Friday, January 23, 2015

PUNJAMMIES™ Takeover in Cuenca!

punjammies, international princess project
ecuador, latina blogger, fair trade
fashion blogger, beyoutiful hope
punjammies, international princess project
fair trade fashion, blogger, human trafficking survivors
swathi punjammies, sex slavery, fashion
swathi punjammies
punjammies, international princess project
fashion blog, beyoutifulhope, punjammies
international princess project, fair trade pajamas
punjammies, fair trade, women, fashion
pajamas, fair trade, human trafficking
international princess project, punjammies
womens fair trade fashion punjammies pygamas
fair trade pajamas punjammies international princess project
punjammies latina blogger fair trade
fair trade, fashion blogger, punjammies

Welcome to Cuenca! These pictures are from a few weeks ago when I whizzed away on a weekend getaway with Michelle and friends. When we saw this awesome scenery, Michelle and I both thought out loud, "Let's do a photoshoot in our PUNJAMMIES™!" And so, we pulled out our PUNJAMMIES™ and cavorted about the acreage!

Have you heard about PUNJAMMIES™ before? They are lougewear made by International Princess Project (IPP). Each PUNJAMMIES™ is created in one of their four partner sewing centers in India. Each of these centers are part of a program which provide survivors of sex slavery employment and support. When I first learned about IPP, I fell in love with the mission and heart for Jesus Christ behind this company. I actually liked it so much that I ended up interning for them. I actually flew across the country and interned at their California headquarters for six months. It was such a blessed learning experience. If you are in the market for cute, comfy women's lougewear and pajamas, be sure to check out International Priness Project! ;)

This January is human trafficking awareness month. In every moment 30 million people (women, men, and children) are trapped in human trafficking. To learn more about human trafficking and how you can help make a difference, read more at International Justice Mission.

And now for some soul food...

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. 
A man reaps what he sows.Whoever sows to
please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction;
whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the
proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
10 Therefore, as we have opportunity,
let us do good to all people, especially to those
who belong to the family of believers.

Galatians 6: 7-11

Flowers and Daisies,

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Interview with 4 All Humanity: Sustainably Produced, Transparent & Fair Trade

4 all humanity, interview, ethical fashion fair trade
fair trade women's fashion, 4 all humanity
latin america, south america, travel blog, inca
travel blogger, latin america, ecuador incas
4 All Humanity, beyoutiful hope, travel blog
fair trade, women's fashion, made in the usa
fair trade, ethical fashion, sustainable, slow fashion
"Smart is Beautiful" Organic Cotton tshirt || c/o 4 All Humanity
Sustainably sourced and produced, fair trade, made in the USA, provides one month of schooling to Haitian orphan
Forest Green Stretch Cigarette Pants || AG Jeans
Eco-conscious textiles, made in the USA
Low Cut kicks, Bajo Gato Blanco || c/o Mipacha
Sustianably and ethically sourced and handmade in Cuzco, Peru

What a view! Michelle and I had the opportunity to visit the Ruinas Ingapircas the other day. It was so cool to see all of the different structures. I decided to do my photoshoot for 4 All Humanity there because remembering the history of people reminded me of the importance of the history of our clothes.  The people and places that make up the threads that clothe our society are so easily forgotten.

I am excited to interview the founder of 4 All Humanity today, not only because I love interviewing people that do things that help our society prosper in a positive way, but this brand is one of my favorites! It is also super cool that the founders are a married couple. Now, may I introduce to you a cute and trendy women's fair trade clothing company with sustainable, transparent, and ethical sourcing from USA, Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Uganda.

 Interview with Zoe Schumm, founder of 4 All Humanity

Why the name 4 All Humanity? 
We (when I say we I mean my husband and I) came to the name 4 All Humanity for a couple of different reasons. One because we really want this brand to be about helping everyone that we come in contact with; the cotton growers to the the end consumer. Even the person that doesn't buy from us, we still want to make their lives better by either educating them to the importance of fair trade or empowering them to make a difference in their own community. And two it's kind of catchy. It's short and two the point, which we both like. And it also makes you want to know a little more. 

Tell me about your production and fabric sourcing. How does your brand contrast that of small scale businesses that do not consider themselves "ethically sourced"? 
Well every part of our supply chain is ethically sourced right down to the fabric. Like I mentioned before we want this brand and everything that we do to help all who come in contact with us. For our organic cotton we work with a small mill in Tanzania. In organic cotton no harsh chemicals are used which is huge. First they do not have the growers or the pickers and two there isn't the hazardous run off into streams and lakes that would than affect farm land and drinking water. In your average apparel company there isn't this forethought about the cotton farmer, cotton picker, and certainty not the surrounding community. Their main concern is going to be with price and whether the fabric is going to come in on time. Very little thought is given to how the production of the fabric will effect anyone other than the said company.

Can you tell me what short term and long term impacts 4 All Humanity is making? 
In the short term we are giving artisans employment which is huge! They have sustainable employment which enables them to provide for their families. We also give them upfront funds so that they do not have to pay anything out of pocket to procure fabric, trims, etc. (which is very different than your standard apparel company). I'm not sure if two years is enough time to see true long term impacts, but we have already seen some very cool things happen. From the sustainable employment the women and families they are able to settle into a better lifestyle and not worry day to day about money and how they are going to eat. We have seen, in Inida, girls staying in school longer because they no longer are asked to get a job to help pay for expenses. The mind set of girls being a burden or just one more mouth to feed is slowly changing as life is less fearful for the parents. 

Does women's empowerment, education, and gender inequality play take a part in your business structure? 
It does but its not at the forefront. From the story I mentioned above it is a side effect. We absolutely believe in gender equality and women's empowerment, but before we can focus on those we have to deal with the more basic needs of food and education. 

How many women are currently employed? What were they doing before working with 4 All Humanity? 
We employ a little over 500 artisans, of which a little over half are women. Many of the women before working with us didn't have an income or they were working in sweat shop conditions for slave wages.

 4 All humanity, kampala workshop

How did you select the current countries you work in? 
It's a combination of need and what native craft or art form is the country known for.

Tell me about the workspace? What is a typical workday like? 
I'll talk with you a little about the women in Uganda. They have an open work space (attached is a photo). They have normal working hours much like the hours that we hold here in the US. They work on fabrics from cotton jersey to kitenge and pieces from bags to dresses. All the women have had some schooling/training in tailoring and sewing. Some days are busier than others if we are doing a large round of production. If we are doing sampling a few of the women will work on the samples. They have breaks regularly and leave in time to be home with their families to enjoy the evening. 

Can you tell me a little bit more about your founders? 
The founders are my husband, Josh, and I. We're two weirdos. He is definitely a numbers guys and very smart. I'm more your typical artists. We compliment each other well. He brings structure into my life and I bring fun into his! 

What is it like being a social enterprise among many other social enterprises, many of which are beginning to sell similar products? 
Well first, it's really cool seeing all the social enterprises coming into the marketplace! It's encouraging to me because it shows that the market is ready or at lest more willing to purchase ethically, which is awesome!! It's also great that these new companies are coming out with more on trend products, it will just further the fair trade movement even more. I'm a creative type and I always have something up my sleeve that will set us apart.

Why is it important for your clothing to be made of organic cotton? Are all of your cottons organic? From where are they sourced? 
It is important that the cotton is organic because of the ripple effect that it has on the community that the cotton is grown in. Like I mentioned previously when chemicals are used in cotton farming the hazardous chemicals run off into streams and lake which effect farm land and drinking water which has an impact on the entire community. No, not all of our cottons are organic. Only the cotton that is coming from Africa is organic. The other cotton is grown here in the US in North Carolina. The plant that the cotton is grown however is state of the art and the plant does as much as they can to control any of the side effects of the pesticides. 
Where do you see 4 All Humanity in 5 years? 10 years? 
I like to plan things out, and so does my husband, but where we are now is not where we thought we would be and the things that I've been able to do have been mind blowing. So I'm all for planning but being flexible. I'm very excited for our future we have some great things and partnerships forming for 2015. For right now I'm open to what the future will bring our way planned or unplanned.

How do you define beauty? 
I think beauty can be found in juxtaposition and contradiction. Not contradiction in the sense of being a hypocrite but in being able to be soft and feminine and turn around and not be afraid to get dirty. We as women have so much to offer. Yes we are soft and feminine but we are also strong, courageous, and determined. It's in the balance of the strong and soft sides that we find true grace and true grace is beautiful.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ecuador Update: Final Evaluations, Waterfalls & Ancient Ruins

Photography Workshop, Final Evaluations 
I am excited to close my photography workshop with the Colta Monjas Alto Community this week. It was an amazing experience and opportunity. I learned so much about their culture, or as much as I could in one month. This truly opened my eyes to a new culture - the juxtaposition between their traditional lives and the "Westernized" culture of many of the people in the city below is so interesting. Each time I taught was very exciting because I loved that they loved to learn. During our closing, we shared what we learned and liked from the class. The participants were very excited and grateful for the opportunity to learn photography and also for the two cameras that I was able to donate to their community. Interestingly enough, the most important thing they learned was how to position a subject within a photo. I told them that the most important thing now is for them to practice, practice, practice, because one you know the basics of photography the artistry come through practice. Some of them truly have an eye for photography, which was very exciting. I even printed out a few postcards with their photos for them, for them to keep. They invited me back to teach something more. Who knows what the future holds... hopefully a bilingual Christine who can travel and share more of who she is and what she knows with others who wish to learn and share their life with me too!

Agua viva International, Brave Life, AAUW Buffalo
Agua viva International, AAUW Buffalo

Baños, Cuenca 
Dancing and singing under the magical waterfalls (which I had to climb what seemed like a few hundred steps to get to) was the best part of seeing Ecuador. I did get super sick the following days, but hey, it was totally worth it. What a lovely thing nature is. 

Baños, Cuenca travel blog waterfall
piedras Baños, Cuenca travel blogger waterfall
waterfall, south america, Baños, Cuenca

Michelle and I went to see the largest Inca ruins in Ecuador. It was so cool to see them... many of the ruins' purposes are still unknown, so Michelle and I of course made up our own stories for those rocks and structures. ;)

Ruinas Ingapirca, Cuenca, Ecuador, 4 All humanity
Ruinas Ingapirca, Cuenca, Ecuador, NCCWSL
Ruinas Ingapirca, Cuenca, Ecuador
Mipacha, AG Jeans, fashion blogger, Ruinas Ingapirca
Ruinas Ingapirca, Cuenca, Ecuador, NCCWSL

Climbing to the top of the City of Cuenca
No joke, I feel like I am climbing one mountain or another everyday. It's is such an unshackling feeling to make it to the top of a mountain and discover how much I can actually push myself. The view is also a nice reward.

So Blessed and Excited,

Join my journey on Instagram,  Twitterand Facebook! ;)

P.S. Thank you AAUW Buffalo BranchBrave Life, and Sigma Alpha Pi for funding my travels to Ecuador so I can work with Agua Viva! :)