ON TAKING RISKS: AN INTERVIEW WITH CONSCIOUS LIFESTYLE BLOGGER VALERIA HINOJOSA

Valeria Hinojosa is nothing less than amazing. She has a heart pure of gold, a fierceness to her soul, and a determination to set the world straight.

The world can be too much sometimes. It is so hard to have hope when every day there is a new tragedy to mourn for: mass shootings, nazis, hurricanes on hurricanes, rape culture, bombings, wildfires…the list goes on.

But it’s knowing people like Valeria, the founder of Water Thru Skin, that it is impossible to not have hope. Her blog has empowered me to speak up against injustice, take action in living more consciously, and most importantly – practice self-love every day.

Valeria shares her own personal story in taking risks, living authentically, and finding the light in the darkness of the world.

Tell me about who you are and your transition from your previous career to starting Water Thru Skin?

I used to be a Private Banker doing the frustrating and monotonous 9-5. In between that 5-year career, I decided to start a blog where I could put my emotions and thoughts in writing and connect with like-minded individuals. That’s how WaterThruSkin came to life.

Slowly, and with lots of dedication and love, my blog grew a personality of its own and I took the step of risking it all to pursue this new “career” fully.

I left the banking world 2.5 years ago and have been dedicating myself fully to blogging and the new company I founded, WTS Connect. An agency that represents worldwide influencers that are using their social media channels to change the world for the better.

When was your “A-HA” moment?

The day I got promoted to the position (and salary) of my dreams. I realized that accepting that role meant staying in banking for another 3-5 years. I resigned that same day and made WTS my life, work, and passion.

We all share fear when deciding to go after our dreams. What fears did/do you have? How do you overcome those fears?

I feared losing my financial stability, which was exactly what happened a few months after I quit my job. I lost my home, my credit cards, my car, and all the fancy perks that came with being a Private Banker. That was a rock-bottom moment in my story that, thankfully, reshaped the way I view life completely. Once there, sleeping on my mom’s couch and living of a suitcase, I realized that the only place left to go was… everywhere!

Possibilities are endless when you choose to start from scratch and recreate yourself.

That same positive attitude was what pushed me towards, and attracted, all the opportunities that have been opening for me, my blog, and the agency I founded.

How do you define success?

Simple. Waking up with a smile and doing what you love every single day of your life. With all of its ups and downs. They are part of life too!

What has been your greatest challenge as an eco-activist and starting Water Thru Skin?

People’s perceptions and the movement itself. It wasn’t that big, or “in trend”, three years ago when I started WTS. Nobody believed in what I had to say or the life I had chosen to pursue, yet something in me told me this was the only way humans should live life. I kept going despite of it all.

How do you start your day with intention? Any morning rituals?

By being present. From the second I wake up. I make myself a hot cup of organic and fairtrade matcha or coffee, and sip it mindfully. Enjoying every single sip. I then practice my breathing techniques and mediate with crystals, or roll out my yoga mat and stretch for a few minutes. After that I get ready for meetings and conference calls with fresh energy and a positive mindset.

Sometimes when work is doing what you love, boundaries can become blurry. How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?

Yoga, a healthy vegan diet, me-time, loved ones and friends. I make sure I include them in every day of my week.

Have you achieved all your dreams? if not, what dreams do you have for yourself?

Two dreams I’m currently working on are publishing my book, and finishing a big project related to WTS Connect.

However, I don’t think there is such thing as achieving all dreams in life. As I accomplish a dream, I continue to dream bigger and push further.

How about with Water Thru Skin?

When I think of WTS, I immediately connect it to myself. It carries my story, my personal growth, my struggles and my dreams. I feel I’ve managed to create a great brand and can only hope to grow it further and keep inspiring readers.

Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, or affirmation you live by?

Be raw, be you and risk it all when it comes to pursuing your dreams.

If you could say one thing to a woman who has a dream but is afraid to take the jump, what would it be?

There will never be a “right time” or moment to pursue your dreams. For some reason, we all wait for the stars to align or for a door to magically open for us. It doesn’t work that way. You have to go out there, step outside of your comfort zone, and transform those dreams into reality. That’s the only way. That’s the key.  

Want to live a more conscious/impactful lifestyle? Check out Valeria’s blog Water Thru Skin for some inspiration on how to get started. You can also find her on Instagram here.

Why ACE is Made in America

We’ve been conditioned as consumers to believe that the products we buy are dehumanized. That there is no face behind our clothes, or our iPhones, or the food we eat. We are told to spend money, consume, and be so instantly gratified to a point where we don’t even care about the “who” behind our products.

Or, we’re convinced that we don’t have a choice. For some people, that does hold true. Not everyone has the luxurious choice of buying organic or buying local. It’s cheaper having things made across the ocean! But I’m not talking about those people. That is a whole other blog post I need to write about.

For now, I’m talking to YOU.

From Day 1 of my ACE journey, I’ve made it a part of my mission to produce a backpack that is American made. A backpack where I can see the faces and hands of people that make it. I wanted to talk to those people. Know their names. I wanted a factory so close to me that I could literally hop on a bus and be there in 20 minutes.

I remember walking into my first fabric supplier meeting. I was with my partner Sean and one of my best gal pals, Alanna. My hands were sweaty, my heart was racing.

I was a newbie on the block and prepared to be treated like one.

However, when I walked into the studio, I was greeted with a warm smile. Nicole from Carr Textile was so excited to have me there and even MORE excited that I was a new designer. She asked me if I was going to be “American made” and I proudly told her, “You know it.”

She then told me about a beautiful factory that had been in business for over 30 years that is moving from the Garment District to Union City, New Jersey. “You’ll LOVE Arturo. He’s so skilled and he just wants to help you. You need to meet him and see the space,” she said. This conversation took place last, last June on my 25th birthday – almost a year and a half ago.

A year after that conversation, I e-mailed Christina, the Chief Operating Officer of Leatherworks by Arturo. The straps of my most recent sample had ripped off (yay for weight/strength testing) and I was panicking as it pushed back my timeline by 3 months.

I went on their website and it said, “Rome wasn’t built in a day but it was worth the wait!” Her response put me at ease. “Don’t worry, I will make sure your backpack is worth the wait!” I decided to meet with her with the intention to make Leatherworks my production partner.

When I stepped into the factory I was in awe. The space was beautiful and exactly how Nicole described it to me. The factory had an openness to it, high ceilings, lots of windows with beautiful light peeking in. But that wasn’t what made me decide to partner with them.

Christina gave me that same warm welcome I received from Nicole. She gave me a tour of the factory and introduced me to some of the workers there. She knew them by name. I watched them smile with one another while they worked with fabrics. Here I was, sharing this space.

A space that looked and felt like a home for artisans and crafters.

That’s when I knew Leatherworks by Arturo was the production partner for ACE. I believe in a fair wage and sweatshop-free work environment. I believe in the humanity behind products.

The story behind your backpack matters, and by being so close to the factory I am able to share that story with you. I’m able to SHOW you.

Where #TheDaniel backpack is made

Say hi to Domingo! He is one of the many skilled artisans behind The Daniel. He specifically produced my final sample aka he brought my dream to LIFE. These amazing humans are the reason why The Daniel is even a reality.

I am so, so proud that The Daniel is American made but even more proud that it is with a factory that has been in business for over 34 years and run by such an incredible woman. I knew Christina and Leatherworks would be so integral to ACE’s story.

THIS is why being made in America and BUYING made in America is worth it. So don’t be cheap. Don’t listen to those gaudy advertisements. You’re better than that.

You deserve a backpack that is ethically made, cruelty-free, and good for the planet.

I want you to #KnowWhoMadeIt.

To learn more about Leatherworks by Arturo, check out their website here.

An Eco-Conscious Guide to Paris

Ahhhh, Paris. Before I got to experience the beautiful City of Love, I misjudged you. I was told to skip Paris. That Paris was a city filled with garbage and snobby Parisians. I am SO glad I did not listen to them, because out of my euro trip, Paris was my favorite. So much that I actually started a plan to move there! But don’t worry New York City, I’m not done with you yet.

Aubrey Hepburn said, “Paris is always a good idea.” She was right. It was cheaper for me to go through Paris than fly from Nice to Munich, so I thought why the hell not spend a few days in Paris?

I never thought Paris would be so eco-conscious. I explored Paris the way I explored any other city- by foot- and stumbled upon some wonderful sustainable foodie spots and shops. Check these eco-babies out:

 

FOODIE SPOTS

Le Pavillon des Canaux

Out of my three days in Paris, I went to this lovely psychedelic, Alice and Wonderland themed, artsy coffee shop twice. They have coffee, organic wine, and plenty of farm to table noms- all of which you can enjoy in a bathtub upstairs while you people watch out the window. It’s definitely a locals spot and the only reason I found out about it was through my amazing Airbnb host. I loved it so much I went twice, and I still couldn’t get enough.

Gentle Gourmet

OKAY. HANDS DOWN. THE BEST. VEGAN FOOD. OF LIFE. Just thinking about it makes me cry. I found this restaurant a little bit out of the way from where I was staying (19th ARR.) but worth every struggle. It was a rainy day in Paris, and I was ready to just pass this place up, go home, and snuggle in my bed. However, a friend of mine (Hi Gaby!) convinced me to not skip out. I decided to take myself out on a date and splurge on my dinner. It’s not cheap- I spent about 40Euros- but I had no regrets. I had the Saint-Jack which is oyster mushroom pan-fried scallops (dead.), black rice risotto (YUM), seaweed, and green apple. To top it off, I had some biodynamic wine and the craziest vegan chocolate cake with some sort of raspberry dressing. It was for sure an “I can die happy now” meal for my belly.

Cloud Cakes

I honestly feel like I ate my way through Paris, but I’m not mad about it. I started one of my days here and although there was a couple totally breaking up next to me I STILL happily enjoyed my vegan pancakes and coffee. Cloud Cakes is the definition of cute and cozy. It’s small, but they have a great menu and a bunch of delicious vegan pastries you can help yourself too! But seriously- get the pancakes.

Krishna Bhavan Restaurant

After my 6-hour train ride from Nice to Paris I was so disoriented from hunger and CRAVING Indian food. Instead of going straight to my Airbnb I went on a little detour through Gare du Nord neighborhood which is the “Little India” of Paris. I walked by a restaurant that had a sign that read “100% Pure Vegetarian” and my stomach screamed at me to go inside already! I ordered the Menu Midi for 14.50Euros and got the spinach/lentil curry with some rice and chai tea. Don’t worry vegans, they have plenty of options for you too! There are two locations so make sure you hit up the Gare du Nord location and don’t be shy in exploring the neighborhood. The fabric colors, smells of incense and curry, and different cultures are so vibrant!

 

THRIFT STORES

Kiliwatch

Out of all the vintage stores I went to, Kiliwatch was my favorite. You can easily spend two hours in this store. I was on the hunt for some awesome black denim jeans and it was SO hard picking one because their denim section is out of this world. Each section of the shop catered to a different style. If you’re more into a Bohemian style, they got you. High fashion? Preppy? Punk? Goth? Kiliwatch really has it all. They’ve even got different decades! It was almost overwhelming how many options there are! This store was pricier than others but well worth a visit. Even if you’re just looking- you’re bound to find a treasure in there.

Episode

This shop had a more low-key vibe, which I liked after coming from Kiliwatch. It’s a smaller thrift store, but even then had so many options. They had a ton of vintage dresses and skirts while I was there, and it was so hard not to splurge. They had a little something for everyone. It’s almost like opening a treasure chest of vintage gems. I ended up getting a 90s vintage long-sleeved crop top that was WAYYYY cooler than me. But when you’re at a store like that, you do feel super cool. 8) The owner was very helpful, so don’t be shy if you’re looking for something specific! Although we all know that when you’re thrifting, the more open-minded you are, the more bang for your buck.

Mad Vintage

This tiny hole in the wall boutique looks unappealing from the outside, but on the inside it’s vintage galore. Catered to a younger, hip crowd there really is something for everyone in that tiny little shop. It has just the right amount of stuff- not too much to overwhelm you or too little to leave you feeling like you’ve wasted your time. Mad Vintage is also in Rouen, Caen, and Reims if you find yourself exploring the rest of France and craving some vintage shopping!

ZERO WASTE VEGAN SHOP

LaMazuna

When I first stumbled upon this story- it was closed. I couldn’t believe my eyes looking through the window! A zero waste AND vegan shop?! LaMazuna has everything: toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, lotion, shampoo, conditioner…it’s absolutely amazing. Especially for a traveler like me. I like to travel as minimal and zero waste as possible. Every product I buy has to be vegan. This store hit all of my requirements! I promised myself I would not leave Paris without paying homage to this shop. I’m so glad I went back. I bought a bunch of toothpaste as souvenirs for my friends! It is a bit pricey (9.80 euros each), but it’s a great stepping stone to making your own zero waste vegan toothpaste! The woman at the store was very helpful answering all my questions even though her english and my french were very minimal. Such a cozy, warm atmosphere. Everything is sold here so if you are flying you won’t have a problem with the liquid requirements!

WINE WINE WINE

L’Etiquette

I found this wine shop totally by accident (THIS IS WHY I LOVE WALKING A CITY!). Paris was rainy, and I had another hour to kill before Gentle Gourmet opened. It was close to La Seine, Notre-Dame, and Shakespeare & Co, so after checking out those spots I walked and saw this tiny little wine shop that read “biodynamic wines”. I had a mini freak out since I completely forgot I was leaving for Munich to see my best gal pal from high school the next morning (I’m such a bad friend) and would’ve shown up empty handed! I walked in confidently and said, “tell me what you recommend for a red wine that’s no more than 50Euros!” to which he responded, “I don’t have the poison you’re looking for- only good wine.” Coming from New York City, I was un-phased by his condescending tone and said, “Yeah I know I read your sign and I’M HERE FOR THE BIODYNAMIC WINE!” Finally, I got the badge of approval and he walked me through a bunch of wonderful choices in my price range. We nerded out over biodynamic farming for a couple of minutes and I happily left with the best Bordeaux I’ve had in my LIFE. And I drink a LOT of Bordeaux. Ha!

That sums up all my fav eco-spots in Paris! If I were you I’d grab a baguette, a bottle of wine from L’Etiquette, and a blanket to have a picnic at Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Read a book you bought from Shakespeare & Co and breathe in the fresh air. It was the perfect way to end my trip in Paris and I just can’t wait to go back and do the same damn thing all over again!

August: Moon Vibes x #GIRLSQUAD

Let’s dive in: the feels are so fucking real. Looking back to my kickstarter/look book shoot, I am at a loss for words but also, have SO much to say. The night before I couldn’t sleep because I was so anxious and excited- my mind was buzzing with so many thoughts:

“What if I fuck this all up?!”

“What if I forget something?”

“Did I print enough scripts?!??”

“Ugh, I forgot about food- I DIDN’T ASK ABOUT ALLERGIES!!!!!!”

“COFFEE- how could I forget COFFEE?” *texts bf frantically* “PLEASE MAKE BOX OF COFFEE OMGGGGG”

“I’m in debt. SO much debt…like I can only eat ramen and pasta debt.”

Before I knew it, I was at a WeWork in Williamsburg getting my hair and makeup done, thinking how surreal this all was. They were here for ACE. I’m here for ACE. What. The. Damn. Hell?!

Then…more thoughts:

“I feel so insecure….how am I supposed to pretend to be confident?!”

“ACE is all about female empowerment…I literally want to hide in a hole.”

“Will people even want to hear my story? What’s so great about my story…”

All of a sudden, Depeche Mode comes on the radio, silencing my frantic thoughts. Depeche Mode is my Dad’s favorite band of all time. It was as if he was telling me:

You got this. I’m with you. I’ve been with you the whole time.

I teared up, but held it all back since my amazing makeup artist, Noël, did a *KILLER* job. But I told everyone in the room about my Dad. Noël said, “He’s with you. You got this.”

The shoot went so smoothly, perfectly, I can even say- which is apparently unheard of. We stayed on track and even ended the day early. A huge shout out to Willa Kammerer and Victoria Ng for putting together the most rockstar #girlsquad I could’ve ever asked for. 

Producer: Willa Kammerer

Video Director: Victoria Ng

Assistant Camera: Mirella Cardoso

Hair Stylist: Jessica Begonia

Makeup Artist: Noël Jacoboni

Model: Imani McCormick

Photographer: Nicole Angeles

We talked about crystals, female empowerment, zodiac signs…AND to make this day even more amazing, the universe gifted us with a solar eclipse. The moon vibes were out of this world. I truly felt in my bones, something in me changed. My zodiac sign is a cancer, which means i’m ruled by the moon. Apparently, it’s my time to get shit done in the world, and I am so about it.

I have to emphasize how important it is to believe in one another. I walked into that room not believing in myself, forgetting why I started ACE. But I had 7 women tell me otherwise, that my story is worthy, I AM worthy, and ACE is worthy.

It is such a powerful feeling when someone believes in you. All of a sudden, the storm in your heart and soul find the clarity to do what you were meant to do.

Here is my declaration: I believe in you. I believe in your story. Your truth. I believe in what makes you afraid, and I believe that you can conquer it.

The world needs what you’ve got.  

Xo,

Danielle

Roses & Thorns: July Edition

I’m currently writing this as I eagerly wait to board my flight to España with my mom and sister for a much needed two week vacation of bottomless vino and tapas! BUT that’s not the only thing I am excited about.

I have so, so much to update you on. It is fucking unreal. But the best part? IT IS REAL.

The way I like to check in with myself is to play a little game called Roses & Thorns. The rose is what you are loving about life right now/what you are excited about. The thorn is the bummer in your life. Here are my Roses & Thorns: July Edition!

MY THORN

There have ALWAYS been thorns on this journey: order minimums on materials, re-doing the sample making process with another factory, running four avenues in heels for the NJTransit so I wouldn’t be late to my next meeting, crazy flight delays to/from Atlanta and seeing my savings account head closer to zero…

I have come to realize there will always be thorns. It never stops. But now, I trust the process. I trust this path. I know I will get through it, because I know I will not give up.

So do I have any thorns? YOU BET I DO. The process has brought me to hell and back, but you know what? I keep going. And I want to thank all of you for trusting the process with me.

MY MAIN ROSE

I HAVE SO MANY ROSES, YOU GUYS! The development process has been by far the hardest. After three rounds of samples and too many flights back and forth to Atlanta, I decided to find a production partner in the NYC area. A fabric supplier I befriended along this journey recommended I reach out to Leatherworks by Arturo, a factory in New Jersey. At this point, it was May and I had already expected to have my final sample ready by then. I was wayyyy past my *self-imposed* deadline. A new sample from scratch would take months…

I looked on Leatherwork’s website and saw their tagline: Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was worth the wait!

I e-mailed one of the owners, Christina, telling her I felt really behind with the development process, but I know good things take time, just like Rome! She reassured me and said, “I will make sure it is well worth the wait.”

I knew from that moment on I would LOVE working with her. I came in for a consult, showed her my bag, and she said she could have the next sample ready in a week. And let me just say…she delivered something even BETTER than I imagined. I’d like to introduce you the FINAL sample of The Daniel. HOLLA!

& here’s a peek into the Leatherwork’s By Arturo factory in Union City, New Jersey with a spotlight on Domingo, who created my sample!

 

Is it weird to say I feel like I gave birth? Because I quite literally feel like this backpack is my infant baby child. I never thought in a million years I’d be here.

MORE ROSES

I am currently working on my campaign script, and want to make a special shout out to everyone who has reviewed/edited this with me. It is definitely not easy, and I am eternally grateful.

Because ACE is a women’s empowerment brand, I wanted to find a female videographer to bring the story to life. After a few referrals, I decided to join forces with Firestarter Interactive. It is women-owned AND they are 1% for the planet! I could not be happier.

I am projecting to launch my campaign this Fall 2017, where you will all be able to order pre-sales!!

Thank you a thousand times over for your continued support. It truly means everything. 

I’m officially off to España! My Dad always spoke of the crystal clear waters and pristine beaches of Majorca. I can’t wait to be where he has been, and to soak up all the beauty this island has to offer.

Stay Shiny,

Danielle

BEING PART OF THE SOLUTION: An Interview With Zero Waste Activist Kathryn Kellogg

Whenever I am feeling disconnected (which is a lot of the time- living in a big city can be a riot!), I go to one place and one place only: a place where trees reach for the sky and tower over me. There is something about the fresh air, the feeling of dirt between my fingertips, and the story a tree has to tell that makes me feel a part of something bigger than myself.

There are species of trees as old as 80,000 years. They’ve seen more than I have. I feel so connected to these towering giants because they belong to my home. Our home.

We all have that desire in our hearts to see a healthier, happier earth. But how many of us turn those desires into actions? I decided to have a chat with Kathryn Kellogg, the founder of Going Zero Waste, because her passion radiates through her relentless eco-activism. She dedicated her ENTIRE life to it!

Kathryn shares her thoughts on living with intention, not being afraid of who you are, and being part of the solution, NOT the pollution.

Your journey was a very gradual one in going zero waste. It started with the motivation to take control of your health. Tell me about the moment you knew that your journey had shifted from a personal issue to a world issue? 

When I moved out to California, there was (and is) plastic and trash everywhere. It’s all over the streets, and we live so close to the bay. It’s only a couple of blocks away. So much pollution is swept in through storm drains and blowing in the water. 

I started doing more research and found out that 80% of all trash and plastic in the ocean is from inland. I knew the problem wasn’t centered solely on coastal towns but in all towns. 

All storm drains lead to the sea. This and a really cheesy poster that said: 

If you’re not a part of the solution you’re a part of the pollution.

Really made me want to spread the word as far and wide as I could. 

I kind of like living on the earth and breathing oxygen… 

What were you doing before GZW?

Pretty much all of the same stuff. I still work at a print shop and perform professionally in the bay area. Before I moved out to California I was doing professional theatre full time. 

I don’t do theatre as much as I’d like, only about 2-3 shows a year. I’d really like to get back to full-time eventually. It’s just hard working so many hours with the blog. 

What has been the most exciting part of GZW?

The best part has been getting to watch the zero waste movement grow. What we’re doing makes sense. It’s easy and it’s super beneficial to your mental and physical health. Plus, you save a lot of money! Who wouldn’t want to lead a healthier lifestyle for themselves and the planet? 

I have also loved getting to meet some amazing people who really care about making a difference.

Everyone is so passionate about creating a better world. It’s a great group of people to run with. Every day you feel inspired and hopeful. 

What has been your greatest challenge?

I don’t really think anything has been challenging when it comes to living zero waste. It’s not like there are levels you have to climb and each one is harder than the last. It’s all a bunch of teeny, tiny habits you alter just slightly. 

Like bringing my own cup to get coffee instead of a takeaway cup. That doesn’t take any more time. It’s just remembering to throw a cup in my bag before I leave. Super simple! It’s just a slightly altered habit.

What is one important lesson you’ve learned running GZW?

I think it’s easy to try and please everyone. No one likes getting nasty comments or emails. When you receive pushback, it can be easy to cave or adjust who you are or the way you write. 

I definitely kept tweaking who I was in the beginning. I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to make sure I appealed to more people.

But, then I realized you can only be real and you can only be you. Honesty is everything. 

I feel very fortunate, being an actor almost my whole life, I have incredibly thick skin. (I think troll comments are hilarious.) It’s really conditioned me to not be afraid of who I am. If you don’t like me or my blog you can leave. I’m not going to change. 

You’re a professional actress, full-time blogger, AND you work a 9-5 job. You are the ultimate lady boss hustler! How do you create a healthy work/life balance? 

Ha, ha. Healthy work/life balance. I’m working on that. I try, kind of…. I always use my work lunch break to get out and take a walk. I want to get away from screens and other distractions. Justin, my husband, and I always make a point to put the phones away during dinner so we can enjoy quality time together. Honestly, it might be the only time we see each other all day or night! 

What are your dreams for GZW?

You know, when I started Going Zero Waste all I wanted was to inform my friends and family about small actionable steps they could take for a healthier them and a healthier planet. 

What I didn’t realize is a lot more people than just my friends and family would be interested. The blog has morphed into a much larger project than I ever expected. And, it’s strangely managed to connect all of my passions from growing up. It’s like everything has clicked. 

More than anything, I want to get more into public speaking especially to schools. I think it’s so important to get younger generations aware of what a landfill is, what does recycling really mean, how to compost, and how to cook whole, real food.  

What are your dreams for yourself?

I really hope to live what I like to call the modern homesteader’s dream. I would love to have a little plot of land where I can run everything as efficiently and sustainably as possible. I also want a goat. Like I really, really want a goat. 

Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, or affirmation you live by?

As I mentioned earlier, when I first started the blog I felt an immense amount of pressure to be perfect. But, the thing is… there’s no perfect. It just doesn’t exist. 

It helped solidify my core message which is:

It’s not about perfection, it’s about making better choices.

Everyone can make better choices. Being an informed consumer is 90% of the battle. 

If you could say one thing to someone who has a dream but is afraid to take the jump, what would it be?

It’s really easy to run to worst case scenarios to talk yourself out of doing something. Don’t forget to look at the best case scenarios too. You can’t predict the future. Don’t waste time trying to figure out what may or may not happen. Work on what you can control and the rest will come later. 🙂 

Check out Kathryn’s blog Going Zero Waste for tips to get you started on waste reduction!

Lemonade for Women Entrepreneurs

Has anyone every told you when life gives you lemons, make lemonade? Well, when someone said that to me, I wanted to punch them in the face and say, “No. I will NOT make any f*cking lemonade.”

As entrepreneurs, we are quite literally making something out of nothing. That is miracle work! It can be draining.

Women entrepreneurs have their own battles to warrior through. We as women are under pressure to keep it together in a male dominated world, in fear that our “femininity” is a sign of weakness.

But women are constantly shattering the glass ceiling, despite the odds.

The universe isn’t always on our side. But that doesn’t mean we have to stop being the badasses we know and love. Here are five steps to help our fellow women warriors, so the next time life gives you lemons you can give them the hand and say, “uh, no thanks. I GOT THIS!”

Have a f*cking meltdown!

Um, what? I thought being a badass is keeping it together, even through the bad? Not exactly. Sometimes the best way to get through those tough times is to CRY. Scream into your pillow. Mope in bed all day. Eat your feelings. Whatever it is, just have your melt down already!

Real talk, you earned it. My meltdowns usually consist of crying obnoxiously while eating popcorn and vegan ice cream, then hitting my Dammit Doll over and over again until I am out of breathe. What do I do after my meltdown? I feel released and ready to put myself back together. Now, it’s time for some self care. 

Make decisions that serve you

Sorry, but binge drinking because you’re sad is not going to serve you. In fact, it is just going to give you a headache the next morning. Do you know what else doesn’t serve you? Not making time for yourself.

You do not have to go straight back to the hustle after you have your meltdown. Ease into it.

Hydrate. Make time to cook yourself a healthy vegan meal. Do some yoga. Yoga With Adriene has some great yoga quickies. Meditate. Take a hot bath and infuse yourself in organic essential oils. Read a book. Set your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier to do some morning stretches. Make time for yourself. Make time to LOVE yourself. You will be more productive and less high strung. It really makes all the difference.

Set Boundaries

This is a big one. SET SOME F*CKING BOUNDARIES. I have met so many entrepreneurs that say, “I forgot to eat and sleep because I was so warped into my work.” It is truly amazing that you can be SO inspired and dedicated to your hustle, but if it comes at the cost of your health, you WILL burn out. What good will that do for yourself AND your business? You may be able to create for 24 hours straight but how sustainable is that? Set boundaries to be a normal human that eats, sleeps, and breathes. Then, set boundaries to be the badass female hustler you are.

For example: From 8 AM until 12 PM I am dedicating this time to work on my business. Then from 12 PM-2 PM I will take a break and eat lunch. From 2 PM until 6 PM I’m back in the hustle. Then, take the evening off for dinner and spending time with your loved ones. (Oh, and checking your e-mail every 5 minutes counts as working. Be present.)   

Detox, hard!

Take a break. An actual break where you don’t do work. Whether it be a two-week vacation or a one-week breather where you just need a little detox from the entrepreneur lifestyle. Even one day of distance can be enough. Some of us (like me) need a little more time. I take Thanksgiving until January off to be present with my family during the holidays. I need a long detox in order to feel a complete and total reset. Then, once the new year rolls in I’m back on my a-game, recharged and ready as ever.

Sometimes creating a little distance from your work is necessary.

Your heart and mind are still on the prize. You are just a human being trying to live your human life. Can I get an amen?!

Another thing that is important is knowing when to walk away. We have all had those moments where we spend hours and hours on a project but it seems to be going nowhere. We get frustrated, the self-doubt creeps in, and the worst part is that our work isn’t fun anymore. Know when to hit the pause button.

Allow yourself to be your worst self

Fear and suffering are all part of the journey. Don’t shut it down. Embrace the fear. Embrace the discomfort. Suffer. We are not always able to be our best selves, my sisters. But sometimes we need to be our worst selves, to be our best selves.

Show yourself some compassion if you are burnt out. Be kind and gentle. Life can be really shitty sometimes, and it is completely okay to be thrown off. Let go of self-judgement. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that this is where we are today.

Honor that shit.

7 Ways Anyone Can Produce Less Waste

This post was originally published on Darling Magazine.

When you live in New York City, trash is everywhere. Mountains of black garbage bags pile up on the sidewalk, plastic bottles and food scraps are tossed on subway tracks, and household junk overflow into the streets. According to the NYC Department of Environmental Conservation, New York City produces 11,000 tons of household trash on a daily basis. On a global level, nations collectively generate 1.3 billion tons of waste. That number is expected to climb to 4 billion tons by 2100.

But let’s not freak out just yet. There are heroes out there fighting the evils of mass consumption and waste! Cities are banning plastic bags. Farmer’s markets and food cooperatives are eliminating all packaged foods. Eco villages are popping up all over the world. Fashion designers are finding innovative ways to turn waste into apparel. Millennials are finding ways to fit a year’s worth of trash in a mason jar. People are waking up and taking action. It’s awesome.

So how can YOU contribute to this global revolution? The best way to fight the global waste epidemic is to go zero waste. It is nearly impossible to be 100% zero waste, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. We should strive for progress, not perfection!

Here are a few tips to kickstart your zero waste journey:

1. Look at your trash.

In college, we did a zero waste challenge where we were asked to bring a week’s worth of our own personal trash. We had to examine our trash, take notes, and then find alternatives for the following week. This was super helpful as we got face-to-face with our trash. We consume and waste so unconsciously because it is such a societal norm. Most of us did not realize half of the trash we were making until we had to examine it. The following week, we cut down our trash by half. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty here, you will be grateful you did!

We consume and waste so unconsciously because it is such a societal norm.

2. Do your research.

Find blogs or books that will inspire your zero waste journey. Trash Is For Tossers is a great place to start. There are also eco-conscious bloggers on Instagram that share their personal zero waste hacks. Here is a list of bloggers, documentaries and other resources you can check out:

 Eco Warrior Princess
 Going Zero Waste
 Be Zero
– Zero Waste Home
 The True Cost
– Zero Waste Vegans

Image via Monica Friese

3. Get rid of disposables.

This should be the easiest transition. All you are doing is replacing what was used previously with a sustainable option! Here is a starter list to make the process even easier:

Mable Toothbrush, a bamboo self-standing toothbrush that supports kids education across the United States.

– Tote bags for grocery shopping (you can find them almost anywhere!).

– Bye bye, plastic water bottles. Get a Klean Kanteen! This one has a bamboo cap instead of the usual silicone caps.

– Instead of paper towels or sponges, use Wet It!, a Swedish based company that makes biodegradable cloths or, try this biodegradable bamboo dishwasher.

– Who needs a Swiffer when you’re new best friend could be the Norwex mop? You won’t have to buy another mop OR cleaning solution again. All it needs is a little water and you are good to go.

– Calling all coffee addicts! Ditch the automatic coffee maker (so terrible for the environment) and use an Aeropress with this reusable stainless steel filter. A non-plastic french press works great, too!

– For soap, I buy naturally made, unpackaged bar soap from Soaps of 7 Flowers. You can also buy unpackaged bar soap at your local health food store.

– Female Hygiene is a big one. The DivaCup is praised in reviews, as it can last up to 12 years if properly taken care of. However, if you have an IUD, a reusable menstrual cup is NOT for you. They’ve been known to accidentally remove IUD’s! Some women are not comfortable with the idea of sticking something up there, so here is a solution: THINX undies. You will never have to buy a tampon or pad again with these period-proof panties.

4. Shop in bulk.

If you have a Food Co-op in your neighborhood, then you are in luck. They make grocery shopping easy because everything is in bulk! Mason jars will be your new best friend. You can fill up your mason jars with granola, quinoa, nuts, liquid dish soap, the list can go on!

Whole Foods has bulk options too, but like most grocery stores, everything is packaged. To avoid packaged produce, hit up your local farmer’s market and buy directly from the farmer. It can cut your costs in half, and you get to see exactly where your food comes from and connect with local farms in the area.

5. Buy second hand or borrow.

We have been told by the fast fashion industry to consume all of these things that we really do not need. Fast fashion is the second biggest polluter in the world, next to oil. No shade to sustainable businesses that are creating eco-friendly, locally-made clothing. But if you can find what you need in a thrift store, why buy new? The less we consume, the less waste we make.

Borrowing seems outdated, but it might just be the solution to our shopping woes. For example, take Berlin’s Leila, a borrowing shop that has brought it back to modern times. We already share cars thanks to apps like as Lyft, and homes with AirBnB. We can share much more. Maybe you’ll make a new friend in the process!

Image via Monica Friese

6. DIY

This is where it gets FUN! There are loads of DIY recipes for almond milk, makeup remover (literally, just use coconut oil), cleaning sprays, and toothpaste on eco blogs. Start with those basic recipes, then you can take it up a notch. Make your own soap and/or coffee body scrub. Learn how to knit your own scarf. Grow your own herbs! Whatever your DIY heart desires.

7. Strive for progress, not perfection.

This is a big one. When I started my zero waste journey, I would get so frustrated when I accidentally made trash. I would forget to tell the bartender to not give me a straw, or I’d forget my reusable shopping bag. I used to beat myself up for it, but I realized it’s a work in progress.

It’s completely ok to forget to bring your own bag. If you forgot your Klean Kanteen and you’re thirsty, get a bottle of water! This is not a competition to see who has the least waste. As long as you are being mindful of your waste, and you’re trying, that’s truly what matters.

Do you strive to be zero waste? 

The Price Behind The Price Tag

Making the cross over to conscious consumerism does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of self-educating with tons of books, documentaries, and articles that are filled with absolutely horrifying truths. These truths will unapologetically slap you in the face with the harsh reality of your spending habits. That $10 H&M shirt is the equivalent of inhumane work practices such as child slavery, animal testing, and global pollution.

Let me throw some of those horrifying truths at you.

Where do you think your clothes are made? It definitely was not in an airy, light-filled warehouse where employees are getting a fully stocked organic kitchen, fair wage, and health coverage. It was made in a place like Rana Plaza, a garment factory that collapsed in Bangladesh in April 2013, killing 1,129 people and injuring 2,500.

The majority of workers in the global fashion industry rarely earn more than two US dollars per day, with many having to work absurdly long hours and struggle daily to meet their basic needs such as food and shelter. But who exactly is making your clothes? The vast majority of garment workers – approximately 80% – are women. According to the International Labour Organisation, an estimated 168 million children are engaged in child labor.

Take a guess on the carbon footprint of that t-shirt you’re wearing. It requires about 2,700 liters of water to produce the cotton needed to make one single t-shirt. 10 percent of the world’s textiles are produced in China, and we all know the smog there ain’t no joke. That’s just China. We’ve still got Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam to factor in.

And let’s not forget the waste fast fashion is responsible for.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the U.S. generates an average of 25 billion pounds of textiles per year. That is about 82 pounds per U.S. resident.

Of that 82 pounds, 85% (70lbs) goes to our landfills. That adds up to 21 BILLION POUNDS of textile waste per YEAR! Only a depressing 15% of this waste are recycled or reused.  

This is the real price behind the price tag.

“But ethical fashion is so unrealistic,” you might say. “ People shop at H&M because it is the only affordable option! Why would I spend more money when I can buy clothes for less there?”

These are compelling arguments. Capitalism makes it close to impossible for a consumer to find affordable AND ethical products. But if you dig a little deeper than the price tag, you’ll come to realize that fast fashion is a trick. It’s manipulative, controlling, and compulsive. This is what fast fashion is telling you:

  • “That polyester black leather jacket is so 5 minutes ago, but don’t worry- we’ve got affordable jean jackets that are so hot right now! Buy it NOW before the jean jacket trend ends! You’ve only got one hour to rock it before the next trend comes out! 
  • “Oh em gee girl, that $20 shirt is made out of really shitty polyester fabric, but have no fear! It’s only supposed to last a few months. Who cares if it breaks when you’re keeping up with trends?!”
  • “Ew, you’re going to go out in that dress with the same shoes, again? You need like three different shoes to keep that dress looking fresh.”
  • “You haven’t bought a new handbag to match your new watch? It’s only $10. I don’t get it. We’ve made it SO easy for you.”

This all might sound harsh, but that is what the industry wants.

Fast fashion treats you like a child, waving shiny things at you: it wants you to stay ignorant with those flashy price tags.

The less you think about your purchase, the more you spend on impulse.

You may not notice at first, but making a gradual change to conscious consumerism- that is to be more mindful of what you buy- will have you in control of the market and YOUR finances. Is that $10 t-shirt really worth it?

Being woke is HARD. But ethical fashion CAN BE affordable, and chic! Here’s how:

THRIFTING (The obvious)

Recycled fashion at its best. Shopping second hand is the ultimate way to being truly sustainable if you cannot afford to invest upfront. You are closing the humongous waste gap when you are buying second hand. It’s a win for your bank account AND a win for the planet.

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY (Cheap ain’t always cheap)

Tired of buying clothes that fall apart after a few months? Instead of buying the same cheap basic black shirt from Forever 21, make the investment in a basic, sustainable, ethically made black shirt that you will only have to buy ONCE. The splurge is worth it, especially for your basics. In the end, you will not only be saving money, you will be saving the lives of exploited women and children making the cheap clothes you used to buy from H&M.

GET WITH THE ESSENTIALS (Less is more baby!)

Once you have your high quality, ethically made wardrobe you have everything you need. Focus on “need.”

Fast fashion is built on trends. Elizabeth L. Cline, author of Over-Dressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, reports:

The fast-fashion concept was pioneered by Spain’s Zara, which delivers new lines twice a week in its stores. H&M and Forever 21 both get daily shipments of new styles.”

Slow fashion, however, while still creating trendy pieces, is timeless.

Do you need five different pairs of shoes? No. Do you need eight different color dresses? The answer is still no.


Yes, sustainable fashion brands are expensive up front- but in the long run, you will be saving money, time, and well, I don’t know, the earth and human beings in impoverished countries. The quality of your clothes represents the quality of the person. You are what you wear, my friends.

All we can really strive for is a collective effort towards progress being made in the fashion industry. The change is in the progress. We have got to start somewhere, so let us start today. Be more mindful of your purchases, know who made your clothes, and consume less. You owe it not only to the world but to yourself.

10 Charming & Eco-Friendly Airbnb Rentals Around the World

This post was originally published on Breathe Travel.

If you’re anything like me, you travel with a purpose. Whether it be to challenge yourself by breaking your comfort zone, see the many different cultures all over the world, or to go on a much deserved relaxing vacation. Maybe, it’s all three! Being able to see the world is such a privilege, which is why we should do everything in our power to take care of it.

Why not travel consciously to the most amazing, beautiful places? Here are 10 eco-friendly Airbnb rentals around the world to get you started on your conscious travels:

1. Eco-friendly Villa in Natural Park, Fuerteventura, Las Palmas de Gran Canarias, Spain

This beautiful home is located at the foot of an ancient volcano! How cool is that?

The structure of the home is made out of wood with a photovoltaic system (solar power energy ftw!) and water purification for reuse. It doesn’t stop there- the hosts also collect rainwater. You’ll be reducing your carbon footprint AND doing it in style, surrounded by the most amazing beaches and lagoons in this charming villa.

2. Authentic Bedouin Experience, Wadi Rum, Jordan

Ever dream of sleeping under the stars in the Valley of the Moon? I’ve got you covered. This Airbnb is for the more adventurous, as you are completely off the grid. There is NO electricity or running water. Just the laughter and hospitality of a Bedouin family.

If you have any plans on going to Jordan, stay here. You’ll never experience something more authentic than this. This is a unique opportunity to learn about the traditions, culture, and daily life of a Bedouin.

3. Off-Grid itHouse, Pioneertown, California, United States

If you ever visit the Los Angeles area, make the trek to this award winning eco-beauty! The house is 100% completely off-grid. It’s powered by solar panels for energy and hot water, nestled remotely in the beautiful California high desert. You’ll be off the grid, in touch with nature and a simpler way of living.

No need to venture out to Joshua Tree, it’s all here right in your backyard! This is the perfect place to humble yourself and soak up the natural beauty around you.

4. Super Cute Retro Airstream, Wimberley, Texas, United States

Talk about glamping at its finest! You might be wondering, where the hell Wimberley, Texas is! It’s about an hour south of Austin, perfect for a romantic getaway from the city. The owners of this adorable airstream really go out of their way to make this property as green as possible.

You’ll be equipped with fresh organic eggs, local organic coffee, and some zero waste, eco-friendly dish soap and laundry detergent. The airstream is not off the grid, but they do use low-wattage light bulbs! I love how eco-conscious this airstream is. Don’t forget to take a dip in the hot tub and enjoy a private, spacious outdoor shower under the trees!

5. Eco-Friendly, Minimalist, VT B&B, Windham, VT, United States

The Stone Wall Inn is surrounded by 12 acres of gardens, 3 ponds, and tons of beautiful vistas. You can take advantage of Vermont’s outdoor adventures such as hiking and kayaking, or you can cozy up by the fire.

What makes this B&B so great? It’s GREEN CERTIFIED! The b&b is heated entirely by natural sources (wood and solar) and utilizes reclaimed wood and construction materials, earth-friendly cleaning products, natural linens, the list goes on. The Stone Wall Inn really goes above and beyond to make your stay as accommodating and eco-friendly as possible.

6. Explore Rural South France & Coast, Feuilla, Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Is your heart singing with wanderlust right now? This beautiful homestay in the countryside of France sits on the edge of the wine making village of Feuilla. Yes. You read it right. WINE! You’ll get the best of both worlds surrounded by breathtaking views of mountains and beaches.

La Rassada is an eco-friendly property built using natural materials such as hemp for insulation, lime render, and eco-paints. There’s solar hot water, indirect solar heating, a biodynamic filtered spring water system, and everything is either recycled or composted. The host is also known for her mouth-watering delicious breakfast made with local and/or organic produce!

You’ll be happy, comfortable, and traveling green! As the host says, “Being “eco” definitely does NOT mean we compromise on comfort!!!”

7. Rainforest Tree House w Hot Springs, Cooper, Alajuela, Costa Rica

This handcrafted treehouse is nestled deep in the jungle, where you’ll be surrounded by monkeys, exotic birds, butterflies, and other types of wildlife. Guests also get 24-hour access to the 12 natural hot and cool spring pools. This Airbnb is definitely off the beaten path, but only 45 minutes away from great tourist activities and destinations like volcano hikes, ziplines, and the La Fortuna Waterfall.

Plan to spend a good amount of time here, as most guests regret not staying long enough. You’ll never want to leave!

8. Friendly & Central Eco-Hostel, Reykjavík, Capital Region, Iceland

Want to see the Northern Lights? Take a dip in the Blue Lagoon? Say no more. This award-winning and eco-certified hostel is where you belong. It’s located in the heart of downtown Reykjavík, walking distance from most of Reykjavík’s bars, clubs, cafes, and restaurants!

The staff here are also known to be super helpful and friendly. Their aim is to encourage “a style of traveling that increases people’s knowledge of their environment, concern for nature and respect for the cultural values of cities and towns in all parts of the world.” Definitely sounds like an eco-winner!

9. Farm View Cottage, Montagu, Western Cape, South Africa

This charming cottage has everything you could ever ask for. Stunning views, hot springs, endless amounts of wine, beautiful hikes, and if you’re after the Big Five, you’ll be nearby some of the finest game farms!

The cottage is situated on an organic farm, where you will be invited to feast on local produce. You’ll also be provided with home-made, natural shower products! Montagu was voted Town of the Year in 2012, not only for its gorgeous views, beautiful architecture and excellent hot springs- but for the kindness and hospitality of the local people.

10. Natural Life At Tiny Cottage, Sakuho, Minamisaku District, Nagano Prefecture, Japan

This minimalist tiny cottage in Japan’s beautiful countryside was handmade by the owner and his friends. It’s completely off the grid- powered by solar energy panels and there is no running water. Have no fear, there’s a public bath nearby!

If you love cooking, this cottage is for you. You can buy and eat organic foods made by local farms! This tiny way of living is such a unique experience. There is no doubt you’ll feel inspired and refreshed by the stunning views of mountains, singing birds, and the smell of fresh, crisp air.