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25 Mar '16

Miik Reversible Yara Dress

Posted by Unicorn Goods

Miik Yara Reversible Dress

We are obsessed with convertible clothing, especially when it's made responsibly from a company that we love. It's great for the environment when you can get more than one look out of a single garment. And, let's face it, if you spill ketchup down the front of your dress right before an important meeting - bam! - turn that baby around and throw on your blazer. You're good to go.

The majority of Miik's clothing (pronounced "Mick" like "Micky Mouse") is made out of bamboo. "The softness of the fabric is what attracted us initially. It just feels so amazing on your skin," says Donna Smith, cofounder and Creative Director of Miik. She cites bamboo's ability to replenish itself as a major factor in its sustainability as a material. Bamboo is a propagating grass that grows up to three feet per day. Bamboo improves soil and air quality. Bamboo requires no maintenance, reseeding, watering, pesticides, or fertilizer, unlike cotton, which requires 20,000 liters of water to yield one kilogram of fabric.

Susan Cadman

Susan Cadman, Miik's President. 

In addition to the sourcing of the materials, Miik also mills its own fabric and manufactures everything locally in Ontario, Canada, is a women-founded and women-run company, and creates timeless pieces that don't go out of style.

Miik's Reversible Yara Dress is simple, classic, and made with the environment in mind. It's soft, supple fabric is made from corn (Sonora) and bamboo (Rayon). We wear it with this Natalie Frigo tooth pendant necklace, Pact organic tights, these Vizzano block heals, and an this Animal Behavior Savanna jacket blazer.

Follow us on Twitter for the giveaway @UnicornGoodsCo. | Shop the Miik Reversible Yara dress here. Learn more about bio-based fabrics in our previous post about Paper Clothing here. | Read about Susan Cadman, Miik's President, here.

18 Mar '16

Giveaway: 100% Pure ($68+ value)

Posted by Unicorn Goods

100% Pure Giveaway

We're giving away a care package of our favorite 100% Pure items, valued at $68:

Check us out Twitter to win, @UnicornGoodsCo.

01 Mar '16

How BRANDED Collective is Helping Human Trafficking Survivors

Posted by Unicorn Goods

BRANDED Collective’s bracelets are helping human trafficking survivors turn their lives around, one bracelet at a time.BRANDED Collective’s bracelets are helping human trafficking survivors turn their lives around, one bracelet at a time.

Lauren Carpenter and Emily Landham are co-founders of the budding ethical jewelry company, BRANDED Collective. While we’ve been following their progress for the past year and a half, we were excited to get to chat with Lauren about their recent re-branding. Lauren joined us from Nashville, where she is also the Director of Operations at the Social Enterprise Alliance.

BRANDED Collective initially started in 2012 as t-615 with a mission to bring restoration to human trafficking victims. Human trafficking is a global issue that continues to affect untold millions of people. The U.S. Justice Department estimates that 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year, mostly through Atlanta, Georgia. The victims are bound for areas with high immigrant populations like Texas and Florida. A fair number end up in Tennessee, where BRANDED Collective is based, because of the state’s central location and interstate system.

The true number of human trafficking victims could be higher due to the low rate of reporting and the large numbers of undocumented immigrants that often make up at-risk populations. The U.S. Department of State reports that 0.4 percent of the estimated victims of trafficking internationally have been officially identified. (For more info on human trafficking, check out Ron Soodalter’s book, The Slave Next Door, on Unicorn Goods.)

This horrific problem spurred Emily and Lauren into action. They wanted to do something to raise awareness and funds for this issue. They started to do different things under the unified name of t-615. 

Emily Landham and Lauren Carpenter at the founding of t-615 / BRANDED Collective.

Emily (left) and Lauren (right) at the founding of t-615 / BRANDED Collective.

As Lauren explains, “The concept behind t-615 was a collective of artisans that were all doing things to promote awareness of human trafficking and make a difference. We had artists design and make T-shirts, and events with musicians talking about anti trafficking efforts.” The name t-615 is shorthand for “"a tribute from Nashville." 615 is Nashville’s the area code.

T-615 was built on bracelets - literally. In order to get the money they needed to build the website, Emily and Lauren crowdfunded. They sold 100 cuffs for $100 apiece and raised $10,000. They used this money to create the website and officially start t-615.

Even though bracelets were their first item, t-615 didn’t think they would be the focus of their business. Instead, t-615 developed a line of ethically-produced Made in the USA organic cotton shirts in 2014. Emily and Lauren thought that these shirts would be more popular than the bracelets. The two styles they initially designed and created were tailored and hemmed for women in a form-fitting, feminine, and flattering fits. To Emily and Lauren’s surprise, they didn’t sell very well. But something else on the site continued to sell well - their bracelets.

Like all savvy business owners, Lauren and Emily reconsidered their business model.

“I woke up one day and said, ‘We just need to do one thing, and do it well,’” Lauren recalls. They discontinued all other items and focused on what was speaking to their customers the most – the BRANDED line of jewelry. Then they began a multi-month process of reconsidering the brand, from the name to the products to the mission to the impact component.

They redesigned their line of jewelry and settled on the name – BRANDED Collective. “BRANDED” refers to the marking some human trafficking victims bear as a result of becoming someone else’s property. Traffickers will tattoo or otherwise permanently indicate that the victim is his/her property. These are marks that victims bear for life, even after the horrific ordeal is over, as constant reminders of the crime committed against their bodies and spirits.

Human trafficking victims are sometimes branded like cattle. Source: The Independent

Human trafficking victims are sometimes branded like cattle. Source: The Independent

The name stuck, to Lauren’s surprise. As she says, “It’s funny how much the new name makes sense to people when they hear it, as opposed to t-615, which we often would have to explain. We changed the name even though we were really passionate about the original name, and even though it meant a lot to us.”

It’s not a decision that Lauren regrets. As she puts it, “In the end, it was a really good move for us to make. I was really excited and afraid to do it, but now it’s turned out to have been a really great decision.”

Just as human trafficking victims are branded, the jewelry that Emily and Lauren make is branded, too. Each bracelet is stamped with a unique code, making each piece special to its owner.

Once they changed the name and released the newly-branded line of jewelry in April 2015, they saw sales spike, especially in new and historically low markets outside of their home state of Tennessee. “We saw an increase in sales in other states because they finally understood our brand and mission,” says Lauren. On the website, there’s not a shirt in sight.

At its core, the company is still a collective in its truest sense: a group of people organized around a unified idea. For BRANDED Collective, that idea is a world free from human trafficking.

Emily and Lauren want to grow the company so that it can help more human trafficking victims by providing them with gainful employment that will help them start their careers. As Lauren says, “Our dream is to support survivors of human trafficking on at least a part time basis.”

BRANDED Collective’s bracelets.

BRANDED Collective’s bracelets.

They have taken inspiration and insight from the Thistle Farms model. Thistle Farms is a Nashville-based candle and body products company that provides women with work training as part of rehabilitation programs. The women are survivors of addiction, trafficking, violence, and extreme poverty, and the Thistle Farms products they make support the programs. (Check out Thistle Farms on Unicorn Goods here.)

Like Thistle Farms, BRANDED Collective employs human trafficking survivors to create their products. In doing so, they are able to serve as a reference when the survivor seeks future jobs. This not only provides the survivor with a stable work environment, but gives them the support they need to begin a full life. As Lauren says, “Our focus is the restoration and the hope of our survivors.”

BRANDED Collective uses USA-sourced metals from a company in Arizona. The aluminum is 100% recycled. The goal for the future is to have the products be 100% made by former human trafficking victims.

For BRANDED Collective, the sky is the limit. They plan to work more closely with End Slavery Tennessee to continue to impact the lives of human trafficking victims for the better. We can’t wait to see what they do next.

We are doing a giveaway of a BRANDED Collective bracelet. Sign up for our email newsletter (here) or check us out on social media to find out how to enter to win.

Shop BRANDED Collective on Unicorn Goods here.

Read more about BRANDED Collective in our previous interview with Emily, here. | Source: Wiki

16 Dec '15

Ways of Change | Rom Bo Bead Ring

Posted by Audrey Finocchiaro

We love Ways of Change, a social enterprise started by two cousins who set out to make change. Co-founders Cara and Lauren created Ways of Change after a family trip to Bali. Through their travels, Cara and Lauren were inspired by the resilience of people who had faced conflict and migration. The two combined their interest of fashion and their drive to help others and formed Ways of Change.

Ways of Change empowers refugees to create jewelry using their traditional skills. Where possible, products are made from upcycled, organic, natural, cruelty-free, fairly traded and locally sourced materials. A portion of all Ways of Change’s profits are used to support community projects that focus on empowerment and sustainable living, contributing to the positive change that the communities they work with hope to see. Ways of Change hopes one day to be able to provide support to refugees as they become repatriated, (return to their country of origin) resettled (settled into a third country), or integrated into local communities (where they are currently living).

We are excited to be giving away their beautiful Rom Bo Bead Ring. It's made of 100% solid brass and comes in a handwoven drawstring bag. You can see the ring being made at the beginning of their video below.

We gave away the ring Rom Ro Bead Ring on social media the day this post went live. Congrats to our Instagram winner!

Shop Ways of Change here. | Shop the Rom Bo Bead Ring here.

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