This post is in collaboration with The Good People Collective.
In a year that has been trying, I’m looking for the good wherever I can find it. It comes in the small things, usually: a cup of coffee, delivered to me at my desk by Matt every morning. An Instagram comment from a friend who I didn’t even know read my blog. A card in the mail from my best friend that reads, “Thanks for helping me through my existential crisis.”
It also comes from the happiness I find in the brands I discover or work with through this blog; brands that genuinely want to – and do! – make a difference in the world through conscious consumerism.
I’ve written about it at length in some past posts, so I won’t wax poetic about it here, but it is always worth noting that conscious consumerism isn’t the only solution to the challenges we find ourselves in today. But I do believe conscious consumption is real part of the solution – it empowers workers, encourages people with the spending power to shop responsibly to do so, and sends a message to corporations that we do not want to accept business-as-usual.
I’m thrilled to be sharing more about The Good People Collective today, a group of entrepreneurs dedicated to helping both people and planet and with a passion to change the world. In the words of Cassandra Ciarallo, founder and designer at Chic Made Consciously (and one of today’s featured brands), “We hope to influence consumers that they have the power to make conscious fashion choices. By working as a collective community, we can truly make change.”
The collections of socially conscious and ethically-made products in The Good People Collective are designed to contribute to a more sustainable and equitable world in a variety of ways – from helping empower vulnerable communities, to reusing or repurposing materials to help reduce our carbon impact, to employing a circular model of fashion.
I hope that these brands are new on your radar, as some of them were new to me, too! Their collections of artisan-made and conscious styles are also priced fairly and accessibly, which is something I know my readers are always looking for more of. It’s something I try to be mindful about sharing, since sustainable fashion has earned, I think, an unfair label of being inaccessible. There are so many brands creating beautiful sustainable items that are really no more expensive than something similar you’d find at many conventional retailers.
With that, let’s get into Finding the Good!
Chic Made Consciously is an accessories brand that makes statement pieces made of reclaimed materials, all while preserving artisanal crafts. Their reclaimed brass pieces in their Golden Collection are my favorite, since I wear a lot of minimal gold or gold-toned jewelry these days. What sets them apart from other brands is that the brass used in the collection is reclaimed from war remnants of bullet shell casings and landmines from the Cambodian civil war, circa 1967-1975.
I find it really powerful the way Chic Made Consciously has taken something tragic and heartbreaking, and turned it into a new story that empowers artisan workers in Phnom Penh.
I have the Revolve Hoop Earrings, which are lightweight, but at the same time carry this tremendous emotional weight and meaning because of the origin of the brass that is used. They’re also bold and always start a conversation, so it has been a positive way to get people around me engaged in sustainable fashion when they ask about them.
Not to mention, their brand is very inclusive, and I love browsing the gorgeous photography on their website.
Kind Karma – I just love the name of this company, but I love what they stand for even more. Kind Karma is a social enterprise that employs at-risk and homeless youth in Toronto to handcraft fine
jewelry. In addition to fair hourly wages, proceeds from sales are also returned to youth employees to fund their individual goals such as education, housing or courses.
I think it’s amazing that Kind Karma calls their employees “Youth Artisans” – because that is really what they are! The level of expertise in the jewelry they create is really incredible.
I have their Friendship Necklace, which is 14k gold plated and so delicate and beautiful. Also, I’m pretty honored that they considered me a friend and chose this particular item to send me as part of our collaboration. The two interlocking circles represent that we are all unique.
Some of my other favorites from their collection are the Long Gold Bar Y Necklace (my mom always wore a Y necklace when I was growing up, so I’m really fond of the style!), the Emerald Teardrop Lariat Necklace – which is so eye-catching – and the Charmed Hoops, which you can mix-and-match. I really want the seashell one!
I’ll leave you with these inspiring words from their founder, Laurinda Lee-Retter:
Brave Soles makes handcrafted shoes with upcycled tire soles. Christal Earle, founder of an international youth humanitarian organization, had been working with and learning from a local community of landfill workers since 2005 on the north coast of Dominican Republic when she noticed that there was an overwhelming amount of tires in the waste stream, and that they were a breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying deadly diseases as well as a toxic nightmare.
By early 2017, the idea struck for the first time. Why not use tires for soles on beautiful handmade shoes – and create a way to help people in the process?
Brave Soles also makes handbags and other accessories from reclaimed tires, reclaimed airplane seats (!) and leather. As you know, I don’t wear new leather (although, my feelings on that might be evolving, and I have to think it through a bit more once again), so I was very excited to check out this Munro Upcycled Makeup Bag. It’s a shame we can’t travel right now, but it is perfect for a weekend staycation or for keeping my makeup organized in my purse.
This makeup bag is crafted in partnership with Jazz Aviation and named after the Hamilton, Ontario International airport – and reminds me of happy times traveling, seeing the world and visiting friends.
I honestly never thought much about the leather on airplane seats and what happens to it – it is wild to think about all of the material that is out there in the world that can be reclaimed and reused, and I admire the innovative circular thinking Brave Soles is bringing in their work.
Daria Day works with artisans in Northern Pakistan to craft stunning gemstone jewelry. Their approximately 50 artisans from three collectives live in remote mountain communities in Gilgit Baltistan, and their work with Daria Day offers them stable employment and fair pay.
Their gemstones and silver are locally mined, and the mines they work with are closely affiliated with the Rupani Foundation, an NGO that has created a rigorous ethics and quality process.
Daria Day works in Pakistan because of its founder, Farrukh Lalani’s, experience with humanitarian work there, and also because gemstones have traditionally been smuggled out of the region. By processing the gems and making jewelry locally, the local population can benefit from the natural resources in their region.
I have their Gold Flecked Lapis Bracelet, which I actually wore a lot at the beach this summer – the deep blue is so beautiful and felt appropriate. I think the meaning behind different gemstones is really interesting, and Lapis is a symbol of honor and spiritual vision, carrying with it energies of wisdom and truth. This bracelet is made by Daria Day artisan Khatija, who specializes in bead making and polishing. She makes up to 400 beads a day, and dream is to have her own workshop. Her wages from Daria Day are used to support her family.
Some of my other Daria Day picks include their Pink Chalcedony Bracelet (Pink Chalcedony is full of warm love energy and helps you strengthen your bonds with your family, while quartz encourages clarity of thought and purpose) and their Journey in Faith Chalcedony Bracelet.
Last, but certainly not least, is Tight Knit Syria. Tight Knit Syria began in 2013 after Dana Kandalaft visited a camp for internally displaced persons in Northern Syria.
One girl, Sebra, pointed out Dana’s rainbow-coloured knitted purse upon meeting her and yelled, “Souf! Souf!” (meaning yarn). Since Dana was unfamiliar with this Arabic word, Sebra brought Dana to her tent and showed her a purple knitted dress with a crocheted flower. She had made the dress using donated yarn with the help of her mother and grandmother. Dana realized she could collect donated yarn from home in Canada and try to sell the women’s products in her community. So, Tight Knit Syria was born.
The brand currently works with two collectives, one in Northern Syria and one Lebanon, where many of their artisans have fled war and are living in refugee camps. Tight Knit Syria helps them earn an income, and their products (and talents!) are now shared with the world.
Providing the right resources and tools to women in vulnerable communities has a powerful ripple effect: it promotes gender equality, prevents child labor and marriage, nurtures psychological well-being, and more.
I have the Samira Wallet in Moonlight, which is 100% cotton and hand-embroidered. The wallet-on-a-chain style is incredibly functional as a smaller pouch for inside my tote bag to keep track of not just my cards, but other small odds-and-ends that wouldn’t fit in a traditional wallet. It can also be used as an evening bag, though my phone is too large – so definitely check the measurements, and you may want to opt for the larger purse style!
I hope you’ve liked learning more about these five conscious and sustainable social enterprises! Now more than ever is a good time to support small brands who are doing good in the world.
Any questions on The Good People Collective? Drop me a comment!
And, make sure to follow them all on Instagram: