While I was attending The Other Festival at City Point Brooklyn, I took some time to make sure to support the handful of local small businesses vending throughout the festival. I’m fully aware that buying nothing is the most sustainable option, but handmade items (especially those made from reclaimed materials) are like catnip for me, so I couldn’t help but indulge. Plus, I wanted to support these women while upping my outfit game at the same time.
Lineé Skincare – Botanicals Made in the USA
First, I got a facial mist from Linné, a small skincare line founded on the principles of science and reverence for nature. Inspired by the Swedish botanist Carl von Lineé, known as the father of modern taxidermy, their philosophy is to combine ethically sourced botanical ingredients with scientific expertise. Think of your favorite “all-natural” brand, but without the slight anti-vaxxer vibes.
Their ingredients are now completely vegan (they used to source oyster shell for one product, but have since shifted to an alternative) and avoid nearly all the ingredients listed as potentially dangerous by the Environmental Working Group database, including PEG products, petrochemicals, synthetic dyes, formaldehyde, boric acid, and lead. They take care to source from wild-harvested or organically-farmed plants, they told me. The mist I got is very hydrating, which is surprisingly rare for face mists which often favor an immediate refreshing feeling to long-term nourishment. Its first ingredient is raw aloe juice, so it’s no wonder it’s so soothing.
I also tried a sample of their Renew Serum, which is lightweight and feels slightly moisturizing. I honestly can’t speak to how well it works with how little I used – skincare typically takes about a month of daily use before you can see much of a difference, but I can safely say it was nonirritating on my sensitive skin.
The founder, Jenna Levine, seemed like a thoughtful person. We talked for a bit and she said that after seeing a documentary about Ai Wei-Wei, she was inspired to donate her profits from the weekend to either Puerto Rico aid or another charitable foundation. We talked about activism and I vented about my frustration with people trying to buy their way into social change who aren’t willing to do real work, and she said she wanted to start a monthly ritual with her friends to do social work or volunteering.
K/ller – Fine jewelry made in Manhattan of reclaimed metals
Handmade by jewelers from recycled materials, how could I not buy at least one piece from this brand? Most of their pieces are made by artists in their CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) studio in Manhattan, and the co-founders, having studied furniture design and restoration, brought that upcycling spirit into their fine and fashion jewelry line. They do occasionally use porcupine quills and horns in their designs, but they state on their website that these byproducts of the farming industry. They were the 2014 grand prize winner of the CDFA/Lexus Eco-Fashion Challenge.
I picked up a delicate ring and a single earring in the sale section – what I like about these designs is that they’re aggressive and masculine with quills and claw shapes abound, while also being modern and feminine, being suspended in delicate architectural elements. I altered my earring slightly to fit my cartilage piercing, and it’s perfectly delicate and striking. Their ethos is sustainable, yet their aesthetic is ultra-modern, so this is a brand to watch in the coming years.
The 125 Collection – Customizable Candles from Harlem
These candles are hand-poured in small batches and come in just three scents, but can be customized with one of dozens of affirmative messages on the front. They’re incredibly giftable and are truly the cleanest burning candle I’ve ever owned – the wax melts into an even line every time, instead of leaving residue on the side. Which is great especially because mine is going to be a makeup brush holder once I’m done with it. I got mine in “well groomed” which smells somewhere between a man’s cologne (not a bad thing!) and an earthy greenhouse. I wasn’t sure about it when I bought it, but once it’s burning, it feels cozy.
I met the owners of this brand as well, and they were incredibly warm and kind despite the long days – we talked a bit about business and they seemed really thrilled to connect with the other entrepreneurs at the event. If you like luxury candles and supporting women of color, this is your new go-to brand. You can even order candles with custom phrases on it, which would be perfect for a wedding or special occasion.
CF Goldman – Handmade Haute Couture with a Menswear Vibe
LAST DAY TO PRE ORDER SS18 @modaoperandi : the re constructed shirt dress : rendered in black file ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::Shot by @okrichie : styled by @vittoriacerciello : casting by @nicola.kast : makeup @deannamelluso : model @barbraleegrant :
I’ve gotten more compliments on this CF Goldman shirt than perhaps any other item in my closet. I was drawn to the menswear-inspired shirts even before I found a photo of Solange wearing one of her designs; plus I follow in Rihanna’s footsteps to promote the off-the-shoulder lifestyle. It’s simultaneously reminiscent of Marie Antoinette and Wall Street. She only had two size 2 shirts left (haute couture still needs to work on accommodating curvier women), and though it’s a little small, the magic of an elastic back makes it work for me. It’s not made by sustainable fabric (it’s cotton) but it is handmade in the U.S. and it’s made to last.
Karité Shea Butter – Moisturizers Made by Dermatologists
I don’t need more body creams, but when I tried this and felt how quickly this absorbed despite being a heavy cream. The brand’s story is also evocative – made by two dermatologists who immigrated to the US from Ghana, where they also source all their fair trade raw shea butter, and they try to support the livelihoods of women in the small villages there. This product does have palm oil in it, but they claim it’s ethically sourced from Ghana without harm to rainforests. They are also members of the Global Shea Alliance, a nonprofit based in Ghana that works to promote sustainability.
Title image courtesy of CF Goldman.