Interview with IT girl and Fashionista, Ashlee Piper!

Ashlee Piper knows pretty much about all things kind, gentle and fashion!  An eco-lifestyle expert, writer, and personality whose work has been featured in Refinery29, Reader’s Digest, Mirror Mirror, Vegetarian Times, AOL’s Kitchen Daily, and FOX News. You can follow her award-winning blog, The Little Foxes, watch as she solves beauty dilemmas for Refinery29, and check her eco-friendly fashion coverage on Ecouterre.
1. How did you get started in the vegan fashion world?
I basically got started by being vegan and liking fashion. And then people would ask my advice on where to find this and that, and I figured a blog would be a nice way to share some of what I’d learned. And then, because I’m the most tenacious little rascal in the world (ha!), I pitched and wrote for free and did whatever I could to get the necessary experience to write about vegan fashion and other lifestyle topics.
2. Why and when did you become vegan?
 I originally went vegan in college, but it wasn’t for the right reasons (I was angsty, smoked clove cigarettes a lot, and wanted to be unique) and shocker, it didn’t stick. I’d always been passionate about cruelty-free beauty and animal adoption, but really reconnected with my care for animals exploited for food when I adopted my companion pup, Banjo. Having an animated, remarkably talented, deeply feeling animal with me 24/7 made me see her in every animal I encountered. And I realized I didn’t want to eat them anymore. So, really, Banjo was my catalyst and mentor.
3. What are your favorite shoes (pumps and boots) for Winter?
Oh! So many. I am crazy about anything Nicora Johns or Cri de Coeur x Arden Wohl. Style-wise, I love a Chelsea Boot (so freaking functional and polished) and penny loafers (very Love Story and super cute with contrasting socks or tights).
4. What is your go-to vegan handbag?
That’s like choosing a favorite rescue dog! :) I have way too many to list, but I’ll give it a whirl. I love the GUNAS Admiral Bag now and forever. Jill Milan makes the most exquisite bucket bag for fall that I cannot stop carrying (in the color of fall leaves, no less). I also adore my Angela + Roi black backpack, and consistently love everything Freedom of Animals puts out. I recently discovered another brand, Viva Creatures, and hot damn, the aesthetic is so pared down and Scandinavian beautiful.
5. Where do you shop for animal friendly sweaters that are still warm and cozy for winter?
I love Modavanti, Pure Citizen, and Nasty Gal for vegan stuff. Bella M makes gorgeous, cozy knits that are entirely vegan and cruelty-free. And, when in doubt, I thrift or go vintage.
6. How did you wind up doing eco-fashion for TV?
Ha! Kinda the same way I started writing about it. I’m not a PR person, so I completely lack any contacts with producers, etc. But I followed a local Chicago news anchor on Instagram whom I knew was a vegetarian. When I saw she had posted a pic from a segment featuring leather handbags, I commented that I’d love to come on sometime and show cruelty-free bags, if she’d be in to that. Being a vegetarian, she was, and that was kind of the beginning. I owe a lot to her giving me my first shot on large-market local television. That was a year ago, and I just keep knocking on doors, proving myself, learning, and feeling very grateful for every opportunity that comes my way. It’s not easy, and I work at it all the time, but it’s such a gift to be able to talk to people in such an en masse, positive way about how easy and sacrifice-free cruelty-free living can be. It’s my passion, and if you’d told me 2 years ago when I was still working my political strategy career that I’d be doing this, I would’ve been dancing with glee. I feel truly lucky.
Follow Ashlee for the latest in fashion:

Reclaimed Wood Furniture – Interview With Crofthouse

Most designers say that every home needs something old to make the new pieces look alive and to add interest.  I just found the perfect pieces of reclaimed wood furniture to work into any style home!  They are absolutely beautiful!  Check their site out at http://www.crofthouse.com - AND they can do custom orders!!!!

Here are some of my favorite pieces:

  • Mossam Media CabinetMossam Platform BedMossam Coffee TableMossam Coffee TableMossam BookcaseHudson MirrorMossam Side Table

Because I am so intrigued by these pieces and their use of sustainable materials for couches and sofas as well, I decided to contact the company to interview them!

Q:
How did you get into your area of business and what peaked your interest in reclaimed wood and sustainable products?
A:
My business partner and I took his hobby and turned it into a business. He was refinishing furniture in his garage and decided he’d like to try his hand at making his own.  He’d make a piece for fun, keep it in his house for a month or two, then try to sell it to fund a new piece.  I started helping him out in my spare time, we were selling mostly on craigslist.  I went to a smaller liberal arts school in NE, so the whole sustainable, repurposed idea appealed to me.  For me it was more so about the idea of creating something and contributing that drew me in. Anyhow, we started to get some more consistent orders, and have been moving into bigger work spaces ever since!
Q:
Where do you get the wood from?
A:
All over the US. We use a few different species, so where we get it depends upon where the wood is indigenous, because that’s what the buildings in the area are likely to be built from. We get all our doug fir from socal housing, our heart pine from NYC apartments, and our mixed hardwoods(oak, maple, etc.) from throughout the midwest, namely barns.
Q:
Where do you see your company going in the future?
A:
Great question. We’d love to offer design services to go along with our custom work. So instead of just building a croft house piece for your specific space, let us croft house your space! We like to think our style is just as much a part of what we do as our pieces.  Opening another store or two would be nice as well :)
Q:
What’s your favorite piece to make or project?
A:
Hmm. My favorite piece is probably our mossam bed. It’s just a unique piece that we’ve been making for a long time.  Probably partially a sentimental pick but I guess that doesn’t really matter!
“We really enjoy the design process, coming up with a piece that works for the clients space, that is functional and something they love.  It’s not always easy, but it’s a rewarding challenge. We have a couple of great design associates that help us out with this, no way we could do it without them!”

Gorgeous and stylish shoes you can feel GOOD about!

When I decided to “go green” a few years back, I remember feeling overwhelmed in the beginning thinking that there was so much I needed to learn and change about my life.  I decided to start slowly and master one area at a time.   Now that I have changed my diet, clothing, beauty products, children’s items and all household products to eco-friendly ones, I am finally ready to change my footwear over as well.  While Amazon has a great eco-friendly and vegan category for sneakers, I still need more options for stylish-looking shoes.  Thankfully, I discovered Nicora Johns!  Her shoes look like the designer shoes that I used to buy at Bloomingdales and Nordstrom, only the materials used are cruelty-free and environmentally friendly!  Check out her site to see some of her unique styles and read our interview with her below to learn more about this up-and-coming brand!

The shoe industry is on the Top 10 most toxic pollution problems list 5 times. Help us change that http://kck.st/140RYa5    Website:  www.nicorajohns.com

We would love to know more about how you became eco-aware?  It began when I was really young. I attended a very forward-thinking elementary school—Orion in Redwood City, CA. My teacher there, Margaret Klimenkov, drilled social and eco responsibility into all of us. I still remember petitioning to get rid of Styrofoam in fast food restaurants and not to buy teak or mahogany because of the rainforest. When I decided to launch the Nicora Johns, the next step was to educate myself about materials. I wanted all my materials to be sustainable. Since my goal was to be successful, the last thing I wanted was to have my success be at the expense of the planet.

Why vegan shoes?  Leather is one of the most environmentally destructive commodities on earth. First because the farming methods employed to mass-produce livestock and their food supply involve serious ecological hazards: pesticide pollution, fertilizer storage, deforestation, animal waste into waterways and so on. It was just last April that a massive fertilizer explosion nearly leveled Waco, TX. Second, the harsh chemical tanning process requires a lot of chemicals to make a living organism (skins) not decompose. Chemical tanning is mandatory (there’s no other way to do it) and that creates a lot of water waste, chemical dumping and is a dangerous job for humans to carry out. The costs far outweigh the benefits when it comes to leather. Environmentally produced synthetics are superior in durability to leather and I only purchase from local, reputable manufacturers who grant me access to their supply chain, so I know they aren’t acquiring chemicals from countries without strict environmental laws.

Please describe your style?    Tomboy in heels.

How do you envision your brand developing in future years? I will always stick to the basics. I want to create staples for people to wear forever, investment pieces that don’t cost a fortune. I am working on a few boot styles for later in the year. I also want to be able to make custom sizes for anyone. Currently it is really hard for people with wider feet or with larger or smaller feet to find any shoes that aren’t orthopedics or a million dollars. I am also starting to dabble in custom designs. I am building shoes from scratch for a couple of people. It’s a lot of fun.

We've achieved our Kickstarter goal, thanks due to YOU! With little more than 15 hours left to contribute, those who haven't yet fallen for our shoes, please consider peeping these #eco #vegan steppers.  http://kck.st/140RYa5

Interview with Asherah!

Asherah’s story of how she got into the veggie burger business is a unique one, as it all began with trying to improve her own health.   Asherah had numerous health complications during her youth and by the time she was in her 30′s she was sick and dying.  Plagued by constant infections, kidney stones, a severe kidney growth, fatigue, and more, Asherah was determined to have a better life for herself.  After doctors repeatedly failed to relieve her symptoms, she took control of her own health and began studying alternative methods of healing.  Asherah learned of the PH diet and began training with Dr. Robert O’Young, author of The PH Miracle books and Sick and Tired? to improve her health.  Not only did Asherah lose over 40 pounds, but her friends and family actually began asking what she was doing because they also noticed that in addition to weight loss, she began looking younger and had so much more energy!  Eager to share what she had learned about eating for vitality, it was then that she started offering cooking lessons out of her home.  Her students’ favorite, Asherah’s quinoa based veggie burger, is now offered in the freezer section in health food stores and in the following Whole Foods Markets: the Northeast, Mid Atlantic, Mid West, Northern California, Southern California and Hawaii!  Unlike many other “healthy” veggie burgers, this one actually is healthy and made from whole and real ingredients :)

My big takeaway from speaking with Asherah is to never give up on your health, you have MUCH more control over it than you think!  Choose real foods to eat and always read ingredient labels!

If you haven’t tried Asherah’s organic, vegan, gluten free veggie burgers…you should!  Her burgers are  FREE OF THE TOP TEN FOOD ALLERGENS: Dairy, Eggs, Fish, Peanuts, Tree nuts, Sesame, Shellfish, Soy, Wheat, & Gluten – and they are filling and TASTE DELICIOUS!!!  You can find her burgers in small health food stores as well as many Whole Foods markets.  Look for the green box below!