Last Sunday, our pastor talked about three T's we can use to serve God's Kingdom; our time, talents and treasure. He mentioned Luke 12:34, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." He focused on our finances as being a treasure, and I thought with this being the week before Valentine's Day, that we could talk about something that I'm just starting to pay attention to.
Since starting the blog and joining communities, following other blogs, and listening to podcasts, the thought of buying ethically produced items has been brought to my attention a lot. I have to admit that I never gave this much thought before, but I should have. I remember vividly telling my personal finance students and business students that we vote with our dollars. We tell the market and the world what is important to us by what we are willing to spend money on. If organic farming practices are important to you, you will be willing to pay a little more for that product. If products that are made with recyclable materials are important to you, spending $5 more will be no big deal. Even in our last Financial Peace University class, Dave brought up that if you look at a person's checkbook and calendar, you will be able to determine what is important to them.
All of this combined with the fact that I'm wanting to simplify in 2016, which to me means buying quality over quantity, has lead me to want to start buying more from companies with a purpose, so I've compiled a list of five companies that you might consider using your treasure and heart to support.
"The fashion industry is a 3 trillion dollar a year business and only two percent of apparel companies source from suppliers that pay their workers a fair and living wage." Girl Set Free is a clothing company that is providing jobs for people that have been set free from enslavement and sex trafficking. Their garments are made by survivors located in Nepal and Cambodia. I supported their project on Kickstarter and CANNOT WAIT until I get my hands on the Silk Tee! They are still in the early stages of setting up, so you can't order anything off of their site just yet, but I encourage you to visit and sign up for updates. Also, I dare you to not cry when watching their Kickstarter video. "It starts with fashion, but it ends with freedom, and freedom is always worth it."
(UPDATE: I LOVE my tee! I pair it with my Francis+Benedict skirts often!)
Francis + Benedict is another clothing company. It was founded by Jess Connolly's sister, Katie Walters, after visiting Togo, Africa. The skirts have modern silhouettes, but are made of tribal printed fabric that is beautiful! The seamstresses are given sustainable and dignified employment AND a portion of profits are returned to Togo to continue in missionary and aid work. "Made by others. Enjoyed by us. For the good of many."
(UPDATE: I now own two of these skirts! I saved up for one and won a gift card for the other! They are so comfortable and they make me so happy when I wear them.)
I heard about Purpose Box on The Happy Hour's Christmas Shopping Guide. This is seriously the coolest idea. It is a bi-monthly shipment full of products that are giving back, BUT that's not all! The proceeds from each shipment are given to one special purpose unique to that shipment. The box includes all of the information to find the products included so that you can continue to support and buy from the companies you fall in love with. Isn't that amazing?! Two amazing ways to help people with one product! #mailthatmatters
Maumero means "heart and soul." Maumero shoes are gorgeous! It is Maumero's mission to make beautiful shoes that are wearable for everyday life, whether that's chasing your business dreams or chasing your kiddos at the park. The company was founded by a brother/sister team that have been in the shoe business for over 35 years combined. Maumero will donate 10% of each sale to your choice of participating charity. Currently, International Justice Mission and Amazima ministries are the charities you can choose from. I want a pair of the Jasper loafers and the Adele boots (in case anyone wants to buy me a present)!
Rebecca Smith started Better Life Bags by simply posting a picture of a diaper bag she made for herself on Facebook. After receiving multiple comments from friends telling her to open a shop, she created an Etsy shop where she sold her bags and gave microloans with some of the profits. However, after moving to Detroit, Michigan, she realized that women here needed jobs to help provide for their families. Better Life Bags employs several women that have some sort of barrier to joining the labor market including cultural issues, language barriers, or lack of education. Your bag is completely unique to you because you get to customize it! "We like to say that we are 'custom with a cause.'"
I found The Root Collective after writing this post originally via The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey (basically where I hear about EVERYTHING. LOL!) And I'm so excited to tell you that I own a pair of their Espe Boots. I received them for Christmas this past season and wear them constantly. Since I got the pair with the black pattern, I can wear them with either brown or black clothing, making them perfect for my capsule wardrobe. The Root Collective shoes are all handmade by men in Guatemala. Otto, the head shoemaker, uses his business to help men in the stay away from gang life by providing them with a dignified way of making a living. The fabric one the shoes is also handmade by women using age-old techniques, providing them with a living wage and dignified job as well.
You can make a difference by purchasing from any of these businesses, but you can also make a difference by buying locally in your very own community. Support a small business or artisan. Shop on Etsy for handmade items. Go to your local farmers market or farm. I'm not perfect. I still go to Walmart for some of my groceries, but if we all try to make an effort where we can to support small businesses and businesses that aim to make a difference, we can change the world! Vote with your dollars and show the world where your heart is.
With any business, including the ones above, I highly recommend you do your own research to make sure they are a company and cause you are proud to support.
Disclaimer: The above post does contain referral links.