Fair Trade Challenge

Each year, Fair Trade Manitoba hosts a Fair Trade Challenge.  The core challenge is to purchase only fair trade coffee, tea, and chocolate from February 14th – March 14th.  Every year, I adapt to make it a little harder.  We already have our favourite fair trade coffee, tea and chocolate brands (and I’m not really a tea or chocolate person, so it’s really just coffee – lots of coffee) that we buy for at home.  The more difficult part for me is keeping the challenge in mind when I’m out with friends that want to grab a coffee or dessert.  For this year, I’m also going to add only purchasing ethically made clothes, which might be difficult – the hole in my last pair of jeans doesn’t seem very fixable.  The Fair Trade Manitoba website has more information on the challenge, a list of stores in Manitoba to purchase fair trade foods, and some additional challenges if the core challenge is already part of your lifestyle.  If you take on the challenge let me know, and I’ll let you know how I do!

9 Small Brands Purchased by Large Companies

Throughout my 6 years of wedding planning, I’ve seen several small brands get purchased by larger companies.  And although it’s really exciting to see someone receive a big payout for something they have worked so hard on, it’s always a bit disappointing when this waters down the quality of the product (not that this always happens).  Of course, this is a common practice throughout all industries, including food & skincare.  There are compelling arguments for and against, and although I stand pretty firmly on the side of independent businesses, I can understand why someone would want to or have to sell their business.  Here are a few small food & skincare brands that have been acquired by larger companies:

Burt’s Bees was purchased by Clorox in 2007

Tom’s of Maine was purchased by Colgate-Palmolive in 2006

Kashi was purchased by Kellogg in 2000, and is now dropping their “all-natural” label

Ben & Jerry’s was purchased by Unilever in 2000

Aveda was purchased by Estee Lauder in 1997

Bolthouse Farms was purchased by Campbells in 2007

Larabar was purchased by General Mills in 2008

Annie’s Organics was purchased by General Mills in 2014

Silk was purchased by Dean Foods in 2002



Locally Found

As much as I love online shopping, there are obvious benefits to going to an actual store (like trying clothes on and bypassing the sometimes crazy shipping time to get a package to Canada).  So for today, here are a few of my favourite finds around Winnipeg:


Lucky Brand sells some items that are made in the USA.  The only jeans I buy are from Lucky.  They also have great in-store sales (these jeans were on sale for $30 something).

out of the blue

These sweaters are also made in the USA, and sold at Out of the Blue.  I have one and it is super comfy.


Le Chateau is a great place to find items that are made in Canada.


And so is Mountain Equipment Coop.  I really like this sweater.


Global Connections at the Forks is carrying Mata Traders dresses and jewellery.  One of the dresses is on my “next time I need a dress” list.

johanna brierley

Somehow, several years ago I was invited to an open house for Johanna Brierley Jewellery and have followed her business ever since.  These lucky stone rings are my favourite, and are sold at Silver Lotus.

I’ve said it before, but I really love that Ten Thousand Villages has brought in more simple jewellery over the past couple years.  These earrings would be perfect for every day wear.

Anything I’m missing, fellow Winnipeggers?  I would love to hear about the places you shop for clothes around the city.



Lately, I’ve been everywhere but here.  Planning weddings.  Working a second job.  Hanging out with my kids.  The craziness of the Christmas season has settled down and I’m really enjoying our new routine.  It’s wonderful to be back on the blog.

Christmas was really relaxing at our house.  Our only tradition is to cook our kid’s favourite breakfast and make a big deal out of it.  This year for the first time we shared our tradition with neighbours, and had a really wonderful morning.

We had beautiful weather over the weekend, and my husband snapped this great picture of our kids.  It’s pretty well how they always look – sweet Lochley and silly Miles.  Lochley learned to say “MI” for “Miles” and now yells it all the time.  Which is very funny in the mornings, when he’s yelling “BYE MI, BYE MI, BYE MI,” and when Miles comes home from school and he yells “HI MI, HI MI, HI MI.”

I have lots to share here in the next couple weeks, including links to some fantastic items, information about human trafficking awareness month, and a list of independent companies that have been purchased by large corporations. See you tomorrow!

Fair Tuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday and Fair Trade Tuesday, which is pretty well the best day of the year for someone who spends so much time on the hunt for ethical businesses.  Here are a few websites and companies doing great stuff today:


Nisolo – use the promo code THANKSGIFT to receive $30 off any order over $200.  If you’re not spending over $200, you can click here to receive 10% off.

Huffington Post published this article about becoming a contemplative consumer by Ryan D. Jacobs, CEO of Ten Thousand Villages Canada.

Giving Tuesday website

Fair Trade Tuesday website

Weekend Deals

Happy Friday!  Here are a few of my favourite companies hosting Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Sustainable Sunday/Cyber Monday/Fair Tuesday sales:

Sseko – Sandals & accessories.

Boll & Branch – Ethically made bedding.

Mata Traders on Modcloth – Fair trade clothing.

Everlane – They are using profits from today to build a recreation centre at their factory in China.

Craftsy – All classes are $19.99 or less.  I can’t decide between a cooking class and a knitting class…they all look great.

Amazon – I’m having really good luck.  I can’t link to what I actually bought in case it spoils the surprise for someone special, so I linked to a book on my wish-list!

Ten Thousand Villages 

I also just found this list on EcoCult that includes many companies I’ve never heard of.

I’ll continue to post deals here as I find them.  Have a great weekend!


Please note some links are affiliate.




2014-11-26 14.25.13

Lately, lots of things have been happening, but I haven’t been taking any pictures.  My brother got married and I only took two (very poor quality) pictures.  My baby is walking and my 7 year old is dancing, and I haven’t taken pictures of that, either.

Lately, I started a job as Christmas Coordinator at one of the organizations in Winnipeg that is working to alleviate hardships and provides opportunities for change for people experiencing homelessness (that’s a long way to say it, and I definitely copied it from their website).  A few months ago Sam and I were talking about jobs I might like to have in the course of my lifetime.  Working at a non-profit was at the top of my list, and so when this position opened up I applied right away.  It’s a wonderful job and I’m so excited to be spending my Christmas season there.

P.S., Winnipeg friends: If you would like a tour, would like to know what to donate this season, or would like to help with projects like stuffing socks or making crafts, please contact me!

For tomorrow, I’ll be compiling a list of fantastic fair trade companies hosting Black Friday sales.  Check back to start your Black Friday shopping!

Links on an Ethical Christmas

Christmas is one of those times that buying gifts can’t really be avoided,  and so I’ll be posting links to some favourite ethical brands over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend.  In my research on Black Friday and having an ethical Christmas, I found these great articles:

An Open Letter to my Family on Presents from Ecocult

The Case for an Ethical Christmas from Notes from a Thoughtful Life

And the fair trade community’s response to Black Friday: Fair Tuesday

If you missed it, I also wrote about my plan for ethical Christmas shopping.

Ethical Clothing Review: Part 2

clothing review

Last week, I shared reviews of pieces of clothing I’ve purchased over the past year.  Today, I’m reviewing the bags and shoes (starting with the black flip flops in the middle row, then bottom row left to right):

Indosole inner tube flip flops.  I wore these all summer, and currently wear them constantly at home.  They have worn in really nicely, and fit well from the beginning.  The soles came apart, but my husband glued them on and they’ve stayed pretty well.  Indosole is a new-ish company, and honest about the fact that they’re learning and continuing to improve their products.  I can appreciate that and would definitely order again.

Indosole kelapa shoes – I liked the shape of these shoes a lot, and wore them often right until the snow fell.  They have the same issue as the sandals with the soles coming off as you can see in the picture, but I’m sure a bit of glue would keep them strong for another summer.

Nisolo JoAnne bag – I am a little bit obsessed with Nisolo.  This bag was worth every penny.  It doubles as a diaper bag, fits enough clothes for a night away, and carries yarn and work supplies.  It’s a perfect every day bag, and the leather has worn beautifully over time.

Nisolo Delicias sandals – I only wore these a few times, and was nervous about buying them online.  I was really impressed with the fit, and how comfortable they were after about half an hour of wear.  I’m looking forward to summer partly so that I can break out these shoes again.

If you’re interested, here is a discount code for Nisolo.  It gets you 10% off your order, and me $10 off my next pair of shoes (it’s a win-win)!