainability, fair wages, and intentional purchasing peppered our conversations.

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Image courtesy of Fair Trade Friday.

Once I had my first job and steady income, I set to budgeting out my expenses. I had a monthly clothing budget set aside and, once I had a more professional wardrobe built, found that I was able to spend it on more expensive fairly made items. The thought of buying less but buying better was something I worked hard to live out. I shopped locally as much as possible and sought out fair trade items.

When Frank proposed, he purposefully sought out an ethically sourced engagement ring, knowing how important the story behind the purchase is to me. Most of the artwork in our home is from travels, artists we know, or fair trade sources. We are by no means perfect – I just bought some pajamas at Target, knowing I probably should have gotten another pair of Punjammies. Most of Bea’s clothes are disposable, as she plays hard and it’s tough for me to justify purchasing expensive items whose knees will be worn through by the end of the season.

Jewelry and accessories seem different, though. These are items I wear time and again and whose stories often serve as conversation starters. I recently googled “what to wear to a networking event” and a suggestion was a piece of jewelry with a story behind it. People will remember the story more easily than your resume. Most of my jewelry comes from my travels or has a story behind it. I think I only have a handful of items that I bought at chain stores.

Stunning earrings from Earring of the Month Club
Stunning earrings from Earring of the Month Club

When given the opportunity to join Fair Trade Friday’s blogging team, I jumped at the chance. I had heard incredible reviews about this high-quality company, whose mission is to empower women across the globe. A couple weeks ago, I received a pair of earrings from their Earring of the Month club. They are beautifully made, lightweight, and versatile. Mine came from Ethiopia, and I loved knowing a bit of the story behind my jewelry.

Fair Trade Friday is a ministry of Mercy House Kenya, an organization formed to support mothers and their babies. Mercy House not only provides maternal education to young mothers, but also aides in giving them skills to support their new families.

In just a year, FTF has grown to include over 1,000 women in 16 countries, giving them opportunities to grow their businesses by selling their products through The Mercy Shop. There are several ways to support the vision of Fair Trade Friday. A perfect starter option is the Earring of the Month Club. Each month, a pair of chic, high quality earrings are delivered. A detail I love is that gift tags are included. Because styles, colors, and products aren’t guaranteed, the option to gift anything that doesn’t go with your personal style helps spread the love of this organization.

GIVEAWAY! I received an extra pair of earrings from Fair Trade Friday. Leave a comment about your experience with buying fair trade – Do you do it already? Have you thought of it but have never taken the leap? I’ll pick a winner on Friday, July 3.

I received a complimentary pair of earrings as part of the Blogging Team. All opinions are my own.