Follow these basic steps for a simple and easy skin routine. Keep your face clean, clear, and vibrant!Read More
The Beautiful Together Blog
Get natural beauty and health tips, learn about labels and ingredients, or get uplifted with stories about personal triumphs and building conscious communities. It is all part of what makes us beautiful together.
Join the conversation we encourage you to leave a comment!
Although we find claims that toners tighten skin to actually be a stretch, there is a lot of support for toners to help balance the pH of skin as well as protect the skin from impurities, especially in make up.Read More
Get to Know: Mica Minerals
The ever growing world of mica minerals in natural beauty regimes are popular for good reasons. They are used to add color and luster to our cosmetics, as well as natural body care products like toothpaste.
Mica is a mineral name given to a group of minerals that are physically and chemically similar, often found in layers of rock. In fact, the term mica has become so well known, it is often considered a mineral of its own, when that isn’t quite the case. Mica minerals actually refers to a group of about 30 minerals in the class phyllosilicates. Micas are significant rock forming minerals found in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rock. Interesting note, the silicate sheets are composed of interconnected six membered rings. These rings are responsible for the micas typical six sided hexagonal symmetry, in which in ring shares three of their oxygens with three others. Actually, the mica minerals are similar to clay minerals, with the difference being clay includes other layers between silicate layers.
In cosmetics, we see why the word mica means “to glitter,” in their lovely and vibrant colors and the minerals ability to reflect light. But not all mica minerals are necessarily safe to use, so do your research. We find mica minerals are sometimes used in animal testing (not ours of course, we looked into it!). IN additional, although mica minerals are all natural, they are often synthetically created to be replicas of their natural occurring counterparts. Sometimes in the manufacturing product, you end up with the addition of heavy metal compound like bismuth oxychloride, which is used to create a white pigment . Although FDA approved, naturalists commonly recommended avoiding this compound as there still seems to be some questioning regarding its safety. It is at least, often found to be an irritant. In addition, just because it is mineral make up, doesn't mean it is all natural. Micas are often the carrier of artificial colors, so watch our for your dyes. Kainat Beauty carefully selects minerals that are safe for eyes and lips, and have no artificial colors added.
Here is a list of cosmetics from Forest for Women that contain bismuth oxychloride. Of course, as always, we recommend you do your own research and know how to read your ingredient labels so you can make your own choice about what is right for your body.
- Glo Minerals
- Bareminerals (Don't fall for the rumor that they removed bismuth from their formula)
- Clinique (including High Impact Mascara)
- Philosophy (found in Airbrushed Canvas)
- Sonia Kashuk
- Estee Lauder
- Sheer Cover
- Bobbi Brown
- L'Oreal (Most toxic)
- Makeup Forever
Art Cards United: A Inspiring Local Story
Part of an ongoing series, we have been bringing you stories of local artist and entrepreneurs that inspire us with their stories. This month, we would like to introduce you to Angela Taylor.
Angela is a survivor of both epilepsy and brain surgery. As a teen life was hard, but what kept her going were the arts. There were good things, and bad things about the arts like with anything. The good outweighed the bad though, and gave her reasons to get up each day.
After waking up from surgery her left side was temporarily paralyzed. Surprising everyone including herself she did what rehearsals taught her to do. She was repetitive and due to this relearned to walk, talk, eat, etc. This experience taught her how much of a blessing life is.
The artists that she worked with and met inspire her even today. Due to her health, she turned to visual arts in 2004.
She had her first show "TurnOfMind" with artist Mary Atkins in Savannah, GA.
There she sold her first painting and was published in an article written by Lynnette Spratley.
She also sold her first self-portrait in the “I Have Marks to Make show” held at the Telfair Museum in 2005. Angela was in the I Have Marks to Make show every year since that time.
Painting became very therapeutic for her. Painting and giving it away, helped her learn to let go. Helping others gives her so much satisfaction, that it helps her in return.
Over the years she has donated art to the United Way, Tybee Arts Association, Interfaith Hospitality Network, The American Legion Auxiliary, The Savannah Children’s Theatre, American Diabetes Association, Hospice, Young Survival Coalition and many more!
She became a contributing writer and editor for ACEO Magazine on July1st of 2007.
She had her first solo show held at the Jewish Educational Alliance in on Feb 4-29th of 2008.
Seeing how little this inspired others, she turned back to donating and created “Touch and See” (a feel for the arts) in 2010. She also owned ACEO Magazine by this time and decided to give others the opportunity to feel the reward found from giving as well.
Having been bothered by the feud between ATC artists and ACEO artists, Angela created Art Cards United in March of 2014. Giving each artist the opportunity to choose for themselves if they trade or sell and how much they sell for. While giving them the chance to donate and help others as she does.
ArtCardsUnited motivates Angela to get going each day and not dwell on negative things in her life. Seeing others motivated to create gives Angela a satisfaction that can’t be put into words. ArtCardsUnited is also a constant reminder not to give up, and that you can too. Due to that ArtCardsUnited is Angela's love, giving others the opportunity to create awareness and help as she does with AngelasArtArea™.
Most of the artists in ArtCardsUnited are female. Angela is proud to stand up for the right women have to create art!
ArtCardsUnited is a place where artists from around the globe have the freedom to sell, trade, and set their own prices on their 2.5” X 3.5”art cards. ArtCardsUnited is sponsored by AngelasArtArea™ and due to that creates awareness of many different issues. ArtCardsUnited does have some male members, but mainly helps women in the arts. Due to the owner being female, disabled, and bi-sexual these are some of the things ArtCardsUnited stands up for.
If you wish to have political conversations respectfully we ask you to find a political group that does so. ArtCardsUnited is mainly about art and wishes to bring joy to the world through art.
The ACU fan page is: https://www.facebook.com/Artcardsunited/
The ACU Instagram page is: https://www.instagram.com/artcardsunited/
The ACU Twitter page is: https://twitter.com/ArtCardsUnited
AngelasArtArea fan page is: https://www.facebook.com/AngelasArtArea/
AngelasArtArea Instagram page is: https://www.instagram.com/angelasartarea/
AngelasArtArea Twitter page is: https://twitter.com/AngelasArtArea
To learn more go to: www.angelasartarea.com
If you would like to volunteer your services, which would look good on any resume! Contact: email@example.com
All visual artists and musicians want an opportunity to be published? You got one! Want an opportunity for your music to be featured in a video you got one! Need details on how contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Holiday shopping seems to come earlier and earlier each year. Although the spirit can be fun it can also be overwhelming. With advertisements aimed at you at every turn, and the newest and hottest items beckoning you patronage, we wanted to give you a few pointers in making responsible holiday purchases.
1. Packaging Adds Up
While many consumer products are released as holiday gift sets, pay attention to the amount of plastic and wrapping used for these items. If you plan to make your own gift baskets or wrap the gifts anyway, the pre-made sets often add unnecessary waste, not to mention are more expensive. Keep an eye out for sustainably packaged products (like cardboard or glass), or find creative ways to wrap items that re-use what would otherwise be waste.
Try using nature to decorate and wrap gifts instead of plastic
2. Buy from Local, Regional, National
The convenience of the box stores can make holiday shopping a breeze. Keep in mind that many of these stores may not offer affordable wages or decent benefits to their employees. Also, items in these shops may be cheaper, but the products they purchase are often made over seas, sometimes in unfair labor conditions. That extra dollar or two you might spend at a small business, local shop, or from and artisan can go a lot further in making holidays bright for your loved ones and your communities. In the spirit of giving, think about how what you are giving affects others. Make a friend’s day of shopping at small businesses instead of the mall, or try ordering from an online shop like Etsy.
3. Buy Natural, Organic or Sustainable
When you can, purchase natural and organic products. These products are beneficial for two reason. One, you can be confident you aren’t giving a gift with potentially harmful side effects. Equally as important, sustainably sourced ingredients tend to be better on the environment than chemicals, when managed properly. As advocated of honey bees, we use as many organic ingredients as we can, to discourage the use of pesticides on crops. There are a number of ways sustainable products and companies benefit the environment and communities alike. If you are concerned about cost, we like to offer the opportunity to purchase our products in bulk at wholesale prices (password is Motivation). This is perfect for small gifts for friends, professionals and family. It won’t break the bank, and you will be supporting a company that uses green packaging and 100% natural ingredients.
Essential oils have been around for centuries, but only in the past few years have we really seen them take off. We’re seeing tons of people implement them into their daily routines (shoutout to natural beauty bloggers and Instagram!) because they have truly amazing benefits on not only your skin, but your overall health. From balancing out your complexion to balancing out your immune system, whatever your problem area is there is an essential oil out there to mend it.
1. Calm split ends
Ends frizzy and fried from the summer? Instead of using a deep conditioner that will weigh down your locks, reach for some argan oil. The fatty acids plump up your ends and give your hair a natural shine.
Trying to grow out hair for the fall? Use our Healthy Hair Growth Blend to help stimulate the follicle and encourage hair growth. Made with a combination of lavender, rosemary and mint essential oils.
2. Even out skin
Over the counter face washes are packed with chemicals that can cause skin irritation. To even out skin and give you that amazing glow, add rose hip oil and jasmine oil to your daily routine.
3. Lighten lingering dark spots
Products that promise to lighten up pesky dark spots can get pretty pricey and are harsh on the skin. Sweet almond oil is an inexpensive alternative to even out skin tone and lighten up those tough dark spots. Works as the perfect natural exfoliant as well!
4. Brighten your smile
Add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to make homemade or store bought natural toothpastes taste a little bit more bearable!
5. Energize your spirit
When the week seems to be dragging on, try our Energizing Essential Oil Blend to give you that extra boost you need to get you through the week. If you really can’t shake that awful Monday feeling, stimulate and boost your immune system with our Immune System Boost Essential Oil Blend.
Are you concerned about the hidden chemicals in typical drugstore beauty products? Do you have sensitive skin? Prone to breakouts? Passionate about the environment and sustainability? Yes to any or all of these might mean you’re ready to start implementing natural or “green” products into your daily beauty routine.
How To Go Green With Your Beauty Routine
In terms of beauty products, we’d like to consider green products those that utilize organic formulas and are chemical free. Typically with these products, you get what you pay for in the actual product and not in the packaging. And the cleaner manufacturing of these products makes for a cleaner Earth and a healthier you!
3 Easy Steps To A Green Routine
Know Your Products
Going green in your beauty routine may seem like a daunting task. But the truth is, becoming aware of the products you’re buying regularly and the impact they have on the environment and your skin is more than half of it! You don’t have to completely trash the routine you have now, but a great first step is checking out the labels on the products you use most frequently.
There’s tons of sources out there that will tell you which ingredients to stay away from and which ones to live by. But everyone reacts differently to different ingredients. An ingredient that causes an issue for one person might not necessarily cause an issue for you.
However, there are 5 known chemicals, commonly found in some drugstore brands, that are proven to be harmful. These ingredients are: DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine), SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) and SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate). Make sure to eliminate products containing any of these ingredients from your beauty routine.
When beginning to implement green products into your routine, start with the products that cover big portions of your body like soaps, body washes, lotions, sunscreens etc. Finding green alternatives to these staples will account for a large part of your routine and reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals.
Also, as a rule of thumb—buy less and use less. Today, in our consumer-driven society it’s almost impossible for us to feel content with what we have at this very moment. But, I challenge you see the products you invest in all the way through, use them as directed (dime size amount...cough, cough!!), and only buy when it’s a necessity.
Recycle The Evidence
When you finish that jug of milk in your fridge, what’s the first thing you do? Rinse it out and recycle it! It baffles me that so many people have not developed the same recycling habits with beauty product containers. Whether the products—and the containers they come in—are green or not, the least you can do is rinse them out and throw them in the recycling with all of your takeout containers.
Whether you’re washing your hair once a day, or once a month, it seems like everyone has their opinions on what’s ‘right’ and what’s ‘wrong’. The truth is, it’s completely up to you to decide how often you wash your hair, and it greatly depends on the type of hair you have. There’s no magic number—in fact, you should always listen to your gut and wash when you start to feel uncomfortable with it.
The No ‘Poo Method
Some studies have suggested that over-shampooing your hair could strip your scalp of its natural oils, leaving it dry and damaged. The popularity of these findings has taken the internet by storm and prompted many men and women to take up the “No ‘Poo Method”. Though many have raved about the results and benefits, it may not be the best option for all hair types. Recently, another study surfaced claiming that the build up of natural oils between long periods of not washing can also lead to a dry, scaly scalp. With these conflicting arguments floating around it’s in your—and your scalps—best interest to stick to a routine that feels right to you.
You know your hair and scalp better than anyone else, that’s why the way it looks and feels to you is what matters the most. If you’re not happy with your current routine, freshen up your look by trying out an alternative. Always give yourself a couple of washes to notice the benefits of a new routine.
Kainat Beauty All Natural Shampoo Bar - $7
This long-lasting bar is an easy transition into natural shampooing as it cleanses and moisturizes, without all the harsh chemicals and additives. It’ll leave your hair shiny and your scalp happy!
Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo - $22
Whether you’re transitioning into the No ‘Poo Method or just need a little pick-me-up in between washes, dry shampoo can be your perfect sidekick. Simply spray where you see unwanted grime, let sit and brush through. This one smells amazing!
Soda & Vinegar Shampoo - DIY
To fight grease and grime without all of the harsh chemicals, create your own shampoo at home by mixing 1tbs baking soda and 1.5c water. Finish by rinsing with a mixture of 2tbs apple cider vinegar and 1.5c water.
Coconut Milk Shampoo - DIY
Coconut is naturally hydrating and fills your hair and scalp up with healthy proteins. You can find tons of coconut milk shampoo recipes online like this one, here. Incorporated once or twice a week into your routine can really give dry hair the extra hydration it needs!
So last weekend we went to AthFest in Athens GA. It was great we had a great time. It was a 3 day event. It was very scorching outside so alot of our products were starting to melt.
The first day we left Savannah at 7 am went straight to the festival and setup our products. It was about a 4 hour ride. We had a great spot.
We went to the hotel freshened up and was ready for the festival. It started at 5pm and ended at 10pm the first night. The 2nd night it started at 12pm and ended at 10pm. The last night it started at 12pm and ended at 8pm. It was an exhausting trip but we had a great time meeting the locals of Athens.
Hand surgery on December 16, 2015 left me unable to do things I was accustomed to. Things as second nature as bathing, cooking, doing my own hair, or even using a fork to eat became difficult and painful.
This was not what I wanted or expected when I retired. I had hopes, dreams, and aspirations for my retirement. Some of those included::
♣ Cooking at least one new recipe every week
♣ Trying new natural hairstyles
♣ Learning to quilt
♣ Knitting for my grandchildren and others
The healing process has been longer than I anticipated, therefore I had a lot of time to ruminate…
I remembered what the job description for Grandma was when I was a child:: care for everyone in the family and neighborhood, cook, clean, budget, wash and hang out clothes..then iron them all, can foods grown in your own garden, make rugs from rags, quilt…. the list went on and on.
Of course grandmothers today do many of the same things except with modern technology it is a bit quicker and easier. Now many grandmothers do all that plus hold down a job.
I also thought about where we are as grandparents today…
Today many grandmothers are more active, look younger, many are younger and more vibrant than our grandparents were. So if you are thinking of leaving the grandkids with grandma…you'd better call first because she may not be at home. When you want to learn the newest line dance or Zumba steps call grandma. Or if you want the quickest way to reserve a cruise, airline ticket, or cross-country trip…ask grandma because she has done that several times. Recipes from grandma are a snap, but don't stop over for a meal without checking first, grandma might just be out on the town.
I thought of my journey from there to here (youth to grandma-hood) and realized that I've forgotten more than most folks have learned, and yet I still have so much inside me to share. Sharing what I have learned (and still remember ) is what I should be doing at this stage in life. I realized that a grandma's hands, heart, and advice are still the most important support and gift I have to offer.
Many folks say I was born old…as a child I was always thinking about grown-up things like fire insurance, heaven and hell, elderly caregiving. I feel that the life experiences of an old soul were meant to be shared.
I've been praying about a way to share these life experiences for awhile now. After much prayer and research, I've decided to start my own personal blog. I plan to share my wisdom, my world travels, my recipes and menus, my research, my crafts, my organizational skills, and my love for the people of God thru His word. I've always been a talker, but I know and believe that our ear is the most important thing to share with our children, grandchildren, family, and friends. My blog will be a place where we will be able to chat about what concerns us most. What I hear in my spirit from God, from my friends and family, from researching the web, I will share...except secrets️
You will soon see "Grand's Hands" website and blog.
Will you join me as I navigate thru this time of grand parenting, retirement, and working the vineyard in which I have been placed? What topics would you like to discuss? What discussion format or social media platform are you most comfortable using?
Ecclesiastes 9:10 KJV Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
Sharon Hines-Stringer….Grand's Hands….
Money Saving Tips for bath, body and house hold
Since switching to natural products, I am a sucker for hand made bar soaps. They are efficient, healthy, nourishing and so much fun to buy. Inevitably, when you use bar soap, you seem to always end up with those little pieces that are too small to use, yet somehow you don’t want to just toss them. I’ve seen and tried bags for your end scraps, and although it is a good idea, I just never enjoyed using them. I know it is just soap, but is somehow always seemed to be a soggy mess. The inspiration for this weeks blog is easy money saving tips for your natural house.
Now I save the ends of my soaps, or the soap I bought and took too long to use and every 3 months or so chop them up and mix them with water to make my own hand soap. I use a ratio of 1 part soap, to 6 parts water. It works just great, and I get to enjoy washing my hands using inexpensive, natural soap. If you can get your hands on a foamer, or save an old bottle, this works best. You can even add oils to it to make it more moisturizing!
On this same idea, I use a similar method for my shampoo bars. If you are anything like me, your hair acts differently in different places and in different times of year. I like to buy the same shampoo bar each month (although this could work with liquid shampoo too), because I know it doesn’t damage my hair and scalp, and it is so cost effective. I take that bar and shave it into water (I use 1 part soap, 6 parts water here too, but you may need to adjust it for your own hair). This work great, because then I can add oils to my hair to treat specific issues I am having each month. This is where those essential oils can really come in handy. For instance, in the winter, when my scalp is dry, I add tea tree oil to my shampoo. I don’t really need it in the summer where I live, but I love to add lemon oil to my shampoo as it is a natural lightener and helps lighten my hair in the sun.
Essential oils can also be blended with butter and salves for many uses. I love the hair and body butter for this purpose, specifically the lavender mint because the oils are so beneficial. If I have a cough, I add a few drops of rosemary oil and leave it on my chest. You can also add lemongrass and it makes a fabulous insect repellent.
Speaking of insect repellents, this is a great way to save money too. Now sometimes you just need the real deal, but when you just need to keep the gnats of mosquitoes off of your skin for around the house, sports games, gardening, picnics, etc adding a few essential oils to witch hazel as a spray is a wonderful way to achieve it without having to buy expensive pre-made natural remedies. You could also make a tea with these herbs, but I find that you still need to add a few drops of essential oils to make it effective. I like lemongrass, rosemary, geranium, tea tree, and peppermint the most as an insect repellent.
Last but not least, making your own cleaning agents is a great way to save money and have a natural household. Often I find I buy products that seem like they are natural, but when I look at the ingredients list, is see Sodium Laurel Sulfate as the second
ingredient. Defiantly not natural. I am pretty savvy with natural products, but labeling can be very tricky. So often I am in such a rush, I'll buy a product that gives the allure of being natural, but by the time I get it home an actually look at it, I see it is anything but natural. Making natural cleaners is a very easy way to get around this. A simple vinegar, water, and essential oil blend is what I use the most. However, keeping baking soda, washing powder, and borax around the house goes a long way in make many other cleaning products, or boosting what you already have. There are tons of recipes out there. I love this blog for their numerous recipes, including this home made laundry powder:
Of course, many of you I’m sure are thinking you don’t have time for making all this stuff, and that may be true. All I can say is for me, it saves me time and money, and makes my house hold efficient and natural. Maybe it is not for everyone, but I find these few simple tasks take literally minuted to complete and last for one to several months. Saving money and staying natural? I’ll take it.
We cannot take credit for this photo
Okay we heard you! There are so many uses for essential oils it can be as fun as it is overwhelming. By far the most popular and most recommended way to receive the benefits of essential oils are through a diffuser. Using a diffuser you can get the benefits of the oils through aromatherapy and steam inhalations. Of course you can also apply the oils to the skin or in a bath, but make sure the oils have been properly diluted.
A compress is also a great way to receive the benefits, as it can be very soothing as well. We love applying oils to the neck (so you can absorb them and smell them!), or on the feet as well. Another simple and great way to use them is by adding them to your hair and skin regimen or homemade cleaners.
Here are some tips for some of our favorite uses!
I like to keep sachets of lavender oil in closets to fight odors, and keep moths away. It is also a fabulous thing to toss in your dryer to help your clothes come out smelling fresh, without the harsh fragrances in common detergents.
Lemon is great for cleaning with as well. Add it to a carrying oil for furniture polish, or mix it with vinegar and water for an all purpose cleaner. It's great to add to any home-made cleaner for that matter!
Mint is great for a wide range of applications. Mix it with a salve with eucalyptus for chest congestion. Mix with a carrier oil to ease stomach pains. I love to soak cotton balls and place them in places that tend to attract spiders and mice. It is a great deterrent.
The most common use of clove is in thieve oils. The name has been claimed by Young Living Essential Oils, but this mixture has been around for centuries. Blended with eucalyptus, lemon, rosemary, cinnamon and sometimes mint, it helps boost the immune system, repels insects, acts as a disinfectant and purifies the air. This is one of our favorite and most practical blends!
Adding tea tree oils to your (natural)shampoo can help with dermatitis, tea tree oil and lemon are also great in soap for acne and athletes foot. Mix thieves oil or lemon oil with aloe vera gel for a homemade hand sanitizer!
Add favorite oils to spray bottle with witch hazel for fast, easy applications
Since the introduction of our essential oil blends, we have been getting a lot of questions about essential oils in general. With their popularity growing as an alternative to synthetic perfumes that have the potential to be dangerous (see http://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/dangers-of-fragrances/?utm_content=bufferde867&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer), as well as an alternative medicine, there is a lot of mixed information out there.
First off, let us go ahead and mention we are not doctors, but we do have brains, as well as personal experience with essential oils. Never the less, please proceed with caution, and make sure you do your own research that fits your needs and life style, especially if you are pregnant. Secondly, we need to emphasize that although many people ingest essential oils in water, this should only be done with oils that specifically say you can.
With that in mind, let’s talk about some of our favorite oils and their uses! We’ve put together a list of our top 6 essential oils to keep around the house. They have been chosen because they are widely available, reasonably priced (some oils get get pretty pricey!) and because of their versatility and effectiveness.
Lavender, of course! Lavender seems to have stood the test of time as one of the most popular oils, and for good reason. Here are just a few of the well known benefits of Lavender essential oil
-Insect repellent and bites
2. Frankincense has also been used for centuries for a number of ailments. It is well liked in a diffuser. Some other uses include:
-Cysts and Boils
-Alleviate stress and headaches
3. Lemon oil is inexpensive can be used in so many ways around the house, and is refreshing and energizing. Here are just a few of the benefits of lemon oil:
4.Clove is also very easy to find and has a multitude of health benefits attributed to its antiviral, antimicrobial, anti fungal and antiseptic properties:
- Boosts immune system
Tea Tree oil, a plant that is native to Australia, but has become widely popular in the last half century. Remember never to ingest tea tree oil, it is very strong and should be used carefully on skin as well. Try it for:
Mint is also very inexpensive and grow all over the world. The herb itself can be handy to keep in the garden and around the house. Use the antiseptic, anti-fungal oil to:
-soothe stomach pains
-soothe respiratory problems
-stimulates hair follicle
Again, these are just a few uses of some of our favorite oils. For more information, this site has well researched and useful information on other oils and their benefits.
In addition, we noticed many folks asking us what oils we use. We tend to use different oils from different companies to fit our needs best. We always use therapeutic grade and go for organic oils whenever possible. We are not trying to bash any companies, but tend to steer clear of any company that uses pyramid sales. Since, however, they have become so popular, here is an interesting and thorough article addressing the many essential oil companies out there http://wholenewmom.com/what-to-buy/best-essential-oils-company-young-living-review-doterra-review/. The article has several parts if you really want to get in there.
The current trends are irrelevant, the real pursuit is purpose in craft and passion for longevity, allow me to explain:
A few years ago I was transitioning out of what seemed to be a permanent career, it was a surprise to myself as well as the people around me, although to be truthful I had not been happy for some time. I have had over fifty jobs ranging from janitorial duties, bar-tending, restaurant management, grocery management, building custom motorcycles, multiple construction jobs and finally my current renovation business and leather bag brand. (a lot of little weird jobs in between all these). I wish I could say that any of these jobs gave me a feeling of completion, they did not. Obviously we are not designed to get fulfillment from our job alone, but what we DO for the bulk hours of our day definitely contributes to some of these feelings.
When I was a kid, growing up in rural WV, the options for amusement were not large, I spent hours sewing little backpacks and clothes for my tiny soldiers and action figures, this should have been a clue as to some of my passion but sometimes these things go unnoticed and time eventually will bring it back to the forefront. Speed up to current day...I was in a store that my wife and I like to frequent, it is boutique (name left out to protect the innocent) and does an excellent job of capturing the work wear style of women that was a norm in the 40's and 50's. They had a large amount of bags, boasting an "old world style" I picked one up and was disappointed by the quality, which did not match the price tag. I suddenly determined to make a quality bag that truly did capture the feel of that era as well as more modern feels.
Any of you that have pursued a new craft understand that it can be very daunting, thread selections, leather weight, tools, work-space, etc. all play into the learning curve and in my case took time to accrue as I wanted to build this thing with zero debt. I have currently made dozens of bags represented across the east coast and now the Midwest as well as California. My goal is to flood the market with handmade leather bags that are not intended to be "throw away" but rather heritage pieces that will reflect the owners life and then be passed on.
The reason I started this stream of content with "trends are irrelevant" is to emphasize that longevity is more than just being fluid with trends, it is possible to build a good brand by keeping up with the ever evolving whims of the general public? Yes, but it is also possible to build something that has a defining style and purpose, that targets a certain group of people who are looking for a brand that they believe represents them. I liken this to my favorite men's scent that is a mixture of spices, and can only be sourced from a few places. I wear this because I feel like it best represents my self perception. It is the same for my bags, not every one will like them...they are not going to appeal to all of current trends or fashion, but they most certainly will to those that are looking for permanence in a constantly changing society. (of course this is all subjective for all of us as each person has a different pursuit and passion)
The bottom line is:
1. What really motivates you?
2. How does the motivation benefit not only you but those around you?
3. Can it be translated into a product that generates income?
Many of you (like Khi) are already successful and have been working your craft for longer than I have, I celebrate and thank each of you for inspiring the rest of us to do something beyond what social norms dictate, it is possible that some of you are "Multi-Potentialities" (there is an excellent TED talk on this) and you may be able to balance multiple career tracks, whatever we each may be we have a commonality in chasing what we think is important.
My favorite quote is from Steve Jobs, he said "I don't make for people what they want, I make for them what I think they need." Seems a little brassy and arrogant, but there is a little arrogance required to believe that your product is desirable...Believe in you, that is actually all you need to make it. Cheers and respect!
Samuel Brand bags