For the Greater Goods

A lifestyle blog for the conscious consumer


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Inspiring Individuals: Sonia Agarwal

When it comes to ethical fashion, names like Stella McCartney, Alex and Ani, and Warby Parker might come to mind, but the name Sonia Agarwal may not… at least not yet. I have seen Sonia’s passion first hand in classes at Babson College where we both graduated in 2012. Since graduating, Sonia has created Asia’s first online marketplace for ethical, luxurious fashion called WHITENIFE. I had the privilege of asking Sonia a few questions about her venture. Continue reading to learn more about her company and thoughts on the future of the fashion industry.

How did you come up with the idea for WHITENIFE? What initially sparked your passion?

I have always been passionate about fashion, entrepreneurship and conservation. On graduating from Babson College in 2012, I found my true calling in WHITENIFE. Initially WHITENIFE was found to develop a premium, animal-friendly alternate to leather. During its research, it was introduced to Elfh- a patent registered, mineral based composite that is 89% close to genuine elephant ivory. It has been quite a remarkable journey for WHITENIFE as for today it has transformed to become Asia’s first marketplace for ethical fashion products. It currently houses over 20 brands & designers from over 16 countries and ships globally.

AMALENA specializes in ethical and eco-friendly gold jewelry. It designs timeless handcrafted pieces in 18ct Eco-Gold, which is extracted from mines in Columbia in fair, healthy and sustainable working conditions. Amalena encourages local female goldsmiths to create unique pieces that honor their heritage and conserve their traditional craftsmanship. This unique piece is a tribute to the beautiful artistic expression in the Wayuú culture. In their dialect, the word “Aa’in” means heart, soul and purity. The intricate curves within the shape is an homage to the spirals painted on the faces of Wayuú women. Just as they pay tribute to the circle of life, this charm reminds us that love has no end.

AMALENA specializes in ethical and eco-friendly gold jewelry. It designs handcrafted pieces with 18ct Eco-Gold, which is extracted from mines in Columbia in fair, healthy and sustainable working conditions. Amalena encourages local female goldsmiths to create unique pieces that honor their heritage and traditional craftsmanship. This unique piece is a tribute to a Wayuú culture expression. In their dialect, the word “Aa’in” means heart, soul and purity. The intricate curves within the heart represent the spirals painted on the faces of Wayuú women. Just as they pay tribute to the circle of life, this charm reminds us that love has no end.

What has been the hardest part of starting your own company? And the most rewarding?

WHITNIFE has always been forward thinking in the fashion industry. It has evolved many times to take its shape. These transitions have been certainly been challenging, but have allowed me to introduce a fashion platform that can address social-environmental world problem. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to allow fashion enthusiasts to indulge in fashion without guilt. 

ABURY is a pioneering fashion brand, from Morocco, that combines traditional crafts with avantgarde designs; to create a new luxury style that fosters intercultural exchange. The Abury Foundation not only supports the village communities by providing them with work opportunities but also gives back the same number of education hours at the Abury School, as the number of hours taken to produce an Abury product.

ABURY is a pioneering fashion brand, from Morocco, that combines traditional crafts with avantgarde designs; to create a new luxury style that fosters intercultural exchange. The Abury Foundation not only supports the village communities by providing them with work opportunities but also gives back the same number of education hours at the Abury School, as the number of hours taken to produce an Abury product.

What is your criteria to consider a brand “ethical”?

Ethical issues have always been subjective and there are many ways a fashion brand can choose to be ethical. For us at WHITENIFE, Ethical Fashion is about celebrating real fashion and empowering communities. WHITENIFE supports many of world’s big problems today such as education, human exploitation, and loss of biodiversity, waste production, water pollution, community development and women empowerment.

Every brand on our platform supports at least one of the eight causes below:

  • Artisan & Craftsmanship Conservation
  • Animal Friendly & Vegan
  • Environmentally Sustainable Materials
  • Conflict Free Mining
  • Up cycle& Zero Waste
  • Cruelty Free & Ethical
  • Women Empowerment
  • Social Development
Beach to Boudoir is a UK based, socially conscious lifestyle brand is dedicated to empowering local communities. Inspired from the 50s, its collection is eclectic in nature with signature prints and intricate beadwork. It uses natural Oeko Tex* fabrics along with Azo free certified dyes. Beach to Boudoir, produces zero waste for the landfill, and donates all their fabric wastage to two charities in Bali “The Safe Childhood foundation” & “Bali Life Foundation”, for new design & skill development.

Beach to Boudoir is a UK based, socially conscious lifestyle brand is dedicated to empowering local communities. Inspired from the 50s, its collection is eclectic in nature with signature prints and intricate beadwork. It uses natural Oeko Tex* fabrics along with Azo free certified dyes. Beach to Boudoir, produces zero waste for the landfill, and donates all their fabric wastage to two charities in Bali “The Safe Childhood foundation” & “Bali Life Foundation”, for new design & skill development.

What are your hopes for the future of the fashion industry? And how do you see WHITENIFE playing a role in that?

The dynamics of the fashion industry are changing rapidly. We envision, that in the coming years, fashion corporations will be more sustainable and young, upcoming designers will take immense pride to embrace the possibility of transforming the world with Fashion. 

WHITENIFE has been a pioneer in the fashion Industry by creating Asia’s first platform to curate ethical brands and designers from around the globe. This platform will not only allow fashion connoisseurs to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle but also encourage more brands to strive towards sustainability. In order to extend our promise to be green, WHITENIFE works with its brands to reduce carbon footprint.

EARTH HEIR is a luxury craftsmanship company from Cambodia, with an exquisite collection of handcrafted fashion, and home accessories. Each piece weaves a human story, made lovingly by master craftsperson carrying the disappearing traditions of their forebears. They use natural fibers, upcycled materials and ecofriendly dyes to craft their unique products. Earth Heir return 10% of their revenue to charities supporting trafficking survivors and plant two trees for every scarf purchased.

EARTH HEIR is a luxury craftsmanship company from Cambodia, with an exquisite collection of handcrafted fashion, and home accessories. Each piece weaves a human story, made lovingly by master craftsperson carrying the disappearing traditions of their forebears. They use natural fibers, upcycled materials and ecofriendly dyes to craft their unique products. Earth Heir return 10% of their revenue to charities supporting trafficking survivors and plant two trees for every scarf purchased.

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to create a more ethical wardrobe?

It is a myth that in order to have a more ethical wardrobe one needs to compromise on design and craftsmanship. One simply needs to address How is it made? Where is it made? With what is it made? Who makes it? And of course visit www.whitenife.com a platform that curates brands that address these positively.


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Monday Motivation

Because Mondays are hard and sometimes we need a little inspiration…

change

Change is hard. And change can be scary. But change is also necessary. Change can be good. Change can be exciting. So rather than fight it, try to accept the ever changing adventure ahead of you.


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Friday Finds

Check out what I’ve been checkin’ out this week…

Friday Finds 6.12.15

1. Jack Black + Red Nose Day = This.

2. Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt thinks science labs should be segregated by gender because women are too distracting and male scientists can’t help falling in love. Ummm, what? Women have cleverly responded. But I think men should be equally insulted.

3. Allow me to introduce you to the Ecocapsule, a portable, eco-friendly home. Think you could live in one?

4. And last but not least, rescued baby orangutans.


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Buttered Up

If I were to say, “I love peanut butter”, it would be a bit of an understatement. It is more like “I cannot survive without peanut butter”. Growing up I played a lot of sports, but since I was also a picky eater, I only had a few options when it came to fueling up before games and practices. Peanut butter was always my go-to. And even though I don’t eat nearly as much as I used to, I still eat it fairly regularly. And I don’t know what I would do without it.

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When used correctly nut butters can serve as a really healthy snack. They’re packed with protein and healthy fats, but sometimes nut butters can also be packed with tons of sugar and weird ingredients. But not Justin’s.

One day at the grocery story I came across Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter and was initially intrigued because of the simple ingredient lists. But as I began doing more research about Justin and his company, I realized the company does so much more than produce delicious nut butters.

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This is a great alternative to Nutella. There is half the sugar and (in my humble opinion) all the flavor.

Hazelnut

The founder, Justin Gold, started concocting nut butters in 2004 in order to support his active and vegetarian lifestyle. When he perfected his concoctions, he started a company that values passion, innovation and corporate consciousness. He utilizes sustainable practices by “sourcing the highest-quality, local ingredients, simplifying the supply chain, and initiating environmentally friendly office practices”. In addition to that Justin’s pays-it-forward by supporting the Conscious Alliance, a hunger relief organization, and the Whole Planet Foundation, a poverty relief organization.

This one is my favorite. Simple PB. Doesn't get old. There is also a plain peanut butter spread available, but I like the subtle sweetness that the honey adds.

This one is my favorite. Simple PB. Doesn’t get old. There is also a plain peanut butter spread available, but I like the subtle sweetness that the honey adds.

Honey PB

All that being said, it probably isn’t a surprise that Justin’s products are a bit more expensive than your average nut butter. They cost about $10. But in my mind, I like knowing that I’m eating something that is better for me and better for the environment. I like supporting a company that is conscious in its practices.

“Our products are made with common sense. A sense that cooking in small batches ensures higher quality. And that selectively choosing fine, all-natural ingredients will make it taste better.”

Of all the almond butters I've tried, this one is the best. And you know I'd never lie to you.

Of all the almond butters I’ve tried, this one is the best. And you know I’d never lie to you.

Almond

If you still need a little inspiration, check out all the recipes on Justin’s website. There are tons! I was looking some of the recipes after I ate a huge plate of lasagna last night and wasn’t even a little bit hungry, but I would have willingly stuffed my face with some of those. They look amazing! Justin also makes nut butter cups that I think I need to try soon. Like maybe right now…

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Monday Motivation

Because Mondays are hard and sometimes we need a little inspiration…

Monday Motivation 6.1.15

I’ve got something a little different for you this week. I recently came across this website, which is chuck full of quotes. I found myself writing a bunch down and rather than just choosing one to share, I decided to share the whole site with you. The content is updated regularly and there is a wide variety of topics. Some are motivational, some are funny, and some just make you think. Share your favorite in the comments below!


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Friday Finds

Check out what I’ve been checkin’ out this week…

I’ve got some videos that will make you think and rethink the way you think… I think.

Friday Finds 5.22.15

1. A shocking reminder to treat everyone and thing with kindness. Click here if you’re inspired to make a difference.

2. How “plastic” is your brain? Think you could ride a backward bike?

3. Meet Mr. W. He’s lost, lonely, a bit obnoxious, and totally misunderstood until someone’s decided to focus on the good in Mr. W .


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Splurge or Save: Stacks on Stacks on Stacks

Now that the weather is (sometimes) warm enough to bare my wrists and arms while wearing a tee shirt, I’ve been really into stacking dainty bracelets. I’ve enjoyed experimenting with different stacks and while I’m no master, I like to have fun with it. But as I was looking for some dainty bracelets to add to my collection, I realized I am fairly boring when it comes to my stacking game. Most of what I own is gold chains or bangles. So I’ve made it my goal to mix up colors, textures, and metals to make a more interesting stack. I’ve got to diversify my portfolio, right?

I have picked out two similar, stackable bracelets at different price points that are socially conscious and will add a little pop of color to your wrist. Stylistically speaking these two bracelets are extremely similar. Both have a colorful, adjustable band with a metal bar centered in the middle. The materials and prices are what set these two apart.

Dogeared balance blue leather bracelet

The first and more expensive bracelet is from Dogeared, which you can buy here. The founder of Dogeared, Marcia Maizel-Clarke, believes jewelry could be both beautiful and meaningful. All of the jewelry is designed and hand crafted in the spirit of love, kindness, and consciousness out of their Southern California Studio. Dogeared is a certified B Corporation. Don’t know what a B Corporation is? Check out this video (it probably explains it better than I can). Basically, they’re all about creating, implementing, and sustaining ethical business practices.  Dogeared adheres to these standards by handcrafting everything locally, respecting the planet, and partnering with non-profit organizations that share their vision of a better world. While this bracelet won’t completely break the bank at $42, it is over twice as much as the other bracelet I’ve picked out.

Silver Bar Boarding 4 Breast Cancer

The next bracelet is by Pura Vida and can be purchased here. It is very similar to the Dogeared bracelet, but instead of leather, the band is made with string and only costs $15. The company started after the founders, Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman, took a trip to Costa Rica and fell in love with the pura vida (pure life) lifestyle. They met two men who were selling bracelets on the street and decided to take some of the jewelry back to sell in the U.S. The bracelets became very popular and blossomed into a business. Today Pura Vida provides jobs for artisans in Costa Rica. They also created the Charity Collection which gives back to charities all over the world through the sale of individual bracelets. The bracelet I have featured today gives $3 to Boarding for Breast Cancer.

So which do you chose? Will you splurge or save?

(Also as a sidenote: There is an adorable dog named Annie (just like yours truly) that needs YOUR help. If you saw my my recent Friday Finds, you might have read the story about Lola’s Lucky Day, which rescues dogs in Houston. Annie is their most recent rescue and needs an operation to have a tumor removed. So whether you have $2 or $200 bazillion to donate, please take the time to help any way that you can.)


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Monday Motivation

Because Mondays are hard and sometimes we need a little inspiration…

Adventure

I heard this quote a few weeks ago while I was on a bus to Boston. The documentary 180˚ South was playing and I was quickly enthralled in the story. A lot of things resonated when I heard this quote.  All too often when something goes wrong we see it as an annoying setback instead of a chance to grow and explore. So next time you find yourself adrift think of it as an exciting chance to discover something new about yourself and/or the world.

(180˚ South is available on Netflix if you are interested in watching it. I definitely recommend it.)


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Friday Finds

Check out what I’ve been checkin’ out this week…

Friday Finds 5.8.15

1. An inspiring read about finding your inner light. Really makes you think about what’s important in life.

2. The difference a sandwich can make. 

3. A moving story about rescuing dogs in Houston and how you can help homeless dogs. 


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Inspiring Individuals: Malala Yousafzai

This month’s Inspirational Individual is Malala Yousafzia. If you haven’t heard yet, last week ten people were sentenced to life in prison for their roles in the 2012 attack on Malala. And in other news, by some crazy coincidence, last week I also finished reading Malala’s book, “I Am Malala”. Honestly, it took me a while to get through this book. Not because I didn’t like it, but more because I dedicated most of my time this winter to watching Netflix instead of reading and being a real person. Over time I picked away at the book and learned something new each time I picked it up.

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For those of you unfamiliar with Malala’s story, get your head out from under that rock. No, just kidding. I’ll give you a little background. Malala is from Pakistan’s Swat Valley, which she describes as a “land where rifles are fired in celebration of a son, while daughters are hidden away behind a curtain, their role in life simply to prepare food and give birth to children”. But Malala’s father was different than most and raised her just like he raised his son. He strongly encouraged his daughter to go to school, study hard, and plan for the future.

As you can imagine, many girls in Swat weren’t given the same opportunities as Malala. Many dropped out of school because they couldn’t afford it, their parents’ beliefs, or they were forced to get married. Things became worse for the girls in Swat when Talibanization spread through the valley and girls were told they should be forbidden at schools. The Taliban began bombing schools, killing teachers, and threatening students.

Although many girls became afraid to go to school, Malala never let fear get in the way of her education. She continued to go to a secret school with her books hidden under her shawl. She began giving speeches, radio interviews, and writing a blog for BBC about her experiences in Pakistan and the importance of accessible education for everyone. The Taliban later targeted and shot her for speaking out against them.

NORWAY-NOBEL-PEACE

Her book gives you a firsthand experience of how war and radicalized religion can sweep through and destroy a region. Malala also gives you a look at the culture of Pakistan. She has great pride in her country and openly shows you the good, bad, and everything in between. One thing that really struck me was how ‘normal’ she seemed. She reads “Twilight”, likes to sleep late, has fights with her younger brother, and gets stressed over exams. She also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, but besides that, fairly normal.

There are also times throughout the book when it’s hard to believe she is just a teenager. Her book is so clearly articulated and promotes profound wisdom.  It is hard to believe she is only 16 when she drops incredible knowledge such as: “I’ve always been a daydreamer, and sometimes in lessons my mind would drift and I’d imagine that on the way home a terrorist might jump out and shoot me on those steps. I wondered what I would do. Maybe I’d take off my shoes and hit him, but then I’d think if I did that there would be no difference between me and a terrorist. It would be better to plead, ‘OK, shoot me, but first listen to me. What you are doing is wrong. I’m not against you personally, I just want every girl to go to school.’“. Her book is filled with inspiring tidbits like this.

There are so many lessons embedded in this book. Malala’s exuberantly positive outlook on life and sincere mission to promote accessible education are incredibly inspiring. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this incredible young woman.

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