I Got A Chance to Ask Prabal Gurung 10 Questions...

I have been a fan of Prabal Gurung since he launched his first collection, so it was very special to have been able to ask him ten of my most pressing questions for an article I worked on for NBC News. As a fashion changemaker, I am most impressed by his roots in activism, and his vision for change. Here's a peek:

Your last show was very political. Many designers shy away from being involved politics, but you're going at it head on. What drives you to use your platform as intentionally as you do?

It's a crucial time for our country, for the world really. As a designer with a platform, I feel a responsibility to use my voice and to lead the conversation in a way that can provoke change.

I've been told by some to keep quiet — that fashion and politics do not mix and that I should stick to my trade, however I cannot disagree more. I feel compelled to take a stand and challenge notions of what fashions' role can be in our society.

To read the rest of the Q&A, head on over to NBC News

Ethical Brand Spotlight: milo + nicki

From milo + nicki

From milo + nicki

Founded by Nicki Patel and inspired by her journey along with her pup, Milo, milo + nicki is an ethical fashion brand with Indian and Zambian roots. milo + nicki's  handwoven creations are made with natural fiber, and the designer ensures that she keeps sustainability at the forefront of her brand. Read on below to learn more about milo + nicki, the founder's story, and what's behind her heart-centered brand. 

What inspired you to create your brand? What's the story behind it? 

My name is Nicki and my partner in crime is the handsome, crazy energetic stud Milo (my pup). We are an energetic, indomitable duo that love hard and care deeply about people and the planet. Milo and I both hit rock bottom in 2014. The combination of our health problems, Milo having a major injury, and a very stressful burglary that spiraled us both downward, we begin to slowly feel the floor crumble beneath us. And no doctor or specialist had a remedy.

I lived in fear of not knowing what the next day, hour, or minute held for us.

By combining our health rollercoaster with my love for fashion, my mission to empower women, and my drive to bring awareness to a deep-rooted destructive consumer industry, I came to create milo+nicki.

As we conquer our fears, take a leap of faith, never give up on ourselves, and live a life full of color, I hope to empower you to do the same.

From milo + nicki

From milo + nicki

Why is it important for you to participate in ethical and sustainable practices? 

The fashion industry is the second largest pollutant in the world, just behind the oil and gas industry. It is saturated by corruption and pollution with stories that never hit the newsstands. What we wear is something more than a piece of cloth. It has history, meaning, roots, sweat, and tears. The sacrifices in each piece of cloth is an untold story, but with milo+nicki, I hope to bring these hidden truths to the surface and build an awareness that drives the ethical and sustainable fashion movement.

Our goal is to educate, empower, and inspire change. We as consumers hold the power for change, we just have to decide with our dollar what we value.

What is the power of your ethical approach to fashion? How does it create a more conscious lifestyle? 

As we began our journey a little over a year ago, I searched high and low to find the perfect fabric supplier, to locate the most ethical local factory, and to create the least environmental impactful supply chain. I realized this was tough, very tough, but I knew that this was something that was very important to us due to our love for the planet and the people. Our power is creating a clear and open formula for transparency coupled with the story of our brand.

If we are open with our consumers, they will want to learn more about our story and brand, which will make them feel more empowered to share our story and support our brand, but also educate and empower the cycle to continue through to other aspects of their lifestyle.

From milo + nicki

From milo + nicki

What message do you hope to spread through your work?

With milo+nicki, I want to empower the ever-evolving women, wherever they are in the world, to push the limits within themselves and within society to conquer her fears, take a leap of faith, never give up on herself and live a life of color. Because no dream is too big, no passion is too small, and no routine is unbreakable.

What changes do you hope fashion can make to be more conscious of the people and the planet? 

For the consumers: ask questions and use the power of your dollar to cast a vote for what you believe in. Knowing how something is made, where it is made, who it is made by, and why we made it that way is not only crucial for shifting the industry norms and practices, and holding brands accountable, but it allows the consumer to feel empowered, inspired and educated on what they are putting next to the largest organ on their body.

For the industry and brands: share the story of the entire process of creating the pieces, be transparent in your supply chain, and be responsible to the people and planet on what and how you create.

To support milo + nicki's first collection, check out their kickstarter campaign here. 

 

From NYC to Paris: My Fashion Week Coverage for the Fall 2017 RTW Season

Waving hello from the DROMe Runway Show, Paris, March 2017

Waving hello from the DROMe Runway Show, Paris, March 2017

Led by my commitment to empowering women and merging fashion with social change, my fashion week coverage views the runway from this lens. With many more designers taking a stand and using their voice to express their values and beliefs, this fashion month was a playground for a changemaker like me. From NYC to Paris, here are all the stories that prove that fashion is more than a superficial concept, but rather, a reflection of the society, culture, and politics that live in. 

Click the article image to read on! 

Until next season! xo Ruby

 

All the Times Socially Conscious Fashion Showed Up on the Oscars Red Carpet

Just a few years ago, my vision to merge fashion with social change felt like a faraway aspiration, one that I did my best to manifest through the creation of the Glamourbaby Diaries. Now, the mergence of fashion and activism are at center stage, at the forefront of all the red carpets, and stunning the paparazzi. More and more, the world’s biggest celebrities are using fashion to express their politics, and it seems, the dream to make social change ‘sexy’ has finally found its time.

If there is a silver lining in Trumpland, you can most likely find it in Ava Duvernay's dress. 

Ava Duvernay wears Ashi Studio of Lebanon. 

Ava Duvernay wears Ashi Studio of Lebanon. 

It’s incredible to see how fashion's collaboration with social awareness has arrived, especially when you see it shining at the Oscars, the world’s biggest award show. It is almost the same feeling I get when I see my friends as familiar faces on the world’s biggest stages as they achieve the dreams they’ve worked so hard to complete:  a strong sense of awe, pride, and a warm feeling of, “you made it”!

But as social awareness butterflies into the new ‘sexy’, let’s not forget that it takes a lot more than a dress or an accessory to wear a lifelong commitment to making a more just, more inclusive society. Let’s make sure we embody these ideals of justice and inclusion by our participation in the democracy and through our everyday choices to take care and protect one another.

Nevertheless, it was still pretty cool to see all the moments where socio-political statements stood front & center on the Oscars Red Carpet this year. 

Irish- Ethiopian actor Ruth Negga, nominated for Best Actress for the film Loving, sports a light blue ACLU ribbon in solidarity with the civil rights organization, paired with a floor-length red, lace Valentino gown. 

Lin-manuel Miranda of "Hamilton" and his mother also wear the blue aclu ribbon. He got his tux from the same place he got his high school prom suit. 

Best Actress winner Emma Stone sports a small Planned Parenthood pin just under the left strap of her Givenchy Haute Couture Gown. 

Emma Roberts Opts for a Sustainable Fashion Choice by choosing a vintage Armani Prive look as part of the Red Dress, Green Carpet Initiative

Now here's to hoping that these fashion statements are just the beginning. 

 

After the Women's March: Be Deliberate and Afraid of Nothing

Joining in from Paris, I marched with an international community of women from the Human Rights Square in Trocadero to the Eiffel Tower. 

Joining in from Paris, I marched with an international community of women from the Human Rights Square in Trocadero to the Eiffel Tower. 

Like many of those who joined yesterday’s herstory-making event, I am still buzzing with energy and renewed optimism from the Women’s March. Fired up and more ready than ever, I am reignited.

As the daughter of immigrants, I marched for every immigrant daughter and son, so that they could continue to have the courage to make America GREAT. I marched for their right (and destiny) to pursue their biggest dreams, no matter where they come from or how they grew up. I marched for inclusivity, for equality, for #blacklivesmatter , for LGBTQ rights, for my Muslim and Latinx brothers and sisters, and most of all, I marched for love.

 Throughout the march, I noticed that two things stood out the most: the music that moved us, and the undeniable, palpable power of words. The bold words painted on countless signs served a clear message: we will not be silent. And to quote Audre Lorde, the master wordsmith warrior, “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing”. 

Yesterday reaffirmed for me the roles of artists and creatives in this movement: the importance of creating the heartbeat and the pulse for the resistance to come alive. Words and music crack the armor and pierce us where it matters most: the soul.

Remembering this re-inspired me to claim my role as a writer, and my ability to use my words to move mountains, to conjure miracles, to create my own reality, and to tell a new story. A story where every woman is her own heroine, and every man, his own hero.

Now is the time where we must be unyielding in pursuing our best, most powerful selves, and to be unapologetic in pursuing our biggest dreams.

 This weekend, we marched.

Today we choose what mission each of us will take on to keep the soul of the movement alive. I wear many hats in my work, but above all, I re-commit to my role as a writer & storyteller, with hope that my voice will lend you courage to find your own.

Remember: be deliberate and afraid of nothing.

 It’s our time,

Ruby

 

 

My Latest Article on NBC News: Ethical Luxury Brand Raises the 'VOZ' of South American Women Artisans

A luxury fashion brand has partnered with Latin American artisans, helping to spread economic empowerment while preserving local culture and arts and amplifying women's voices.

The fashion brand VOZ is working with indigenous women artisans in Chile and Peru, bringing their high-quality and intricate weaving into new markets. This has been life changing for weavers like Juana Zuñiga, who is based in Chile.

"Es una alternativa segura para las artesanas, evitamos así en ocaciones no poder vender nuestros productos," (It's a safe alternative for the artisans, so we avoid not being able to sell our products on occasion), says Zúñiga.

VOZ founder Jasmine Aarons began her work with Chilean artisans through a post-graduate fellowship with Stanford's HAAS Center for Public Service in 2009. She headed to southern Chile as an educator and design innovator, working with the foundation on and off for two years.

Read the rest on NBC News here. 

 

A Tribute to My Muse: The Barrier-Breaking Icon of Glamour, China Machado

2016 was an incredibly trying year. We lost so many legends: Prince, Ali, Bowie, and now my muse, the barrier-breaking icon of glamour, China Machado. And then we gained a Trump. What does it all mean? I think that it is imperative that we all do our part to be our best, most realized, most powerful selves- we have enormous shoes to fill, legacies to live up to, and a world we have to fill up with love, hope, and GOOD. The best way to honor those who have passed is to let their light live on through us. Thank you for giving me the courage to shine, China. Heaven just got a little more glamorous. 

Read my personal tribute to China Machado on NBC News, an essay published a few months before her death. Read about her life here. 

 

33 Degrees: A Tribute to Oakland & the Victims of the Ghost Ship Fire

An old flyer for a party entitled 33 Degrees, a space for community held inside an artist warehouse loft

An old flyer for a party entitled 33 Degrees, a space for community held inside an artist warehouse loft

When I was in my early twenties, I lived in Oakland, where I was lucky enough to be a part of a nurturing artist community. I always say that everything that I am, and the woman I will continue to be, is in large part because of the love, support, and dedication to social justice that I learned from the people in Oakland. 

Back in those days, I had the unique blessing of being able to attend 33 Degrees, an all-night dance party done in the spirit of love, community, and freedom. It was very much like the party that happened at Ghost Ship in Oakland.  I imagine that every person who attended that party was looking for the same thing we once did: a space to release, and to come as they are. As Gabe Meline writes, "these spaces are what kept us alive. In a world that demands its inhabitants to be a certain way, think a certain way, or live a certain way, we gravitate to the spaces that say: Welcome. Be yourself. "

It's devastating to mourn the passing of all the people that left us at Ghost Ship. In loving tribute to them, and all the memories that have given us the courage to be who we are meant to become, I wanted to share something I wrote from the 33 Degrees Era, circa 2007. 

33 Degrees

It is those nights

When the pulse inside us thuds in sync with the 808

Limbs flailing to scoop the rhythm

Caught in the wind behind us

 

Our bodies in full surrender

Spell bound to the synthesizer

Dazed in reverie,

Aligned to the 33rd Degree

 

We’re at your command, DJ

 

So move

Like we’re turning the world on its axis

By our feet

 

Move

Like we’re shaking

The fear out of our skin

 

Move

Like the law will splinter

When we crack the cuffs off these wrists

 

Move

Because freedom

Is in the breaks

 

Catch it when your tongue

Licks the air

The mist from our bodies

Rising like smoke sparked by the beat

 

Contact high, so breathe with me

We go delirious in dance,

Our skins damp with sweet humidity

Because nights like this, sweat is sexy

 

So dance like the funk lived inside your hips

Pop like fireworks detonated at your heels

Our teeth and wrists

Glowing in the dark

 

There’s a movement

In this movement

So move

Like you meant it

 

We’re at your command, Dj

 

Magic flares like fireworks

When West Oakland creates its own sky

A new horizon stretched inside warehouse lofts

The walls exhaling sound

 

My people, radiant

At the crux of the 33rd degree

Finding the sun inside us

While we dance to the dawn

****

In Love, Movement, & Solidarity,

Ruby

What to Keep in Mind When Shopping for the Holidays

Did you know that 80 percent of all garment workers are women? And more often than not, they are not provided with fair living wages or a safe place to work. On the other side of the spectrum, we women are also the largest consumers of fashion, which means that by shifting our fashion choices, we can help empower women across the world.

So now that we know all of that, you’re probably asking, what can we do about it? With the busiest shopping weeks of the year on the horizon, I felt it was the perfect time to share a few habits that you can introduce to your shopping routine so that you can be a more ethical consumer this holiday season. 

Ask "Who Made My Clothes?" 

The first thing we need to start getting in the habit of is the practice of asking where our clothes come from and how they were made. With such a white gap between the makers of our clothes and the final product when it reaches the store, we forget that there was an entire process that requires some give and take on our people and our planet. By asking this simple question, we begin to open our consciousness to this very important connection. To know and see more, check out Remake, an organization telling the stories behind the makers of our clothes. 

30 wear rule

Implemented from Eco-Fashion Champion Livia Firth, the 30 wear rule is the idea that before buying something, first consider if you can commit to wearing it at least 30 times. The 30 wear rule guarantees that you buy quality items instead of buying in quantity, which means that you might buy less, but keep it for a longer period of time. Not only does it reduce waste in your closet, but it also helps reduces waste on the planet. A tip? Add neutrals to your wardrobe to increase repeated wearability, and when you can, choose quality items that will last longer, not something you can dispose of easily.

Shop Vintage + Secondhand

Shopping vintage or secondhand is essentially recycling. By reusing clothing and giving them another life, it reduces waste. Plus, it’s likely that vintage items will be a unique piece, which means that you won’t have to worry about someone else having the same outfit as you!

Support ethical brands

There are many ethical brands out there, many who empower their makers and reduce their impact on the Earth. Ethical brands are made with integrity and support a socially responsible ethos. The challenge is finding them, as they are not always readily available. If you want to get started, check out my ethical brand directory, where I’ve documented some of the ethical brands I’ve discovered.

Shop local and support small businesses

Because they often manage a smaller production line,  they are more likely to be able to trace their supply chain (or how their products are made) much easier. Plus, buying local instead of only big corporations, we help support our local community by boosting its economy.

Do Your Research

 If you’re curious about the fashion brands you’re already supporting, research them and see if they’re aligned with your own values. Tools like Project Just help consumers access information about the brands they wear. It’s like a Wikipedia for ethical fashion. I know corporations have a bad rap, but some of them are actually performing responsibly. I wrote a recent blog about a few big brands that are socially responsible. Check it out here. 

****

So there you have it, my suggestions for an ethical shopping lifestyle. Remember, your dollar is your vote. Our fashion choices do more than make us look good- if we use our powers wisely, we can do a lot of good too. I hope helps you understand how you can use your Glamour for Good, and fueled your potential to be a fashion changemaker. If you enjoyed this post, please do re-share it. Merci and happy holidays! 

Ethical Brand Spotlight: Anthill Fabric

I'm proud to be a #weavewearer for Anthill Fabric, a fashion social enterprise that helps to preserve Filipino craftsmanship by giving traditional tribal fabric a new, modern twist. Here is a dress that they custom made just for me, and it fits like a dream! 

Not only am I able to represent my heritage, but each purchase supports the livelihood of local artisans. As a bonus, the brand is headed up by Filipino womanpreneur Anya Lim , so by wearing one dress, I literally get to wear my heart and (all of my causes) on my sleeve. 

Follow Antill at : @anthillfabric on IG and on Facebook here

Curious to learn more about ethical brands? Check out my ethical brand directory here! 

My Top 5 Picks of Most Empowering Interviews Featuring Brilliant Women

Hello August!

It's a new week and a new month, and it calls for some brand new motivation. While I try to make a habit out of positive thinking, I do have my off days (and even off weeks!). To help me regain a strong mindset, I seek out interviews of brilliant women that I admire. From Gina Rodriguez (who I affectionately call G.Ro in my head) to Oprah, from Lisa Nichols to Marie Forleo, here are some of the most empowering interviews that have helped to lift me out of a funk. Hope it can do the same for you!

1. Conversations with Gina Rodriguez, SAG-AFTRA Foundation

The whole thing is good, but 23:04 is where it really hits me. 

2. She's so good, I'd even have to add THIS one with Uzo Aduba for Variety Magazine! 

3. Oprah On Career, life, and leadership at Stanford University

4. Lisa Nichols on Overcoming Fear

5. Marie Forleo on Intuition and Ambition

It's a new day, and I hope this refuels you...let's do this, ladies! 

Major Fashion Brands that are Socially Responsible

image via Fashion Revolution

image via Fashion Revolution

Ever since I made the decision to be a more socially responsible, conscious consumer, shopping has admittedly been a lot harder. Ethical fashion brands are wonderful but still fairly inaccessible- most have a much higher price tag (since they are paying more for their fairly sourced textiles and living wages), and many of them are mostly only available online. So when you need to find something quick for a last minute event, it can be quite tricky. Luckily, a few major fashion brands have been cleared as socially responsible, so you can shop with a conscious a little easier!

Thanks to Remake, I discovered that Baptist World Aid Australia, an international aid organization, launched a comprehensive study of over 87 companies, and ranked them via an A-F grading scale based on the following categories: fair living wages, working towards a transparent supply chain, encouraging worker empowerment, obtainment of certifications and industry collaborations to improve supply chain and working conditions, establishing company policies, and auditing and supplier relationships. While no company is perfect and there are still some large improvements to make, this study shows an optimistic look at the progress companies are making to be more responsible. 

Below are some of the best brands that made the cut with A grades, and honorable mentions. They might pleasantly surprise you! 

1. ADIDAS Group (Adidas, Reebok, Taylormade) Grade: A

  • The Adidas Group has shared a transparent list of all suppliers and factories, made available to the public. 
  • They have also rolled out a worker-manager communication project so that workers can send an SMS to a hotline to raise alarm if they think their rights are being compromised. 
  • They use innovative technology to minimize the harmful effects of dyeing on the environment. 

Learn more via PROJECT JUST

2. Inditex Group (ZARA, Bershka, Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti) Grade: A

  • As a whole, Inditex has made sure to assure fair living wages as a pillar of their company. They have worked with the Ethical Trading Initiative to increase wages for workers in their supply chain. Inditex was part of the effort to pressure the Cambodian government to increase living wages. 
  • They have also formed a partnership with Better Cotton Initiative to save water and to decrease the use of pesticides. 
  • BEWARE, however: Zara and Inditex brands are still fast fashion, which means the company makes billions of units- it doesn't change the fact that the fast fashion business model is still wasteful. If you choose to buy Zara, make sure you choose items that you can commit to wearing at least 30 times so that you can keep it longer and not dispose of it wastefully. 

Learn more via PROJECT JUST

3. Patagonia Grade: A- 

  • If you're looking for fitness or outdoor gear, Patagonia will be one of your most socially responsible choices. The company has certified factories, and have grown its selection of fair trade items. 
  • The company has also worked with bluesign technologies to ensure that they reduce waste, and manage chemicals and dyes in the production process.
  • However, it is still not 100 percent sure if the brand can trace its entire supply chain. 

Learn more via PROJECT JUST 

Honorable Mention:  Levi's Grade: C+ 

  • Ok, so Levi's didn't get such a wonderful grade. BUT they still deserve an honorable mention because the company has a comprehensive code of conduct that sets the standard in the industry. As a major brand, they are a pioneer in social and environmental responsibility. Their code of conduct establishes a firm foundation for the company to build an effective monitoring system. 
  • Denim also requires tons of water to make- Levi's has made an effort to reduce the amount of water used in production by developing innovative techniques. 
  • However, they have not shared their efforts in implementing a living wage to their workers. 

Learn more via PROJECT JUST

Ok...so what about H&M? 

H&M actually got a pretty decent grade on this assessment, a B+. But while H&M is striving to push a more socially responsible agenda, their business model of mega-fast fashion is unsustainable. Check out the video below via Project Just to see why, and head on to their website to read more. 

Bonus: Below is an infographic from Remake to give you an AT-A-GLANCE perspective on the best and worst ethical fashion brands: 

I hope this run-down of major fashion brands helps you make better shopping choices. Remember, our dollar is our vote, so we have to choose carefully! ;) 

How to Help & Heal Orlando

Over the past few days, I've been reeling over the tragedy in Orlando, mourning with the rest of the world. Though I am a writer, I have been at a loss for words. The horrific act of killing 49 and wounding 53 more, while specifically targeting the LGBT and Latino community during Pride Month, is unfathomable and downright diabolical. With all the tragedies we've been #prayingfor lately, I was hesitant to share something on social media that wouldn't lead to some kind of solution, because I know how easy it is to feel helpless during a tragedy like this. So instead, I wanted to offer ways for us to collectively help and heal Orlando. 

1. Honor the memories of the victims by reading about their stories and lives. 

They are not statistics, they are people who lived full, cherished lives. They are people who look like our friends and our families. Honoring their memory reminds us that these crimes are more than news stories, soundbites, and statistics, but rather, real, human lives. We may not immediately connect to a large social issue or policy language, but we do connect to human stories. May their memories remind us to work harder to create a world where love is love, and a lifestyle in which our daily decisions match our values for equality. 

2. Register to vote and sign a petition. 

Who we decide to put into office dictates the laws and policies that we all have to live with. Exercise your right to have a say in how decisions are made. During this Presidential election, think about the kind of leadership this country needs to create a more just and equal society. Participate. Throw your voice in. Another way to do so is to sign petitions. This one about banning assault weapons is almost at its goal. Help them reach it. 

3. Donate to the victims and their families. 

Equality Florida, a local LGBT civil rights group, set up a GoFundMe account that is almost at its goal of fundraising $5 million dollars for all the victims and their families. Consider donating as little as $5 to help. 

4. STAY PROUD. 

It is still Pride month. As allies, we must use our voice and our daily actions as an example. It is imperative that we stand with the LGBT community. To show them that we are here to support them, that we will fight this battle with them, that they are safe with us. We must champion their right to love as much as we champion our own. If there is an LGBT event in your city, go. Find out here to locate one near you.

There is no consolation for the tragedy in Orlando. But starting right here and now, we must actively choose to be part of the solution. 

In Love and PRIDE,

Ruby

Rise & Shine: Love Letters for Girls Who Grew Up Like Me

Growing up, I didn’t have the luxury of seeing a reflection of my story and my experience in the media that was available to me.

I remember as a teenager, I would often put pictures up on my bedroom wall of people I admired- women like Lauryn Hill (remember her in Sister Act 2?!), Brandy and Liv Tyler (because I was freakishly tall for a Pinay and they made tall look good). But one day, I realized that none of the people I cut out from my magazines looked remotely like me.

It was the same in the books that I read, and the TV shows I watched- there was no identifiable place for me to find a reflection of myself and my story. Because I didn’t find easily accessible role models that shared my experience, I didn’t understand the fullness of my own possibility of how far I can actually go in my life.

 After all, if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.

As an immigrant daughter, I somehow internalized this, resulting in an inferiority complex that led to a long journey of me battling with my self-esteem and fighting for my self-worth. (Proud and happy to say that I’ve since won the battle.)

Fast forward a few years later, and I find myself leading a Girls Group in West Harlem, where I had the privilege of mentoring a brilliant group of young women. One afternoon, while waiting for them to arrive, I came across a copy of Essence magazine that published a poignant letter from Michelle Obama addressed to young black women. In her letter, she addressed her own challenges of rising to her potential as a black woman in America, and offered her advice on how to overcome adversity.

The letter touched me. But as much as it left me inspired, it saddened at the same time. 

Because my immediate thought after reading it was, “But who was writing these letters for girls who grew up like me?”

And so throughout my career as a writer, performer, public speaker, and TV host, my mission has always been clear: to create a platform that empowered people, especially women, to find their voice, and, as Gina Rodriguez so eloquently put, “to represent a culture who want to see themselves as heroes”.

I still have a way to go. But though my platform is small (for now), the intention behind it is mighty. Because I am clear about my voice and the purpose I intend for it to represent.

All of that being said, to serve my mission, I got over my initial insecurities and got the courage to launch my own web series, with the intention of helping women rise and shine to their best selves.

Consider them as my love letters to every girl who grew up like me.

I hope you find them useful. And please do share your feedback and/or ideas of future episodes! I'd love to hear from you. 

Love, Ruby

5 Ethical Clothing Brands that Empower Women

From production to consumption, the fashion industry impacts women across the world. As the largest consumers of fashion, women can participate in the global movement of empowering women through what we choose to purchase.

Yes, often those making our clothes are women who are subject to harsh working conditions, but fortunately there are several brands out there that have made it their mission to champion women through their products. Not only do these companies provide women with opportunities to earn a fair living wage and gain access to training, education, and employment, but they also produce beautiful products that tell a story.

See my full article on Verily Magazine for a roundup of brands that do the important work of uplifting women without compromising style and elegance.

Thanks for reading! 

The Grit Behind the Glamour: Personal Challenges on the Path to Pursuing Dreams

Here’s the truth about my personal quest to pursue my dreams: more often than you know, I am utterly and completely terrified.

To be more specific, I am referring to debilitating, anxiety-inducing fear that prompts an overconsumption of pastry goods and a domino-effect freak out that suddenly turns one problem into 99- (like Jay-Z memes after Lemonade dropped).

If you are familiar with my motivational, positive approach to life, this might come as a surprise to you. While I mean all of the words I say, it doesn’t mean I am immune to self-doubt or insecurity- most of the time, the encouragement I share serve as reminders for myself to keep going, and to reinforce my faith when I can’t see what’s ahead.

 Because behind all the glamour (of creating the life I want), is a whole lot of grit.

In my own effort to shake off my fears, I decided to start this week off by reflecting on a few observations I’ve noticed about myself when I go through my ‘freak out’ moments. If you can relate to any of these, or have valuable approaches that you’d like to share, please do. Support, in any form, is incredibly necessary in this process, and I am humbly inviting you to join me as we continue to strengthen ourselves as we march forward to claim our milestones.

Observation #1: I am an overachiever, and I am really, really hard on myself.

As an overachiever, I constantly struggle with thoughts of, ‘am I doing enough?’. I am mercilessly hard on myself, and often feel guilty each time I take a break because I always feel like I should be doing more. Though my ambition is one of the things I love most about myself, it has also served as a reason for me to neglect caring for the things that truly matter. 

Fortunately, since moving to Paris, this has improved tremendously (the lifestyle here encourages l’art de vivre, after all), but even still, I find it hard to stay present because I feel the urgency to keep thinking about moves I need to be making tomorrow.

One thing I’ve realized is that I MUST be kinder to myself. I have to make a bigger effort to acknowledge and appreciate all the efforts I’ve made, and to remind myself that I am doing the best that I can. Every effort, however small, matters, so long as I am taking a step forward in the direction I want to go. Even when things feel scary, I have to do my best, and that is enough. And God forbid, if I need to take a break, I will take it. In the wise words of Deepak Chopra, “Sometimes doing less, accomplishes more.” I hereby give myself more permission to stop and enjoy life, guilt-free.  

Observation #2: My physical health/fitness is connected to my mental + spiritual + emotional health.

 Regrettably, I admit that my fitness regimen has dipped for quite some time now, and I’ve noticed that my level of motivation has dipped along with it! I recognize that my physical activity is connected to my overall health (physical+ mental+ emotional + spiritual), and it is imperative to move our bodies to spark all the energies living inside us. So today, I invite you to join me in re-committing to our fitness. Who’s in?

Observation #3: Even when I feel like giving up, my inner intuition always, always tells me to keep going.

When things get a little challenging and you want to give up, remind yourself why you’re doing it all in the first place. And then ask, “If I stopped trying, will I regret it ten years from now?” If the answer is a resounding ‘yes!’ then you’ve found a reason to keep working.

The journey is filled with obstacles, adversity, and uncertainty. Going after what you want is a constant test of perseverance, courage, and resilience. But as Thoreau has once said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals”.

Pursuing my dreams has granted me with a wealth of life experience, and the richness of exploring and seeing parts of the world I’ve never imagined. Pushing myself has allowed me to study several languages in my lifetime, has allowed me to gain intellectual & cultural knowledge, and best of all, it’s given me the ability to gain a special emotional sensitivity that makes it easier for me to forge authentic human connections. Who I have become in this journey is a woman I can truly LOVE and be proud of.

With that being said, I want to turn it over to you and ask, what are you most proud of at this very moment? What can you do to be kinder to yourself today? What action will you make to take care of yourself?

I would love to hear your reflections and form a collective force field that pulls us all together to create a positive surge of energy to start this week.

And PS > if you’ve got a good song or playlist to share, please do! Here's one of mine. 

Love,

Ruby 

Glamourbaby of the Week: Shayna Fonteno

Shayna is the kind of woman that every girl wants to grow up like: exceptionally smart, savvy, successful, and genuinely sweet. She's got a killer smile and an authentically empowering personality, and she's got such a great way of bringing people- most especially women- together to support one another. After spending a decade of her life in NYC, Shayna has moved back to the West Coast to take on Los Angeles, where she's currently making moves as an experience curator and events specialist. Read more below to see why I adore her. 

 

Full Name: Shayna Fonteno

City: Los Angeles / New York City

Birthplace: Bay Area

Occupation: Entrepreneur, Consultant

 

How do you redefine glamour? 

I think the traditional image that comes to mind when thinking of "glamour" is a woman who is impeccably dressed, with a fabulous hairstyle and make-up.  However, the actual definition of glamour is the attractive or exciting quality that makes certain people or things seem appealing or special.  Therefore, by living in my truth, making "risky" decisions in life, and pursuing my own passions without worrying about what other people think, is how I'm re-defining glamour.  


What is your WHY? (Why do you do what you do?) 

I am passionate about supporting and connecting women because we are so powerful as a unit, not to mention, we are also our best supporters, confidants, champions and mentors. Building a solid network of people who believe in you and genuinely want the best for you in life is essential for success.  


What are your current projects? 

My current projects all revolve around connecting women or introducing amazing females to a select audience.  These include producing a music festival, programming a speaker series with Soho House, consulting with an independent film company and gearing up for a re-launch of an event series that I created to connect influential female creatives and professionals.


What is a message you’d like to share with young women? 

I would love to stress the importance of learning early to trust yourself.  It's the root of so many essentials elements of life.  When you trust yourself (and act accordingly), you are confident in making decisions that are best for you, know what is best for you (emotionally, spiritually, physically), foster the healthiest relationships, find and pursue your passions and so much more.

Learn more about Shayna on Instagram: 

@Shayna_710

Glamourbaby of the Week: Monica Phromsavanh

All photos by Grant Friedman

All photos by Grant Friedman

I am a huge fan of real-life women who exude the power of a strong female protagonist. Best of all, I respect those who prevail through adversity, fight for their dreams relentlessly, and not only survive, but thrive. This is why I find it so important to share the voice of Monica Phromsavanh, a Laotian woman who grew up in Argentina as a refugee, lived through extraordinary odds, and moved to New York City to leave her mark as a powerhouse entrepreneur as CEO of Modabox. Modabox is a shopping service that delivers personally styled outfits right to your doorstep, catered to YOUR personal taste and handpicked by an expert stylist. It's such an innovative new company that Monica is up to be a Tory Burch Fellow at this moment! Read her story and find out why you should vote her in to be Tory Burch's newest business fellow right now. 

Monica Phromsavanh

City: New York , NY

Birthplace: Argentina

Occupation: CEO aka #ModaBos

How do you redefine glamour?

Glamour is a term so frequently thrown around nowadays and is a little overrated.  Glamour, in my mind, should be about being confident and comfortable in your own skin.  For me, this is dressing in something that makes you not only look great, but feel powerful in. I personally have never been particularly sexy or “hot”, but am seen as an intelligent and timeless woman, which is what I like to think being glamorous is---being a chic, confident woman.

What is your WHY? (Why do you do what you do?)         

I started my career as most people in fashion do---with two hundred dollars in my pocket and a passion.  After struggling and growing up in a refugee camp in Argentina, I realized at an early age what hard work really is and have applied that everyday since, to make my dreams a reality.  Through my determination, I was able to work in the fashion industry and pave my way until I came to my current position--- a cofounder of Modabox, a company of industry professionals, tastemakers, and style connoisseurs.  As I progress and excel, it is very important to me to give back in some way.  It is not only fulfilling to share what I’ve learned with others,  but imperative to me to emphasize female empowerment in everything I do.

What are your current projects?

Some of my current projects include being on conference panels or being a speaker to talk about my expertise and share what I’ve learn in my industry or how I can inspire other female entrepreneurs. Recently, ModaBox has been taking up 110% of my time. Having time for other projects is hard to fit on my plate at the moment, but I’m looking forward to some great collaborations coming up.

What is a message you’d like to share with young women?    

Being the best you can be and confident in everything you do is the most important thing.  I urge all women to dress to impress and take on each day as if she owns it. Cherish your intelligence, and be proud of who you are and whatever you stand for.  No matter what challenge you meet, you are a beautiful and powerful woman, and can succeed at anything you put your mind to. Always dream big, never give up, and ALWAYS be passionate about what you do. So passionate that you’ll work without having to be paid and still love it. Have fun while you are doing it! Because at the end it’ll all pay off. 

 

 

Learn more about Monica here:

Company FB : https://www.facebook.com/MyModabox

Company IG : @ModaBox

Personal IG: @MSmodabox

Site : http://moda-box.com/

Glamourbaby of the Week: Shola Adisa-Farrar

On my old blog, I did a weekly feature about different Glamourbabies, aka women who were redefining glamour through their strength, passion, and purpose. I'm excited to bring it back this month! 

My first Glamourbaby of the Week feature of the year is my dear friend Shola Adisa-Farrar, an Oakland bred, Paris based singer who will be releasing her first album this month. Not only is Shola a talented singer, but she is someone with depth, soul, and heart- which I find, is the real reason why she shines. Shola is also my 'accountability partner', which means that our friendship serves the purpose of encouraging, pushing, and inspiring one another to stay accountable to our commitment to work hard on our visions, and build our dreams. I think everyone needs a friendship like this! Read more about Shola below. 

Shola Adisa - Farrar

City: Paris, France 

Birthplace:  Oakland, California

Occupation: Singer & Actress

 

How do you redefine glamour? 

Glamour is making yourself your first priority, and indulging in experiences that make you feel wonderful and pampered. For me, that can be anything from staying in the bed all day catching up on my favorite TV series, to getting a massage treatment, to putting on a flashy dress and heels and strolling around the city, to having a delicious meal out on the town, to planning my next adventure/travel experience. 

What is your WHY? (Why do you do what you do?)  

For the love, for the adventure and for the legacy. It's important for me to genuinely enjoy anything I am engaged in and to truly feel fulfilled. Otherwise, as my friends will tell you, I just won't do it.  My Godmother calls me "Adventure Woman" because I often take risks and explore the 'off-the-beaten' path. I don't want my life to be straight and well-paved, but rather, curvy, colorful, and full of different sensations that activate new energies and stories. 

From a young age, my parents instilled in me the idea of leaving this Earth better than I left it, with a tangible contribution. I pay great attention to those who came before me, those who have paved the way for me so that I could enjoy the liberties that I have now. In turn, I want my life to serve as a pathway for future generations to come.

What is your message to young women? 

One of my all-time favorites quotes is: "If you don't have the courage or insight to move on with your life, your life will move you. " The only one responsible for your happiness is you, so take charge.  Courage and authenticity matters and in order to activate both of these qualities you have to look within yourself and discover what most speaks to your spirit. Be courageous to follow the fear and be bold in creating the life you want, regardless of whether it makes sense to anyone else. Doing all of this while being authentic to who you are and who you are growing to become, is the icing on the cake!  

What are your current projects? 

I am releasing my debut album, Lost Myself, on April 15th, and am looking forward to touring internationally with this project.

Introducing Ecohabitude: An Ethical Marketplace Online

Back in February, I got a chance to meet the CEO and team behind Ecohabitude, a socially conscious online marketplace where you can find ethical products ranging from fashion to food*. All products that go on sale on Ecohabitude must fit at least two of the required categories in order to get approved, meaning that Ecohabitude makes it that much easier for a consumer to find items that give back and make for a healthier lifestyle. 

Not only can you shop the site, but you can sell on the platform too! The team behind Ecohabitude has come up with ready-made templates for individual brands to sell products on their site. 

I've included a few products below that can be found through Ecohabitude. They make my daily beauty routine even more meaningful knowing I'm using products made with love. 

*This post is not sponsored, so all opinions are authentically my own. 

1. Zandra Beauty Japanese Kumquat Sugar Scrub

Created by phenomenal 15 year old female entrepreneur Zandra Azariah Cunningham, the Zandra Beauty line is a collection of natural and organic beauty products. The fact that Zandra launched her first business at the tender age of 10 is already enough to wow me, but I am even more impressed by the delicious sugar scrub that she's made. The scrub has a yummy smell, and has kept my skin smooth and soft throughout the winter. Plus, the package encourages the user to "scrub your troubles away", so it makes my shower routine therapeutic to boot. Get the Zandra Beauty Kumquat Scrub on Ecohabitude here. 

2. Kesh Beauty Moroccan Argan Oil 

Seriously, Moroccan Argan Oil has changed my life. Extracted by hand as an oil from the kernels of a special fruit that can only be found in Morocco, the Argan Oil is often known as "liquid gold". Just a few drops can nourish your face, body, and even your hair, which means that you can simplify your beauty pantry and replace all your individual potions with Argan Oil. Kesh beauty offers organic cold press Argan Oil that can hydrate, restore, and prevent anti-aging from the head to toe. Check out all the uses for Argan Oil here, and purchase it on Ecohabitude here. 

3. B True Natural Eyelash Enhancer 

I don't know about you, but my eyelashes are pretty stubborn. No mascara I've tried has helped- they never do what I want them to do, so I just leave them alone and go mascara-free. Well, this natural alternative from B True Beauty is a good answer- it's not a mascara, but rather, an eyelash enhancer that nourishes, conditions, and thickens your eyelashes without any harmful chemicals, and made only with certified organic ingredients. Leave them on at night and use daily until you get your desired results. Find it here on Ecohabitude.  

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I hope these products are helpful! If you're interested in discovering more socially-minded products, have a look at the ethical brands I've curated on my  Ethical Brand Directory.