These munificent style makers show that you truly can wear your heart on your sleeve.
Fashion is a way for us to express ourselves while looking good. But if we can also do good, then fashion truly transcends decoration and enters the realm of philanthropy.
Take, for example, these companies that sell products with style and heart.
There’s never been a shortage of bags on the market, but Lauren Bush’s FEED bags represent not just fabric on your shoulder, but food for the hungry.
Bush, niece of former president George Bush, was working as an honorary spokesperson for the United Nations World Food Programme when she got the idea for the original “FEED 1” bag—reversible, made of burlap and organic cotton and designed to look like a grain bag—that funds school meals for one child abroad for a whole year.
The UN World Food Programme gives free school meals to children in 74 countries in order to provide nourishment and encourage education and Bush wanted to contribute by starting FEED Projects LLC with then-UNWFP U.S. spokesperson Ellen Gustafson. The two then founded the FEED Foundation, a non-profit that makes sure the bags’ proceeds are allocated efficiently.
Other types of FEED bags are now available, such as the popular FEED 100 reusable grocery bag that sells at Whole Foods for $30 and provides 100 meals for Rwandan children. Bergdorf Goodman and Ralph Lauren Rugby also sell high-end bags.
FEED is also partnering with Room to Read, an organization that provides local language books to needy children, so Barnes and Noble stores will be selling FEED Read bags that will each provide three meals and three books to children.
Backpacks and teddy bears also benefit FEED’s mission so there are many ways to help battle hunger.
So far, FEED products have provided 50 million meals for disadvantaged children.
Buy a FEED item at www.feedprojects.org. Donate at www.thefeedfoundation.org.
Vegans can have a hard enough time finding food for their animal-friendly diet, but they are also in need of clothing and accessories that are cruelty-free. Enter Alternative Outfitters, a vegan boutique that conducts most if its business online, but also has a small showroom in Pasadena.
“We really focus on fashion,” says co-owner Jackie Horrick. “We’re a vegan boutique but a lot of people have this impression that vegans aren’t fashionable and there’s tons of vegans out there that still want to wear what everyone else wears so we want to make it more accessible for those who want that.”
Everything offered—shoes, bags, wallets and more—is free of leather and any other animal ingredients.
“We try to show mainstream consumers that you can still wear branded items but not wear things made from animals so we carry a lot of junior brands,” says Horrick.
Alternative Outfitters carries popular brands like Madden Girl by Steve Madden and Dirty Laundry by Chinese Laundry, Simple Shoes and others.
Brands well known in the vegan community include J-41 and Freeset. They also carry Christy Robinson jewelry with vegan messages and make-up from brands like Beauty Without Cruelty.
All this plus t-shirts, coats and more can help people be fashion forward while respecting their furry friends.
www.alternativeoutfitters.com. 1-866-758-5837. 408 S. Pasadena Ave. Suite 1 Pasadena, CA 91105. (626) 396-4972
Fashion is most associated with clothing to adorn the body, but furniture is a fashionable element since we use it to adorn the home.
“I view furniture as an extension of who we are, like clothes display what’s inside of us,” says Muu furniture founder Robert Kwak.
When Kwak and his wife were expecting their first child over two years ago, they discovered it was hard to find furniture that was unique and well made.
Inspired by this experience and the Zen concept of Mu, that we are no different than our environment, Kwak designed a line of furniture for babies and children that is sleek, customizable and environmentally friendly in various ways.
All the furniture is made from certified sustainable wood, meaning that for every tree harvested, 2.3 trees are planted in its place. The furniture’s varnish is non-toxic and the glue is formaldehyde free.
Muu furniture is made to adapt to children’s changing needs and tastes, eliminating the need to buy more furniture and furthering the value for the planet and customers’ wallets. All the pieces have space for a decorative magnetic panel, which can be switched out with various designs—dragonflies, animals, leaves, cars, music—as children get older. Incidentally, South Pasadena-based artist Michelle Room collaborated on the Blossoms and Vroom panel collections. Even the crib has an extended life since it transforms into a toddler bed once the front panel is removed and replaced with a lower one.
Kwak is fully committed to how his furniture is made, so it is U.S.-produced by a family of second-generation furniture makers.
“When something is made far away, it takes a lot of energy to get it here and it may not be made to your standards,” says Kwak.
Available at www.muukids.com or Giggle at 517 S. Lake Avenue, Pasadena. (626) 744-0233.
This company quickly built a big name for itself after Blake Mycoskie founded it in 2006. After witnessing poverty and health issues during an Argentina trip, Mycoskie decided to recreate the traditional, rope-soled Argentine “alpargata” shoe for the U.S. Market while accomplishing the goal of making life more comfortable for those without shoes. Thus, every pair of TOMS Shoes purchased is matched with a donation by the company of a pair of shoes to a child in need. So you’re buying a pair of shoes for yourself and someone else.
TOMS sold 10,000 pairs of shoes its first year in business and anticipates selling 300,000 total by the end of this year.
TOMS Shoes are available in several stylish colors, patterns and fabric combinations for men and women, and a line of children’s shoes called Tiny TOMS was recently added.
Hoodies and t-shirts with messages like “Drop TOMS not Bombs” are also available.
www.tomsshoes.com. 1-800-975-TOMS (8667). www.endless.com