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Introducing; Elegantees

Introducing; Elegantees
We were so excited to discover an incredible organization making well designed basics. Based in Nepal, Elegantees works with talented women, teaching them to sew if they don't already have the skill, and provide counseling and healing. 
Here is a note directly from the Elegantees Team:
"We are happy to share photos of two of our sewers in particular. Gita and Binita have become our "poster artisans" as they've been with us the longest and feel fully restored! They also have everything resolved with their traffickers, that we can share their faces and their names. Gita and Binita autograph many of the hang tags as well so customers can connect with them through their purchase. 
Both of them were victims of sex trafficking until they were rescued at the Nepali-Indian border where their traffickers had them in route to the Middle East. Once they were rescued, they received counseling and healing from our nonprofit partner. During the process, they learned how to sew. Today they are able to sew with Elegantees for a living and are finding more joy in life. They are forever overcomers."
We are so excited to be carrying Elegantees basics, including this ruffled peplum tank that looks perfect with the pencil skirts from Synergy. Watch for pieces on sale via instagram in the coming weeks and styled in our Spring Lookbook! 
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Meet Frannie

Meet Frannie

We are having so much fun buying and trying clothing.  We play dress up ALL the TIME at Route, and Frannie is our partner in crime.  In an attempt to find the cutest, best priced, most fashion forward pieces, poor Frannie gets dressed and undressed ALOT, and she is very picky about her fashion choices.

 

We've gathered and sold some really exciting, well-cut designs over the last 8 months.  Our customers (you) have been so faithful to give us feedback and we are thrilled to help add beautiful, well fitting (because it's so important to feel good in what you wear), reasonably-priced, ethically made clothing.

 

In the process, we have several one off pieces, or sometimes our partner groups have a cut that we just cannot live without and we don't think you can either.  So we've partnered with Frannie to offer you, via instagram @knowtheroute, a few limited edition pieces.  We have different sizes of each piece (not just Frannie sized, so be looking in the comments for the sizes that we have! ) Each piece will be up until it sells, and when it does, we will note that it has sold.  If you see a piece you like, just comment and we'll message you the link to buy it! 

Catch them while you can, then let us know what you think!!  

 

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Spring Color: Navy & Coral

Spring Color: Navy & Coral

This time of year we can't resist beachy thoughts.  Waves gently spilling out onto a white sandy shore.  Drinks with umbrellas, music on a steel drum, a really great book and the warm sun.  Reality is, we're still in Missouri, it's not quite as warm as we'd like it to be and there are more grey days than we'd like.  

A few simple things take us to our happy place.  Brighter jewelry and clothing this time of year make us happy.  Regardless of the weather, or our geographical location or wether or not we have to layer a coat over our sun dress, bright colors make the season.

We have loved throwing rose in with brighter coral and deep navy blue and some hints of white.  This lovely combination gives a nautical feel that takes us right where we want to be this time of year, even if we're sitting in the office.

Try a few pieces, paired with black or a simple navy dress these pieces are so beautiful.  We've also loved pulling some of our deep plum pieces from the fall over the lighter coral and navy to carry them into Spring!  

In our constant journey towards a capsule wardrobe we have loved adding a scarf or bright jewelry to our darker winter clothing to extend their wear into the Spring.  When you have fewer pieces of clothing, accessories add so much and can make a simple dress or solid colored top feel new and completely different!  Try a few of these classic, beautiful pieces, and let us know what you think and how you style them!

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Our Mission; An article in the Columbia Missourian

Our Mission; An article in the Columbia Missourian

In 2008, Mustard Seed Fair Trade Inc. (a nonprofit 501c3) was started by a group of young women in Columbia. Their mission was to sell fairly traded products that provided safe employment for people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it.

Eight years later, this same organization has changed its name to focus its mission and inspire our community to change the world through purchasing.

"We want so much for each customer that walks in our door to understand that their purchase is keeping young women out of sex trafficking, or saving a child from back breaking labor, or preventing a death in dangerous working conditions. Real hope, real change is happening abroad because of what we are doing here in Columbia," says Christina Weaver, one of the organization’s founders and current board chair.

In the last year, Mustard Seed Fair Trade Inc. has become Route Inc. There weren't any organizational or leadership changes but a very real change in brand identity. This change came after months of discussion and difficult consideration.

The board and employees questioned whether "Mustard Seed Fair Trade" was effectively communicating the work that was being done. The decision was unanimous that it was not, and the process began that changed the look and the language of the organization.

Now the marketing is focused on the origin of their products, the path that the products take to get to the shop and the customer. They describe each product as "ethically produced" instead of "fairly traded". This means that a maker who is paid fair wages makes each piece in safe working conditions.

Each stop on the product’s "route" creates relationships. These relationships, if chosen carefully, can create much needed change. "Extending empathy in the form of pursuing social justice and recognizing the need for change in production practices must extend to what we purchase and who it effects, if we have any hope of seeing an end to the human trafficking, slavery and dangerous working conditions that affect over 50 million individuals around the world," Weaver says.

The organization has found the name and branding change to be a much more difficult process than expected. The original "Mustard Seed Fair Trade" brand and image is one that so many in Columbia were familiar with.

Their hope is that as they improve their ability to communicate the stories of change that customers create through their purchase that the Route brand will be one people are excited about and that more people will consider purchasing ethically, from Route, whenever they can.

Read the article in the Columbia Missourian here.

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Spring Colors // Delicate Gold

Spring Colors // Delicate Gold

This spring, we created a fashion forward spring line, fun colors mixed with delicate gold, along with bold pieces thrown in.
We've selected pieces from organizations we trust, with our customers in mind, choosing items we know you'll turn to over and over. 

Here's a sampling...

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Our Favorite Ethical Lifestyle Blogs

Our Favorite Ethical Lifestyle Blogs

Hi Route Friends!

When we began this journey over 6 months ago, we had no idea that part of the job would include souring the internet world for every single ethical blog we could find. In the process, I have to admit, we've become fairly knowledgable!  Below I'm sharing with you our top 5 ethical fashion & lifestyle blogs  to help you as you navigate shopping and living more mindfully. -Jessica

1. The Good Trade, thegoodtrade.com

The Good Trade

2. The Style Wise, stylewiseblog.blogspot.com

http://stylewiseblog.blogspot.com/

3. JooJoo Azad, www.joojooazad.com

http://www.joojooazad.com/

4. She Changes Everything, www.shechangeseverything.com

www.shechangeseverything.com

5. Sustainably-Chic, www.sustainably-chic.com 

www.sustainably-chic.com

 

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Tonle: Eco-friendly meets Socially Conscious

Tonle: Eco-friendly meets Socially Conscious

Almost a year ago I texted some friends and ask them to help me hunt for clothing that was ethically sourced, we were really wanting to see pieces that were classic, well priced and were easily styled with other simple, functional pieces that we already owned.  

Minutes later my friend Kate texted me this photo from an Instagram post and I did a happy dance!

 

After spending time reading about Tonle and Rachel Faller, their fearless leader, we were so excited to reach out, learn more about their work and goals and bring their clothing into our product selection.

Tonle works in Cambodia with small groups of weavers to supply their fabric and carefully trains their tailor's to create their clothing in zero-waste facilities (They actually boil down their little bits of remnant fabric and make it into paper used for tags and packaging!).  They do a great job working with their employees over long periods of time and celebrating their promotion when it's earned.  Meet Dara, their most recent employee to be promoted to Sewing Team Leader!  

You can find photos and some bios of each of Tonle's makers here.

From first hand experience we know how hard it can be to commit to a group of people, to train them, carefully treat them with respect and produce products that are consistent and high quality.  Rachel and her team manages this with humility and care.

In their effort to make their production holistically eco-friendly they consider natural processes and traditional craft as much as possible.  This gorgeous image below shows several fabrics in the coloring process next to the materials used to create the dye.  

Learn more about their dying, packaging and production practices here.

Tonle has proven that economically and social conscious fashion is possible, through hard word and dedication they are creating a line that we hope will become a model for countless other clothing manufacturers.  

We are so proud to be promoting and selling their beautiful clothing!

These Tonle pieces are currently up on the online shop and we have a larger selection in the Columbia shop.

The Maera Shift Dress

The Kayla Tulip Dress

 Photo Credit: Tonle Design

 

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Ethically Styled: Maera Dress

Ethically Styled: Maera Dress

We love the idea of outfits.  For us, the ideal every day ensemble is both sophisticated and comfortable.  Jessica and I work closely together, we are busy, we run around, frequently walk instead of drive, and I always have my boys around with their mess.  What we wear has to work for our lifestyle and make us feel like we look good, or at least give the illusion that we tried when got up that morning!

Here Rachel is modeling our Maera Dress by Tonle in Plum.  This simple shift dress is made of a lovely lightweight recycled rayon.  We love these dresses that you can throw on with boots, layer jewelry, and go. And it has pockets...

We have paired it with one of our lightweight alpaca scarves.  We love this shawl sized scarf, it lays beautifully.  

A scarf makes such a statement that we frequently avoid large or heavy jewelry when wearing one.  The layered gold bracelets here are a lovely compliment to the lightweight scarf, they are not over done, but are a simple, classic addition.

Each of the pieces in our line are chosen to combine with the others.  We would love to see pictures of how you are styling Route pieces! 

-Christina

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Is Ethical Fashion for Everyone? The Challenge and the Solution.

Is Ethical Fashion for Everyone?  The Challenge and the Solution.

At Route a new season means new products. The goal is always to purchase and design pieces that will come together to form a beautiful collection and make a significant impact. There are so many factors that go into our purchasing, not the least of which is price. We work hard to keep our price point affordable, while still provided lasting impact to our makers.  At the center of our passion for what we do is a desire to both get the word out about how products are made and create routes of access for individuals to purchase ethically.

It is possible to be incredibly well dressed in an entirely ethically produced wardrobe with a robust if not endless budget, but so few of us are able to purchase without a budget.

We believe the growth of ethical purchasing should continue, more people should have access to products they can afford and therefore the option to purchase ethically. There are so many ways to creatively organize the production chain so that safe working conditions and fair wages are sustainable AND the retail price of a product is reasonable.

We are excited to introduce a series of comfortable and versatile dresses to our online store this season. These simple pieces are exactly what we want to be selling.

As they come in, please give us feedback on whether or not you are getting enough information about them, do they look like something you’d want to wear? How would you style them? Can’t wait to share more, for now don’t forget that your purchase makes ethical fashion possible!

Photo: Sugar Bean Photography 

 

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Valetine's Gift Sets

Valetine's Gift Sets

 

It does not get better than simple, beautiful jewelry and chocolate!   This Valentine's Day we are offering two gift boxes that come beautifully wrapped in a small box and delivered to your door. 

The first box has our most popular Kendall bar necklace from The Mingle Collection, made in St. Louis by refugee women who are working to supplement their income and support their families.

The second box is a Kendall bar necklace paired with the Abigail "Y" necklace, also from The Mingle Collection.  These two pieces were literally made to be together.  They layer perfectly and have matching chain.  They are gorgeous together.  

Both boxes include three of our giant chocolate sea salt caramel truffles, made ethically in St. Louis with Fair Trade certified chocolate, sugar and vanilla.  

Indulge your Valentine this year by purchasing ethically.  Give the gift of hope and love to your gift's makers while showing sweet love to a friend or Valentine!

Shop the Valentine's Sets here

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