This week I’m reviewing a documentary called “The Invisible Vegan” directed by Los Angeles based actress and film maker Jasmine Leyva. The film is exploring the unhealthy dietary patterns in the African-American community, how their health could be improved by choosing plant based diets and lifestyle choices. The documentary hopes to redress the prevailing attitudes and stereotypes about veganism within the African-American community and its invisibility by spotlighting alternative and ongoing efforts to raise awareness about veganism .
The documentary begins with the personal story of Jasmine Leyva, a 30-year-old black actress and filmmaker currently based in Los Angeles. Over the past seven years, Leyva has committed herself to veganism, both in lifestyle and research. Taking Leyva’s unhealthy childhood growing up in Washington, DC as a point of departure, the film interweaves her narrative with the professional and personal experiences of a prominent group of vegan activists. The film integrates interviews with popular culture luminaries including Cedric the Entertainer (actor and comedian), John Salley (former NBA player and wellness advocate), and Clayton Gavin (aka Stic of the hip-hop duo Dead Prez).Length: 90 MinutesGenre: Documentary
Activist, actress, and documentary filmmaker, Jasmine is passionate about veganism, social justice, and telling her own stories. With a Bachelor of Arts in TV, Film and Media and a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting, Jasmine is unapologetically an artist. She has worked as an associate producer on a NAACP winning docuseries entitled Unsung and has written and produced for Being, a docuseries highlighting dynamic entertainers in film and music.
Jasmine ultimately decided to let go of her nine-to-five and focus on her goals with no boss except for her own creativity. She went on to produce her own feature length documentary, The Invisible Vegan, a film that chronicles her personal experience with plant-based eating. The film also explains how plant-based eating is directly linked to African roots and how African-American eating habits have been debased by a chain of oppression.
This documentary was quite interesting – being UK based the reference to say, fried chicken as a black food, didn’t resonate with me. When I think of American food I think of burgers , steak and tacos! I don’t think in terms of black or white food. I have been to West Africa and East Africa. In East Africa, back in 1990, I travelled with a vegan couple who found it very hard to stick to their vegan diet as every lodge we encountered offered us to eat a stew consisting of antelope (Dik Dik), chicken or crocodile. In contrast, in West Africa the food was delicious – fried cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, fish ….. I think people’s views on veganism/vegetarianism is not necessarily culture/racial based. A lot of it is more age related – the older generation are not as open to plant based diets as the younger generation- black or white. People, regardless of ethnicity, may need a little bit of nudge to explore this healthier alternative lifestyle.
Interestingly, when I was in the West African republic of Cape Verde, the two things food wise that stood out for me were the absolutely delicious lightly battered cauliflower florets that my sons at first mistook for southern fried chicken pieces but carried on ordering them daily because they were so delicious; and hibiscus tea, served cold. Hibiscus tea is made from the dried petals of the hibiscus plant and according to the locals, has been known to prevent hypertension, lower blood pressure, reduce blood sugar levels, keep your liver healthy, help with menstral cramps, lifts depression, aids digestion and helps with weight management. A little miracle plant it seems and totally delicious!
#VeganDocumentary Tour Dates
My thanks to Jasmine for allowing me to take part in her Invisible Vegan Documentary Tour.
All photographs have been published with kind permission of Jasmine Leyva, except where marked. Featured image by Linda Hobden
I’m really excited to be able to interview author Neill McKee as part of his “Guns + Gods Book Tour”. Many people are fascinated with their family trees and their ancestral routes – and author Neill McKee is no different apart from the fact that he has made his ancestral research into a fascinating 15,000 mile road adventure! I found his memoir “Guns And Gods In My Genes” entertaining and I really looked forward to chatting to Neill further. But, before that, here is the official resumé of the book:
Neill McKee, author of the award-winning travel memoir Finding Myself in Borneo, takes the reader through 400 years and 15,000 miles of an on-the-road adventure, discovering stories of his Scots-Irish ancestors in Canada, while uncovering their attitudes towards religion and guns.
His adventure turns south and west as he follows the trail of his maternal grandfather, a Canadian preacher who married an American woman in Wisconsin, and braved the American Wild West from 1904 to 1907, finding a two-story brothel across from one of his churches and a sheriff who owned a saloon and dance hall, while carrying a gun with 20 notches, one for each man he had killed.
Much to his surprise, McKee finds his American ancestors were involved in every major conflict on North American soil: the Civil War, the American Revolution, and the French and Indian War. In the last chapters, McKee discovers and documents his Pilgrim ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower, landing at Plymouth in 1620, and their Puritan descendants who fought in the early Indian Wars of New England.
With the help of professional genealogical research, he tracks down and tells the stories of the heroes, villains, rascals, as well as, the godly and ordinary folk in his genes, discovering many facts and exposing myths. He also lets readers in on a personal struggle: whether to apply for Canadian-United States dual citizenship or remain only a Canadian.
Print Length: 352 Pages
Genre: Historical Travel Memoir
Hi Neill and a warm welcome onto my blog!
Hello, I am Neill, a creative nonfiction writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree, from the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada and a Master’s Degree in Communication from Florida State University. I worked internationally for 45 years, becoming an expert in the field of communication for social change. I directed and produced a number of award-winning documentary films/videos and multimedia initiatives, such as the Meena Communication Initiative for the empowerment of young girls in South Asia, that I started when I was with UNICEF in Bangladesh, and the Sara Communication Initiative for the adolescent girl in Africa, that I launched while with UNICEF in Eastern and Southern Africa. You can see some of these entertaining story-based creations on my YouTube account: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk3WKK72kYsUNAJSZJmm7sA/videos?view=0&sort=p&flow=grid
In total, I worked and lived in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, and Russia for 18 years and traveled from Canada and the US to over 80 countries on short-term assignments. In 2015, I settled in New Mexico, using my varied experiences, memories, and imagination in creative writing.
Who or what inspired you to write “Guns and Gods in My Genes”?
At the end of 2012, when I retired from my 45-year career, I knew I didn’t want to do consulting in my field, as many of my former colleagues have done after retirement. During my career, I had always lacked the time to properly write the stories of my adventures in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and more recently Russia. I began by writing Finding Myself in Borneo https://www.neillmckeeauthor.com/finding-myself-in-borneo, the story of my first job after university. It has won three awards and gained over 25 five-star reviews.
During 2013-15, I visited my aging mother in Ontario, Canada, traveling from our homeat the time in Maryland, USA. I began research on my ancestors then, going through some of the files my late father had gathered. He came from a farm-based oral story tradition and was always interested in family history, but he never had the time nor the skills to do much research or writing. I discovered the beginnings of some interesting stories in his old files and began to reach out to cousins, one living uncle, and three remaining aunts. I found many leads on both sides of the family and began to interview family members in person, picking up more stories, photos, and records. That’s when I knew I had another book to write. Also, by getting my DNA tested on ancestry.com, I matched some distant cousins who had done the same, and who had additional stories, records, and photos. But I engaged professional genealogists to verify all the main ancestral links.
I really enjoyed reading your memoir, “Guns and Gods in My Genes”. I loved reading about the lives of your ancestors! My “favourite” ancestor of yours whose story made me smile and I could really envisage the scene, was your Canadian preacher maternal grandfather who braves the American Wild West, who had a 2 storey brothel opposite his church and his sheriff was someone who also owned a saloon and dance hall, whilst carrying around a gun with 20 notches, one for each man he killed. Your grandfather must have been horrified! Were there any family ancestors/descendants that you particularly endeared yourself to?
Yes, indeed. My maternal grandma (Haskins) Neill married my grandfather, the guy you are talking about, in Cadott, Wisconsin in 1895. In the book I describe returning to the very church in which they were married, and meeting a very conservative preacher who I don’t think my grandfather would have agreed with – speculation on my part. Well, after braving the Wild West as far as Wyoming, in 1907 my grandfather, Rev. John Addison Neill, took his family back to the more peaceful Ontario, Canada, where he came from, and where gun control and law and order followed more of the original British model. After Grandpa’s death, Grandma Neill spent her last decade in our house, living with her youngest daughter, my mother, and our large family. Grandma Neill was a peaceful soul and very strong in her faith. She never passed judgment on anyone or interfered with our family life. She didn’t like guns and wouldn’t watch anything violent on TV, but didn’t prevent me from watching those old western movies. There’s more on her in another memoir on my childhood and youth coming later this year, probably titled Kid on the Go! My Life Before Borneo. I didn’t know until I started to investigate that she would connect me to so many people who lived, farmed, fought, prayed, and struggled through the history of America, going as far back as passengers on the Mayflower, who left Plymouth, England, and landed in what they named “Plimoth” on the coast of New England, in December 1620 – 400 years ago.
Looking up the family tree and background is an interest of mine also – my maternal grandad always told me that his side of the family were of Portuguese descent but my uncle, who has been looking up the family tree in some detail, discovered connections with Italy instead! During your 15,000 mile on-the-road adventure, did you uncover any myths?
I found many stories on both my father’s side, the McKees, and my mother’s side, the Neills. I had choose those that were related to the theme I chose: guns and gods (i.e. religiosity.) However, if I just stuck with the lives of my male ancestry lineage, I don’t think I would have had much of a book. Tackling the more difficult job of researching female lineage led me to many great discoveries. It’s not that I found any popular heroines, but by following the families who married into the Neill line, I discovered ancestors who fought in the Civil War, the American Revolution, the French and Indian War (the Seven Year’s War in North America), and the first bloody conflicts between the Puritan settlers and Native Americans in New England. I also found some admirable ancestors who fought the growing fanaticism of the Puritans, and in the book I debunk many myths on the English Puritans who settled in New England. Few of them wore those black and white clothes we see in paintings, and they did not land on a rock. They were pretty militant and few of the original settlers were in favor of full separation from the Church of England. The first Thanksgiving was more like a three-day rowdy English country harvest festival with many games, beer drinking, and eating of venison, fish, and corn—most of it contributed by the Wampanoag Indians who outnumbered the English. The old paintings of the first Thanksgiving we are used to, with the English seated at a table, and Indians standing in the background, while all giving thanks to God, is inaccurate.
Have you made up your mind about applying for dual citizenship yet? What made you feel that you needed to have a dual citizenship?
Having both Canadian and American citizenship gives you the right to vote in both countries. I discovered through my 15,000-mile four-century search that I descend from some of the original American settlers, but not the Native Americans, whose land my ancestors stole. The pro-con debate about becoming an American citizen is a kind of tension with me as I undertake the discovery journey in my book. There is a decision in the last chapter, but I would rather not say. That would be classified as a “spoiler” to those who have not read the book.
Growing up, did you envisage yourself as a writer or did you have other career aspirations?
Not at all. In fact, I was only average in reading and writing and read very few books, besides comics. It wasn’t until near the end of secondary school that I became interested in literature and writing. I was inspired by a great English teacher but didn’t know what I wanted to do while I was in university, so after graduating, I headed to Sabah, Malaysia (formerly British North Borneo) as a volunteer teacher. That’s where I made my first documentary film. I started writing more technical books and articles on development communication midway through my career, but never began writing creative nonfiction until I retired at the end of 2012. I’m still in touch with my old English teacher who inspired me over 55 years ago and he gives me great reviews.
Is “Guns and Gods In My Genes” available to purchase worldwide?
You have also lived and worked in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda and Russia. Plus you have travelled to over 80 countries on short term assignments. If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go and why?
I’d like to say that I would return to Kota Belud, Sabah, Malaysia where I “found myself,” but I finished that book. I am writing another memoir now on my international career as a filmmaker and multimedia producer and it would be good to travel to some of the places where I lived and worked. More realistically, given the Covid-19 restrictions right now, I will have to rely on old letters, trip reports, and hopefully get to a collection of about 45,000 photos I took, which are housed in a library in Ottawa. That should jog my memory enough, rather than jogging the old body more than required!
You have now settled in New Mexico – what do you enjoy most about living in New Mexico?
I find the sun, mountains, desert landscapes, and ethnic mix of people in New Mexico so interesting. In the last chapter of my book, I mention that it’s something I want to write about, as well. I think about that when I am walking one morning. Here are two paragraphs from that chapter:
As I trudge along, I think of the historic land I’ve moved to and long-ago conflicts among the original inhabitants: the many tribes and linguistic groups of the Pueblo, probably the oldest surviving human culture in North America; the Navajo and the Apache—Athabaskans who migrated from the north about 1,300 years ago. Then, in the mid-1500s, Spanish settlers arriving after the explorer, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, with muskets, cannons, and Catholic priests; followed by Latinos, a few French-Canadians, English-speaking white Americans—so-called “Anglos”—some African-Americans, and more recently immigrants from just about everywhere.
I’m presently reading about all this: How the Anglos, who brought New Mexico a plethora of protestant churches, fought the Navajo and Apache in devasting wars. In the late 1800s, they also created or attracted many characters of America’s gunslinging past—Billy the Kid, Pat Garret, Doc Holliday, Kit Carson, Jesse James, Bob Ford, Wyatt Earp, the Durango Kid, and Wild Bill Hickok—even Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane. These outlaws, killers, frontiersmen, freelance lawmen, sharp shooters, and bounty hunters, who sparked my childhood fascination with guns in the many movies and television shows I watched, had all been here. When I drive through the deserts, grasslands, and scrub forests of my new homeland, I can easily imagine them riding the range beside me.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc
Thank you so much for the chat and the copy of your book “Guns And Gods In My Genes” to review. I was so impressed with your memoir that I have already downloaded your first memoir, “Finding Myself In Borneo”!
All photographs have been published with kind permission of Neill McKee.
If you are looking for a pair of trainers (sneakers), there are so many styles, brands, soles, prices, those that are dull looking and those that are very bright; that choosing a pair can be quite daunting. It really isn’t as simple as it seems. Trainers are made in different ways and styles according to what they are used for – and it is important too to differentiate between a workout/gym shoe and a running shoe. Although both are similar in design and style, the running shoe has been made to support forward movements and are generally more cushioned to absorb the shock from each footfall; the workout shoe/cross trainer is designed for the gym and is sturdy enough to withstand an intense bout of high intensity interval training. There are Workout Shoes for those who want to do weightlifting; some cross-trainers have the capability to accommodate short distance running, weight training, cycling, HIIT; others are more lightweight and have been created for indoor/studio use eg dance, cardio, aerobics. Don’t pick a workout shoe designed for weightlifting if your normal workouts involve jumping jacks and sprints.
The price of the trainers differ greatly. I came across an interesting study conducted by Nick Rizzo, Fitness Research Director at RunRepeat, the largest athletic footwear review company in the world. Nick is an elite level power lifter too, so he knows his stuff! Nick published a new study analysing 323,776 reviews and prices of 336 workout shoes representing 20 different brands. What I was amazed at was that one of the key findings indicated that the cheaper a workout shoe, the higher the ratings and user satisfaction. The top 10 most expensive workout shoes cost 183.05% more and have a 2.3% lower rating on average than the cheapest workout shoes. I was pleased that my favourite brand, Skechers rated highly; my teenage sons and husband wear Nike and Asics, which scored favourably too. To read Nick’s full report: https://RunRepeat.com/affordable-workout-shoes-better
According to Nick’s study:
3 Worst Workout Brands: Merrell; Vivobarefoot; The North Face
3 Best Workout Brands: NoBull; Skechers; Jordan
3 Cheapest Workout Brands: Avia; Skechers; Ryka
3 Most Expensive Workout Brands: Vivobarefoot; NoBull; Inov-8
So having sorted out the brand in the price bracket you’re happy with, what should you look for in a workout shoe?
Think about your workout/gym routine. Look for a workout shoe designed for the purpose – weightlifting, cross training, aerobics, Pilates….
Comfort. Workout shoes are supposed to feel comfortable and sturdy as soon as you put them on. Unlike normal shoes, there shouldn’t be a breaking in period …. Firm cushioning rather than soft to provide a stable base.
Support. The workout shoe should be able to provide a complete foot support – especially solid support in the side panels and heels. A supportive ankle bar is a necessity for during sprints and interval training.
Fit Well. Too loose can hinder performance and can even cause accidents. The shoe should have a secure lacing system, a padded tongue and collar.
Sole. A good workout trainer should have a relatively flat sole, especially at the heel where it should also be wide. For indoor/studio use, a smooth rubber outsole with minimal or no treads is ideal.
Your workout shoe should also be durable. How long your shoe lasts does depend on how often you use them, but with a bit of due care and attention you should be looking at least 6 months wear plus. Replace when the support is no longer there and visible signs of wear and tear have set in. Always keep your trainers dry and well ventilated. Avoid wearing them outside of your workout eg walking on pavements.
Finding the right workout shoe is like navigating through a minefield, but with perseverance you’ll find the right shoe. Remember, the best workout/gym shoe should offer improved grip and support so you can workout more safely and with greater effectiveness.
My thanks to Nick Rizzo Of RunRepeat.com for introducing me to his research.
DISCLAIMER ALERT: The boots have been supplied by Rydale for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100% mine.
September! The start of my favourite season of the year – Autumn. Living in the south east of England, I love the warm, sunny days and the cooler nights; I love the changing colours of the countryside; but I think my favourite reason of all is that it heralds the start of “boot” season! I love my boots but I never feel comfortable wearing boots in summer – I do have an open toe heeled pair of boots but it isn’t the same. I like to wear my thick tights or socks with a pair of comfortable boots. So, I was so excited to receive a pair of uber cool suede chelsea style boots to review from outdoor country clothing and footwear company, Rydale.
Rydale is a family company established in 1954 by John Nichols and now it is in the 3rd generation, still based in the heart of Yorkshire. John Nichols was inspired by a true passion for the country lifestyle and today Rydale’s ranges of outdoor country clothing, footwear and accessories for men, women and children are truly impressive. Their website features traditional wax jackets, tweed coats, flat caps, jodhpurs, riding boots alongside skinny jeans and, my favourite, the Chelsea Boot. Rydale has invested heavily into waste management and recycling. To offset their small carbon footprint, Rydale have created a woodland and have so far planted over 10,000 trees. All Rydale’s products are inspired and designed in Yorkshire – with an emphasis on quality, reliability and style…. so did the Chelsea Boots live up to the hype??
What a silly question! They were all that I hoped and more! Let’s look more closely at Rydale’s claims…
Quality. These boots are made of the finest soft suede leather fabric and the comfortable faux leather padded interior gave the boots an almost slipper feel. I took the boots for a day and night continuous “road test” – walking around villages and fields during the day and a restaurant meal in the evening. As the heel is only low, it came as no surprise that my feet didn’t ache. What really impressed me was that they felt like slippers and weren’t clunky or cumbersome; they didn’t rub my heel nor squashed my toes; and the boot has a slightly narrow fit which suits me as I have narrow feet and am forever slipping and sliding in standard/wider footwear. 10/10
2. Reliability. Obviously they are suede boots so not suitable for wearing in wet or snowy conditions. Rydale recommend cleaning with a suede protector spray. The boots have a rubber sole – I can only presume that they will be ok on an icy surface – but temperatures here are hovering around 25°C at the moment it was hard to road test the slipability factor.
3. Style. These boots definitely have the style X factor! These boots are an updated version of the original Kirby boots – which are also pretty stylish – and the colourways on offer are pretty scrumptious. My pair are in brown/plum; the other colours in the Kirby II style are Dark Green/Plum and Navy/Plum. I do so love the contrasting elasticated panel – the Plum colour is so on trend this year. 10/10
I like to wear mine with skinny jeans – in denim of all colours. Rydale do a range of skinny jeans – “Portia” – in a variety of colours from navy denim to berry. I particularly liked the Chelsea boots with Rydale’s dark brown jodhpurs – made a refreshing change from wearing them with traditional riding boots. Don’t be scared of pairing these boots with thick tights and a short tweed skirt; or embrace the current boho trend and wear with a long flowing 1970s style dress …. the possibilities are endless.
Delivery of items are quick and postage costs are pretty reasonable too – I especially appreciate the fast delivery option of 1-2 working days – I get impatient waiting for goods!! The good news for my international friends is that Rydale ship to a wide range of destinations in Europe, America and beyond.
Thank you Rydale for introducing me to your gorgeous footwear range! I’m in love!!
I’m heading down under to New Zealand this week to chat to Susan Stevens, founder & CEO of “Made With Respect”. Made With Respect’s mission is to support sustainable brands from around the world in the areas of fashion, self care, home and outdoor products; as well as educating and informing consumers of the importance of making conscious choices and living more sustainably. Sounds very impressive! Hi Susan & welcome….
Hello! My name is Susan Stevens, I live in NZ with my husband and 3 children (2 girls and a boy) aged 6, 9 and 12. I travelled extensively in my 20s with my husband, experiencing many vibrant cultures and appreciating contrasting landscapes. I have always loved spending time outdoors and at the beach and now with our children we spend almost all our free time in the water surfing. I have a huge appreciation for nature and what it provides us. I am passionate about protecting the amazing natural resources that we have been blessed with, particularly the ocean and the wildlife that we share this planet with.
What was behind the inspiration for Made With Respect?
In 2018 we launched Made With Respect, but my journey really started when I left behind a successful corporate career after experiencing a suppressive work environment and learning the importance of empowering and enabling others. In 2014 when I launched my first business working with artisan brands and overseas suppliers, I saw first hand the transparency (or lack of) in supply chains. Through my work over the past few years I’ve become gravely aware of the negative impact we as consumers have on our planet, it stirred a passion within me to create a business that made a difference whilst supporting and enabling others with a shared vision.
The stats are quite scary. If the global population reaches 9.6 billion by 2050 (currently 7.5 billion and projected to increase by 1 billion in the next 12 years), the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain our current lifestyles. Given we’ve only got one planet, that is quite a concern. Add to that the WWF 2018 Living Planet report which shows evidence that nature is dying with 60% decline in the animal population across the planet, 83% decline in freshwater species and 90% of seabirds consuming plastic. Alarmingly, if we continue with the current rate of plastic waste there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. We have to stop burying our heads and being ignorant of our behaviour because unless we change, our future looks bleak. I created Made With Respect to not only be a platform that champions sustainable brands who give a damn, but through MWR Movement, we are educating and informing consumers of the crucial role we play in the problems our planet face and through taking consistent conscious actions we can start to be part of the solution.
Your company is a proud member of “1% For The Planet” – what does that entail?
As a member of 1% for the Planet, MWR donates a minimum of 1% total revenue to approved nonprofit partners who do essential work across six core focus areas; climate, food, land, pollution, water and wildlife. So that means that every dollar Made With Respect generates gives back to the health of our planet.
Your website features brands from all around the world – from France, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Spain, Peru, Italy, USA, Ireland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, Iceland, Germany, Lithuania. What criteria have you have set for brands to qualify to partner with MWR?
Brands who we partner with that design and manufacture sustainable products in self-care, fashion, home and outdoor must fall within the following 4 pillars;
Devoted to craftsmanship; making quality products that last and can be passed down through the generations.
Transparent supply chain; good working conditions, no child labour
Natural materials & natural ingredients; no chemicals or toxins (organic where possible), recycling, upcycling, regeneration and reduction of waste, embracing renewable resources and preserving the environment
Contributing to make the world a better place; supporting local or disadvantaged communities, being more than a profit driven operation
We have amazing brands who are giving back on so many fronts, not only are they operating in a circular economy, minimising waste and making the most of resources but many are contributing part of their profits to worthy causes or supporting disadvantaged communities.
We absolutely have to embrace these brands, we have to shine the spotlight on them and make them the example.
From clothing to bed linen, and lots of categories inbetween, your website caters for many. To date, what has been the most popular items/products/brands ?
Skin care, followed by children’s & women’s fashion, has been the most popular categories so far. But ideally we want to be known as a place where consumers can conveniently shop (and support) sustainable brands across categories. There are amazing sustainable brands in the market, but often they’re not easy to find as they don’t have the marketing budgets or distribution networks of the multi-nationals that are purely profit driven.
In a world where people tend to be time poor, if we can’t find what we want then we’ll resort to the easiest and most convenient option – the problem with this is often the quickest and easiest is also the most damaging and destructive. One of MWR’s goal, through our partnerships with sustainable brands, is to make it easier for consumers to find, buy and support those brands that are making a positive difference.
What’s your favourite item?
I’ve got so many favourite items and brands that I can’t name just one!
As Made With Respect is based in New Zealand, are the products on the website available to purchase worldwide?
Absolutely, our brands are located from all around the world and their products are shipped to customers around the world.
At Made With Respect we are conscious of our own carbon footprint. To ensure we operate sustainably and in order to reduce our own impact on the environment, rather than holding our brand’s products in a central warehouse, instead the brand ships directly from their workshop to our customers. There is no double handling of product and no additional packaging wastage.
I noticed on your website you have The MWR 31 Days Of Sustainable Habits Challenge – can you explain this challenge? What habit did you find was the hardest to change?
The objective of MWR 31 Days of Sustainable Habits Challenge is to show consumers we don’t need to go to extreme measures, we simply have to make more conscious choices in our everyday life to make a positive impact, we want to reinforce that small changes ultimately make a difference. I see this as being the crucial place to start, because it’s often the starting that is the hard part, once started it’s much easier to build momentum and once you start something you become more aware and more educated, education is key.
I think people can become overwhelmed when they don’t know what to do and where to start, the mentality then becomes `how can one person possibly make a difference’. What our Sustainable Habits Challenge does, is it shows consumers there are simple things they can easily implement into their lifestyle that will make a difference. For instance;
Place lint in the trash rather than wash it down the drain. Why? Because microfibres, which are too small to be caught by waste treatment plants, are responsible for 85% of shoreline pollution across the globe.
Buy natural fibres instead of synthetics materials. Why? Because they are by-products of petroleum and are non-biodegradable plus during the wash cycle these micro plastic fibres are released into our waterwaste and end up on the shoreline, eaten by wildlife and fish and polluting our foodchain.
Carry a reusable drink bottle. Why? Because 50 billion plastic drink bottles are consumed every year, for every 10 bottles, only 2 end up recycled the rest end up in landfills and polluting our oceans and beaches.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I generally wear very neutral colours; white, grey, beige, navy blue and in particular black. I’ve always felt that colour dates and may only be ‘on-trend’ for that particular season whereas neutral colours, especially black is very versatile, timeless and can be dressed up or down.
In summer you’ll mostly find me in shorts & a camisole or a little black floaty summer dress with sandals. In winter I love wearing jeans or black pants, a tee, jacket or blazer and a pair of casual white sneakers or ankle boots.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?
Yes, Made With Respect!
I’m a very conscious shopper (I always have been), I prefer to buy less but buy quality pieces that last and look great for years.
With MWR I always support our brands first. If I do find myself browsing in clothing shops and I see something I like I always check the label first, if it’s made from sustainable materials such as organic cotton, linen, tencel then I’ll try it on. Once you become aware, it’s amazing how easy it is to spot synthetic materials.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
At the moment I’ve got AmaElla lingerie on my wish list.
I don’t buy a new wardrobe every season. I have pieces that I’ve worn, both clothes and shoes (that get reheeled) year after year, because they are made from quality materials that wear well, wash well and last. They are designed to be timeless so they transcend fashion trends and for any pieces I do chose to take out of my wardrobe, they are always in great condition to recycle at op shops, or loved all over again when passed on to girlfriends, my mum & more recently my daughter.
Boots or Shoes?
I love ankle boots in cooler weather. A good quality & timeless style will last you years, they are so versatile with pants, jeans, dresses and skirts, you can dress them up or down.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Made With Respect.
Thank you for your interview Susan. So many important points to ponder over and the sustainable habits challenge is a start and doable. Your website features some beautiful products too – thank you for introducing us to some quality and sustainable brands.
All photographs have been published with kind permission from Susan Stevens (MWR).
Using the finest Italian leather, Italian shoe makers Max Lemari, have added to their collection of the classic Italian male staple shoe, the driving moccasin, and are now offering customised driving loafers. These shoes are extremely stylish – all hand constructed, hand stitched and hand painted. I was lucky enough to interview the brand CEO Max Guidi about his brand, his obsession with shoes and to ask, if there was going to be a female version of the driving loafer …. Hi Max!
Hello. My name is Max Guidi. I’m CEO of Max Lemari. I’ve been working all my life in the fashion industry. I was chief product and development officer for Gucci, Armani, Burberry, Dior and collaborated with many more high-end brands. Max Lemari is the union of two names: Max is mine and Donato Lovito Lemari is the artisan responsible for the shoes’ manufacture.
What made your company decide to concentrate on driving loafers?
Because it’s the shoe category that exalt our expertise. Lemari has been manufacturing loafers for over 40 years for some of the most expensive brands in the world. When we handcraft loafers, we are sure that we have the best quality on earth.
In your latest collection, I like the look of the Capri in yellow & blue What styles and colours are most popular amongst your customers?
During last summer our best seller was the Ischia Taupe & Yellow
From our website product pages, you can automatically put your initials in our drivers and we will engrave it for you. If you want a total customization, a special number or something else, you can contact us and we will do our best to make it happen.
Thank you Max. My youngest son has ambitions of being a pilot and he does like looking his best… perhaps his future lies in the shoe industry too! I look forward to those driving shoes for ladies – the men’s styles are fabulous and such gorgeous colourways!
All photographs have been published with kind permission of Max Guidi (Max Lemari)
It’s been far too long since I’ve featured footwear and so I’ve decided to remedy that situation by introducing onto the blog the lovely Shaherazad and her sparkling shoes. Inspired by flamingos, designed with love and pzazz, these heeled shoes epitomise both comfort and elegance – ideal for weddings, parties, barmitzvahs and whatever other social occasion you may want to flaunt your footwear! And you will definitely want to flaunt these shoes! The brand is all about empowered women of today supporting empowered women of the future…. Hi Shaherazad!
Hi! I’m Shaherazad. A self-confessed shoe addict; business addict and flamingo enthusiast. I work for fun and have fun when I work. Geeky I know but that’s exactly who I am!
What was it about flamingos that inspired you to design your luxury heels?
I had always marvelled at how flamingos are able to stand for hours on end on one leg. I was intrigued to find out their secret as to how they find this comfortable and what it is that makes this a universal trait on flamingos. And so I set about to find the answer. I wanted to discover how they live with such poise, grace and elegance. And so, Shoes by Shaherazad were created inspired by the mathematics of how a flamingo stands.
My favourite style in your latest collection is the Blush Pink “Time To Bloom” heels. What styles are most popular?
The best seller by far is “Stand Tall Sister”. It was a hit as soon as it was launched as it can be worn stylishly strapless to elongate the visual length of the leg or with a strap for a pretty boardroom to bar look.
Have you got a favourite style from your collection?
Ah yes. Mine is “Dream then Do” in Gold. It is the first one I designed which I put in to production and so it will always have a special place in my heart. The name of shoe was inspired by Deborah Rodriguez who wrote “The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul”. Her book inspired me to take action on my idea. In fact, if you check out this design on line you will see a quote from the book alongside it.
Your brand, Shoes By Shaherazad, is all about empowered women of today empowering women of the future. Every purchase of Shoes By Shaherazad heels directly supports the wellbeing of a woman or girl living in poverty through the Solidarity By Shaherazad programme. What projects has the programme covered so far?
Oh so many! But the main ones are based in Pakistan, Palestine, Kenya and Peru. I’ve picked projects which support females who are living in extreme poverty to gain an education. This means that they can gain the skills they need to lift themselves, and often their entire families out of poverty. As a woman, I believe that I have a societal duty to help negate the gender equality imbalance in the world. Through my company www.shaherazad.com a woman who can afford luxury shoes empowers a woman who can’t to gain an education. To me, that’s true shoe romance!
Many celebrities have been advocates for your heels – Charlotte Tilbury & Alexa Chung to name a few. Hypothetically speaking, which famous person would you love to see as the “face” of Shoes By Shaherazad?
Angelie Jolie. And not because of her Hollywood fame, but because of the wonderful work she has done in raising the profile of refugees and people living in poverty. Her book “Notes from my travels” is truly inspiring and when I’m feeling sad about the inequality and poverty in the world I often use Angelina’s ambassador work to inspire me to action. Angelina, if you’re reading this I would love to meet you.
Any pair of your heels can be worn plain or sparkly through your unique “shoellery” (shoe jewellery) concept. Can you explain a bit more about the shoe jewellery concept?
I wanted to create a pair of shoes that was not only comfortable from boardroom to bar, but stylish as well. That’s where the shoellery concept comes in. The shoes can be worn plain by day and then by night a shoellery strap is added to add crystal shine to any outfit. The shoellery can be carried in a little luxury pouch which is supplied in your handbag throughout the day so there’s no need to store extra heels at the office. It also means that a woman can buy one pair of heels and any number of shoellery designs to transform her look – no need to keep buying lots of new heels. The heels become kind of a “forever shoe”, especially because they’re very classically designed.
Although you are based in the UK, is your footwear available to purchase overseas?
Absolutely. I deliver worldwide and won an award earlier this month for being “Exporter of the Year’ as recognised by the National SME Awards in Britain. It was a hug honour and I currently export to over 21 countries.
When thinking about designing footwear, do you consider popular styles, current trends, customer feedback/suggestions or bits of all those?
For me, it’s always about style over fashion. Shoes have to look good and stand the test of time. Fashion comes and goes so it’s less of an imperative for me. I design from the heart.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I love wearing printed suits – trousers and jackets make dressing so easy and yet so smart. I also absolutely love photo print dresses. And of course, both of these outfit styles can be teamed well with my 18 hour heels.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (apart from your own!)
I’m a big fan of Folli Follie jewellery. It’s so pretty, especially the rose gold designs. I also love Valentino as their dresses are so fairy tale like. And of course, there has to be Gucci!
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
A “feminist” slogan T shirt I can wear to work, days out and drinks with friends. I also love yellow so perhaps a bright canary yellow dress; I’m not a fan of the mustard colour that’s everywhere this year.
Boots or Shoes?
Shoes – they’re chic-er!
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Shoes by Shaherazad.
Ooh … I loved the book “The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul”! I also loved the fact that you, Shaherazad, had studied flamingos enough to try and recreate a comfortable heel that still epitomises elegance. Wishing your venture every success!
All photos published with kind permission of Shoes By Shaherazad.
Whether you are going on a special night out, going to the Races or it’s your Prom night, nothing beats wearing a glamorous dress. What could be better than going to an Aladdin’s Cave full of dresses, a specialist boutique, whose mission is to dress you up to the nines for your special event, regardless of your budget? Dress Code Nine based in Kelvedon, Essex is the Aladdin’s Cave owned by Carla – she has over 200 stunning dresses, stylish heels, fascinators & jewellery – plus a dedicated Prom dress department too! I caught up with Carla recently to chat about dresses….
Hi! My Name is Carla Lynch and I am the proprietor of Dress Code Nine which opened on October 7th 2017, offering evening and occasional wear for ladies all ages and sizes.
What inspired you to set up “Dress Code Nine”?
I love a dress and always have, I think most ladies do, but you can not always find the dress you need for the budget you have at the time. I wanted to address this with my boutique.
Although you do have dresses available to purchase, you have over 200 dresses available for hire from sizes 4 -24. What are the advantages of hiring a dress for that special event?
Not everyone has the funds or feels comfortable to spend so much money to buy a ball dress which you only wear once. This gives my clients both options: a hire collection and a purchase collection to choose from.
Your range of dresses include high-end designers such as Gino Cerruti, Jora Collections, Kiss Me Kate Designs, Eliza and Ethan – all are totally gorgeous! What dresses are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?
It is the Jora Collection. They are gorgeous dresses at a very reasonable price. I love them, the quality and designs are stunning.
Out of all the dresses, do you have any favourites?
Oh yes the one which springs to mind at the moment is one of the Jora collections. It is a gorgeous wine/burgundy colour with a diamante back with a train coming down the middle. If you have a look on our website www.dresscodenine.co.uk under the Jora collection you will see this, it has proved to be a Prom favourite this season.
When going out for a special event, I tend to choose a red dress – occasionally I pick blue or green. My daughter, for her prom, picked a stunning black lace dress. Do you think age plays a part in picking a colour of a dress? Which age group do you find most adventurous when it comes to picking colours for dresses?
I do not think age plays a part, It is more what matches your skin tone, hair, eye colour. Ladies of all ages can be adventurous when you least expect it.
Not only do you have a stunning range of delectable dresses but you also have accessories too. What accessories do you offer to match the dresses?
We offer bags, Fascinators, Hats, Jewellery, Shoes, Wraps.
You have a dedicated department just for prom dresses – what do you feel makes a good “prom” dress?
A style which suits your body shape is a must, as well as colour. A good quality dress also is a big thing for the ladies that come and see us.
If a lady is going to a special event, for example, a Valentines Ball and is interested in hiring/buying a dress – how do they go about visiting “Dress Code Nine”? Can they purchase online, is it appointment only or can they drop by and visit your boutique?
We are appointment only so we can give that one to one service for each lady that comes to our boutique to find their perfect dress so they are dressed to the nines.
When choosing dresses to add to your hire collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?
Everything you have said is important but the most critical purchasing decision for me when buying from designers is catering for my client base.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
A dress with 3 inch heels
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)
The high street has its place and for me, it is great for mass produced but good value outfits. I do love a Karen Millen dress and heels.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
More dresses, sparkle diamante flip flops and shoes and another bag or two.
Boots or Shoes?
Has to be shoes. You can wear shoes throughout the whole year for different occasions where boots are more just for winter.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Dress Code Nine.
Are you a lady who is 40,50,60,70, 80… and beyond? Are you frustrated trying to find an outfit that wasn’t dowdy/frumpy/boring/unflattering? Jacynth Bassett’s mother was frustrated and Jacynth became saddened at her mum’s frustration. So Jacynth launched her own online boutique and blog, the-Bias-Cut.com, for women who know that age shouldn’t limit style. I caught up with Jacynth recently to find out more. Hi Jacynth and welcome…..
Hi! I’m Jacynth. I’m 24 and the founder of the-Bias-Cut.com – Shopping With Attitude. It’s the first multi-label online premium fashion boutique that truly celebrates style at every age. I founded it straight out of graduating from studying law at Cambridge – where I was also president of the law society – using my minimal savings and some insurance money after my suitcase got stolen off a train with all my belongings in it (including some amazing Emporio Armani sandals that had been recent birthday presents from my mum!!). I developed, built and created the business entirely on my own, and now I’m one year in I can’t believe how much it’s already taken off!
What inspired you to set up “Bias-Cut.com”?
Since I was 14, my intention was to become a lawyer but, by my second year at uni, I realised it wasn’t for me. Instead my mind started to drift to business, and I knew if I were to start up my own one, it would need to be in an area I really loved. So fashion was the obvious answer. I then started thinking about how frustrated and saddened I’d become at seeing women, like my mum, being treated as invisible and irrelevant in the eyes of the fashion industry – largely because of their age and changing shape. My mum and I are very close and for years we would go shopping together, but she’d often end up fed up by a demoralising shopping experience. I began speaking to lots of other similar women, and realised there was a real problem. So that’s when I became determined to create a boutique that actually empowered and celebrated women like my mum as much as everyone else.
Your brand name certainly stands out from the crowd. – but I was wondering, is there a meaning to why you chose “the-Bias-Cut.com”as your brand name?
I wanted the name to have a direct link to fashion, and to ‘cut on the bias’ is the fashion technique where someone cuts diagonal across the grain of fabric rather than along its lines. But equally we’re about cutting through bias and ending prejudice, largely based around age, in the fashion industry. So the name is a double entendre.
I am totally in love with the “Gigi Nude Brogues” – totally gorgeous! What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?
They’re a lot of people’s favourites, and one of our best sellers! This season our new label POM Amsterdam is doing really well – from their fabulous fun scarves, to their jackets lined with the scarf prints. They are cut really well, and they just bring a smile to your face. But also our cashmere and our 100% cotton poplin printed shirts are always a big hit throughout the year.
Out of all the outfits, do you have any favourites?
Personally I’m a little bit obsessed with the sashenka moon midi skirt by Baum Und Pferdgarten. It is such and elegant shape, and it has pockets! And I love a cool print that also incorporates texture. Baum always cuts everything so well, from their trousers to their tops.
Your boutique is for those who like to shop with attitude – where ageism is never in style. On your website your designs are all modelled by normal women – different heights, shapes and sizes. I’m also impressed that you can search on your website for items by your body shape as well as size. Hypothetically speaking though, which famous lady would you love to see as the “face” of “Bias-Cut.Com”?
Thank you! They’re certainly feature that have gone down very well. If I’m honest I don’t see any particular famous lady being ‘the face’ of the-Bias-Cut.com, just because we’re about encouraging our customers to aspire to be the best versions of themselves, rather than someone else. But, with regards to celebrities, it would be an honour to have women such as Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Kristin Scott Thomas, Viola Davis and Christine Baranski as brand ambassadors. They all have great individual style and fabulous attitude, which is exactly what we’re all about celebrating.
You feature in your online boutique an impressive number of designers, the latest being Cove Cashmere. Are there any other new designers you are hoping to feature this year?
Yes! We have a fabulous Dutch label called Fabienne Capot coming in September with a range of lovely embroidered cotton tees, blouses and an emerald velvet blazer I keep dreaming about. We also have a few other surprises but I don’t want to spoil them all for you!
Looking ahead, what colours/patterns/styles do you predict will be popular next season (Summer or Autumn)?
Constellation map prints are going to be big in Autumn – stars are always popular, and it’s a cool progression from the classic pattern. In fact, space all round is going to be big; there’s going to be quite an intergalactic feel! Plus the other big pattern is going to be lightening bolts. Velvet is still going to be very popular, as are bell sleeves and ruffles. And forest and emerald green is going to be seen a lot, as is red. If you look at the trend reports, there are lots of other looks that are forecast to be popular, as well as lots of contradictions. But, in my opinion and from the research I’ve done, these will be the big ones.
As you are based in London, do you offer worldwide shipping?
Yes we ship to 33 countries, and have lots of happy customers overseas! And at the moment it’s free worldwide shipping on all orders over £50 to celebrate the opening of our first public pop-up shop in Greenwich, London later this month (25th-31st)!
When choosing outfits/designers to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?
I have a set of rules I go by:
Everything I select has to be of a flattering cut. In other words, you shouldn’t have to be 6ft or size UK 6 to look good in it. In fact I often use my mum as the fit model as she has a very common apple shape.
Everything I select has to be of excellent quality for the price. I’ve spent a lot of time researching fabrics, so I know when it’s good or bad, or when the wrong fabric has been used. Sometimes I come across an awesome piece, but a very impractical fabric has been used, so then I won’t select it. Equally, I make sure to study the technological developments of fabrics, such as polyester, so that I don’t discard it straight away, and can spot the good quality from the poor.
Everything has a modern twist combined with a timeless appeal. Our clothes are premium, so they are more of an investment than highstreet. So the last thing I want is for a customer to feel it’s outdated within 6 months. With that in mind, I do consider the trends, but only pick pieces that subtly reference them.
I don’t want to wear the clothes, why should my customer? We’re all about celebrating style at every age, so we refuse to sell brands that patronise the older customer, or offer frumpy clothing. So I have to like everything that we sell. But equally, I make sure to keep my customers, their comments and their feedback at the forefront of my mind, so that I never end up choosing something that’s just for me.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
That’s a very good question… I’m quite a style chameleon really and I have a rather excessively extensive wardrobe that reflects that. Every outfit is a reflection of who I am and what I’m feeling that day, but that might mean wearing a girly dress and brogues one day, and on another black jeans, ankle boots and a leather biker jacket. But if I had to define my style generally it’s feminine with a funky edge.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)
I adore Maje. Their aesthetic is very me – feminine yet cool – and their cuts work well on my figure. And I wear a lot of Whistles too. Designer wise, I love Brand for their quality jeans, and for shoes I wear a lot of Rupert Sanderson and Miu Miu. I also love traditional Moschino; I’m less of a fan of it now since Jeremy Scott has taken over as I find it a bit OTT, but I have a lot of the brand from before him, and still enjoy finding vintage pieces.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
Idealistically, I would love a badass cape and a pair of Malone Souliers heeled sandals. Realistically, it’s a new crop top/sports bra and some Nike trainers for dance class!
Boots or Shoes?
That’s a tough one. It would have to be shoes because there are more varieties, so then I have more excuses to need a new pair. Plus, because I’m short, knee-high and thigh-high boots don’t work on me. But ankle boots trump all shoes for me, because they are so cute and sexy whatever the heel height!
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about the-Bias-Cut.Com.
Thanks Jacynth … and your galactic prediction sounds mighty fine to me. Just remember dear readers to look out for those stars and lightning strikes! I am so pleased that all sizes are considered at the-Bias-Cut.com – I am a UK size 10/12 and I find that a lot of companies geared towards the older woman have a starting size of UK12/14. Same goes for shoes – my feet are narrow – and a lot of shoes offered are wide fit, or extra wide. What fashion frustrations do you have, dear readers?
All photos have been published with kind permission of the-Bias-Cut.com
A few weeks ago on the blog I interviewed the UK charity Living Streets (read the interview HERE) and the charity were preparing for the UK’s National Walk Month this May. One of the events they mentioned was #HappyShoesday on Tuesday 16th May. That date is not quite here yet, I know, but it got me thinking about happy shoes! One of the current summer shoe wear fads this year is footwear with pom-poms. Adding a sense of humour to your outfit, this fad is not “new” by any means, the 2017 twist is plimsolls with a pom-pom on top…
So, what is a pom-pom? Pom-pom comes from the French word “pompon” which refers to a small ball made of fabric or feathers; an ornamental round tuft that originally adorned hats. Even Napoleon sported a pom-pom or two on his hats.
Pom-poms on shoes are not entirely a new idea either. Pom-pom mules called “tauranwari jutti” have been around since the early 16th century in the Pakistani province of Sindhu. They are perfectly suited to the hilly, sandy environment of the region – the pom-poms cushion the foot at the front whereas the open back of the mule makes it easy to flip out trapped sand.
Over in West Africa, in Burkina Faso, brightly coloured leather flip flops were worn with pride in 1965 … and still fashionable today!
In 2015/2016 fur pom-poms were a winter fad – in 1950, Ferragamo made laced up shoes dominated by a white mink pompom. In 2015/2016, real fur and its implications were shunned and there were plenty of vegan fur pom-poms around so that you can express your style without supporting an industry that kills animals.
Coming back to this summer, I have spotted many sandals sporting colourful little pom-poms – such as my high heeled sandals that I bought from La Redoute:
If you are really into your crafts, why not have a go at creating your own pompom created sandals? Shops like Accessorize or ASOS have pompom shoe clips … or grab a bag of tiny pom-poms from a craft shop or even in your local supermarket (I spotted lots of sparkly ones in Asda yesterday :)) There are plenty of YouTube videos explaining how to do your pompom creations.
You can’t deny that pom-poms do bring a smile to your face – brings back memories of making wool pom-poms in Girls Brigade! Did anybody else enjoy making wool pom-poms in their youth? Do share your pompom stories… I’d love to hear them 🙂