Conscious Closets + Botanica Workshop

Saturday's in. That's my dream. It rarely happens these days with all that's going on around me, work, relationships, events, travel, etc. All these things are wonderful, but can pull one in so many directions. When I think of vacation and rest now, I think of home. I think of a quiet morning in bed with coffee from the French Press and a good book. I think of dancing in my living room to Blue Suede Shoes, or let's be honest, anything Taylor Swift. These pictures are a reflection of a Saturday well spent, at a home I love surrounded by people I love.

I'm so thankful to Botanica Workshop for letting me spend my dream Saturday in their beautiful loungewear. Consciously made pieces I will treasure. Ladies, do yourself a favor and put one of their items on your Christmas list. And when you wear it, let it remind you of the importance of surrounding yourself with beauty and rest. 

All images by Brian Tropiano

Conscious Closets + ETHICA

Re-blogged from Shop ETHICA

Mere hours before we met Johanna Tropiano on a sunny Tuesday morning, the L.A.-based blogger, stylist and anti-human-trafficking advocate had been overseeing a packed house at the Highline Ballroom in New York City, where Natasha Bedingfield and Questlove respectively took the stage to toast the launch of Made In A Free World.

Tropiano is the newly minted VP of Strategic Partnerships for the nonprofit, which aims to eradicate modern-day slavery through a mix of awareness campaigns, field work and business solutions. (Ethica is one of 34 companies working with Made In A Free World to examine our products’ supply chains and identify areas potentially at risk for the use of forced and child labor.)

Despite her late night, Tropiano was lively and infectious as we took a walk down the High Line. Within minutes of conversation, she’d had us check our cosmetics for mica (an ingredient that is mostly mined by young girls in India), added The Locust Effect to our reading list, and created an Ace & Jig layering situation that was pretty darn perfect.

Hear about the disturbing conversation with a stranger that led Tropiano to commit her life to fighting human trafficking, and how she went from being an admitted shopaholic to a champion of #consciousclosets.

Certain issues are so overwhelming that our tendency can be to think of them in conceptual terms rather than as realities. Whats one thing that you want people to know about human trafficking and how very real it is? In 2009, I took a trip to Nicaragua to visit a child I sponsor at an orphanage in Leon. I struck up a conversation with a young man living in New York and teaching middle school P.E. I asked him what he was flying to Nicaragua for. He told me he wanted to hike the volcanoes. Then he looked up at me and, straight-faced with no emotion, said, “All my buddies have been there. They say the sex is cheap. You get young girls for cheap.” That conversation changed my life forever, and I’ve been fighting for human dignity ever since.

There are evil people like that school teacher from New York who seek to prey on the vulnerable and poor. I experienced it firsthand. Trafficking doesn’t just happen in movies. We are incredibly blessed to be born here. We can’t take that for granted.

Youve written–bravely and beautifully–about how attached we can become to our clothes. How long has it been since your big closet cleanout, and whats the best part about having a less-than-half-full closet? Thank you! I cleaned out my closet in a huge way in March of this year. I got rid of over half my clothes. It is a relief. I feel like a weight has lifted in a lot of ways. My husband I recently moved to a new home with small closets, and I was actually thrilled to see that all I had left took up half my closet. That’s a very different mindset from when I was proud of owning 50 pairs of designer jeans.

I continuously ask whether an item of clothing will bring me joy and only purchase something if it fulfills that. I also try to adopt a one-piece-in, one-piece-out mentality. There’s something to be said about having a small amount of beautifully curated, quality pieces rather than a closet full of fast-fashion throwaways. A friend of mine says, “Happy people make happy things.” I truly believe that. I want everything I own to be made by happy people. I’d rather spend money on something good and have less to make that happen.

“A friend of mine said, ‘Happy people make happy things.’ I truly believe that. I want everything I own to be made by happy people.”

Do you think your #consciousclosets journey would have been different if you had gone through it privately rather than sharing your progress on Instagram–and now on your new blog? I’ve always been a passionate, wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve kind of person. I’m super inspired by people who are vulnerable enough to share their stories and what they are learning. So I thought if I can help someone who is in a similar place as me through sharing my story, that’s awesome!

I believe my personal journey would have remained the same whether I shared it openly or not, but if even one person starts to think differently about fast fashion or shopping addiction or human trafficking, it’s worth it to me to be public. I live to inspire change in myself and in others. That motivates me more than anything. When I see small changes in friends or family taking place, that’s a real win.


Visit Made In A Free World’s Slavery Footprint calculator to discover how your choices might be impacting people around the world. Keep up with Tropiano on Instagram (@johannatropiano) and at consciousclosets.co.

Outfit details all available at Shop ETHICA; Striped Dress by Study NY; Cardinal Lake Pants and Westside Pants from Ace and Jig.

How Many Slaves Work for Me

The heart behind Conscious Closets is people. I firmly believe everyone is valuable. Everyone is worthy from fashion bloggers to celebrities and athletes, to the little girl in India mining for the mica that goes into all our sparkly makeup. We all have something good to offer this world. We all have a story to tell. We should all be able to live our lives in freedom. This is 2015 after all. 

So one brave day I asked myself the question. Based on my lifestyle and my closet, how many slaves work for me? Can I know? Do I want to know?

The answer was yes. Because truth brings change, and I was ready for change. 

I went to www.slaveryfootprint.org, it's an enlightening tool started by my company, Made In A Free World, that can literally tell you how many slaves work for you based on the way you live, how many cars you drive, TVs you own, how many pairs of shoes you have or blouses or dresses hanging in your closet. The site takes about 6 minutes to input all the data and then spits out the number.

The most meaningful and terrifying number I've ever seen in my life.

How many men, women, and children toil in horrific conditions so I can have my $20 boots or $5 tee or even a $1000 Chloe bag. No company is immune. But what I learned going through this process wasn't just the amount of slaves working for me, but also that I had too. much. stuff. Period. I was shocked and frankly surprised at how extravagant my lifestyle was. No one needs as much as I have. And especially not on the backs of children. 43 to be exact.

43.

How many do you have? 

 

 

 

Conscious Closets and Coco

I recently re-watched the lovely film Coco Before Chanel, and once again was inspired by Gabrielle's gumption, creativity, beauty, and love of all things minimal, understated and elegant. I picked three of my favorite looks from the film and created my own Conscious Closets versions. Everything in the pictures below were just things I had laying around in my closet, except for my fall splurge, the perfect Janessa Leone straw hat that I have lovingly named, Coco. Take a look below for all the Conscious Closet details and quotes from Coco Chanel herself.

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. ~Coco

Pantsuit from Ay Que Vintage bought for a mere $22; button down from Everlane; leather belt from a shop in Amsterdam but similar here; shoes old

Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance. ~Coco

Dress from Shop Ethica; Shoes from Nisolo; Jacket old.

Jacket: Theory thrifted; Button Down: stolen from my husband's closet; Skirt: Vivian Chan: Shoes; old; Belt (for similar see above)

Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not: it is the opposite of vulgarity. ~Coco

Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity. ~Coco  All images by  Brian Tropiano

Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity. ~Coco

All images by Brian Tropiano

Wine+Views+The Cutest Smoking Shoes

Brian and I recently traveled up to Paso Robles to do a little wine tasting. Wine is definitely one of the ways that I wind down, reflect, and relax. It's becoming one of my favorite hobbies and I love learning more about it. I got to share my recent trip on The Root Collective's instagram. The Root Collective creates handmade shoes in Guatemala. They employ men and women there and create sustainable jobs. They are also a Made In A Free World member company, so you as a consumer can feel a lot of joy purchasing these shoes knowing who made them. The thing I love about the smoking shoe is how you can wear it with anything and for any occasion. I love the versatility they bring to my closet. That's always a big thing I look for before making a purchase. Check out pics from our stunning trip to Paso! And check out The Root Collective!

We stayed at the comfiest and cutest airbnb called The Nest in Templeton. They had the prettiest views in the backyard and a fireplace where we could sit and drink our wine. From the back porch we watched a family of deer play in the field. 

We stayed at the comfiest and cutest airbnb called The Nest in Templeton. They had the prettiest views in the backyard and a fireplace where we could sit and drink our wine. From the back porch we watched a family of deer play in the field. 

The Prettiest views came courtesy of Daou Winery. I could have sat outside in their stunning courtyard sipping chardonnay all day. 

The Prettiest views came courtesy of Daou Winery. I could have sat outside in their stunning courtyard sipping chardonnay all day. 

Our favorite winery of all we tried was Halter Ranch. Every wine I tasted was superb, and I loved how down to earth and friendly the staff was. How fun is this old bridge? They host a dinner here for wine club members. Of which we promptly joined. 

Our favorite winery of all we tried was Halter Ranch. Every wine I tasted was superb, and I loved how down to earth and friendly the staff was. How fun is this old bridge? They host a dinner here for wine club members. Of which we promptly joined. 

I think I'd had a few glasses and was feeling pretty good! 

I think I'd had a few glasses and was feeling pretty good! 

Thanks for traveling to Paso with me and my shoes! If you're ever in LA, look me up and let's go wine tasting together....in real life!

A Guide to Curating a Conscious Closet

Re-posted from Darling Magazine.

ConsciousClosets_JohannaTropiano_photosBrianTropiano0013.jpg

I love fashion. My obsession dates back to my time as a toddler when I would cry if my mom wouldn’t let me wear a dress every day.

I also love my work in anti-trafficking. I work for an organization called Made In A Free World, and we help companies identify and eliminate slavery deep in their supply chains. It’s a pretty cool job – one that I’m convinced is my calling — but I must confess that my passion for fashion and my passion for working for an NGO directly conflict. As many of you understand, good fashion is expensive and working for an NGO, well, let me just say, I’ll never be a millionaire.

So, what’s a do-gooding fashionista to do in order to look good on a budget?

I recently ordered three pair of boots from a big-box mall store for a total of $6o. Problem solved, right? You gotta love that fast fashion. Cheap clothes that are always on trend?  Perfect! They shipped them to me, yet, as I anxiously unwrapped the package I started to get a knot in my stomach.

Next thing I know, questions just kept coming to me. Questions like, who made these boots? Where are they from? What are the conditions of the workers? Was child labor involved?

The sad answer? I have no idea. So, here I am working incredibly hard to fight for people’s freedom while at the same time, I’m enslaving them with my own consumerism. I recognized that something had to change.

I decided at that moment to no longer buy any article of shoes, clothing, or jewelry unless I knew who made them or where they came from. Over the past several months, this has been a radical change in my life as I have sought to change my closet from a consumerist one to a conscious one, and to do so without destroying my budget.

For those of you who, like me, care about where and how things are made and are interested in learning more about ethical shopping, here are a few of the tricks I’ve learned in creating my “Conscious Closet”:

love fashion. My obsession dates back to my time as a toddler when I would cry if my mom wouldn’t let me wear a dress every day.

I also love my work in anti-trafficking. I work for an organization called Made In A Free World, and we help companies identify and eliminate slavery deep in their supply chains. It’s a pretty cool job – one that I’m convinced is my calling — but I must confess that my passion for fashion and my passion for working for an NGO directly conflict. As many of you understand, good fashion is expensive and working for an NGO, well, let me just say, I’ll never be a millionaire.

So, what’s a do-gooding fashionista to do in order to look good on a budget?

I recently ordered three pair of boots from a big-box mall store for a total of $6o. Problem solved, right? You gotta love that fast fashion. Cheap clothes that are always on trend?  Perfect! They shipped them to me, yet, as I anxiously unwrapped the package I started to get a knot in my stomach.

Next thing I know, questions just kept coming to me. Questions like, who made these boots? Where are they from? What are the conditions of the workers? Was child labor involved?

The sad answer? I have no idea. So, here I am working incredibly hard to fight for people’s freedom while at the same time, I’m enslaving them with my own consumerism. I recognized that something had to change.

I decided at that moment to no longer buy any article of shoes, clothing, or jewelry unless I knew who made them or where they came from. Over the past several months, this has been a radical change in my life as I have sought to change my closet from a consumerist one to a conscious one, and to do so without destroying my budget.

For those of you who, like me, care about where and how things are made and are interested in learning more about ethical shopping, here are a few of the tricks I’ve learned in creating my “Conscious Closet”:

1. Less is more! This has been a huge change for me, but I’m getting much more comfortable with loving and wearing one beautiful dress or one amazing pair of heels a season rather than buying five cheap dresses or five cheap shoes and then throwing them away.

2. Shop small, slow and mostly American made. No more fast fashion purchases. There’s a reason that clothes at big, corporate companies are cheap. They use cheap labor that can’t easily be tracked.

3. Check the labels. It’s good to be aware of the places where your clothes are made. Are they made in China, Indonesia or Bangalore, or right here in the US?

4. Bring the classics back! No more funky patterns or wild colors. My current style is all about a beauty and grace that will last a lifetime.

5. Buy pieces that complement each other! And mix them up! I love pieces that can transition from casual to elegant with the simple switch of a necklace or bag or shoe. When you buy better quality and more expensive pieces, then versatility is key. The pieces in my closet can all be worn multiple ways and with multiple things.

6. Thrift, thrift, thrift! This is by far the best way to start your ethical fashion journey on a budget.

7. Only keep or buy things that bring you true joy. I ask myself this question before every potential purchase. If the item doesn’t bring me joy, I don’t buy it, nor do I keep it.

8. Go slow. Don’t feel as though you must get rid of EVERYTHING from before. I don’t have the dollars to replace every shoe and article of clothing with all consciously made things, so I wear the ones from before while acknowledging to myself how they may have been produced. Grace is good.

9. Vintage en vogue! I love finding awesome vintage shoes, jewelry, and sunglasses especially.

There are some awesome ethical companies out there with really good design. Below is a starting list of fashionable companies doing things consciously and with transparency. No company is perfect, but the goal is to be better, and there are so many others if you do the research.

BASICS

DESIGNER

BLUE JEANS

CURATED SITES

SHOES

HANDBAGS

JEWELRY

FAIR TRADE

UNDERTHINGS / SWIMSUIT / WORKOUT

I hope you find this enlightening and helpful as you think about your fashion choices moving forward. But I also want you to give yourself grace! It’s not an easy transition, and it’s not for everyone. However, I continue to find that this crazy life is a beautiful journey, and my hope is to always travel mindfully and consciously.

I pray the same for you.

What are your favorite conscious companies?