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Choobs News Socially Conscious Brands

Kicks That Kick Back: Introducing An Awesome Conscious Brand

Discover and shop conscious brands online

We’re excited to offer another awesome conscious brand to the Choobs marketplace, and we think you’ll love them too!

SAOLA is on a mission to design casual kicks that look good, feel great, and are made with as many eco-friendly materials as possible. They are outdoor lovers, parents of future generations, and they are dedicated to making a difference.

SAOLA makes sustainable kicks that kick back. Here’s why they’re so great…

Super comfy, Extra light shoes

SAOLA shoes are super comfortable and extra light. They’re so soft, you can even wear them barefoot! The insoles are made from natural cork, which makes you feel like you’re walking on a cloud.

These shoes are light as a feather! They weigh less than 0.4 pounds – lighter than Allbirds!

Fairly priced

SAOLAs are priced fairly compared to other shoe brands, especially other conscious brands. You can get a great pair of shoes for as little as $69, and the maximum you’ll pay is $99.

A bonus is that you’ll get free shipping!

Sustainably made

SAOLA knows that sixty to seventy percent of the environmental footprint of a pair of shoes is a result of the product’s materials, so they’ve made eco-construction the central pillar of SAOLA’s shoe development. They carefully selected the materials that go into the shoes…

As mentioned, the comfy insoles are made of natural cork. An advantage of natural cork is that the bark can be harvested without cutting down the trees! These trees continue to grow and generate a new bark which can be taken again a few years later.

The uppers of SAOLA shoes are made with recycled plastic bottles, otherwise known as PET. When recycled, PET goes through a cleaning, grinding, and melting process that results in a thread, giving second life to plastic and reducing trash in our landfills. And what happens to this thread? Well, it’s then woven into various fabrics to create the comfy and stylish uppers for SAOLA shoes. Depending on the style, each pair of SAOLA shoes contains between 3 and 7 recycled PET bottles.

If that’s not enough, check this out… Rising temperatures and excess chemicals in our lakes and rivers contribute to the growth of algae – harming the lives of plants, animals, and humans. SAOLA partnered with the team at Bloom Foam to harvest harmful algae and create eco-friendly, bio-sourced materials for the insoles and outsoles of their shoes. Bloom Foam removes harmful algae from the water and puts it through a process that dries, crushes, and converts it into powder. This powder is then mixed with EVA (a synthetic material) to become Algae Foam, used for sole construction. Using Algae Foam allows SAOLA to use fifteen to twenty percent less synthetic materials in their soles, cleans lakes of harmful algae, and prevents the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. Now that’s what we call a win for mother nature and a win for your feet!

Oh, and the laces are made from organic cotton.

Gives back to wildlife preservation

Not only can you buy shoes that are comfy and sustainable, but you can also help support SAOLA’s social mission. SAOLA has been committed to the preservation of wildlife since its creation. It’s even in the name… the Saola is one of the rarest animals found on our planet with only 700 or so animals left.

the-saola-description
The Saola – a critically endangered “Asian unicorn” that lives in the mountains between Vietnam and Laos.

This conscious brand donates one percent of sales to wildlife conservation projects so that in another 40 years, our planet’s animals are not a thing of the past.

SAOLA donates this money to MWALUA WILDLIFE TRUST, a grassroots organization in Africa that is fighting droughts to supply sustainable water systems to wildlife communities, while also promoting human-wildlife coexistence. Volunteers work with communities to raise awareness about conservation, promote ecological restoration, and increase ethical economic opportunities to protect Kenya’s nature and biodiversity.

Machine washable

Like all my favorite things, SAOLAs are easy to clean! Throw them in the wash (on cold) and you can also tumble dry them on low.

SHOP ALL OF SAOLA HERE!

RELATED: Shop Consciously: Karma Collective

Choobs is an online marketplace for shopping socially conscious brands!

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Choobs News Socially Conscious Brands

SHOP CONSCIOUSLY: Karma Collective

Discover and shop sustainable brands online

We’re very excited to welcome another incredible socially conscious brand to the Choobs family, and we think you’ll like them too!

This brand is spreading good karma, so scroll down to learn all about Karma Collective!

Karma Collective is a lifestyle apparel brand on a mission to empower people to live their best life

One look at their designs and it’s pretty obvious – Karma Collective is here to share the positive vibes! Whether you’re rocking the ‘Happy’ Terry cotton pullover or our personal favorite, the ‘Trust The Universe’ crop tank, you’ll be sure to stay uplifted while wearing these inspiring reminders!

The brand was inspired by a silent meditation retreat

After completing a 10-day silent meditation retreat in the rain forests of Hawaii- Karma Collective’s founder felt evoked to share her experience with the world by spreading good vibes and impacting change. This got her thinking, what better way to express yourself than by style?

The brand’s name is also inspired by the retreat

The concept of donating, not paying, to take part in the retreat is like sharing good karma points which persuaded Karma Collective to inspire others to support their communities.

Karma Collective donates a part of their profits from every item they sell

In fact, 10% of the profits donated go to World Housing, a hybrid organization that provides safe homes to families in need around the world!

It’s all about the positive vibes

All Karma Collective designs have a positive meaning to them that empowers each person who wears them to take part in small acts of kindness and positivity because they can make a big difference!

They believe in trusting the universe

Karma Collective is all about following your passions, listening to your gut, and trusting the universe- so if you’re looking for a sign – this is it!

Shop Karma Collective here!

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

Choobs is an online marketplace for shopping sustainable brands!

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Living Intentionally Socially Conscious Brands

8 Chicago Based Sustainable Brands You Should Know

Discover and shop sustainable brands online

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

Choobs is a Chicago-based online marketplace for shopping sustainable brands!

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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.

Choobs is an online marketplace for shopping socially conscious brands. This blog brings you stories about conscious consumers and brands. Read our Holiday Shopping Guide now!