Seven Etiquette Rules That Will Never Go Out of Fashion

Being classy requires more than just being stylish and confident. It requires an unforgettable charm that comes with knowing how to act with grace in all situations. These seven etiquette rules will ensure you are not just noticed, but that you are remembered.

  1. Manners above moods.

Feeling annoyed or angry is not an excuse to forget your manners. Don’t ever let your mood stop you from being courteous and polite. Nothing is less classy than someone being extremely rude because they are having a bad day. Your mood can change, but manners should always be kept in check.

  1. Thank you notes will never lose their charm

Whether you write a short email or a beautiful hand written thank you note, the act of thanking someone will be remembered. Thank people for meeting with you, for great service or for helping you out in anyway. It is a small gesture that will brighten someone’s day in an unexpected way.

  1. Kindness is grace in action

Treat everyone the way you would like to be treated. This means everyone. Letting kindness lead your actions will allow you to know how to act with grace in every situation. Kindness means thanking someone no matter how small the action was.  Kindness requires we think before speaking. Kindness asks ‘Is it kind?’ and ‘Is it helpful?’ before we complain about a fault. Kindness means saying nice things about other people or choosing not to say anything at all.

  1. Keep your phone out of sight

We live in a connected world, where we never turn off our phones. But, there are times when we need to put these devices out of sight. When you are at dinner, out for coffee with friends, in a meeting or talking with a colleague, keep your phone silent and out of sight. Respect the time and attention of the people you are with and don’t check your phone constantly. Messages can wait. Virtual communication should not interrupt actual engagement.

  1. Don’t engage in online nastiness

Yes, it feels anonymous and safe to call people out online. We can easily get into twitter wars, or Facebook rants with people we don’t even personally know.  Don’t do it.

If you receive a nasty comment online, remember, you don’t actually need to reply. Sometimes no action is the best action, and by far the classiest. Don’t be drawn into mud slinging matches online. Your words are a representation of your mind and heart. Therefore, think before you post words that do not represent either.

  1. Sip your wine

Keeping your head at a social engagement will never go out of fashion. We have all witnessed our boss or colleague turn into a completely different person after a few too many wines. It’s embarrassing for everyone. Easier to sip your wine and enjoy a work or social occasion mostly sober. You get to avoid morning regrets of things said or messages posted. Which leads me to the next rule.

  1. Do not over-share on social media

Especially do not share content if you have had a few wines. What seems funny when you are in a fuzzy stage of drunk will not feel funny in the morning. Also consider what you share online and who is able to view it. Do you really want everyone to know you are in a bad mood or went to visit the doctor? Unless your Facebook page is only visible to your mother and best friend, don’t share that kind of information. Keep your social profiles classy.

In this modern age etiquette is still very appreciated and that is why followers of these 7 rules will always be remembered and their charm will never go out of fashion.

 

 

Spelling Out Why I Love Ethical Fashion

The Ethical fashion movement combines two of my favourite things, fashion and compassion for our world.  This wonderful movement is steadily growing and changing the buying habits of consumers worldwide. Lets look more closely at the reasons I am a dedicated follower of this movement.

E

Environmental awareness

Ethical Fashion is all about caring for our environment and I simply love that we can find ethical fashion brands that are kind to our planet and all creatures living on it. By using sustainable fabrics and avoiding harmful chemicals these brands are taking steps to reduce the human strain on our native environments. They go out of their way to ensure there is no pollution from their process contaminating local waterways or reducing air quality. Their actions to make products sustainably support a change in manufacturing processes that benefits us and our future.

T

Transparency in the manufacturing process

The transparency of ethical fashion is another reason I am a die-hard fan. Ethical Brands are happy to be an open book; they want us to know their stories. They openly share what happens in their process chain, giving us the buyer confidence in knowing #whomademyclothes, where they came from and what chemicals were used in the process. These brands stand for a new movement of fashion that is principled and above-board in the way they manufacture products. It is a movement against the fast fashion manufacturing giants that employ unacceptable practices; child-labour, unsafe toxic processes and animal cruelty in the making of their products. Which leads me to the next point –

H

Honest and fair payment to the people who make our fashion.

Ethical fashion makes it a priority to ensure the people putting in the work to make a product are being fairly compensated for their time. They create workplaces that benefit the workers and their community. Ethical fashion brands keep the process honest. They stand up for the workers, ensure they have fair labour conditions, a safe working environment and that no children work on the factory floor.  In this way Ethical brands are the change-agents we need.

I

Inspiring change through action

By encouraging individuals to make compassionate and informed choices about how they spend their money, this movement is, in turn, inspiring a major change in an industry that was all about cheap and disposable clothes production at any cost. Choosing to wear ethically produced fashion items is to both support ethical brands and to put pressure on non-ethical brands to change their processes. We get to demand better not more from companies producing fashion.

C

Classic and Compassionate fashion

The ethical fashion movement discourages filling our wardrobes with fast fashion clothes that are made to last a season. It encourages us to instead choose timeless well-made and unique classics that are created to last many seasons.

A

Animals matter too.

All creatures are equally important in an ethical fashion movement that does not condone any acts of cruelty in the name of fashion. Ethical Brands are choosing to use vegan materials in their products. They refuse to use animal products or by-products in any part of the manufacturing process. This is fabulous news for me, as I can know there were no innocent animals slaughtered for my fashion taste.

L

Lifestyle choice, not a fashion trend

This is the key point of difference I love about the ethical fashion movement. It is all about our lifestyle choices. Ethical fashion encourages us to be mindfully conscious of our impact on the world around us. It’s about thinking of others and our planet when we make purchasing decisions.

 

 

Being a follower of Ethical fashion is to consciously support brands that deplore the exploitation of people, animals and the environment for the sake of fast fashion trends. It is outwardly showing we are mindful and compassionate people who care about the impact their choices have on the world. Every time we buy from an ethical brand we are casting a vote for the kind of world we want.

 

 

 

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9 Reasons a Visit to New Zealand is Worth the Long Flight

It would be easy to come up with 90 great reasons a visit to New Zealand is worth the extra flight time. But, let me cut it down to my top 9 reasons to go to the far edge of the Pacific Ocean and experience New Zealand for yourself. I promise you will not be disappointed.

  1. Unspoilt nature at every turn

The scenery in New Zealand is spectacular and very Instagram worthy. It is not just unspoilt, it is unique and unforgettable with wildly, diverse landscapes around every bend. From glaciers, volcanoes, lakes and rainforests, to narrow canyons, and thundering waterfalls between rolling green fields, it really is a stunningly beautiful place to visit.

Must sees:

  • Milford Sounds fjord with towering mountains, waterfalls and rainforests, and home to penguins, fur seals and pods of dolphins.
  • Blue Lake, Nelson with some of the clearest water in the world
  • At least one of the 150 amazing film locations from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. You will see why New Zealand was the perfect place for Middle Earth.
  1. The people are awesome

Warm, friendly and engaging, your interaction New Zealanders will be a highlight of your trip. They are a great mixture of European, Polynesian and Maori people, and all speak English with a fun accent. They will easily chat with you while waiting for your fish and chips or give you directions on the side of the road and happily tell where to go to avoid the expensive “touristy spots” and enjoy New Zealand like a local.

Language must knows:

  • Kia-ora : the Maori word for hello, thanks, and good bye. You will hear it everywhere.
  • Jandals: the New Zealand word for flip-flops or thongs
  • Kiwi – refers to the bird or the people of New Zealand. The fruit is called a kiwifruit.
  • Togs – swimwear
  • Dairy – the local corner store or 7/11
  1. Remote and safe

New Zealand is a pretty laid-back culture with a low crime rate and low gun use. The police don’t even carry guns. But best of all, there are no dangerous animals, nothing that will bite or sting or poison you. As an island that has been isolated from other landmasses, New Zealand luckily avoided all the poisonous snakes and crocodiles that inhabit Australia. This means you can walk through bush and swim in the lakes and streams without worrying about dangerous wildlife.

  1. Sparse population

With only 4 million people in a landmass slightly bigger than the UK, there is a lot of space. There are also a lot of sheep, more than 60 million! So in terms of animal population, humans make only 5% of the total in New Zealand!

  1. Wine

While winemaking is only a few decades old in New Zealand, the climate and the locals have taken to it like natives. From fresh, bright, tropical Sauvignon Blanc wines to rich, full-bodied Merlots, the 10 major New Zealand wine regions offer world-class wines best tasted in the spectacular locations of the vineyards.

Must do:

  • Drink wine at one of the vineyards on Waiheke Island. The island is only a short ferry ride from Auckland harbour and is home to many boutique vineyards, offering tastings with views out over the ocean.
  1. Great food

Being an island inhabited by a wide range of nationalities the local food also reflects this. If you have a chance to try any of these local foods give them a go.

  • Hangi – Traditional Maori meal cooked with hot stones underground
  • Pavlova – large meringue dish served with lots of cream and fruit
  • Lolly cake – as the name suggests
  • Hokey Pokey ice cream – New Zealander’s favourite ice cream flavour,
  • ANZAC biscuits – type of oatmeal biscuit.
  • Fish and Chips – best bought and eaten on the beach wrapped in paper
  • Bluff oysters – probably the best in the world. Fresh from the sea and onto the plate they are heaven.
  • Paua fritters – Type of shellfish made into fritters with cream and onions
  1. Extreme sports

New Zealand is the place if you are an adrenaline junkie. There is an extreme sport for everyone from water-based thrills to alpine sports and extreme cross-country expeditions. Expect to be thrilled.

Must dos:

  • Heli-skiing: Extreme skiing in locations only accessible by helicopter
  • Hike on a glacier
  • Bungee jump in Queenstown (home of bungee jumping)
  • Ride a jet boat along the river through the high canyons in Queenstown.
  1. Wellington

Wellington is the capital city and is the city with the most vibrant arts scene, and lively nightlife. Located on a beautiful harbour at the base of the North Island, this is an excellent place to spend a few days before heading across to the South Island.

Must dos

  • Visit Cuba Street: this is a most interesting street in town, pop into one of the cafes and experience the best coffee.
  • Ask for a flat white coffee: the kiwi version of a latte with a little less milk. Jump on the cable car and ride to the top of the botanical gardens then meander your way down through the gardens and back into the city.
  1. Unique wildlife

One of the most surprising things about travelling around New Zealand is how often you see the local wildlife. You do not need to go to a zoo to see penguins, dolphins, whales or seals, they are all just there in their natural habitat doing their thing.

Must dos:

  • Whale watching in Kaikoura
  • Swimming with dolphins in Akaroa
  • Cage diving with Great White Sharks on Stewart Island,
  • Visit Waitomo Caves to see the glow worms

The list could go on, but better to visit and see for yourself this unique and unforgettable country.

 

 

Cresces Talks About Buying Ethically

Choosing quality over quantity is my small protest against the current of mindless consumerism that is everywhere. Buying and wearing a piece of fine craftsmanship lets me honor the skill of the maker and highlights my uniqueness without having to say a word. My choice to mindfully buy quality finely crafted items that are made to endure reflects the values I want to stand for. I can put my money where my mouth is by choosing luxury artisan brands that stake their reputations on being ethical and kind and that are trying to change the world. It is my fashionable vote for a more compassionate society.

As a quiet rebel with many causes, I try to live a life that reflects my compassion towards the planet and all that live on it. With this in mind, I don’t buy something because it is cool. I like to buy a product because it means something to me, and ethically produced items are my favorite.

One cause I feel strongly about is supporting brands that support our planet.

Buying ethically is an easy choice, after-all an ethical product, like black clothing, goes with everything. I can imagine a world where Ethical is the new black. Where it is the staple in our wardrobes.

Given my personality, when I am passionate about something, I don’t dabble. I jump in boots and all. I want to be a voice, not an echo in this world. And so it was when I became aware of the impact my fashion choices have on the world, I became a fan of slow fashion. I began choosing products that were classic in style, made well and most importantly, from brands that stood for the same values as me. Like most people, I want to be a decent human being and feel good about my actions. Buying ethically feels good.

The more I found out about ethical brands, the more motivated I was to learn more and do my part. The people behind much of the ethical fashion movement are just so damn inspirational! Passionate people who could not find a product matching the values they believed in, so they made one that did. These ethical leaders are my kind of rebel with a cause; they are a part of the resistance to mass over-production, waste and unkindness to our planet and its inhabitants. And the best thing, they don’t just talk about fashion, they teach us about making lifestyle choices and meaningful changes in the way we consume.

Choosing to buy from an ethical brand is to work together with them to change the shape of our world. For, every time we buy from these brands we are casting a vote for what kind of world we want. Buying from an ethical brand is my fashionable vote towards a compassionate world.  As more and more of us vote with our wallets, we will change the world. Forcing brands to also follow more compassionate and cruelty-free processes. Clothing and accessories that are well made in ways that do no harm to other humans, animals or our planet will become our wardrobe essentials. Ethical really will become the new black, and our world will be much better for it!

~ Cresces

Her favourite bag: 

ILNI - Cresces - illustrated by Linda Zoon

 

Read here how our stylish Augustina defines elegance

 

 

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Betty-Joan Ponders Craftsmanship

My favorite handbag is like an objet d’art. It is such a lovely example of the art of fine craftsmanship: a perfect blend of excellent design and high quality materials, created with the passion and experience of a talented artisan. It is gorgeous in so many ways, graceful, beautiful and an extremely well made handbag. I love the feel and weight of it on my arm. To own such a beautiful item, so lovingly mad, is a true pleasure.

Have you ever looked really closely at a finely handcrafted handbag? I mean really examined it and noticed how distinctive it is? There are these tiny little stitches around the handle and I can’t help but admire how each one has been meticulously sewn by hand. There is this incredibly soft curve of the material and all the pieces have been carefully selected to fit together as one. Every part of the bag is just so graceful and exceptional, like a fine piece of art. It just exudes a feeling of quality and excellence that comes from the combination of the best materials, the highest skill and the closest attention to the small details. No two crafted bags are exactly the same; each one has its own unique distinctions from the hand of its creator.

I am lucky enough to own such a bag. An amazingly beautiful treasure made using simple tools, time-honed methods of tried and tested techniques, combined with tons of passion and the earned experience of a real artisan. I am in awe of the skill shown by the person who created it. An artisan who has pursued their passion with patience and perseverance over many years to gain the skills needed to create such an authentic and unique product.

My bag is not just a bag, but it is a brilliant story written by an artisan who knows the secret to creating an objet d’art we can use daily and also treasure for years to come. It reminds us to be persistent in following our passions, taking time to achieve excellence and prioritizing quality over quantity.

I hope more people will join me in treasuring the timeless art of fine craftsmanship and the passion of the artisans who create it.

~ Betty-Joan

 

Her favourite bag:

ILNI - Betty-Joan - illustrated by Linda Zoon

 

Read here how our rebel Cresces talks about buying ethically

 

 

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Augustina Defines Elegance

Over the years my sense of style has graduated towards a more elegant and refined look. I prefer items that convey a sense of traditional grace and poise. I am drawn to classic pieces and timeless accessories.  However, here comes the conundrum.  A classic outfit goes hand in hand with a classic Italian leather handbag as a key accessory. But, as a woman with a compassionate and kind spirit, a leather handbag does not represent who I am and what I stand for. Am I compromising on style by avoiding something made from leather?

Recently, I heard an Italian craftsman speaking of leather as being the noble material with a high status above any alternative material. This comment struck to the heart of my dilemma. The juxtaposition of Leather as a noble material was striking. Noble? How can one describe using an animal’s skin as noble? We would recoil at the idea of fur being described this way.

The definition of noble as I understand it is to have high moral principles, to be ethical, virtuous, good, to be born of privilege or royalty. How then can this word be used to describe a cruel and barbaric process of turning animal skin into a handbag?  To me, a noble material is something incorruptible and rare. Something solid, imposing, and magnificent. Describing leather as noble glosses over the fact that it takes an animal’s skin and churns it through a toxic process to turn out a material that will not rot when you hang it on your arm every day.

If a handbag tells a lot about a woman, then my handbag is going to say that I care. Elegance is not just about external beauty; it is a reflection of beauty that begins below the surface, showing the essence of the woman within. The question is not can one be elegant without a real leather handbag, but how can one possibly be elegant with one?

I believe making ethical fashion choices is an elegant action we can all take. Choosing not to wear animal skin means being a woman who values life over fashion, a woman who will not sacrifice another creature for her beauty. In a world where we can be anything, let’s be elegant and kind.

~ Augustina

 

Her favourite bag:

Augustina Bag - illustrated by Linda Zoon

 

 

Read here how our art lover Betty-Joan ponders craftsmanship

 

 

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Our Fashion Blind Spot

When it comes to fashion we seem to have a large collective blind spot. As a society, we know the right things to do; we recycle, we give to charity and we buy organic vegetables. Yet, in our fashion habits we are missing something very important.  We are happy to wear the latest fashion and enjoy the wide variety of new items on sale each season. But, there is an unsightly and unseen world we ignore that lies behind the piles of fast fashion items on display in stores. Out of sight, and seemingly out of mind, are an estimated 150 million children working in factories and workplaces around the world. Children producing the very fashionable items we crave with each new season.

A Fast Fashion Blind Spot

These days our fashion tastes change quickly. Trends come and go. Fashion movements are powered by an industry that supplies unlimited, fast and easy fashion fixes on the High Street to fulfil our latest trendy desires. This is our fashion blind spot. We are buying into a fast fashion world of mass-produced items that are churned at the lowest price by employing cheap labour from the developing world. Many factories cut corners and ignore guidelines in order to keep their production costs as low as possible. They know they can cut their labour costs by hiring children to do adult work. Children are cheap or free to hire, they work long hours without extra pay and they have no rights or unions to protect them.

The UN estimates more than half of the 150 million child workers in the world are working more than 9 hours a day. They are paid less than a living wage and are often housed in squalid conditions. Many of these children are employed in the cut-make-trim garment industry. They are the ones exposed to toxic chemicals to dye our clothes the exact shade of green of the coming season. They spend their days cutting cloth, sewing garments together and attaching the trims by hand.

The curse of child labour is hard to stamp out. Factories hide the children when an audit takes place. Bribes are paid to ensure no evidence of their labour practices are documented. The children will not speak out, nor will their poor and illiterate parents. It is a tragic cycle of the poorest and weakest being exploited for the tastes of the rich. While the problem is hard to eradicate at the source, collectively opening of our eyes and exposing our blind spot can bring change.

When our fashion appetite is fed by cheap clothing and we can buy a t-shirt for as cheap as a takeaway coffee, our clothing loses any sense of value. It is disposable, in one season and out the next. It is too easy to turn a blind eye to the poorly paid worker who made these items. How easily we can wear mass-produced clothing and not think about the young children who are part of this industry, who are missing schooling to work on a factory floor nine or more hours a day.

Removing Our Fashion Blind Spot

Change begins when we start to value our clothing again. This change is fuelled by choosing to buy items that have been made to last. Real change erupts when we all stop following the fast fashion trends and move towards a slow fashion mindset. Mindfully choosing items that have been produced by ethical brands. A slower, more mindful approach to how we fill our wardrobes can send a powerful message to manufacturers. It tells them that there is a growing group of fashion consumers who are no longer blinded but are now making buying decisions that are consistent with their knowledge of right and wrong. It tells brands that this community wants well-made items that are made to last seasons. It says they are willing to choose quality over quantity in a move back to a world where fashion items were made to be loved and worn many times.

To the manufacturers who use child labour in a bid to produce at the lowest cost, this group of consumers are sending a strong message of change; they would rather have a fashionable wardrobe with fewer items that are well-made and well-loved than have a large fashion blind spot in their life.

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A Cinderella Story with No Happy Ending

It is not often that factory workers making shoes in China make it to the front page of the news. But, when it was reported that two undercover investigators working at the factory producing Ivanka Trump branded shoes had gone missing and another one had been arrested for filming illegal labour practises the world looked in the factory window for a moment. While the poor working conditions at the factory got a little extra attention due to the famous connection, the attention quickly moved on to the next news story and nothing changed for the factory workers despite the connection to the Ivanka Trump brand and her book Women Who Work – Rewriting the rules of work.

#WomenWhoWork connects and inspires women to create the lives they want to live by encouraging working women to help one another towards creating a better work-life balance. Unfortunately, despite all the good intentions, it completely ignores the thousands of women who are working on factory production lines working long hours in poor conditions to cheaply produce the branded items that will be sold as luxury essentials to fill our ‘empowered’ lives and wardrobes.

The workers producing our luxury items have lives that are anything but empowered or balanced, they are the forgotten Cinderellas with no chance of rewriting the rules of their work environment or creating a work-life balance as promoted by the brand of the shoes they make.

 

There is no fairy godmother or glass slipper in this story.

It is ironic that many of these factory workers, in fact, fit the target market for Ivanka’s Women Who Work book; they are young women who want a better life, young mothers who want to work and raise families, they follow the latest fashions and are ambitious for more in life. Except, these women are rural Chinese, Indian or perhaps Ethiopian girls. Young women who could never afford to buy Ivanka’s book and, honestly, would find little they could relate to in it. Instead of hoping to find an hour of quiet time in the morning for their yoga routine, these young women spend 11 hours of their day, 6 days a week working in dangerous factories for minimum wages.

These silent workers usually live on the factory site in dormitories far from their children and families. They live in rooms shared with 6 or more workers. Sleeping in bunk beds stacked three high.

Strict rules apply to all workers and infractions incur a fine that is deducted from their already small salary. Workers cannot leave the factory site during the week, except for a few hours on a Sunday if there is no extra over-time to do. The workers cannot have guests, they have no private space or time to go into town for a walk. They share bathroom facilities with hundreds of other workers. The factory floor in these factories is usually dirty, disorganized and full of potential dangers from moving machinery, over-stacked power points, and toxic chemicals.

 

The investigators at the shoe factory producing Ivanka Trump brand shoes also recorded highly illegal labour practises; excessive overtime hours, unsafe working conditions as well as physical and verbal abuse of the staff. Unfortunately, it seems no one really took any notice or enacted any changes. At the time of writing this post, one activist remains in prison and the other two are still missing. The factory has not been charged with any labour abuses, and shoes are still being produced there. The women working there have not been empowered by their connection to the Ivanka Trump Brand nor are they in a better position to create a life they want. A work/life balance for these women means trying to save enough money so they can travel to their hometown once a year to visit their children and families.

Empowering the workers in factories producing her branded items and rewriting the rules of work for them really would have been a much better topic for a high profile book written by the daughter of a billionaire. By using her influence Ivanka could have made a difference and changed this story to one with a much happier ending for the forgotten women producing her shoes. Perhaps instead someone else will take up this challenge and be the voice for those who have none.

 

 

 

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Paris Is Always a Good Idea

In recent days there has been a lot of talk about the Paris Climate Accord. The United States pulling out of the agreement has ignited many conversations about the effectiveness of the accord. Conflicting statistics are being thrown around in the media and some are calling into question how much difference to the climate such an agreement really makes. Now that one of the major nations of the world has selfishly decided to pull out, does this make the Paris accord an ineffective waste of time and money? In my opinion, no, the Paris agreement will always be a worthwhile pact that should not be underestimated as a positive change for this world in more ways than climate statistics can measure.

The Paris Accord is a Step Forward

The Paris Accord is a crucial step towards curbing the output of harmful greenhouse gas emissions and by joining together on this accord, nations around the world are collectively setting intention into action. Globally agreeing to set targets, changes and moves in a common commitment that will have a dramatic impact on the current trajectory of global warming. The Paris Accord binds nations together collectively taking responsibility for our future. Stating a willingness to change our priorities towards economic growth at any cost and begin to acknowledge the warning signs our earth is exhibiting.

The Paris Accord is About Working Together

The Paris accord is and always has been about far more than reducing carbon emissions. It is about all, but three, of the nations of this world joining together to work on a problem as one. It joins together all cultures, races, religions and nations towards a common goal to reduce our impact on our planet. It is a positive example of what future collective world action could look like; nations actually working together to solve a problem that affects us all. That’s the most excitingly positive point of the Paris Accord.

Nations working collectively, not individually is the key point of the Paris Accord. By signing this agreement, countries are choosing to do what is mutually right for our planet, not just what is easy for them individually. It sends a ripple effect across the planet in setting an example of kindness towards our environment and making a confident collective step to, as President Macron so accurately stated, ‘make our planet great again’. And, that is why Paris is always a good idea.