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Living Intentionally Socially Conscious Brands

Conscious Summer 2021: This Is What You Should Be Wearing This Summer

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Summer 2020 was themed #StayInside, but summer of 2021 in America is the summer of #GoOutside. Get to concerts, plan vacations, go to bars, catch some games, see blockbuster movies.

Be the social creature that you were born to be. It’ll feel good.

And to feel even better, wear brands that do good for the world. You can look good and feel like you’re contributing to the betterment of society!

Here’s your guide to dressing consciously this summer.

Cool Coral Swim Trunks

These swim trunks are stretchy and dry quickly. We personally love them for a game of beach volleyball followed by a dip in the lake. The waistband loops are there to hold your sunglasses or clip a keychain. It’s made from 65% recycled plastic bottles! See more styles from Junk In Your Trunks.

The Jasmine Leather Sandal

The Jasmine is a classic, Greco-Roman style sandal. What this means for those of us in the 21st century is that there is a reason that these sandals are so timeless – they simply always look beautiful. It has a super cushy foam core mid-sole made from high quality foam to offer support and durability. Handcrafted with ethically sourced and fairly traded leather. The soles are made from upcycled tires. See more styles from Brave Soles.

Cabo Wabo Blushing Braid Headband 

Want to feel like you’re in Cabo this Summer? This Cabo Wabo Braid Headband and Cabo Wabo Darling Scrunchie are cute accessories for dinner on the beach. Better yet, when you buy a headband from Headbands of Hope, they donate a headband to a child with an illness. See their whole headband catalog.

Mindo Navy shoes

Urban vibes, minimalist style. The Mindo is your next everyday shoe. Comfy, ultra-light, and 100% vegan. It’s so sustainable! Made from recycled plastics, natural cork, harvested algae, and organic cotton. 1% of sales is donated to wildlife preservation. See SAOLA’s other styles.

Candy Polarized in Rose Gold

Beautiful rose gold sunnies, fully reflective. Let them stop and stare! This signature style from TopFoxx has become popular with celebrities. And for every pair of sunnies you buy, TopFoxx donates a pair of reading glasses to disadvantaged women. See all their styles of sunglasses and blue light glasses.

One Way Ticket To Italy Shorts

These super soft and lightweight shorts fit all sizes 0-12. They can be worn high or low waisted – for a yoga class, as a beach coverup, or as boutique loungewear. Pack them on your next vacation! PIYOGA donates 10% of net profits to sea turtle conservation. See their many styles of shorts and lounge pants.

Sky Blue water bottle

The award-winning Ocean Bottle keeps cold drinks cold, and hot drinks hot. Unlike most reusable bottles, these bottles are 100% dishwasher safe. Ocean Bottle cleans up 1,000 plastic bottles before they enter the ocean for every purchase you make! See their other colors.

Grateful Grey Muscle Tank

“There is something magical that happens when you slow down, pause, take a deep breath and realize the most important thing in the world is THIS MOMENT. You become grateful for this and everything that is around you. We are ALIVE.” This super soft and durable tank is great for showing your gratitude for life this summer. Karma Collective donates 10% of profits to provide homes to the most vulnerable families around the world. See all their tanks and tees.

Sky Burst Tee

This sky blue & white hand-dyed heavyweight t-shirt is a great look for summer. 15% of profits are donated towards mental health research. See all their hand-dyed clothing.

Cropped Tank in Aqua

The perfect top for a workout or a dip in the ocean due to its high-end silky soft bathing suit material. A popular variation to the sports bra alone, the ORO Cropped Tank hits right at the waistline to cover up, while still showing a little skin. It’s also SPF 50 so you don’t have to hurt yourself or our reefs with chemical-heavy sunscreens. A local organization that supports women and children in San Pancho, Mexico, will receive $10 USD every single time a pair of ORO women’s leggings is purchased.

Wave Runners

Solid black shorts with light blue compression. Two traditional deep pockets. Soft, thin, sweat-wicking liner. 100% of the factory workers who made these are paid a livable wage. See all of Fox & Robin’s activewear.

RELATED: 5 Up-and-Coming Mission Brands To Watch

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Living Intentionally

25 To 35-Year-Olds Must Avoid This Trap

Be A Conscious Consumer

Jane lived with her two best friends in a just-good-enough 3 bedroom city apartment. Her first job out of college paid her a nice $68,000. She took public transportation to work, went out on most weekends, and bought some new outfits every Spring. Her kitchen utensils and couch were kindly passed down to her. She was happy!

Now 30 and a couple promotions later, Jane was making $100,000. She moved to a studio by herself to have more personal space. She adopted a puppy, joined a boutique fitness club, and occasionally tried out Michelin star restaurants. Those passed-down utensils and coffee maker wouldn’t cut it anymore… an espresso machine was “totally worth it.” That once-a-year camping weekend required the best camping gear. Vacations in Cabo and New York City helped her escape her annoying boss for a while. Jane gifted her friends nice things for their birthdays, and her friends gifted Jane nice things in return. What was previously a luxury now became a necessity.

At 36, Jane was married and her second kid was on the way! Her new manager title came with a juicy salary of $150,000 (to match her 55-hour work weeks). Her old studio seems like a nightmare now in her newly-renovated suburban home. A new car, lawn service, and nanny became necessary.

Some expenses became trivial. A thousand dollars for bikes, a TV, or flights to Europe didn’t bat an eye. She couldn’t make it to the boutique gym much, but she kept her membership just to avoid that guilt that comes from quitting. Jane couldn’t make the camping trip anymore – her babies wouldn’t love sleeping on the ground – so the fancy camping gear sat idly in the shed.

You may know someone like Jane. Why am I telling you about her?

Because Jane is trapped. She has unconsciously entered the Lifestyle Inflation trap, and she will never get out of it.

Lifestyle Inflation refers to an increase in spending when an individual’s income goes up. All this time, Jane has been earning more and more money. But she has responded by spending more and more money.

It is what causes people to get stuck in a cycle of living paycheck to paycheck where they have just enough money to pay the bills every month. (Yes, someone who makes $150,000 can live paycheck to paycheck. In fact, Johnny Depp is now dead broke after earning $650 million in his career. And Nicolas Cage blew his $150 million fortune. They were trapped in Lifestyle Inflation too.)

Jane had placed great emphasis on the acquisition of objects in order to achieve happiness. She felt she deserved all the fancy things – a lavish wedding, nice house, brand new car, modern appliances, wine subscriptions, food delivery, skis, bikes, dresses. She worked so hard, why shouldn’t she get to have these things??

Companies exist to market how buying their thing will make Jane happier, and she fell for it. What she hadn’t realized yet was that buying things didn’t really make her happier.

Jane is not free. She is owned by her lifestyle…

If Jane were miserable at her job, she couldn’t take a lower salary at a company that would make her happier. She couldn’t start her dream company. She couldn’t stop working altogether to care for her kids full-time. Her lifestyle wouldn’t allow this.

How would she keep making mortgage payments on that house she just moved into? How would she afford her car payments? Her boutique gym, wine, Euro trips? Jane can’t take a pay cut. Her lifestyle owns her.

“She could just change her lifestyle.” Ah, yes. Just change her lifestyle. Sell her house and downsize, trade her car for a used one, take her kids out of private school, learn to cook instead of getting meals delivered, and turn down her friends’ annual boujee vacation. Easy!

It’s unlikely that Jane would be able to do this. Humans are social creatures, and we care what our friends and neighbors think of us. What will everyone think of Jane’s massive lifestyle change? Is she having a mid-life crisis? Did she get laid off?

Plus, humans suck at change. Our habits define us, and Jane built a habit of being fancy. It’s extremely difficult to settle for less. It’s extremely difficult to get out of this trap.

Avoiding this Lifestyle Inflation trap is much easier than trying to climb out of it. How can you avoid it?

People tend to increase their spending when their income increases because they believe that the additional goods and services they can now buy will make them happier. Often those purchases don’t actually make them happier. A better option would be to work toward financial independence by saving more.

Avoiding lifestyle inflation can mean achieving financial independence at a younger age, having the financial flexibility to choose a dream job over a higher-paying option, and retiring early.

As your income goes up, keep your expenses even or only slightly increased. Be satisfied with what you have, live below your means, and don’t get too fancy. Value experiences and relationships over things.

If you do this, you will have the freedom of not being owned by your lifestyle. You will feel free from annoying bosses, unpredictable health issues, the Joneses next door, and even an ‘oops’ baby. You will be happier, cleaner, and more at peace.

What could make Jane happier? Feeling satisfied – like she doesn’t need more, but has just enough. Doing a job she loves, even at a lower salary. Feeling secure in case of an unforeseen setback, like a layoff or cancer diagnosis. Retiring early. Learning and growing.

Not buying things.

While Jane tries to get out of the Lifestyle Inflation trap, you must avoid it altogether.

RELATED: Become More Conscious By Doing This

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Living Intentionally

How To Change Your Alarm Clock So You Wake Up Feeling Energized

Be A Conscious Consumer

It’s 4:45 AM on a Wednesday and my 2008 iHome begins to blare its high-pitched BEEPs at me. This Steve-Jobs-era Apple device has no chill…within seconds, the slow BEEP BEEP’s escalate to a rapid-fire BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP. It is intentionally placed just beyond the reach of my lanky arms so I have to get up to turn off the torturous sound.

I could just set it to play FM country radio so I can wake up in a more peaceful state – to a Luke Combs love song probably – but that’s not the way I want it. To me, an ALARM clock has one function: get me out of bed. Period.

If my bed had a feature where it could buck me off at 4:45 AM, I would consider it…

This is what works for me, and I wake up most days feeling energized. I know that most people don’t use their alarm clock this way, so I wanted to see what science had to say about the best way to wake up.

Here’s how to intentionally use your alarm clock to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go.

1. Quit snoozin’

It seems that most people use the alarm on their phone, and they keep said phone in bed with them at night. They know they want to get up at 7:30, so they set an alarm at 7:00, planning to snooze a few times. “Two more snoozes until I ACTUALLY have to wake up!”

I’ve always found this silly, and science backs me up – you should stop using your snooze button. Why?

According to Amerisleep, you go through sleep cycles every night. REM sleep is the cycle when your brain is highly active and you experience dreams. It’s important because it’s highly restorative, and getting enough REM is crucial for feeling sharp the next day. When your alarm goes off in the morning, you’re usually nearing the end of your last REM cycle.

Wake up and get yourself out of bed, and the REM cycle ends. Hit the snooze button and go back to sleep, though, and you throw yourself right back into the REM cycle. When your alarm goes off a second time, it wakes you up in the middle of REM instead of at the end of REM. As a result, you end up feeling foggy and disoriented.

There’s more reason not to use snooze! If you went to bed at a decent hour the night before, your body’s internal clock is ready to wake up once the alarm goes off. But when you hit snooze and go back to sleep, you send your whole system into a confusing tailspin. Before long, your body isn’t sure when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to go to sleep. This leads to less quality sleep which means heightened stress, increased inflammation, and lowered immunity.

Instead of setting your alarm early so you can ‘progressively’ wake up, just set your alarm at the actual time you need to wake up and don’t hit snooze. You may feel groggy at first, but after a few minutes, you’ll feel refreshed and ready for action!

2. Keep your alarm out of reach

When your alarm is in your bed or on your nightstand, it’s way too easy to hit snooze or turn it off without even opening your eyes. Avoid this by keeping your alarm out of reach so you have to get up and walk over to it. You’ll be forced to put your feet on the floor and open your eyes, which will wake you up.

If you use the alarm on your phone, charge your phone on the other side of the room or in your bathroom, NOT in your bed. This will also make you stop looking at your phone before bed, which helps you fall asleep! Or you can buy a true alarm clock and place it far from your bed. (You can still buy iHomes…who knew!)

Bonus: If your alarm sound is super annoying like mine, you’ll jump up and shut it off ASAP.

3. Keep your wake up time consistent

If you wake up at 6:00 some days and 8:00 other days, you mess up your circadian rhythm. Try to set your alarm within the same 15-minute window every day so your body can keep its internal rhythm. This will help you sleep better and feel more energetic throughout your day.

My iHome lets me set my 4:45 alarm for all weekdays, so I never have to change it. Choose a time that works for you, and make sure you’re getting 7-8 hours of sleep! Snooze-free sleep…

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Related: Become Conscious Of Your Career Path

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Living Intentionally Socially Conscious Brands

8 Chicago Based Sustainable Brands You Should Know

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Whether you’re in Chicago or not, we know you’ll appreciate this list of local sustainable brands.

Have you opened your closet recently and thought “Ok, I NEED a style upgrade”? Well, we hear you!

Those looking to elevate their style this year listen up. Sustainable brands are the answer. Sustainable fashion is on the rise and is loved for using high-quality, ethically sourced materials that will last a long time. That’s something fast fashion does not do and we all know it!

The thing you should know about fast fashion is that items are generally mass-produced, which lowers its quality. On the other hand, sustainable, socially conscious clothes are authentically made and unique. All while taking the initiative to save the planet!

With the emergence of socially conscious brands, consumers are really thinking about ethical clothing nowadays, and how looking into sustainable brands is an important factor in making purchases. It kind of comes down to wanting to shop while supporting brands that give back.

The people have spoken and they really want fashion brands to take social and environmental responsibility in helping keep our planet clean, and in turn, consumers are more than ever expressing their style by wearing clothes that they know where and how they’re made, and by who.

The good news is, sustainable brands are popping up all over and that makes us so excited! That’s why we’re going back to our Chicago roots to shine a light on the amazing local talent that is helping keep the fashion industry’s ethical standards high.

So, if you are on board and ready to invest in some gorgeous statement pieces to add to your closet, keep reading to check out 8 Chicago-based sustainable brands you can support!

MOD + Ethico

What: This popular Chicago-based clothing store can be found all over the city and is a great place to check out local artists and designers that support ethical standards. Founded by Candice Collision in 2015, her company is for the busy and active women who don’t want to compromise their style for their values of quality, sustainability, and fair wages, and we agree with that statement!
Good for the planet: They support emerging designers with the same vision to meet better standards for fashion like being made in the USA, fair trade, ethically sourced, and fair wages.

Divinity 7

What: This Chicago-based lifestyle clothing brand started in 2012, with the vision of building ‘consciousness’ through social awareness. They believe art, fashion, and design should go hand in hand, which is why they are embodied through their clothes. They’re the place to go search for that perfect authentic statement piece!
Good for the planet:
Donates a percentage of sales to organizations that support and assist in social issues like poverty, homelessness, and hunger.

Gemini

What: This Chicago store carries collections of thoughtfully curated clothes and accessories that are intentional with quality, style, functionality, and sustainability. They work with talented designers from all over to help you choose pieces that’ll last you a long time!
Good for the planet:
Gemini carries items made by designers that follow sustainable standards whether that’s made in the USA, paying fair wages, or using organic/ethically sourced materials.

Squasht Boutique  

What: This women’s boutique is founded by Chicago’s very own top designer Lesley Timpe and carries locally designed, professionally hand-crafted clothes and accessories that will fit anyone’s personal style! They’re totally affordable too which is great if you’re in the market for affordable sustainable pieces to highlight your style. The store also carries Squasht brand clothing, which is created from start to finish right here in Chicago!
Good for the planet: Women-owned and operated, carries hand-made, Chicago-made items, and supports independent-brand designers.

Vihanga Co

What: This sustainable brand is created by duo Miles Jackson and Vihanga Sontam, and like many on this list, also has its roots in Chicago, before heading to LA. The style is influenced by Vihanga’s childhood in a small town in India where they wore and tailored their own comfy, breathable clothes. Nothing like being in style, helping keep the planet clean, AND being comfortable in what you’re wearing!
Good for the planet:
All pieces are handmade by Sontam and the brand is brown-led, materials are sourced locally from LA or sent in small quantities from India and they use carbon-negative biodegradable package.

Felt Chicago

What: This local brand highlights a diverse mix of emerging and established designers and their approach is to individualize every client’s style! They simultaneously support causes and charities like Gabriel’s Light and other community outreach programs.
Good for the planet: Hand-made and designed right in Chicago! They support charities and organizations.

Valani

What: This vegan sustainable fashion brand started out in Chicago and is currently producing all made-to-order, hand-made items in California. This conscious brand is passionate about creating clothes that feel fun, flirty, and beautiful while saving the planet all in all!
Good for the planet: Everything is vegan, made ethically, supports eco-friendly practices like using low-impact Oeko tex certified dyes, repurposed or recycled fabrics, and non-toxic chemicals. They also support their seamstresses in remote collaboration and with fair wages and flexible hours consequently,

High End Junkie

What: For those who might find this brand familiar, you might’ve seen it on a bunch of celebrities throughout the years, for example on NBA Champion Iman Shumpert and Chris Brown! High End Junkie is the brainchild of Q. Hudson, a Chicago-based visual artist who launched the company in 2013 and makes bold and bright 1:1 custom hand-painted apparel & accessories.
Good for the planet: Makes handpainted custom designs that are exclusively available online and in pop-ups, making the brand direct-to-consumer, maintained quality, and affordable. On top of that, they support charities, community initiatives, and independent designers.

RELATED: How 4 College Dropouts Used Quarantine To Start A Viral Clothing Brand
RELATED: 5 Up-and-Coming Mission Brands To Watch

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Living Intentionally

Become More Conscious By Doing This

Life is slippery. You realize you need to get serious about health only after having a stroke. You realize you should’ve spent more time with someone only after they tragically pass away. You realize you should have taken a different career only after you reach a mid-life crisis. Too often, it takes falling off a cliff to realize you were heading toward it for years.

To avoid wandering off this cliff, you can become more conscious. Be in touch with yourself and how things are going. Here’s an activity to help.

Let’s check-in and see how life is going right now.

Pause to reflect on each of the following questions. Write down one thing in each area that you’re satisfied with, and one thing you want to improve.

Relationships
1. How is your relationship with your family right now?
2. Do you have a few really close friends?
3. How’s your romantic life going?
4. Have you talked to your parents and grandparents enough recently?
5. Can you check in on an old friend?
6. Is there someone with who you want to become friends?

Career
1. Where’s your career path heading?
2. Are you learning new skills?
3. Do you feel motivated to succeed?
4. Can you ask your manager how you can be better?
5. Do you need change?
6. Can you work even harder?
7. Can you take on responsibility outside of work to learn more?
8. Should you ask for a raise?

Health
1. How do you feel right now?
2. Do you have the energy to get through your day?
3. Are you eating healthy foods?
4. Are you exercising enough?
5. Is your weight where you want it to be?
6. How is your hygiene?
7. Do you need some meditation to relieve stress?
8. Are you mentally ok?

Fun
1. Are you having enough fun?
2. Are there any hobbies you should take up?
3. Should you plan more social activities?
4. Do you need a vacation?
5. Should you learn to find more appreciation in simple things?
6. Should you create more?

Do this now and often to avoid slipping from where you want to be in life. This state of being awake and aware is called consciousness.

To become more conscious of your consumption and its effect on the world, check out Choobs. We sell the best socially conscious brands.

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Living Intentionally

Become Conscious Of Your Career Path

You know when you’re so busy that a day flies by, leaving you with a where-has-this-day-gone moment of surprise? If you’re not careful, your days, months, and years could fly by, and you could wake up someday with a where-has-my-LIFE-gone moment of surprise too. You don’t want to be left with this scary moment of regret for time well wasted. Thankfully, you can avoid this and find fulfillment by becoming more conscious!

You know what career you’re in – you’re a nurse, lawyer, consultant, coach, designer, accountant, etc. But do you know why you’re doing it? In the next few minutes, you will become conscious of your career path, avoiding that where-has-my-life-gone moment. You will come to terms with why you’re here, how you feel today, and where you’re going.

Get out a pen or your notes app, you’re going to write. Seriously…do it.

First, think about why you started the job you’re in. Maybe you took this job out of college or switched to it from a previous role. Did you do it because you thought you would be good at the job? Is it because someone told you to do it? Or maybe because it offered you the most money? Is it because you wanted to help people? Or it sounded fun? Was it the only job offer you had? Did you follow a friend or sibling?

Step 1 Be honest with yourself. Write this down: “I took this job because…” Then write a couple sentences with your explanation for why you took the job you have. What were you thinking at the time?

Let’s think about how you feel at work now. Do you feel that you’re a stud at your role, or just average? Can you feel yourself getting better and learning new skills? Did you wake up today feeling motivated for work? How many days per week do you feel frustrated when you leave work? How do you feel when you have to tell others what you do at work? Do work parties make you excited or annoyed? When was the last time you were in a state of flow at work? Do you think you’re being fairly compensated for the value you provide to the company?

Step 2 Write this down: “I currently feel this about my job…” Then write down your answers to the questions above. For example, “I currently feel this about my job…
I am already a stud in my role. I am not learning new skills. I feel frustrated most days when I leave work…” Seriously, write it all down.

Now, imagine the next 3 years in this job. Do you want more responsibility? Can you see yourself taking your manager’s role? Do you think you’ll get paid what you want? Are you interested in other positions at the company? Do you think your company will do well? Would the company lay you off in hard times?

Step 3 Write this down: “In the next few years…” Then write your answers to the above questions.

Now you’ve become more conscious of your career path. Maybe you realized that you’re really happy where you are. Maybe you realized you’re good but should look into changing soon. Or you realized you need a change right now! If you don’t have a conclusion yet, that’s ok too. Just keep checking in with yourself and remain conscious of why you got here, how you feel today, and where you’re going.

Being conscious will prevent you from waking up someday and saying why am I even doing this? Where has my time gone?

Always know why you’re doing what you’re doing.

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Living Intentionally

Why Amanda Boersma Became A Conscious Consumer

Amanda Boersma sat down on her sofa, cozied up, and turned on Netflix. It’s a familiar scene for many who seek relaxation after a long workday, but what Amanda watched on one particular night changed her life. All of us wear fashion, but few of us know how our fashion is made. There are issues in the fashion industry that negatively affect lives across the world, and Amanda finds it important to become conscious of our role in those issues. Find out in this interview why Amanda became a conscious consumer and why she is motivated to educate others about sustainable fashion!


You grew up in the Chicago area and studied at Hope College in Michigan. Introduce us to your career and what you do now for work.

I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and moved to Michigan when I attended Hope College. I was enrolled with the Education Department, on track to become a high school teacher, but… one day I was scrolling through my newsfeed and saw someone share the SoYouThinkYouWillDance campaign by Stop The Traffik. It made me realize that advertising could make the world a better place. I soon dropped my education degree and went for marketing and communications. Rather than teaching classrooms of students, I wanted to teach the public. I’m currently a full-time eCommerce Digital Marketing Specialist, and my free time is spent teaching people about fast fashion. My first educational tool is my blog; I’m hoping there will be more to come! 

At some point in your life, you noticed a problem in fashion?

I’ll admit that I never did much “noticing” of the problem in fashion. It came and woke me up itself when I was least expecting it: a night I chose to watch The True Cost completely at random (people at work were always talking about Netflix documentaries so I figured I’d give the genre a shot). As the footage rolled through the Rana Plaza factory collapse, I couldn’t stop thinking to myself why has no one told me about this? How the hell did I not hear about this?! It showed me how disconnected we are from how our clothing is made – so much so that a factory collapse killing 1,000+ people didn’t make headlines long enough to grab my attention. That made me feel so, so sad. I decided to start boycotting fast fashion the next day. 

What advice can you give to someone who is just noticing that some fashion is harmful to the planet and people?

Great question! It wasn’t easy. I started my journey back in November 2016 when sustainability wasn’t as mainstream, so I did a lot of research. Fortunately, you no longer need to be a sustainable fashion hobbyist to lead a conscious lifestyle. There are lots of resources nowadays! Here are a few places to start: 

  • Learn more about your favorite brands. Download the Good On You app to see how the brands you buy rank on sustainability, labor standards, and animal welfare. If your favorite brand has a low rating, use the app recommendations or category filters to find a substitute. This will come in handy later when you inevitably wander back into your favorite fast-fashion shop, dying to buy those $10 polyester tees, and feel overwhelmed with the need to research ethical alternatives. Having some options “on deck” makes being a conscious consumer much easier when you’re in purchase-mode.
  • Take care of what you have. This means NOT overhauling your wardrobe and donating the leftovers (places like Goodwill are only able to use about 10% of the donations they receive). Wash your clothes less, wash them properly so they last longer and, if possible, use a wash bag that catches microfibers to prevent plastic pollution. Attempt mending rips and tears rather than discarding the garment. Visible mending is really trendy right now so it’s actually okay if you aren’t a tidy seamstress! 
  • Rely on experts. Follow 5-10 accounts that focus on the topic. It’s the easiest way to learn the issues and get tips for sustainable living! A few trailblazers I follow are Fashion Revolution, Good On You, Remake, Conscious Chatter Podcast, Eco Age, Elizabeth Cline, Aja Barber, Aditi Mayer.
  • Have grace with yourself. The world was changed by the small, imperfect actions of many people – not the perfection of a few. Embrace progress. Remember that every dollar has an impact! 

You decided to start a side project called Unzipping Fashion, where you post about the social impact of fashion. Why?

I believe that reimagining fashion can alleviate poverty, heal discrimination, and halt climate change – among other huge issues that face our society today. Once I realized this, I felt a responsibility to get the word out. I also know that being the only person protesting doesn’t get much attention. The real power comes when all of us work together; I hope my blog can empower and equip people to join in the conscious consumerism movement. 

What is the most important thing you’ve learned since looking more deeply into the subject of sustainable fashion? 

Buzzwords like sustainable, eco-friendly, conscious and ethical are not regulated. They aren’t even agreed upon from person to person, let alone industry-wide! What is ethical to me may not be ethical to you. That said, never take these words at face value. For example: 

Sustainability – This buzzword can refer to how a garment is made, the material it’s made with, the way it’s packaged, it’s biodegradability, and more. Many brands take advantage of this ambiguity. They tweak one part of a garment’s production to use less water or generate less waste and call it sustainable. While it’s a step in the right direction, baby steps don’t give brands a right to claim they’re fully sustainable. That’s greenwashing in my book.

Ethical or Conscious – It’s so difficult to agree on what ethics are that there’s an entire profession devoted to it! Is a brand “conscious” if it treats garment workers exceptionally well but uses leather products that are hard on the environment and animals? What about the other way around? It’s important to dig into the specifics of these terms. I’ve found a brand that claims it has “ethical factories,” but has no code of conduct on the website, no disclosure of factory locations, no audit trail, nothing. Information that substantiates a brand’s claims should be easy to find and understand. If it’s not, proceed with caution.

How do you remain sustainable today? Is it difficult?

I’ll say that I’m sustainable-ish. I definitely slip into complacency sometimes, so I watch documentaries to keep my eyes open; To zap myself out of living life through the lens of my own wants and needs. I also try to reframe the way I think about shopping. When I catch myself saying I need new pants for work, I correct myself and replace “need” with “want”. I want new pants. It’s been pretty freeing!

Overall, making conscious clothing decisions has become second nature to me. I enjoy thrifting (both in-person and online), shopping from ethical brands, and taking good care of the clothes I already have. To me, all of that stuff has become fun. If it wasn’t fun, I probably would’ve fallen off the wagon awhile ago. The next “fun” thing I’m diving into is replacing my regular disposables – like paper towels, plastic bags, and more – with cute, reusable options. Finding the new, cute things out there is fun! Plus, seeing how much money I’ll save in the long run gives me motivation when I need it.

What is your vision for Unzipping Fashion going forward?

Unzipping Fashion is a place to learn about how we can solve society’s largest problems through what we wear. I hope that everyone who interacts with Unzipping Fashion feels educated, equipped, and empowered to become a changemaker in their everyday life. As the community grows, I look forward to hosting social events, webinars, happy hours, and more. I definitely want to keep things fun. I’d love to build a community atmosphere where like-minded people can grow together.

Check out Amanda’s blog, Unzipping Fashion, or follow her on Instagram for sustainable fashion tips.

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Categories
Living Intentionally

Why Switching Careers Made this 24-Year-Old the Captain of Her Own Ship

Many people lack fulfillment in their careers but do nothing to change. Alexandra Grochowski realized that her passion lied outside of finance, so she left her job to enroll in a design boot camp and redefine her career. This 180º move to become a designer has set her on a new, exciting path, and she shares her story in this interview. It is inspiring to see Alexandra be conscious of her life path and take action to align it!


Introduce us to Alexandra as a kid.
I grew up in a Polish household in Glenview, a suburb northwest of Chicago. I was a very independent kid, so I was really good at keeping myself busy. I loved drawing, coloring, and arts and crafts. Even at a young age, I wanted to do everything by myself and didn’t like when others tried to help me! I wouldn’t even let my mom put on my shoes. I was also highly curious: there was no subject or topic I didn’t want to learn more about. I stuck with creative hobbies all through high school, including painting, illustration, and even playing piano, but eventually became curious about business and finance which I knew nothing about.

As a kid and teenager, what did you want to be when you grew up, and why?
To be honest, my many different interests as a child made me incredibly indecisive when it came to a career path. My insatiable curiosity drove me to both enjoy and excel in most subjects, which didn’t make it easy for me in narrowing down options. I would change my plan every week, from medicine to graphic design to business. All I knew was that whatever I chose, I wanted to be really great at it.

Alexandra working on affinity mapping.

You studied Supply Chain Management & Finance at a great business school, then started your career as a Financial Analyst at a big bank. Why did you originally choose to pursue business and specifically finance?
I pursued business because I loved the impact businesses had on the world: employing others, creating new products, and giving back to charity. As somebody with various interests, I also saw an endless stream of opportunity in business, since it’s relevant in every industry. Finance specifically has always interested me because money is an incredibly powerful tool to achieve your personal or business goals. Some people see money as evil, but I just never saw it that way. I believe money is just the key to freedom. 

After a year and a half, you decided to leave finance and pursue design instead. Talk about what inspired you to do this!
I was flirting with the idea of leaving and pursuing a new career for about 6 months before I finally did. While I loved the finance industry, I didn’t like being a Credit Analyst. I needed room to be curious, to grow, and to be creative which I just wasn’t getting through writing memos all day long. I knew that if I was going to leave, I wanted to set myself up for success in my new career and be sure it was something that would inspire me. I spent a lot of really long nights just taking a really hard and honest look at myself and who I REALLY wanted to be. I researched a lot of different career paths, but the first one I got excited about was UX/UI design. The “A-HA” was that it combined the need for creativity and practicality, which I always thought was contradictory. Not only that, but it combined ALL of my interests: psychology, graphic design, branding, strategy, and research.

Leaving a job and taking a leap to redefine a career can be really scary. It’s easy to think that it could derail your career. How did you feel about doing it and how did you get yourself to do it? 
I think when anyone finds the confidence to make a big change, it’s because the fear to NOT make the change is stronger than the fear of failure. I looked at the people around me at my old job and realized I was afraid of becoming them. I didn’t want to be in Corporate Banking in 20 years and was willing to do anything to stop that from happening. What was really helpful for me was to do a gratitude check of everything I had. I had a supportive family to live with to save money, a strong faith, a resilient personality, a solid work ethic, and health insurance. I also lived in a free country with a great economy, where I had the freedom to pick my career – why wasn’t I exercising it? If I did fail, I could always come back to banking. It began to feel like a waste if I DIDN’T try. Once my resolve was set, I began to tell my family. While they expressed their concerns, they were incredibly supportive of me once they saw my determination.

How do you feel now that you have a new career?
I feel blessed! Every day is exciting. The big change isn’t necessarily from the new career, but from reminding myself of my own choice and what I am capable of once I exercise it. I sleep more peacefully at night, knowing that I am honest to myself every day and am the captain of my own ship. Life didn’t get any easier (turns out, design is hard!), I just got stronger. If I accomplished a drastic career change in a global pandemic, what else can I do?

Can you give any advice to someone who is thinking about realigning their career with something they’re more passionate about?
Yes! Take the time to do a full inventory of yourself. Once you have a strong “WHY?”, the “HOW?” becomes secondary: you won’t give up. What are your values? What does “passion” mean to you? Is it doing what you love for work, having the freedom to control your schedule, or simply having more time at the end of the day to spend with your family? Start being honest with yourself: is there something you are hiding? Chances are, if you aren’t satisfied, there is something you haven’t come to terms with. Take it day by day.

Check out Alexandra’s portfolio and keep up with her on Twitter @alexandragrows.