Learning (slowly) to shop, give, & live with more dignity. Also: Blankets.
Good Clothes + Free Clothes + Get Rid of Your Old Clothes = WIN!
(I know, I know… no math)
Did I mention that a party is involved?
If it doesn't look like this - you're doing it wrong! Photo: Jane Boles
Last spring, a friend invited me on a Friday night to a clothing swap party at her house. Everyone brought clothes that they hadn’t worn or were ready to part with (all in great condition), laid them around the house, and when everything was set up, the host released the hounds. It was all very casual, very fun, and, did I mention…
It seems to me that among the women I know, gone are the days of matching cup & saucer sets; it is all about the random mugs.
Even my friend, who filled her registry many years ago with a perfect set of matching cups & saucers, adamant that she would only use them, has been completely converted. This is a lace JustPotters mug that we used to sell (but is no longer produced), which has become her all-time favourite:
This summer, our family did not venture far from home for exotic, faraway holidays. With three little ones in tow (particularly one crawly baby), it sounded, well, like a hassle! Plus, summer is the only time in Alberta when it isn't winter (except when it is), so why not stay to enjoy it?!
What we did was rediscover the breathtaking beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Hiking, exploring, and, of course, ice cream-ing on the weekends was a highlight of our weeks. To finish off the fabulous summer of hiking, we tackled what turned out to be the Mt. Everest of our preschoolers' lives - a 500m ascent over 3km to "Larch Valley". I am no woman of the woods, so I had never before heard of these larch trees: deciduous needle trees which turn a golden yellow before losing their needles altogether in the early fall.
The beauty of the sight was thoroughly stunning and altogether inspiring! Like the intricacy of the beauty in creation, so I am also amazed by the craftsmanship of our kantha blankets. New throws are available now!
Oftentimes when we think about shopping more thoughtfully or ethically or fair trade or organic or what-have-you, it quickly becomes overwhelming (But my shorts are from Bangladesh! My phone was made by who knows who in some factory in China! What can I do?! I like shopping! I’m on a budget! Baahhhhh!). Sound familiar? Or is it just me…
I’ll be honest – the response I often have when I feel paralyzed by the massive, systematic problems tied up in EVERYTHING is something like: “I’m just not going to think much about this, because it’s too much! But I definitely need to give some money to a charity somewhere…”
In the face of this totally unhelpful all-or-nothing paralysis, I’ve been trying something out. Trying to get down to the very basics of what and where I am spending my money. Namely:
Do I really want to give you my money?
Last week, my second daughter turned 4, and let me tell you, this event has been a Long. Time. Coming. As happens with an older sibling and lots of pre-school aged buddies, birthday parties are on the radar BIG TIME.
For me, kids’ birthday parties bring me one, massive dread: party favours! Or, in our house, where piñatas are king (queen): piñata contents.
You see, if my kids return from a lunch with Grandma at McD’s (or similar), the prize/toy/doohickey generally goes directly from our car into the curbside garbage bin. And while I way prefer that no-fuss solution to the build up of clutter in our home, I cringe at the waste of it all! Now, take that concept, multiply it and concentrate it and repackage it once per year at a larger scale: Party Favours be thy name.
One thing that has come up again and again is how much customers love their kantha blankets after they’ve bought them. In fact, the love that folks have for their kantha only seems to grow with time, as evidenced by the number of subsequent blankets that they purchase as gifts or for other areas of their homes.
"I love mine so much (it was a gift), I'm picking up two for housewarming gifts tomorrow!"
A key explanation for this delight, I believe, is not just to do with the quality and usefulness of the blankets (excellently sewn & practical though they are…), but with the satisfaction of money well spent.
At dignify, we’ve discovered that when someone buys one of our ethical goods, like a kantha blanket, they seem to love it more and more after they’ve purchased it. We think this delight is the satisfaction of money well spent: the joy of discovering that you’ve purchased something that was worth its value, and further, that it has impacted the world & people in it for good.
Since I first began looking for products for dignify (two years ago), there has been an explosion of fun, stylish, ethically made accessories on the market! My friend Robin, who manages the blanket operations in Bangladesh, noted that the tragedy in Rana Plaza has inspired a number of startups from consumers-turned-entrepreneurs who simply want more transparency in the chain of production.
It’s all great news for us! There are more amazing products for us to choose from as we continually curate dignify’s goodgoods.
Today, we’re launching a new line of cotton, patterned scarves, in a variety of colours. These scarves have been hand-crafted in India in an environment that focuses on empowering women through trade, as well as preserving traditional artisan practices.
I know, I know, scarves in summer… I just couldn’t wait to share them!
It all began with a wedding gift. Dignify, that is.
Before beginning all of this, I was familiar with the inspiring work started by Basha, and had a personal connection with the gal running its operations. I really wanted to buy one, but, living on a grad student income (read: savings) with our family of 4, I could not quite justify the indulgence.
When my friend, Kathy, announced that she was engaged, I knew that it was the perfect excuse to buy one!
We love these leather, vintage-style schoolbag/briefcases from India! Not only do these bags fill my warehouse with amazing leather smells, I have to keep them tucked away in their dust-bags so that I don't just stare at them all day. Or collect them in my favourite colours.
The brilliance in the design of these bags is the access. There are three points of access, which allow them to look old school and classic, while functioning for the speed of today's lifestyle. #1 is the classic buckle. #2: on the top end of the buckle strap is a pop-off connection. #3 is the zipper on the back of the bag; it doesn't open to an extra pocket, it zips open to the main compartment of the bag, allowing you to easily pull papers, laptop, wallet, etc. in & out.
The air is fresh, the buds are growing (or blooming, or bloomed! It depends where you live...), and the longer days reveal the renewal of the earth for a season of growth. After a long winter with a newborn, I, for one, am welcoming it with open arms and a sigh of relief!