Friday, August 5, 2011

shopping for a cause.

I consider myself to be a fairly savvy shopper.

Here is what I mean by this: I wait to purchase my favorite clothing items until they go on sale; I compare prices in the grocery stores and buy off-brands; I search online for free shipping coupons; I use primarily cash; Jordan and I do not, between us, own any credit cards.

Here is what I do not mean: I do not often shop in thrift stores; I do not know TJ Maxx’s shipping schedule, nor do I particularly enjoy going there; I do not participate in extreme couponing; I do not travel from store to store in search of the cheaper item. I do not have the patience or the time for any of the above. (Sincerely: Kudos to you if you do.)

Basically, I am a careful and cautious shopper.

There exist two circumstances, though, when all of these principles are tossed out the window.

When I am shopping in a locally-owned store, or
When proceeds go to a child/country/cause in need. 

I am a complete and total sucker where these two areas are concerned. I will happily slap down large sums (of cash, of course) if it means I can get a quality product while also supporting local business owners or helping someone achieve something big.

And since I can’t really share local goods with my readers — instead I’ll just remind you to please, shop and eat at your own local stores! — I thought I could at least make a list of some of my favorite online finds, shops where your proceeds go to help people in need.

Like TOMS, Warby Parker employs a one-for-one concept: you buy a pair of eyeglasses, they send a pair to someone who needs them. Plus, they offer at-home try-on of up to five pairs of glasses so you can find the fit you need. I'm thinking it might be time for a new pair, maybe these?

Yes, yes, I know. You've already heard of TOMS. But do you own a pair? Because I've found a lot of people talk about TOMS, but they never actually get around to buying TOMS. The pairs I've owned are some of my most comfortable (these are my current pair), and like Warby Parker, they've branched off into eyewear (though I find their sunglasses to be quite a bit out of my price range).

While browsing around Homewood last weekend with Jordan's mom and sister, we wandered into Molly Green, a recently-opened eco-friendly boutique. There, hanging from the clothing racks, were colorful bags, designed by women in the villages of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Mi Esperanza ("My Hope") began in 2002 by providing micro-business loans and skills training to women living in extreme poverty. A friend of Jordan's helped to launch the organization, so you can bet I snagged up one of these canvas bags for myself (I love it!).

100cameras takes donated cameras to children living in underserved communities, providing them with a photography class and teaching them how to photograph their environment. Purchasing their photos helps to raise both awareness and funds for their local communities. (I had the print above made into a canvas that hangs over my mantle.) The organization most recently launched their third project, based out of Havana, Cuba. You can purchase prints here.

My friend hosted a bead party last fall, and I wound up buying tons of Christmas gifts (and a few gifts for myself). Their necklaces and bracelets are beautifully-made by women in Uganda and other parts of the world. Like Mi Esperanza, BeadforLife tries to empower the women of these communities to start their own businesses and begin earning money for their villages and families. BeadforLife also sells shea butter products, and 100% of the profits goes to community development.

A purchase of a scarf (this one's my favorite) helps to create a sustainable business for women in Ethiopia and other parts of Africa. Every scarf comes with a message from the woman who made it. (Birmingham readers: I also saw these being sold at Altar'd State in the Brookwood mall.)

Each item in the Obligato collection (I love this one) helps provide clean water for ten people in Africa for a year. Again, Birmingham readers can find the collection at Altar'd State in the Brookwood mall.

Jess LC Soc Chic
I've been a pretty big fan of Jess LC for a while now — her blog was one of the first I ever read — and her entire collection of Soc Chic necklaces was designed with specific organizations and nonprofits in mind. The proceeds of each necklace go to a different organization. (My favorite, the Bright Side necklace, supports CCC Scholarships, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for young adult cancer survivors.)


Staley Mc said...

I didn't know Warby Parker did one-for-one! How neat! I love that scarf, I may have to go to Altar'd State, they always have really neat stuff. Great post Annie, I love seeing all the ways you can give back while looking fashionable! Hope you have a great weekend!

chet said...

I'm shopping purposely for a kayak. or a paddle raft. could you help with that? also, Highland church in memphis just hosted a huge breadforlife even a few Sundays ago.

MeMoRy(: said...

i am a HUUUUGE tom's fan. i have the black sparkle pair and i'm looking to buy a chocolate pair hopefully soon!
that photograph is stunning and a wonderful idea for those who came up with that ministry. loved this post annie! (:

Relevant Notes Blog said...

I love my TOMS! I never thought they could be so comfotable. I'll have to go check out some of those other buys as well!

Kristen said...

I am wearing my Warby Parker's as I type this -- I love them! The process of getting them is EXTREMELY easy and I know some people get worried about buying a pair of glasses over the internet but they have different ways of trying them on. I recommend them so much!

mary kate said...

i've had my eye on the silver lining jess lc necklace and never knew that part of the proceeds go to an organization, that makes me want to buy it even more. thanks so much for the info on all these great companies!

Ramsey said...

Love. those. glasses! And yes, as a matter of fact, I am from Tallahassee!

Jennifer said...

My husband is a manager of a store that sells most of this stuff! I think I will be buying lots of jewelry from BeadforLife for Christmas too!

HazelandMare said...

I love Warby Parker and TOMS! It warms my heart that businesses do kind things like that for people who need it most. I do fair trade stuff for my day job and it is really rewarding, knowing you are helping someone earn a living and support their families with your purchases :)

Great post!

Jenny said...

I have a pair of TOMS (love them!) but didn't know about the rest of these. Thanks for sharing. I'll definitely check them out!

Kristin @ The Chronicles of Kristin said...

Ooh! Thank you so much for sharing this! I'm more and more in to buying things with cause like the list you made here. I love going to local fair-trade stores, finding places like you listed online, etc. Hadn't heard of most of these, so I'm excited to check them out, especially 100cameras! :) I don't personally own a pair of TOMS, but I do have two pair of Airwalks from Payless that were about $20 and provided a pair of shoes each to a child in need via World Vision. :)

Annie said...

i'd heard of toms, but not the other organizations you recommended. thanks for compiling this! i'm going to bookmark it so i have it to refer back to when i'm looking for these items. also, i love that one of the organizations you mentioned sells products from honduras, as i'm half-honduran.

monster cakes said...

Oh get ready for this... Have you heard of Falling Whistles?

You will die. I want one of their necklaces so bad! Such an amazing cause.

Kelly Sauer said...

You would probably love 31 Bits...

Betsy said...

Totally delayed comment, but I just wanted to tell you how much I absolutely LOVED this post :)