shop MORINGA (Phase 1)

When MORINGA approached me they had no name but needed to get their new business off the ground quick. In 2 months we were able to take their affiliate website they had been using to a new branding standard and create the initial name, logo, and tagline. There were many of their back stock jewelry pieces that were random and did not have a "collection" feel. I first started by weeding out products that didn't fit the style of the new direction. Next I separated these into collections so that when shoppers came to the site they could easily find a bracelet or earrings to match the necklace they were purchasing. 

I produced a photoshoot that had a cleaner and more sophisticated feel than the previous site, and was aimed at women in their 30's+ in their current market in Montana. We had a great team to make this happen including Kelsey Wilson Photography of Dallas, Tiffany Schwedland H/MUA of Austin, Neva Russell Photo Assistant, Angela-Page Parks Model, and me styling. Big thanks to WELD Dallas for the awesome studio space and great coffee!

We were able to launch on time and on budget which included a full look-book executed beautifully by graphic designer Sara Dean in Dallas that you can see here

shop MORINGA (Phase 2)

For the past year I have had the privilege of doing a branding strategy for a new company called MORINGA. I had a great time coming up with everything from the name and logo to assembling a stellar team to carryout the branding manuals, graphic design, photo shoots, and the product design. 

I gave the business owners a few names to choose from that all reflected Ethiopia or Africa while remaining flexible incase the business decided to expand to other countries. We felt the imagery of the moringa tree was poignant to the reason the business was started. The moringa tree provides medicine and food, and grows quickly and sustainably in tropical areas that tend to struggle with poverty. It is a life giving tree to those who need it most. 

Designed Brand Logo

I had my colleague and talented graphic designer friend Sojung Lee (who also did my brand logo) get to work on brainstorming for MORINGA. We wanted the logo to reflect the community aspect of the brand (shown in the crossed M, like hands holding), a clean and modern yet approachable aesthetic (shown in the open spaces that feel inviting such as the G and the A), and an open call for others to join in with the brands community (shown in the open A that is shaped like a tent or open door).  I came up with the tag line "Designing a World of Opportunity" to focus first on the brand as a fashion company that is design focused and second on the brands ethos of providing opportunity to those who are in poverty. 

After laying the groundwork in place with a social media strategy by Social Cake headquartered in Nashville, TN, and a company branding manual (beautifully laid out by Sara Dean in Dallas, TX) that covered everything from proper logo uses to defining the heart and spirit of the brand (thanks to Kelsi Klembara for all the copywriting magic!), MORINGA is set to build a strong in house team moving forward. 

The next phase included choosing the right handbag designer and designing a cohesive jewelry collection (by me!) to fit the brands target market and design aesthetic. Corie Humble, formerly of Skagen, joined me in Ethiopia for a month of sourcing materials and designing. Our design sense is very similar and we worked seamlessly off one another's ideas and energy to produce pieces that were perfect for our respective departments. I had been designing jewelry in Ethiopia since 2008 and much of the jewelry coming out of Ethiopia tends to look the same. I knew I had to find some new materials to incorporate into the product design. The business owners were aiming for a higher price point item so I focused on seeking out some unique materials (ebony wood), while Corie focused on developing specially dyed and finished leathers with superb finishing.

In all my years of working there, I felt so proud that we were able to come up with a truly unique product that celebrated the culture and natural elements of the country of origin, while remaining true to the western design aesthetic. Here are a hand full of examples of the work we did (thanks to Doug and Kelsi in Dallas, TX for their white box photo magic!):

Before the launch began MORINGA needed printed materials to include with each piece. I worked with Kayla Dzambo located in Kansas City, MO to make some beautiful product cards that reflected the modern elegance of the brand while telling the story behind each product. 

Getting MORINGA on a production and design calendar was of utmost importance to insure that orders will be delivered on time. I worked with social media, the owners, and the artisan groups to create a timeline to get them started. These calendars change from year to year but we knew there were some key dates we needed to hit, including some wholesale markets. After dropping those dates on the calendar, we were able to build everything else around that. 

Sample of the seasonal design and production calendar

Sample of the seasonal design and production calendar

I am so happy for what we were able to accomplish in this last year. While there is still a lot of work to be done MORINGA now has a solid foundation to move forward on. Thank you to MORINGA for the opportunity to be part of this growing business, and thank you to my coast to coast team for all your hard work and making this branding phase a success!

If you would like to follow MORINGA's journey head to @shopmoringa for social media or their affiliate website for retail sales

fox FAVORITES

Working on a jewelry program with women in Nepal 2015.

Working on a jewelry program with women in Nepal 2015.

For the past 9 years I have been working in the ethical fashion arena. Seeing behind the "fast fashion" scene of an industry filled with greed, environmental destruction, and a lack of concern for the well being of employees, has been quite disheartening and not surprising. What gives me hope is the sustainable fashion movement and the people who aren't buying into systems of greed and are now focusing more on what they actually need.

We don't need much to survive. Ask anyone who has taken a long backpack journey how they felt when they returned home. I'll bet you the majority of them purged their closets and homes of access stuff. When you minimize the stuff in your life it leaves more room for what actually matters... people. By this I mean you may buy less but you buy from an artisan in your area who makes beautiful pottery. It's their life's joy. It may cost more but it supports the local economy and that person lives their dreams and you get a beautiful mug to give good vibes to your coffee. (-: Every time you use that item you can share with a friend about who made it. Maybe it will inspire them to get back on the pottery wheel and rekindle those past artistic endeavors they had in college. Since the mug is probably the equivalent to buying 4 mugs at Target, maybe you save up for a few months and only buy one when you have a milestone- Like good grades, or a weight loss goal, or a work goal. Do you see what happens here? Now that mug has meaning, it has a story, and it has richness.

Corporate America cannot survive off of this system of "less is more". That terrifies them. They want us to all be locked into their system of consumption that keeps us disconnected from what truly matters. They keep us distracted and make us feel a false sense of security through constant consumption while they get richer, the environment gets destroyed, and we feel more miserable. 

What is exciting about all of this is that the power is in our hands. Consumers are starting to demand more ethical goods and this brings change. Wal-Mart now carries organics and Target now has a tiny "artisan made" section. The market will go in the direction we move it. 

Many of you have asked who some of my favorite brands are that I trust. Here is a list that I hope helps you in your journey to become a more conscious consumer: 

1) For Bags and Gifts: 

JOYN India: I have personally worked with this group and they are doing some amazing work to empower Tibetan refugees as well as Indians who otherwise would not have employment. As if that wasn't enough, the fabric is spun and woven by a local former leper colony in their area. I'm not much of a handbag carrier but this is my go to place if I need a gift. They sell their lanyards and luggage tags in sets of 3 so they are a great gift to keep on hand. 

2) For modern Bags and Jewelry (Coming soon!)

MORINGA: This is a brand I am starting for some guys who have had a non-profit in Ethiopia for many years. Currently on the web-page we have some old stock from their non-profit brand, but come November- WATCH OUT! We will have new jewelry and handbags all made by artisans in Ethiopia. The jewelry will focus on brass and ebony wood materials, and the handbags will be a very clean and modern cut. I'm so excited to show you guys! I can't wait to wear everything!!!

3) For a Clothing Splurge:

BEL KAZAN: I found this brand at a boutique in SIlverlake (Los Angeles), CA last time I was in town. I did some research on them and was so delighted to find they are an ethical company based in Los Angeles and manufacturing with artisans in Bali. They have quickly become one of my favorites. They are more expensive than what I would normally buy but right now they are having a great SALE (still pricey but doable) on their Fall 2015 pieces. 

Dress: Bel Kazan, Image By: Esther Havens

Dress: Bel Kazan, Image By: Esther Havens

4) For Shoes:

Sseko: Love this company and love the owner Liz Bohannon's Instagram feed (Funny alert!) This brand is happy, light hearted, and employing women in Uganda and Ethiopia and providing school scholarships to their employees in Uganda. Their strappy sandals are versatile and you can change out the straps, or check out their

5) For pretty affordable basics:

Everlane: This brand is all about radical transparency. They break the supply chain down for every item they sell to show you the items exact cost. You can click to see the place it was manufactured and why they chose that facility. 

6) A zero waste clothing company:

Tonlé: They are a zero waste company. This means all of the scraps that normally go in the waste bin get put back into the production chain and are turned into jewelry, woven into fabrics, etc. This is a clothing brand that inspires me most by it's practices. I have done projects with this brand for many years and the owner, Rachel Faller, is an incredibly inspiring person who deeply follows her conviction about how ethical fashion can be accomplished. 

In closing, I know it is hard to spend $80 plus on a dress that you are used to buying for $10-$20. But when you invest in a more expensive piece, you can wear it for longer and also be an advocate for that brand as you tell people about why you bought it. Life was meant to be precious and meaningful on every level, and this journey has proven that to me. I am thriving with less in my closet. It's easy for me to grab an outfit and go now, without having to sort through mounds of clothing and still feel like I have "nothing to wear".

If you are new to this ethical fashion concept please don't feel overwhelmed. Start with one small thing. In terms of Ethical Fashion it's "One small step for (wo)man, one giant leap for (wo)mankind." 

If you have any questions or want to share any brands that are your own favorites please leave a comment. 

Onwards and upwards, ~Lori Fox

connected in HOPE

I have been working on a rebranding strategy with a wonderful company out of Ethiopia called Connected in Hope. I have visited their facilities in the past where the women weave both fabrics and baskets. Ryane and her mother Pam are both delightful to work with and care deeply for the people of Ethiopia. I believe in what they are doing and encourage you to check them out. It's a great place to shop to freshen up your kitchen with some new linens or a fruit basket, or get some jewelry or a leather tote for yourself or a gift. They are also a member of the Fair Trade Federation. Keep your eyes peeled for new products and visuals over the next year! (see the old vs. new logo that they came up with below. rebranded photos by Kelsey Wilson) 

travel GEAR

$27.50
$12.95
$5.49
$359.95
$18.19

Since I travel a lot for work I often get asked about how to pack and what my favorite products to pack are. Here are my top 5 I never travel without.

 

1. Miir Stainless Steel Bottle (500ml): On the airplane I fill it with water (or tea) to make sure I'm staying hydrated. In country it can be a big money saver to to make your own tea/coffee, or fill with filtered water instead of buying a lot of bottle water. It's extremely durable and a carabiner can be snapped on the lid and attached to your bag. It keeps cold liquids chilly for 24 hours, and hot beverage toasty for 12 hours. The great thing is when you purchase one it provides clean water for one person for one year. It's about $30 and a wise investment. Also comes in 700ml, and in black. 

 

2. Collapsible Silicone Drip Coffee Maker: Pack this collapsible coffee maker, #4 cone filters, and your favorite coffee (easiest when ground already) in a large gallon zip lock bag, and no matter where you are in the world you can find some boiling water. Silicone easily rinses off in plain water. I prefer this version of the product with the lid incase it is still wet when you have to pack up and leave. Great cure for bad hotel coffee, or never ending train rides in India. Also a great gift for coffee lovers who travel (or camp) a lot. 

 

3. Travel Folding Hair Brush with Mirror: In Bedouin travels each item carried on their journey must have at least 2 functions. This piece has your hairbrush and mirror in one place! Every little bit of space saved helps when on the road (more space for souvenirs!)

 

4. Osprey Meridian Convertible Backpack Luggage: This bag has changed the way I travel. The frame is so light and compact, yet the interior holds everything I need and includes a lot of pockets and pouches. It has a detachable day pack on the outside, roller frame, and the larger body of the bag converts into a camping backpack. I use this primarily as a roller bag, but it is nice to have the backpack option on bumpy streets or when in a village. The metal frame can get uncomfortable when carrying it for extended periods, but if you primarily use it with the roller frame function it's good. The bag is extremely durable with high quality stitching and hardware. I can't tell you enough how much I love this bag. It's a bit of an investment, but comes with a lifetime guarantee. 

 

5. Dr. Bronners "All One" Liquid Soap. I LOVE this company. If you don't know much about them and how they are changing the organic and hemp industry, it's worth watching the documentary about it's cooky beginnings, to now being a business that is shifting culture (also available on Netflix). I have used this soap to do laundry, dishes, toilets, floors, wash my face, hair, and body (although it dries out my skin so I use a good moisturizer afterwards.) For short trips 1-2 weeks I take a 2oz bottle, for longer trips that last a month or more I bring an 8oz bottle.

new BIZ

I worked on a branding project for a new business starting in Pasadena, California called Scrap & Salvage along with graphic designer Amy Fuller of Brooklyn, New York. It's an antiques and architectural salvage business that features mostly mid century pieces. The owner wanted to incorporate bright green and have a throw back to the 1960's graphic era. The client loved the movement and feel of the off-set circles but also the adaptability for multiple branding options of the second pattern. 

iris STYLE

$3.99

Last night I watched a delightful documentary on the life of Iris Apfel. I have seen images of her through Advanced Style and was so happy to see her come to life in this film. She is so down to earth and loves the creative process of simply living life day to day. She serves as a reminder to be true to ourselves, not conform for the sake of fitting in, and to surround ourselves with the things we love. I found much inspiration from this and I hope you do to!

 

ethical FASHION

Join the Ethical Fashion Forum's Source Expo online November 4-5. I'll be a vendor (for consulting and design services) along with hundreds of other brands from around the globe!

varenport LLC?

Varenport will be hosting a workshop for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and sole proprietors on November 7 cracking the mystery of LLC vs. S-corp, etc. Come and learn how to save up to thousands of dollars on your taxes! See you there. Register here

good morning TEXAS

It was so fun joining Gina Doscocil, owner of Houston Street Outfitters in Cedar Hill (HSO), this morning on Good Morning Texas to share some of our favorite jewelry brands from around the world. 

I was born and raised in Cedar Hill and it's always exciting to see how the town is developing and growing. I was delighted to meet Gina years ago while strolling through the historic downtown area of Cedar Hill. Check out her store and catch a glimpse of the bank that Bonnie and Clyde's sidekick robbed back in 1932. Head to Babe's Chicken across the street for some good ol' Texas eats and then walk it off at Joe Pool Lake- Cedar Hill State Park! It's a perfect way to spend a Saturday. 

On the show we shared with you quite a few brands in just a few minutes. Here's a list along with links to their web sites. Don't forget that Good Morning Texas viewers get 20% off today through Sunday night (October 15-18) by using the code GMTX20 (Show said GMTTX20, but code only has one "T"= GMTX20 !)

I've worked with many of these groups, and others I know first hand, that are making an incredible difference in the lives of those creating their products. In supporting these companies you can rest knowing your dollars are making a positive difference in the world. (Above Photo By Esther Havens for Raven + Lily, Ethiopia)

1) Sseko- Best known for empowering women in Uganda through their shoe program, now they are branching into Ethiopia offering jewelry and hand bags. Based out of Portland, OR

2) 7 Stitches- Hand made in San Diego, CA using beads and findings made by artisans all over the world. 

3) Tonlé- Made by artisans in Cambodia. This brand is responsible from start to finish by using every scrap made from their clothing line to be woven into fabrics and pieced into jewelry. You've got to see their creative video that shows exactly what it means to be "Zero Waste". Based out of San Francisco, CA

4) Aid Through Trade- (Available at HSO) Their journey began in 1993 in Nepal. They are an original founding member of the Fair Trade Federation and also the original developers of their classic "Roll-On®" Bracelet. A great gift for bridesmaids, stocking stuffers, or sports teams! Based out of Annapolis, MD (NOTE: For Amazon orders use code GMTX20RO)

5) Raven + Lily- (Available at HSO) Is an ethical fashion and lifestyle brand dedicated to empowering women through design. They work in many countries including India, Ethiopia, and Cambodia. Based out of Austin, TX

6) 31 Bits-(Available at HSO) Working with women in Uganda to bring change in the fashion industry by valuing the creator and consumer. A great brand focusing on the holistic care of their artisans; physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially. Based out of Southern California

7) Fait La Force- Inspired by the Haitian flag "L'Union Fait La Force" or "Strength In Unity" Employs artisans using traditional techniques and natural materials to provide jobs, skills and access to markets by bringing modern design to indigenous craft. Based out of NYC

8) SOKO- Creates stunning hand crafted jewelry and technological innovation to support it's artisans in Kenya. It is the first to develop a mobile phone driven business model that connects artisans directly to consumers. 

9) Matr Boomie- Which means "Mother Earth" in Hindi. Empowering a network of 20,000 artisans in India. Items are available for retail at Central Market off Lovers in Dallas. For first time wholesale orders use code GMTX20 on the Matr Boomie web site and get free shipping. Based out of Austin, TX

Also here is a link for more information about the Fair Trade Federation.