Shopping for Children, Can it be Ethical?

A lot of us have been shopping for school clothes or are in the process of thinking through it. Here is my personal process and some general tips to shopping this season!

1). Go through all clothing from last year. Ask…

Does this still fit?

Is it in good enough condition to still wear to school?

2). Sell or donate clothing that doesn’t fit if it’s in good condition if you don’t have a younger sibling to pass them on to.

3). Battle hoarding. We should be conscious of our planet, so if you have a lot of clothing that just needs to be thrown out, consider buying less this year. #buybetternotmore If you do a lot of sewing or craft projects, consider using fabric for those throughout the year. I do want to encourage minimalism, not to overdo it, but to always think about how many outfits your child really needs. Do not buy a top that will only go with one pair of pants. Try to get outfits that can be switched out, changed by adding layers, etc. Less can be more! And give yourself boundaries with shopping. Unsubscribe from brands that send constant sale emails and promotions that are too tempting. I took this step this past spring. Just because there is a good sale doesn’t mean you need to shop! Only receive emails from ethical brands (because they have sales too that make them more affordable!) and limit those to your very favorite brands.

4). Make a list of what your child NEEDS. We have to adjust our expectations. Unfollow those amazing IG accounts if you need to (you know, the families who go shopping every week and you rarely see their child in the same outfit more than once…how do they always look so perfect??). Our kids can be well-dressed in a way that communicates they are loved without going over the top with fashion trends and overbuying. I’ve never been a style-savvy momma (it just doesn’t come naturally), but if you are, be YOU but don’t put unrealistic expectations on your budget.

5). Decide how much you can spend. Know your budget well! I’ve decided we will spend a set amount now, then shop again in October for warmer items.

6). Shop second-hand first. A lot of second-hand clothing stores have items in almost new condition. Tyler just opened a Once Upon a Child and we have CCC sale coming up. I haven’t had a lot of luck with online secondhand shops like Thred-up, Swap, or Poshmark, but I still look every now and then if there’s something specific I need.

7). Look for these items on your favorite ethical brand sites (you will be overloaded with cuteness…prepare mentally to not overbuy =D). Add up how much they would be (don’t forget shipping cost). Check to see if any sales are going on or coming up. Compare sites. If you’re confident in their ethics, it doesn’t matter who you buy from. This decision depends on your budget or if you’re budget isn’t an issue, look at who the money is going towards. Do they also give back? What does their profit go towards? Also, don’t forget handmade, local businesses! I love supporting my community when I can.

8). Buy with confidence! You’ve set a budget, you know what your child needs, you’ve shopped consciously, and are ready to purchase! You can feel good about what your child is wearing and share with them about it too. I wish I had learned about ethical fashion as a child or teen rather than at 28 years old. We’re shaping the future generation!

My Two Favorite Brands

Tea Collection

“We create globally inspired, well-made, beautiful kids clothes for all of life’s adventures, big and small.”

I love the designs and patterns of pretty much all Tea items, girl and boy.  Every Tea purchase also gives back to the Global Fund for Children. Here’s what they have to say about Ethical Sourcing: “We are careful to work only with reputable manufacturers who follow our high standards of responsible labor laws, good working conditions and no child/slave labor. We have a Fair Trade act with all of our manufacturing partners. Each factory, must sign a Workplace Code of Conduct that outlines fair employment practices, facilities safety guidelines and compliance assurance methods. These requirements are documented and reviewed regularly, and we have no tolerance for anything unlawful or even the slightest bit questionable.” They also visit their factories in person on a regular basis and have agents in each country who are their eyes and ears.

Frugi

“Whether it’s paddling in the sea, splashing through muddy puddles or playing in the park, our clothes are designed to be long lasting and durable – so children can be children!”

Their designs are fun and whimsical! I’ll have a discount code coming for you soon 😉 We have LOVED everything we have purchased from Frugi. Keep in mind exchange rate and international shipping costs when purchasing.

-Global Organic Textile Standard certified company, which means that we adhere to stringent criteria in both our manufacturing and social accountability.

-Soil Association Organic Certified

0-10 years

UK based. Worldwide shipping.

And a new one I found on this list, “Ethical Clothes for Kids We Love” by Muka Kids, which I also discovered is similar to By/Sell/Trade Groups for ethical clothing, but goes even deeper! Follow that link to find out more and join their Facebook Group! Tea Collection is NOT on their list of acceptable brands (most likely because of certification requirements), but I’m excited to discover some new brands and shop used! Here’s a brand from their list that I felt fit our family:

Little Green Radicals 

“Organic fashion for free range kids…. mission to make beautiful things the right way.”

-Certified organic clothing AND fair trade clothing, a solid ethical brand from the UK, whimsical and fun!

-UK based. Worldwide shipping.

For hats and other knit items + adult clothing, shop Krochet Kids! I love what I’ve purchased from them so far.

For simple staples and capsule wardrobes, you might like Wildly Co. For Baby staples (and adults too!), check out PACT. I love my PACT items, and it’s a super generous company!

 

 

 

Finding Extraordinary in Death

Suffering and death. Two aspects of life on earth that can be completely impossible to understand.

Today I find myself confused, angry, and despairing.

A young woman, a wife, a mother to an almost three-year-old little girl, is losing her 2 year battle with cancer.

I have never met this woman in person. We were members of the same church body in Louisville. We had many mutual friends. I knew she was a talented photographer and reached out to her through email when I was just starting my own business, and she was so kind, helpful and encouraging.

We became Facebook friends, so when they first discovered her stage 4 cancer in 2015, I became a small part of the journey.

I have seen what a beautiful soul she has, not only from her own posts but through the outpouring of love from so many who know her well.

I have prayed fervently for their family. I have begged God to heal her body and give her many years with her little girl. I have rejoiced through several successful brain surgeries to remove a stubborn tumor, and when I heard the news that tumors in her lungs had grown after radiation, I felt in that moment God may not do what so many have begged and pleaded for. Then last night, her husband updated us all with the news that a tumor had been found in her shoulder, her sternum, the middle of her spine, her hips, and one on her right knee. These tumors were inoperable and radiation wasn’t an option.

Not long after they heard this news, she began experiencing intense pain in her back, which then led to intense pain throughout most of her back, hips, knee, shoulder, sternum, and arms.

They were informed that this is the end of the battle. There is nothing more that can be done. Their family has to say goodbye much too soon.

And I weep. I ask why. I am frustrated, angry, broken for them, for this little girl who has to grow-up without this amazing woman who loves her deeply.

The only answer I have is that we have no idea the beauty, majesty, glory that is heaven. We cannot see or experience the beyond from where we are now.

We read about it.
We dream about it.
We try to construct an idea of what it could be like.

But we are so far from comprehension.

And I have to just believe. Not “just”, as if it were easy, but “just” because there is no other option.

I have to cling to the truth I read in God’s Word, have faith that something so unlike this world around us is very real, that it exists, and the overwhelming pain we experience at the prospect of leaving everything here behind or saying goodbye to someone we love so very much, is nothing compared to the joy that is in store for those who believe.

It is extraordinary. There are only four things that come close to this joy that is to come for me…

The time in high school I tangibly felt God’s arms around me and heard him whisper, “I am your Father who loves you more than anyone on this earth.”
When I said ‘I do’ at the alter.
Each time I held my babies for the first time.
The moments in parenting I am able to see how blessed I am to have three beautiful souls who love me so unconditionally.

How do we find extraordinary in suffering and death?

We cling to the hope we’ve been promised, have faith that it is indeed true, and realize that God’s love for the ones He calls home is immeasurably greater than our own.

It doesn’t take away the pain. It doesn’t stop the tears. But it is my feeble attempt to make it through the impossible. If/when my day comes to lose my husband or one of my children or say goodbye to them myself, I will have no other hope than this.

P4J means Pray for Jenna. It is a reminder to pray throughout the day for this sweet family.

Please pray for this family. Pray for a miracle. But if that is not God’s decision, pray the time they have left together will be sweet, that the peace which surpasses understanding would settle over them in a way they have never experienced before, and they would cling to what God has promised in their darkest moments.

Finding Extraordinary in Parenting

Dirty dishes, dirty laundry, dirty floors, mirrors, sinks, counters, and dirty children.

Arguing, tantrums, disobedience, unkindness.

Exhaustion, exasperation, disappointed expectations.

Parenting is hard! The every day can get mundane. We begin counting the hours till we have a break, a little quiet time, peace. And when that doesn’t happen, we experience frustration, lose our patience quickly, and miss opportunities to really enjoy our children.

How can we change this cycle? How can we find extraordinary moments with our children in the midst of everyday chaos?

Here are a few ideas that have helped me have genuine moments of joy, extraordinary moments, with my children.

Tickle them. Really! Just stop and tickle them. Let their giggles be your primary goal, allowing your burdens to lift and your focus to be completely on them.

Observe them playing. Watch how they interact with their toys, the voices they do, the imaginary conversations.

Take their picture! I love capturing my kiddos really being them. Don’t force them into something unnatural, but capture them when they don’t notice you, when they’re really in their element.

Do something completely out of the ordinary, e̶s̶p̶e̶c̶i̶a̶l̶l̶y̶  even if it makes a mess! Let them finger paint, play with shaving cream, fill up water balloons, water guns, blow bubbles, etc.

Have a dance party!! Everyone loves this <3

Let them make up a story and then turn it into a book made out of card stock!

Watch them run. I had an extraordinary moment just a few days ago as my toddler ran away from me. His curls bouncing, the way he ran in only the way a toddler does…it melted my heart and made me want to capture him this way forever!

Get creative. You know your kids. Write a list out just like this specific for your children. And then take the time each to do something to find extraordinary!

 

Extraordinary Surprise!

Four days ago, I received the following email from my photography website’s contact form:

Hi..you said on your website page you are always up for an adventure so don\’t be afraid to ask. Soo…Wanna go to Africa and capture the life of the women? Bet you weren’t expecting that.😛 my name is Jennifer [last named omitted] and I live in Bullard. I have a ministry there and will be returning this summer. I have been praying for someone to come along and capture video and photos of the women and their daily life. I came across your site and the word “generation” leaped off the page at me.  Never hurts to ask, right? 😉

Wow. I was stunned. I responded quickly asking for more info about their ministry, and then looked her up on Facebook to see what I could find out about their ministry online. I saw we had a mutual friend, my Sseko Sister in Tyler, Monique. That made sense! Monique must have given her my name. So I quickly messaged her and asked…but no, she hadn’t! However, Jennifer is planning on joining us next weekend in Dallas for our Sseko Sister Texas weekend (I just made that title up =D) to see if their ministry can partner with Sseko in Uganda.

Sure enough, Jennifer tells me they are specifically planning on going to Uganda. She had no idea I was with Sseko, but our workshop in Kampala is one of the places in the 7-10 day trip where we will hopefully be visiting.

I am just floored y’all! And I would love to share a long back story to show you just how awesome God is in this.

When I was 12 years old, I became a Christian. My plan was to become a teacher and do mission work overseas. God had a different plan. During college, I met my future husband. I end up transferring universities to attend JBU. They happened to have a Children and Family Ministry degree, which we didn’t have at DBU and it was just an hour away from Crockett and his family. That summer, I was already committed to go on a mission trip to Macau, China. This experience was unforgettable, and I still felt a strong tug to see the world, experience different cultures, and share the gospel with people far away. But God was also calling me to my future husband. I knew this was the man I was supposed to marry, so I still decided to transfer.

I became extremely passionate about family ministry while there and could see myself becoming a children’s minster, writer, or going into the field of social work or counseling. We got married the semester before I graduate. My jobs after college are not what I had dreamed of, but God was planting seeds along the way. I apply for ministry positions, but nothing turns up. I decide to be a nanny for a bit after we move to Louisville for my husband to get his master’s (this had always been our plan). I also begin the application process to get a master’s in counseling, when surprise! I’m pregnant! So that gets put on hold. I fall in love with our baby and with mothering. We want another! So we get pregnant with number 2 when number 1 is 9 months old. The family I have nannied for the past two years is moving, we’re having another baby, so I decide to begin staying at home full-time while Crockett transitions from part-time work + full-time school to full-time work, part-time school. Perfect opportunity to develop my photography hobby and turn it into a business! So in 2012, Kara Delaine Photography is born, a path I never planned to take. We decide to try for a third baby and have our 2nd boy in April 2015.

Last year, we moved to Tyler, TX. Crockett graduated with his master’s in 2014, and we still had not been able to find a pastoral position for him after countless applications and rejections. We missed family and felt we were needed. Twelve hours of driving was just too far! So we moved, hoping Crockett would be a good fit for a church here that fit us well. But he wasn’t what they were wanting. Thankfully, his company decided to keep him on, but we still had holes in our budget. He applied for many jobs, but nothing came. My photography was not bringing in any business, though I had a steady flow of clients in Louisville. We had money saved, so we were fine, but definitely had fear for the future. At the same time, my joint pain continued to worsen. We weren’t sure how bad it was going to get or if I would ever have relief. During this time, a family member needed weekly care for their one year old. It ended up being the perfect amount we needed to meet our budget! Whew. But that was just basic needs, not new clothes or shoes the kids would eventually need or surprise vehicle/house issues…so I began thinking about other avenues I could pursue if photography never took off here.

I looked at becoming a proofreader. I looked at direct sales companies. I had a dream way back in my heart to become a children’s book author, specifically wanting to write books for little ones about God’s character. So I did that and sent it off to a publishing company I love, with a little hope something could happen (it didn’t, and I have yet to decide on another publishing company to send it to, so that is currently on hold).

Then I met my friend Monique, who was also new to Tyler. I heard her talk a little about Sseko. I was intrigued, and when she invited me to learn more about their company and products, I came. My heart was captured from that moment on. This was so much bigger than earning a little extra income for our family. This was a company that was making a real difference in the lives of so many women in Uganda. This was a company devoted to changing the world. And of course, I loved the products! So went through the application process and became a Fellow!

It’s been difficult for me so far. I felt like once someone hears our story and sees the impact Sseko is having + plus how gorgeous these handcrafted products are, they would want to share the story and be a part. But not so much. I’ve had extremely supportive family, and if it wasn’t for their support, I may have given up those first 3 months! They invested money they didn’t really have because they believe in these women and what Sseko is doing.

We also have an incredibly encouraging team that challenges us to persevere and dream big. It was just a couple days after I made my goals for the year that I received this email from Jennifer.

Do you see how all of my passions and the path God chose to pave for me has resulted in something better than I could have imagined? And perhaps this is just the beginning, and there are even bigger things in store.

I could write fundraising letters. I could start a Go Fund Me. But I honestly do not want to that. I want people to know who Sseko is, what they are about, and the impact they are making. I want to earn the money for the trip through my businesses.

So…..If you want to support me in this trip, read the Sseko story! Read about our women! Discover the intricate beauty of our products. Get excited that one young woman cared so much about the women Uganda that she did something about it and created something truly extraordinary. Ask me what a Trunk Show is and how you can not only help me go to Africa, but help a young woman named Judy get a bonus scholarship to ensure she is well on her way to a successful college career.

I have about $3000 to raise for the trip this summer (exact amount TBD) + the cost of immunizations and the amount we will need to meet our budget each month (did I mention the little boy I’ve been caring for is moving to Florida in a couple of weeks??!). But I believe God orchestrated this. I believe He will provide, and I feel it is essential for me to continue to work and earn and save.

My goal is to sale $3500 of Sseko in the month February, March, April, and May, which would allow me to earn the commission I need to cover this trip and our budget. Can you help me reach this goal by hosting a trunk show? By sharing our story? And if you at all interested in becoming a Fellow yourself, let me know! That actually adds a bonus to my monthly commission, which would help me reach my goal even faster! We are kicking off a brand-new season next week with gorgeous new (limited quantity) products, so there are many reasons to host a show in February!

If you live in the area, you can also book a photo session with me. As long as our budget is met, the rest will go into savings for the trip! I pray it will be a busy four months. I pray you all share so much that I have multiple trunk shows a week! I pray that I can trust fully in God’s ability to do things I can barely dream of.

Can you believe I could meet these women?!