Tag: Fair Trade

Behind the Seams: a Special Q & A with Jonit

When our founder Maureen started Mata, she had two best friends, Jonit and Michelle, by her side on a ’round the world trip. While she knew those relationships would last a lifetime, it was anybody’s guess that those friends would be her business partners at a thriving fair trade fashion company over a decade later!

scan_forjonit

Jonit has worn a lot of hats both before and after officially joining Mata as the Marketing Director in 2011; she has packed orders, gone to trade shows, taken trips to India, and everything in between. A valuable resource to Mata Traders as well as the fair trade community as a whole, she has embraced her position here as Director of Sales and Social Impact. We asked her to reflect a bit on how she got involved and what she loves about working here.

jonit8

1) When did your awareness and passion for fair trade start?

I actually don’t remember when I first heard of fair trade, but my awareness of global poverty and inequity started when I started traveling and living abroad after college. I saw stuff that made me realize that the world was not what I thought it was and that just wasn’t right. It was pretty eye-opening.

Following our senior year, Michelle, Maureen, and I applied for and were granted work visas to live in Australia for a year and during that time we also took the short flight to Southeast Asia and spent some time there, too. In Australia, the situation for Aboriginal Australians was shocking. Right when we got there we saw protests demanding that the government apologize for the Stolen Generations. Then we went into the outback and witnessed Aboriginal communities living in poverty as second class citizens, facing blatant discrimination in employment and education. It was like we’d traveled back in time to a pre-civil rights era. Then in Southeast Asia we walked through cities made of shanty houses and rural areas dotted with dirt floor huts. A stark contrast to the life we came from.

jonit1

2) What’s your favorite thing about your job?

Without a doubt it’s visiting our producer groups and seeing the impact that we’re having on families. I’m talking about women with a 4th grade education able to support their families and send their own children to college. Women in domestic violence situations accessing the support and the means to leave with their children. Women, who for their whole lives lived under the suppression of social roles as the inferior sex in their own homes, coming into their own and finding their voice among a community of other women. It really makes me proud that we’ve been able to go back to these women each year with bigger orders, that they can rely on us as much as we rely on them. The thing that could make my job even better would be the opportunity to take our customers to India and Nepal to meet the women who make our products. I want our customers to understand like I do the impact they make by purchasing a Mata dress.

jonit3

3) You travel to India and Nepal quite frequently to visit our producers – what’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you there? What story stands out that you’ve ever heard from an artisan?

I’ve heard many stories that have made an impression on me and motivated me to work hard to generate more business for the artisans. One cool thing that I was able to do on my last trip was visit the organic cotton farmers that grow the cotton for our jersey line. I got to walk amongst the cotton fields and even pick some cotton. It was cool.

There is one artisan story that stands out. It was told to me by Choti, who is one of the women who leads a hand-embroidery group. Her village was experiencing a severe drought and the women organized to appeal to the local officials to have water trucked in. They said they would help, but nothing happened. Every time Choti and the women returned, they got the run-around and empty promises. Finally, the women decided they needed to do something more drastic. They set up a blockade on a highway road that passes the village and the women, all 250 of them, stood there and would not let traffic pass. It didn’t take long before the water trucks arrived. The thing that really struck me about the story is that Choti credits the women’s co-op for giving them the confidence to stand up for themselves. She said that without the trainings they had received, they wouldn’t have known their rights and would not have even thought to go to their local officials to voice their problems and demand action.

jonit5

 

4) What does it mean to be an FTF member?

FTF members commit to an all-encompassing, 360 degree practice of fair trade. It’s not just about fair wages. That’s important, but there are other tenets of fair trade that are part of our business model. One example is that we pay our producer groups up front when we place our order, rather than 30 to 90 days after we receive the goods, which is the apparel industry norm. This means that our artisan groups do not have to pay out-of-pocket for the materials and that they have been paid the full price for their work no matter what the ultimate sales results. In India, it is common for merchants to only pay artisans for their handcrafts once they sell. The FTF’s holistic version of fair trade protects against this practice.

Another example is our commitment to long-term relationships with our suppliers. Our goal is to provide a sustainable and stable source of income for the artisans and that both our business and theirs flourish and grow together. Mainstream fashion brands might shop around each season to find suppliers that will give them a better price. If costs go up in China, they move to Bangladesh. That’s not how fair trade works. FTF members work specifically with groups from marginalized communities with the goal of making lasting change and breaking the cycle of poverty. That’s why we commit to partnering with our suppliers for the long-term. [You can read more about the FTF’s principles of fair trade here.]

One last thing I want to mention about being an FTF member is that we are part of a national network (USA + Canada) of wholesalers and retailers who are fully committed to these strict practices of fair trade. It’s a great feeling to be among such a passionate and hard-working community and to know that together we are making a difference in ending global poverty and bringing ethically-sourced alternatives to consumers.

jonit4

5) Why do you think fair trade matters? What’s the most profound impact that fair trade has on it’s member artisans?

The accepted way of doing business in our corporate, globalized world is to drive up profits by driving down costs. Certain costs are fixed, though, like materials and transportation, so what usually suffers is labor wages. Fair trade turns that approach on its head and instead of being motivated solely by profit, fair trade businesses ensure that everyone involved in the supply chain is able to benefit.

With injustices rampant in the fashion industry as it exists now, fair trade companies like ours are offering people options that avoid problems like dangerous working conditions and child labor. It’s is giving consumers the power to change the industry. I think people feel a little powerless about their ability to affect the world and the industry, and fair trade is an accessible way to act on your ethics and make change in the world.

The biggest change we have seen is among female artisans. I think most women in India and Nepal aren’t in positions to economically support their families, provide continued schooling for their children, or to be leaders in their communities. In the co-ops we work with, members learn literacy and financial literacy, and they have access to healthcare for themselves and their families. There are democratic structures within the organization, so they vote on who among them will be the leaders, and there are opportunities for advancement to supervisor positions. Belonging to the cooperatives has had a very positive effect on the women involved.

jonit2

6) What is it like being a fair trade company in Chicago?

Chicago must be the greatest city to be a fair trade company. As the biggest fair trade city in the U.S., we have so much support in this really vibrant community, so many companies with similar stories to ours, and a really excited and motivated fan base. Every year Chicago Fair Trade has a World Fair Trade Day festival downtown in the middle of a pretty corporate area of the city. So many business people in the middle of their hectic days make time to talk to us about what fair trade is and how they could get behind it. It’s always really exciting to have such a receptive and openminded response from a lot of people who were unfamiliar with fair trade before.

Keep an eye out for Jonit as she travels to trade shows around the country!


 
 

10 Tips on How to Start Shopping Consciously

shop-well3

So, you’ve read about the environmental and social damages of fast fashion and the failure of retailers or factories to adequately improve working conditions and you’ve decided to make the leap into more conscious consumerism.

But, you’re bombarded with confusing information, nervous that slow fashion pieces will put you over budget, or just don’t know where to begin. Well, have no fear, Mata is here!  We gathered advice from around the office and we are sharing some of our favorite tidbits to help guide you on your journey into ethical fashion!

becurious2

1.) I think one of the easiest ways to start learning about and understanding fair trade is as simple as looking at your own clothing labels and finding out where things were made. How far back can you trace it? –Kacey, Sales Manager

2.) Figure out what issues are important to you, such as: the environment, child labor, fair wages, good working conditions, etc. and research companies that satisfy those requirements. – Lizzy, Production Intern

start-small

3.) In the beginning, shopping ethically doesn’t have to be about replacing your existing stuff, it can just be about slowing down your support for less ethical companies. Take baby steps by not letting yourself make unconscious choices – just because a store has new clothes every week doesn’t mean you need to buy them. Ask yourself if you’ll still want the item in two years. – Katie, Graphic Designer & Community Manager

4.) You can start small. You don’t have to try to change everything you buy all at once. Start by looking at your closet – what items do you reach for the most? When it comes to spending a little more on clothing for a bit better quality and ethical practices, I’d start with the pieces you wear most frequently. – Katrin, Marketing Intern

buyless

5.) Living frugally is a MUST. One of the main driving forces of unethical production of goods is our obsession with materialism and changing fashions. When you’ve decided there is something you want to buy, try checking if there is a comparable ethical or eco-friendly alternative first. Also try to buy classic pieces that are of quality and can last you for years.  – Shannon, Sales Intern

6.) One tip that has worked for me is to really think about what you wear. Be more “plan- full” with your wardrobe (i.e., Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up), especially for those women in the corporate world. So you can splurge on one or two wardrobe additions every season, but have staples that are more versatile–all can be done within fair trade fashion. – Chris, Managing Director

exploreoptions

7.) Build up your “Go-to Brands” list. One of the reasons people don’t shop ethically is because it’s not as easy as shopping fast fashion. So spend an hour or two investigating some brands you like and make a list. Then when you are looking for something you don’t need to spend time investigating what’s out there. You’ll already have a little list to refer to! – Katie, Graphic Designer & Community Manager

8.) Visit websites and blogs like the Fair Trade Federation, The Good TradeLife+Style+Justice, and Sustainably Chic to find out about some of the more popular socially conscious brands. Follow your favorite brands on social media to find out about deals or prizes and also to see what other brands they may partner with who may interest you. – Macaira, Fulfillment Assistant

affordable

9.) In terms of buying practices, shopping vintage and second-hand is an accessible and budget-friendly way to tiptoe into ethical shopping. – Kacey, Sales Manager

10.) If money is the issue, sign up for email lists and wait for the sales. Most companies have them, and there’s no harm in waiting until something you can afford comes along. – Katie, Graphic Designer & Community Manager

westelmrug

Fair trade rug from West Elm that Mata’s founder, Maureen, bought on sale!

————————————————————————————————————-

Have your own piece of advice on shopping responsibly for us and our readers? Feel free to share any tips you have in the comment section!

Save

Save

Save

Save


 
 

New Year, New Look for Mata Traders!

If you’ve fished around our site at all lately, you’ve noticed – we have a new look! Our old website had been up since 2007 so we were well overdue for an upgrade. Imagine our delight when we found just the person for the job – Jess from June Letters Studio. Her designs are clean and refreshing, and her hand lettering is to die for. We knew in an instant that she was the perfect person to handle the new Mata look moving forward.

MataTraders_JuneLetters_moodboard

Starting with a mood board, we had many discussions with Jess about the overall vibe we were aiming for. With the exception of our products, we hadn’t focused this thoroughly on the aesthetic side of our brand for a while, so the process was a great way to make sure we were steering Mata in the right direction.

The result?

Mata_Traders_Logo

A logo that’s fun and unique with a brand behind it that’s a lean, mean, women’s empowerment machine.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 2.14.05 PM

A clear cut list of reasons why your purchase makes a difference.

 

Mata_Traders_Branding

A lovely combination of artisan imagery and our favorite handwritten phrases.

 

corecompanyvalues

A better idea of what we stand for as a company.

 

Plus, we have a brand spanking new website! Thanks to Jess’s expertise in e-commerce, we’ve made our site a bit easier to navigate. Quick links to your favorites, Dresses and Jewelry, are right at the top, and now our site caters to the indecisive – Shop All! That’s right, dig through whatever we’ve got for sale and see if anything jumps out at you. Our new site is also mobile-friendly!

MataTraders_mobile_site

 

Learn more about our Handmade Techniques:

Mata_Traders_Handmade

 

Read about our journey starting the company:

Mata_Traders_Our_Journey

 

It’s also easier to learn more about what Mata Traders is about. Meet the friendly faces behind the company:

Mata_Traders_Team

 

And be sure to check out our Print Gallery. Download a print to use as your desktop or phone wallpaper!

Mata_Traders_Original_Prints

 

All this, and more! We couldn’t be more excited about the new look of Mata Traders.

See your favorite fair trade fashion brand, in a whole new light – check out the new website!


 
 

‘Tis the Season to Wear Fair Trade!

Need a last minute outfit for the holidays? We’ve compiled a collection of ethical and fair trade products that will be perfect for your Christmas or New Year’s Eve party! Look great and feel good knowing you are supporting artisans around the world this holiday season.

mata1

To make your own version of this look, find these products online:

Paper Doll dress red by Mata Traders
So Inclined earrings by Mata Traders
Entangled ring gold by Mata Traders
Cropped Chevrons necklace gold by Mata traders (coming mid-January!)
Mendez Flat Charcoal by Nisolo
Beaded Flying Lion Ornaments by Global Goods Partners


 
 

Dress to Impress

Exciting news! The Mata Dressember team has already reached their fundraising goal of $1,000! Thank you so much to all those who have donated – your support will help fight slavery and human trafficking throughout the world. You can still donate to Mata’s Dressember team through the end of the month, and be part of a movement that has already collectively raised over $400,000 in the first two weeks of December!

The Mata Team thanks you for supporting the Dressember cause!

 

And with two more weeks to fundraise, we want to introduce you to a few of our team members through a holiday-themed Q&A!

What is your favorite Mata dress this holiday season?

Lilly: Amazing Lace in Berry! So easy to dress up or down, and many color options for tights to wear with it!

Justine: Poetry in Motion burgundy! I love all the little details of that dress – little cap sleeves, flattering peplum, low back neckline. I’m all about the little details!

Emily: Devonshire when I want something cute and comfortable, Poetry in Motion when I’m feeling fancy!

 

What’s your go-to styling/accessorizing for the winter?

Emily: Brightly colorful coats and tights – I like to combat the greyness of winter as much as possible.

Justine: I like trying to mix textures into my outfits, such as chunky knit sweaters over a more sleek silhouette, tall suede boots over polka dot tights, etc. It helps to break up the monotony of winter dressing.

Lilly: Layering up on necklaces! So great to see different pops of colors and shapes when the weather outside is chilly.

 

What is your favorite December/holiday activity or tradition?

Emily: Drinking mulled wine out of a boot mug at the Christkindlmarket downtown.

Lilly: Going to see the Nutcracker! It is the perfect way to get some Christmas cheer and have a festive day exploring the city before/after the performance. 

Justine: Since I don’t live with my family and only see them once a year, I’m most excited about doing not-that-special things like watching Star Wars together (Oh Han Solo!). Other than that, Filipinos have this tradition called Noche Buena, where we wait until midnight to have Christmas dinner together after we’ve gone to the Simbang Gabi mass. It works out really well to eat so late because Filipinos are quite notorious in always preparing TOO MUCH food, so people are ravenous by then and pretty much nothing is left afterwards.

The Mata Team, left to right: Maureen, Justine, Lilly, and Emily


 
 

World Elephant Day

Did you know that today is World Elephant Day?! An estimated 100 African elephants are killed daily by poachers seeking ivory and meat. Today, people all over the world are coming together to protect and celebrate elephants, the largest land animals on the Earth. I love this cute photo of a Mama elephant with her baby:

mother-elephant-baby-elephant-calf

Elephants hold a special place in our hearts here at Mata, so much so, that we made an elephant print in our new Fall collection. You can celebrate World Elephant Day in a dress with little elephants on it!

Breakfast nook blue

Breakfast Nook dress

Autumn Frolic Dress

Autumn Frolic dress

Good Luck studsDon’t forget to accessorize with the adorable Good Luck stud earrings, too!

Read more about what you can do to make the world a safer place for elephants here.


 
 

Celebrate World Fair Trade Day!

Hi Guys! I’m Hyunmin, a Mata Traders intern from Korea, and I’m back on the blog to celebrate World Fair Trade Day. Yay!

May 9th is World Fair Trade Day, a global fair trade celebration that brings together thousands of people committed to building healthy and sustainable communities world-wide.

Last October, we asked Mata fans one question each week about fair trade to celebrate Fair Trade Month. We asked people to tell us their favorite fair trade companies and products, why they support fair trade, what fair trade products they’d like to see more of. We got lots of awesome comments, and I’m excited to share them with you today!

I created word clouds to better show all of the replies we received. Put together, the responses paint quite a picture. It’s great to see how all of your individual relationships to fair trade, combined, can create truly meaningful change around the world.

Let’s take a look at your replies (click images to see larger versions)!

Week 1: I support fair trade because…

why you support fair trade

Week 2: My favorite fair trade companies are…

favorites 1

Week 3: The world needs more fair trade… 

world need more fair trade 3

Week 4: I can’t live without my fair trade… 

can't live without


 
 

Alex’s Holiday Wishlist

Give a gift that gives back. This year we asked our very own employees to make a Christmas list filled with gifts from companies with heart.

Next up is Alex, Mata’s very own in-house model and customer service guru. This year she is making her list and checking it twice to be sure these ethical items are on it!

Alex_WishList

Lori Tote Deep Forest by Noslo $158

Like Mata Traders, Nisolo is a brand that is passionate about those who produce their products. Nislo empowers producers in emerging economies by connecting them to the global marketplace in a responsible manner. They pay fair wages, offer skills training, and ensure safe working conditions.

lori_deep2_large

Banded Sheet Set by Boll & Branch $200-$260

This sheet set fair trade and %100 organic. That’s cool, but it also provides hope for victims of human trafficking. With every sheet set sold, Boll and Branch makes a donation to ‘Not for Sale,’ an organization that provides shelter and education to victims of human trafficking.

1415299595360_sheets_band_detail_bed1.1200w

Notch Ring $35 and Mohawk Ring $35 by Soko

Soko is an online store that connects consumers to global makers of handcrafted jewelry made with natural and upcycled materials. Check out these simply stunning Soko rings:

befunky_artwork.jpg


 
 

Blogger Style: Summerfest Dress Remixed

Marisa Noelle, creator of The Shades of Monet Chronicles blog and Mata enthusiast, did an exceptional job remixing our Summerfest dress in four stylish ways. We couldn’t wait to share her creativity!

ONE: All tied up!

Marisa has reinvented the scarf! Here she shows us how to accessorize her favorite Mata dress with not one, but TWO brightly colored scarves.

a

b

TWO: Getting down to business!

Who says blazers are just for the office? Here Marisa shows us how she made her Summerfest dress fall friendly by layering it up with a blazer and some tights! To learn more about this look check out Mata Traders’ Blog Post, Blogger Style: Transitions.

c

d

THREE: There’s no place like Home!

Marisa, I don’t think you’re in Kansas anymore! Pops of red and green in her accessories to give this dress some added spunk.

e

f

FOUR: Put on those high heels!

I love this sassy spin Marisa put on the Summerfest dress; she simply adds a fun pump and is ready to hit the town!

x

y

If you want to try a spin at remixing this dress, you’re in luck because this versatile piece is currently on sale. Check out it out here: Summerfest Dress!


 
 

Fall Trends 2014

Cozy sweaters! Yummy scarves! The coolest boots! Fall is arriving, ladies. The trends are fun and wearable, especially with Mata Traders to back you up… 😉

#1.  Animal Accents

dolce and gabbana fall 14

stella jean fall 14 rooster

markus lupfer fall 14 ducks

DSC_2260skirt

 Animals of all kinds were embroidered and printed onto every type of garment (as seen above on Dolce & Gabbana, Stella Jean, and Markus Lupfer). Of course, Mata’s rendition is the absolute cutest; “The Buck Stops Here Skirt” is printed with deer silhouettes and is absolutely twirlable.

#2.  Western

cushnie-et-ochs-rtw-fw2014 western

kenneth cole fall 14 western

tibi fall 14 western

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It started with fringe and went into full-on western frontier. And, since I love a good brimmed hat, I am completely on board with this trend. Get some inspiration above with Cushnie Et Ochs, Kenneth Cole, and Tibi. Mata’s “Hello Dolly Dress” works perfectly with western-inspired hat and boots. Actually, most of Mata’s prints and silhouettes for fall pair seamlessly with western accessories! Which brings me to the next trend….

#3.  Shearling

etro fall 14 shearling

isabel marant fall 14 shearling

tommy hilfiger fall 14 shearling

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shearling is a great option for warmth and guess what? Mata’s dresses layer perfectly underneath a fluffy shearling coat or vest! The “Fan Fair Dress” is my top pick to layer up. This mix of pattern + texture is a match made in heaven. It’s another trend that I L-O-V-E and really plays along with the western trend. (Pictures above are from Etro, Isabel Marant, Tommy Hilfiger.)

#4.  60s Mod

gucci fall 14 mod

louis vuitton fall 14 mod

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I like a nod to mod. As seen on numerous runways (and above from Giccu and Louis Vuitton), your fall just got a little more swingin’. Mata gives you a similar silhouette with the “Memory Lane Dress” and if you pair the “New Hampshire Skirt” with tall boots and a slim sweater you have got the look down pat!

#5.  Loafers

elizabeth and james fall 14 loafers

FW14 BAND OF OUTSIDERS NEW YORK

RunsInRows

Think menswear. It’s always nice to thrown in that unexpected piece with Mata’s feminine dresses. I think the loafer gives you an instant ‘cool girl’ feel.  And (hooray!) they are so comfortable! Elizabeth & James and Band of Outsiders sent loafers down the runway, along with many others. Mata showed loafers with a number of looks in the Fall catalog, like the “Runs In Rows Dress” above.

The Fall shows were no disappointment. I always love to see what new trends are appearing and then incorporate them into my own style. I wanted to say that my favorite trend was Western, but those shearling pieces are giving me hearts in my eyes, too! Do you have any favorites this season?

xoLaura


 
 

Blogger Style: Come Rain or Shine

“Have you ever put something on and felt it was made just for you?” asks fair trade fashionista Shannon, ’cause that’s how she felt in our Rain or Shine dress!
rain0

When a faux wrap top meets a high waisted skirt, it just makes the most desirable silhouette if you ask me. And as you’ll see in this post, there are plentiful options to dress it up or down. I love the striped fold over clutch matching the dress to a T.

rain3

The dainty yellow umbrellas on top bring a touch of whimsy and cheer, even to rainy days! Shannon says, “the quality of the stitching and fabric is just amazing.” Why, thank you, Shannon, it’s a handwoven fabric and a hand screen printed pattern. See that whole process here – Your Handmade Garment from Start to Finish.

rain2

Don’t fear spring showers! Shannon is stylin’ with her big Roma boots.

rain4

With pointy heels and a ruffled blazer, the Rain or Shine dress is perfect work attire! Although, the funky shoulder bag is saying, I’m not all business. Thanks so much, Shannon, for your inspirational remix of the Rain or Shine dress, a dress for all occasions. See Shannon’s original post here and stay tuned for more Blogger Style posts coming up!


 
 

Kendra’s Challenge – Ethical Style

Travel expert Kendra Thornton has a challenge a lot of us can relate to; day-to-day a busy lady and mom of three, she needs the perfect outfit for a night of fun on a trip to New York City! We put together two style boards that would work perfectly for a night out with her friends. Most importantly, both outfits are from fair trade, ethical, and eco-friendly brands. Conscious spending is the best spending!

In Kendra’s words, here’s what she was looking for:

A European Experience In New York

“There is a trip to New York in my near future. I plan to wine and dine the night away, but I need a stunning outfit that will make me feel glamorous and comfortable at the same time. There truly is nothing better than a stay at one of the best hotels in New York City. If you haven’t had the pleasure, I highly recommend it. The location of the restaurant is the Dream New York Hotel. I won’t have to walk far, so I can wear heels that have a little height. My outfit needs to be something flattering while still being modest because I am a mother. I am anxiously awaiting your ideas so that my friends and I can have a wonderful evening!

The restaurant that I have chosen to dine at is called Courgette. Food on the menu, as well as the décor, is inspired by northern Europe. While sitting in the restaurant, we can see Times Square as it is only a few steps away. This is somewhere we can sit and relax from the hustle and bustle of the busy city. The inside of the restaurant has been transformed into a magical environment that will make us feel like we are in a garden. Brick is exposed in the walls to give a rustic feel. One of the areas that I can’t wait to see is the bistro and bar. While enjoying a drink, we will see cutting boards that are adorned with olives and other ingredients that are often used in the drinks. Honeysuckle is planted between the bricks, and the dark lights illuminate the blooms elegantly. The specials of the day line the walls in a playful fashion as there are newspapers that also line the walls. This restaurant is somewhere that will take us to the heart of Europe without us leaving the country!

New York offers more than just fine food and wine. It is a place of entertainment and has a certain style that makes you feel like you are a world away. Dream New York Hotel is one of the best in the city, if not the state. While there, I want to have the perfect outfit so that I can have the best time possible.”

Sounds a like a spectacular night, right? Escaping real life for a trip to New York would be quite an adventure, so here’s our first style suggestion for Kendra:

 

Fair Trade, Marketplace

Our hand block printed blue Marketplace dress is great to dance the night away with her girls while still looking elegant. The neckline and trim around the bottom is hand embroidered, and the dress even has hidden pockets! Adding the Golden Echelon necklace gives her a touch of class, and the gold Threaded Arrow earrings bring some color into the jewelry mix. Our Medici Wrap bracelet has the look of wearing multiple bracelets, but all it takes is a simple wrap around the wrist.  The flirty, fun Dusty Blue Clutch from Malia Designs will have Kendra carrying her essentials in style! Topping off this look are Clarks Artisan Wessex Shav shoes from eco-conscious Planet Shoes.

Up next, a second look for Kendra:

Fair Trade, Glam Noir Dress

Our Glam Noir dress, with ikat polka dots and contrasting lace trim, has elastic smocking in the back for a flattering fit. Pairing the dress with our red Darling Doily earrings makes a statement that’ll have people staring, while the silver Chaise bracelet and the silver Curly ring bring in a touch of sophistication. Add some bling with a unique purse made of recycled pop tops, from Bio Imaginarte. To polish off the outfit, why not step into some ankle booties from Planet Shoes again? 

Don’t forget that you can dress for a party or a night with the girls, look glamorous, and still shop fair trade, ethical brands. We hope your trip is fun, Kendra!


 
 

Spring 2014 Trends

I’ve been counting down the days of winter and now that the snow has cleared (in most places, sorry Chicago), I’m ready for spring fashion! Here are some of the top trends for spring that I’ll be incorporating into my looks:

Quirky Prints

Quirky prints

Designers really spoiled us with great prints for spring and the quirkier the better. Prints this year are a little bolder, a little bigger, and way more exciting! Mui Mui’s cat print (shown right) is a perfect example. Give this trend a whirl with the houses print in Mata’s Starboard Dress (shown left). I say go big or go home: stack on those baubles and wear cute socks peeking out of your shoes.

Pastels

Pastels

The trend on everybody’s lips for spring is pastel. Designers sent loads of light and airy colors down the runway. I love the frostier pastels, like the Study Abroad Skirt (shown left) from Mata in a minty blue-green. Pair it with an open knit sweater and chunky leather belt at the waist. Or go full-on confection and pair it with a top in a different shade of pastel! It’s always important to have fun with it! Tadashi Shoji (shown right) + many more designers gave us some fresh pastel looks that inspire.

Button Down Shirts

ButtonDown

I love this trend – you can wear this look in so many different ways and really make it your own! Mata gives us the Tied & True Top (shown left) with a bow at the neck for a fantastic feminine twist. I am looking forward to wearing this trend in a “menswear” fashion with wide leg trousers, loafers, and a big watch on my wrist. Victoria Beckham showed crisp oxford tops, as did as Alexander Wang, and I love Christian Siriano’s (shown right) styling with a shorts suit!

Peplums

Peplum

The return of classic peplum from designers like Kate Spade and Balenciaga (shown right) lend a ladylike feel to spring. Gotta love those peplum skirts…(they hide a multitude of sins, don’t they? 😉 ). Try Mata’s flattering Printed Peplum Skirt in red (shown left) or teal with a tucked-in tee and a bold statement necklace to complete the look. This is a “where-did-you-get-that?!” kind of skirt. Trust.

Black & White

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black & white are still at it! Such a great way to power-dress. I always feel a touch more fierce in black and white, like Coco Chanel. Mata gives you plenty of options to try the trend. Be Audrey Hepburn-classic in the Cape Cod Dress. Or be bold with the Parisian Bookshop Dress (shown left).  Or be casually cool in the World Traveler Dress. The choice is yours! I like to dress up black & white frocks with shiny metallic accessories. Take some tips from Emilio Pucci (shown right) and add pops of color (like royal blue and orange) in with your accessories.

Earth Tones

EarthTones

This is one of my fave trends this season. From nude to mossy green to khaki, neutral, earthy tones are a refreshing break from the bolder trends. Michael Kors (shown right), Valentino, and more showed chic earthen looks. Sometimes it’s the simple things that stand out the most! Pretend you are on a safari with Mata’s Pen Pal Skirt in taupe (shown left) paired with a khaki green top. Top it off with gold and tan accessories.

Happy end of winter, you guys! Here’s to a whole new season of wonderful things!!

xoLaura

 
 

Blogger Style: Lifestyle Justice

The Moonrise dress must be a blogger fave because Hannah from Lifestyle Justice is styling it, too.  She has been a long-time Mata fan and promotes lots of fair trade on her blog – everything from food to her wedding (where her bridesmaids wore our Colaba bracelet and Palaise earrings).

If you’re looking for something to brighten your dreary winter day, this is the dress.  Or as Hannah puts it, “It’s like wearing a piece of the sky.”

IMG_8463

‘Tis the season to be festive, so Hannah adds some holiday cheer with red tights – a striking contrast to the blue dress.  Paired with a leather jacket and cute floral sash, you have a perfect party outfit.

IMG_8481

Hannah’s from Minnesota, so she knows how to layer, wearing a faux fur scarf and fingerless gloves from Breaking Free Boutique, a company that supports survivors of sex trafficking, and tall boots with knee socks peeking out.

hannah in moonrise white

Don’t wear white after Labor Day?  Nah!  Hannah’s look is just right for a winter wonderland if you ask me, and I adore the tan tasseled loafers.  She also adds our Summer’s End necklace to the ensamble, which I think brings a little more depth to the green-blue color scheme.

IMG_8466

You can find Hannah’s original post as well as some others about fair trade and ethical companies over on her blog.

Thanks for reading! A few more blogger style posts are on the way.


 
 

Blogger Style: Shades of Monet in the Sailor Moon

Hello again!

Today’s blogger style post is brought to you by Marisa from Shades of Monet, who decided to take our Sailor Moon dress through sun, leaves, snow and blooms. With some simple but edgy styling, she jazzed it up with serious pops of color and seasonal accessories. Take a look at what she’s done with a dress with “endless possibilities,” in her words:

matacollageheader

MataFallFull

AUTUMN LOOK – As school starts back up and the leaves begin to fall, I love putting a preppy spin on this piece with a plaid button down underneath, a beret, and a pair of navy tights to keep warm from the cool autumn air.

Matawinterfull

WINTER LOOK – I live on the side of a mountain so it’s all about the layers up here. Socks and tights, a wooly hat, a heavy sweater, and warm scarf are where it’s at when the temp hits zero degrees. I love how the neutral gray of the dress lends itself well to pairing with bright colors – especially on a dreary winter day.

MataSpringfull

SPRING LOOK – Finally everything is blooming again, so naturally I’m inclined to work florals into this look with a flowery headscarf and lacy rose knee highs that seem very appropriate for the Spring season.

MataSummerFull

SUMMER LOOK – Simple just like summer – there are no layers needed because the collar does all the talking here. The dress itself is easy and breezy and perfect to throw on with a pair of flats and a boater hat.

Thanks for sharing Marisa! Please stay tuned for even more blogger style posts!

*All captions in this post are from the original Shades of Monet post, found here.


 
 

Blogger Style: October in the grey Meadow

We know, we know. Lotttts of October Rebel this season. But we can’t get enough of her, can you? Today she incorporates elements of nature and some holiday cheer while styling the Meet Me in the Meadow dress.

meadow-remix

meadoe-6As a real-life “Alice in Wonderland,” Anna takes a different approach to a dress that leans a bit to the fancy side, wearing it instead for everyday December activities like putting up Christmas lights, making gingerbread houses, and last minute holiday shopping.

meadow-dress-woods-784

Her tights match the merlot-colored waistline perfectly, and adding a simple cardi tones down the dress a notch. Keep frolicking in the forest, October! We’re digging it.

meadow-dress-unbrella

Looking for a way to bundle up while still showcasing your Mata? October added a short pea coat and a classic black beret, then kept the warmth coming with a heavy hunter green/red scarf. Look how the purse and umbrella match, too! (Very Christmas-y.)

meadoe-stockings-1

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Check out other Blogger Style posts here, and October Rebel’s original Meet Me in the Meadow remix post here.

*By the way, we’re doing free shipping on all orders over $50 until December 31st. No code needed!


 
 

Blogger Style: October Rebel

October Rebel is back, working her magic on the Sylvia blouse from our fall collection. To her the blouse says, “I’m little fairy tale, I’m a touch Little House on the Prairie, but I also fit perfectly in a modern wardrobe,” so she showcased the floral print by pairing it with several solid basics, playing off the romance of the tiny floral print and voluminous sleeves.

sylivia-blouse-remix

mata-traders-blouse-98

With some simple accessories to mirror the subtlety of the blouse, colored tights pull the vibrant purple out of the print.

mata-traders-blouse-0876

mata-traders-blouse-lbd

A small, tight print can add visual interest without amping up the craziness. It’s perfect for spicing up any LBDs (Little Black OR Little Blue Dresses) you have lying around.

mata-traders-blouse-543

Comfy, and cute, October Rebel spotlights the blouse by supplementing it with simple black pants and riding boots, rocking some pigtails, and calling it a (fabulous fall) day!

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more blogger style posts.

You can read October Rebel’s original post here.


 
 

Blogger Style: Fifth Freedom Fashion

Our Saddleback skirt has been a pretty popular style this fall; the grey one is almost sold out!  One of our fave bloggers, Lily, from Fifth Freedom Fashion did a little remix with the Saddleback in blue stripes.  It’s made of a gorgeous, soft fabric which has been handwoven on floor looms. (Follow that link to see video of that process.)

1618382c-55ec-4389-970c-9f9d6f76d140_zpsb30e5336

Lily does a sweet job walking the line between vintage and modern with those updated Mary Janes and that retro grandpa sweater.  Happily, they bring out the bit of creamy taupe in the skirt, too.

d54606ba-1302-4133-8bc5-f1c15b21b60e_zpsf2401c85

Pairing the skirt with maroon gives a fall jewel-toned vibe to the look.  This picture was taken back in October when it was a little warmer (hence the bare legs).  For winter, add tights and a navy pea coat – and let it snow!

abb5ac86-13d9-4e80-8a7e-074aca4a0cce_zpscaf6aa70

Love the contrast of the golden yellow top with the maroon tights and boots – a great pop of color for a winter look. Do you see that 3-tiered beaded necklace she’s wearing?  That’s our Dainty Ladder necklace, and the red beads compliment the tights and add just one more subtle layer.

d1d32304-80c9-489c-b6a6-0cd6e9349cd3_zps6022b43e

Layer it up!  This look does just that.  A striped long sleeve under a purple cardigan, under a navy blazer.  Add warmth literally and visually with a bright-colored scarf.

c177ae5ada5fc64e41a10b6a396249fb

This pic is from a while ago, but I couldn’t resist reposting. Lily paired our Gatsby necklace with a white lacy top, which totally has a beautiful holiday vibe. It’s on sale for a steal at $12.99, so get it now to pair with your winter wonderland outfits this season and buy an extra as a gift for your best friend!

Thanks for reading! Check out previous blogger style posts & you can see Lily’s original post here.


 
 

Blogger Style: Delightfully Tacky

When master remixer Elizabeth from the blog, Delightfully Tacky, got a hold of two Mata dresses from our Fall Collection, we couldn’t wait to see what she’d come up with.  We were not disappointed.

10305470875_702d11fdaf_o

She styled the Young Love dress into three very different, but very fun looks.  Look 1, our purple frock becomes a top paired with a leather skirt – not the first thing you’d think of when styling a dress, but it totally works!  Look 2 adds a sweet lace top and a graphic necklace for something subdued but dressy.  Look 3 goes bold with a geometric cardigan and a bright infusion of color.

10305486836_56fe40db5e_o

Two Mata dresses is twice as nice!  Elizabeth styled the Moonrise dress in ‘electric prim’ by buttoning up a bright cardigan, belting it, and then adding a bold scarf for a pattern pop.

10305612573_d41861141e_o

The dress looks slouchy-chic with an oversized sweater and a fancy necklace.  Pretty great, right?  We’re a little jealous of her remixabilities!

Thanks for reading, and keep checking back for more blogger style posts.  You can read the original post from Delightfully Tacky here.


 
 

Blogger Style: Shades of Monet in the meadow

Ready for another Blogger Style post, our series featuring some of the hippest fashion bloggers we know styling their favorite Mata pieces?

Marisa Noelle from Shades of Monet joins us, styling the Meet me in the Meadow dress for several occasions.  Her looks display her funky style while getting us seriously excited for fall and winter wardrobes!

MeadowCollage1-1

Let’s get to work!  Marisa made this dress office-appropriate by adding a blazer, blouse, and lady tie.  Even with the bright floral print, the dress looks professional and pulled together without being plain ol’ boring office-wear.

10402278155_69d8d8d11b_b

Party time!  Nothing says daytime party like a pretty floral dress and a cutie-pie cardigan.  I love the color contrast of the aqua sweater with the pink and orange print; autumnal pastels are on trend this season, very refreshing.  Add a fun and funky pair of shoes and voila – let’s celebrate!

10402284326_daf44d69c9_o

Coffee Shop Chic.  An easy day-to-day look is a pair of tights, some flats, and a dress with a sweater on top.  Comfy, casual, and cozy for a coffee shop pop-in and then on to conquer the errands of the day.

10402261004_9eba063808_o

Party the night away!  Paired with deeper colors, this dress becomes the perfect party piece, whether it be a wedding or dinner party.  Go a wee bit over-the-top and wear a bold accessory to complete the look, like Marisa’s fancy schmancy headband.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Marisa for giving us some super fun styling ideas for the Meet Me in the Meadow dress!  You can read her original blog post here.


 
 

Blogger Style: Birds of a Thread

Hey Hey!

Have you been looking forward to another Blogger Style post?  We have, too!  This time Jacqui from Birds of a Thread styles our popular Sailor Moon dress.

birds of a thread sailor moon dress

Taking a cue from Orla Kiely’s Fall/Winter ’13 look book (which took a cue from Wes Anderson’s Margot Tenenbaum), Jacqui chose a color palette of grey, mustard, red, navy, mauve, and bubblegum pink.  I’d say it works!

Sailor Moon 4-1(2)

It’s easy to take our dresses from fair to frigid weather by pairing them with a simple cardigan or a patterned sweater.  Another trick is to layer under instead of over – like Jacqui does with a couple of button-down shirts.  Whatever the weather, sunglasses complete the ‘cool’ vibe, don’t they?

Sailor Moon 3-1(2)

Sailor Moon 2-1(2)

Did you notice the interesting white broach on Jacqui’s navy coat?  It’s our Stacked Squares earrings attached to a vintage pineapple pendant – ingenious!

Mata Pendant detail copy

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more Blogger Style posts!

The original post on Birds of a Thread here.


 
 

Meet Anita

It’s always a pleasure to reconnect with a familiar face, and when the Mata team recently visited the cooperative we work with in Mumbai, we were pleased to catch up with Anita.

anita

Anita is 25 years old and married with a six year old son. Before working at the co-op, she and her husband worked in agriculture, farming for their landlord. It was intensely hard work and yet they still were not able to make enough money to live on, so they made the decision to move to Mumbai and look for different jobs.

Now, things are much better for Anita and her family; they are earning more money and have a better quality of life. Her husband works as a driver in the city, and Anita has been working in the cutting room at the cooperative for a year and a half, responsible for folding the fabric for the master to cut. Anita wants to support her son’s studies and invests a lot of her money in his education.

We were lucky to meet Anita’s family when they were visiting the co-op.  That’s Anita in the black scarf, behind her to the right is her aunt, Sidhama, a founding member of the co-op 28 years ago, and on the very left is Anita’s mom who recently returned from Kuwait where she was working in a mall.

anitas family


 
 

Blogger Style: Un Petit Fauve

We’re happy to continue our ‘Blogger Style’ series with Amber from Un Petit Fauve.  She’s one of our favorite bloggers, not just because she likes to style Mata, but also because her blog intersperses her love of vintage fashion with her own original poetry.

moonrise petite fauve

Amber is from the Bay Area, a beautiful backdrop for our Moonrise dress in the lovely color of chartreuse.

matapost7-001

The floral print on the dress is applied by hand.  The design is carved into a block of wood, dipped in dye (or in this case a resist of clay/mud/sap), and then stamped on the fabric by a very precise block printer.  Learn more about our block printers and how the technique works.

darling doily necklace pf

Another cool handmade element of the dress is the red embroidery at the collar and hem and the blue applique stripes at the waist and hem.  That intricate work is done by women in their own homes, although quite often the women get together to stitch in one woman’s home or in a community space like a temple patio.

Amber is also wearing our darling Darling Doily necklace, made by artisans at our amazing jewelry partner organization.

Want to see what the Moonrise dress would look like paired with knee-high socks and a cable-knit sweater?  I think you said yes.  Then head over to Amber’s original post for further fall styling.

Thanks for reading! Stayed tuned for more Blogger Style posts to come!


 
 

Blogger Style: October Rebel

Hey Everyone! Here’s another Blogger Style post, this time with October Rebel.

“October is Fair Trade Month. Why not celebrate with some fair trade fashion? Mata Traders recently challenged me to remix some pieces from their Fall ’13 collection. Let me tell you – I was so excited. Their Fall ’13 collection is gorgeous. There are understated floral prints, simple stripes, romantic jewel tones, lots of delicious a-line silhouettes, but also some polished sheath dresses. You should definitely check it out. It’s all very charming and wearable, but I think I’m loving the cotton lace Young Love dress the best of all. Here are four ways of styling it for fall. (Did I mention it has pockets)?”

 young-love-dress-title

fair-trade-red-lace-dress-0

Pair it with tights and simple flats for those warmer fall days

fair-trade-red-lace-dress-7

fair-trade-red-lace-dress87

Throw on a plaid jacket and a beanie when it gets colder

fair-trade-red-lace-revised

fair-trade-red-lace-dress-1

Maybe a cardigan is more your style? Still works with this versatile dress!

young-love-dress-scarf-2

young-love-dress-scarf-1

Last but not least, pair with a scarf for a more casual look

Thanks to October for sharing! Stay tuned for more Blogger Style posts!

See her original post here.

 


 
 

Blogger Style: Walking with Cake

Over the next couple of months we’re going to post photos of some of our favorite bloggers as they style our fall collection.

First up is Catherine from Walking with Cake.  Our Savannah Smile dress reminded her of the old railroad caps her grandfather used to wear and was the perfect outfit for an outing to Railroad Park with her boys.

Savannah-Smile-Dress-by-Mata-Traders

Catherine’s from Texas, and even though it’s technically fall, it’s still hot.  She first paired the dress with a thin leather belt, strappy sandals, and a fair trade medallion.

But, for cooler weather…

Savannah-Smile-Dress-styled-for-Fall

…add a sweater and lace-up shoes for a bit more warmth.  And when it gets cold enough, grey tights will complete the look.

Stay tuned for more Blogger Style posts coming up!

See Catherine’s original railroad post here.


 
 

Fall 2013 Trends

The weather has finally snapped and it’s time to think Fall!   I try to love each of the four seasons equally, but Fall always seems to tug at my heart strings more than the others.  So let’s talk Fall 2013 Trends…

First up, florals.  It’s not always what you think of for Fall, but here they are anyway!  I love the mix of a light print with heavy tights and a chunky knit for a romantic look.  Or toughen it up with a leather jacket and boots for a 90s look.  Use Mata’s ‘Meet Me In The Meadow Dress’ to execute your look.

Meet me in the Meadow dress

jessica alba floral lthr glmourmagazine.co.uk

 Meet me in the Meadow dress

Secondly, midi skirts.  Such a ladylike style that used to be seen as a matronly, but I think this look can be totally sexy when styled correctly.  Use the ‘Saddleback Skirt’ or the ‘Tagalong Dress’ to get the looks.  I say, always do a heel with the midi skirt so it doesn’t cut off your leg.  I love how Theyskens’ Theory showed a midi skirt with a tall boot.  Sometimes, showing less skin can be sexy!

saddleback skirt

Dries Von Noten

Dries Von Noten

fair trade dress

Theyskens' Theory

Theyskens’ Theory

Next, let talk about color blocking, which is still going strong after a few seasons.  We’ve all dipped our toes in the color blocking water.  You can see Mata’s take on the trend with the ‘Half Moon Dress’  or the ‘Moonrise Dress’ .  Either color block with all black and white or choose all rich jewel tones:

halfmoon dress

Rag & Bone

Rag & Bone

dress_moonrise_blue_m

Juan Carlos Obando

Juan Carlos Obando

Those are some top Fall trends for 2013 that Mata has shown in their line.  I love the looks, and can’t wait to try them out!  Fall is here…. Are you ready??

xoLaura


 
 

Blogger Style

Wondering how to transition your spring pieces into fall? Sarah, the blogger behind Closet Bookworm, shows off how she styles Mata a few different ways. These are images from her 30-day-challenge she posted on pinterest (that’s also why there are numbers on the pics).

a9b8c60f6ed4fc4230db58d46c09cc0a

12bb37dd4454532e8e724d087d1a9782

Look familiar? This is our Pagoda Pocket dress from our Spring ’13 line. Still available online, and definitely fall-ready when you pair it with some tights & a sweater.

c5066dcda17965e201616870cbe0706d

6cdc6a7ac23f94c4258d8bbd9795f4a5

Isn’t this skirt cute? Unfortunately, we don’t have any more of this exact print, but we do have the same style in our Fall Collection, in two different color-ways. You can find them here.

304e1fac61d6494fd57a4ba40f0bf7b4

Just pair with tights and you’re set!

28bf61706867976a2802f8da4d3085d9

Here’s our Singapore Sweetheart top – since it’s been so hot lately, you still have time to pull off this look. Or, you could just pair it with dark jeans and a blazer for a sleek look ready for work (and the weather)!

Check out our fall collection here.


 
 

Emerald With Envy

plentyofcolour_emeraldpantone

Pantone named emerald the color of the year calling it:
“Lively. Radiant. Lush… A color of elegance and beauty that enhances our sense of well-being, balance and harmony.”  Sounds pretty wonderful, right?  It just so happens to be my birthstone, and is a color that I love to play around with.  Below are some inspiration boards that show how easily Mata’s summer line can be worn with it this great 2013 shade:

emerald board 1Here we have the ‘Pleated Petal Blouse‘ which goes swimmingly with emerald skinny jeans.  For a little enhancement pair with gold accessories like the ‘Connected Hoops Earrings‘  and a personal favorite of mine, the ‘Wind and Water Bracelet‘.  Keep the outfit playful with lace sneakers.  (jeans/ J. Brand, sneakers/ Superga)

emerald board 2 copyAnd here I took the effortless ‘Twist and Twirl Dress‘ and paired it with some deep emerald accessories.  I love navy and emerald together for summer; It reminds me of the ocean!  Think of this like color blocking.  You don’t want to go overboard, so throw some neutrals in, like a straw hat and the ‘Labyrinth Ring‘. (purse/ Madewell, sandals/ Stella McCartney, hat/ Eugenia Kim)

The 81st Annual Academy Awards - ArrivalsLet’s take some inspiration from Angelina Jolie and remember that a little emerald goes a long way.

emerald board 3 copyEmerald looks so stunning with black for a nighttime look that I would wear the ‘Vintage Leaf Earrings‘ with the ‘Shanghai Shift Dress‘ and a simple black shoe.  Tie the look together with emerald nail polish.  As if this outfit wasn’t fantastic enough, you can add Brad Pitt on your arm for the extra wow factor. 🙂 (flats/ Marais USA, polish/ Essie)

Emerald is a truly beautiful color.  It is soothing and is perfect for summer.  Try it out.  The color will easily find a way into your heart, as it has done for me.

xoLaura


 
 

School’s Out for Summer…….or maybe not

Have you been busy this summer taking classes? Have midterms got ya down? Well for a smarty pants like you, here’s an idea for a little pick-me-up in your summer school wardrobe.

Screen shot 2013-07-17 at 12.25.02 PM

The Pagoda Pocket dress is the perfect dress to throw into your classroom rotation. Not only is the print bright and fun (good for keeping you awake during long lectures), but it also includes pockets to hold your flash drives. Add some cool shades to keep that bright morning sun out of your eyes as you make your way to class, and don’t forget your morning cup of fair trade coffee!


 
 

skirt! on TV

We’re on TV again!  This time Elisa Drake, editor of the new Chicago magazine, skirt!, was wearing our yellow Yin Yoke skirt on a local morning news show.

Screen shot 2013-08-26 at 6.10.50 PM

Be sure to look for skirt! magazine as you go about Chicago.  It’s distributed for free around the city in cafes, salons, and shops.  Each cover is designed by a different female artist, and the summery launch issue is by Daria Jabenko.

Skirt-mag-cover