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I think a lot about how to present my shop in a way that makes it clear what it is all about but does not alienate somebody who thinks that they may not be welcome here because of the word “vegan” on my sign. Some people come in because it IS vegan and they are so thrilled to be here (love it when that happens!).  I’ve also overheard people making comments outside about the type of shop that it is and then they keep walking without bothering to come in and check it out (hate when that happens!). And then there are the people who come in who are not really interested in the products but want to be with someone else who has a love of animals.

 This past weekend, 2 women came in together and when they spotted the book  “Do Horses Sleep Standing Up”, one of the women made the comment that horses are stupid.  I countered that not only are they not stupid but they possess an intelligence that most humans do not understand. The other woman stood there quietly for a few moments and then proceeded to tell me how she had recently seen some piglets nursing with their mother and how this was one of the most wonderful things that she had ever witnessed. I told her about the time that I saw a mother rabbit nursing her young in our herb garden last year and we both agreed that these were rare gifts that we had received and how lucky we both had been. Then she told me a story about a bird that had flown into her NYC apartment many years ago when she was a young girl- and how the mother bird had flown in and shown her baby how to get out. I knew that these were stories that she wanted very badly to share – and more than likely, her friend who thought that horses were stupid, was not the person to share them with. When they left, the woman with the stories thanked me for sharing with her. And I thought about all of the other times when people came in and after a while started to talk about their dog/cat/horse and knew that they were going to feel encouraged to express  love for their animals because this was a”safe” place for that kind of conversation.

I have a write-up that I’m thinking about posting somewhere in the shop – possibly in a spot where it can be read from the outside. This is what it would say:

We know that you love animals.

Most of you probably share you homes with a cat or a dog.

The thought of them being mistreated is too much for you to bear.

We feel that way about all animals.

Maybe you never thought about what it means to buy cruelty-free products – maybe you didn’t think such a thing existed.

Every act of kindness helps to build momentum for a kinder universe.

The act of opening your eyes, mind and heart is a big one.

We are happy to meet people of all philosophies in the shop and have conversations with them about something we have in common – our love of animals.

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Enter the Ghosts

 

If you follow my Cow Jones Facebook page, then you know that my latest obsession is The Ghosts in Our Machine – described as “A film & web narrative in development about the individual animals used within the machine of our modern world”. I can’t properly put into words why I am so taken with this project. I have been a vegan for 22 years now but have not watched the films that so many people consider to be game-changers (like Earthlings, Food Inc., Forks Over Knives, etc). I do know that my journey began wth an image – an image of a cow on the back of a Peta newsletter (almost 23 years ago), with the caption – “Good intentions are not enough – stop eating meat”. I can still see that image and remember the stirrings of awareness that followed. When I first saw one of the trailers for The Ghosts, I had those feelings again and I thought – this is really going to be a game changer for so many people.

  I’m not going to write too much here about this project because there are so many excellent interviews and articles related to this project out there already. I suggest you check out the following:

 Interview with Liz Marshall  from the wonderful ladies at Our Hen House.

Interview with Liz Marshall from A Dog’s Eye View

This project is currently in the second half of  a fund raising stage. Anybody who donates $20 or more during this time is eligible to win some wonderful goodies – a bundle from The Roots of Compassion and a fantastic photo from We Animals and signed by Jo-Anne McArthur. The first contest ended on 6/22. The winner received an English Retreads handbag that was donated by us.

I had also promised on my Facebook page, that if the half-point goal of the project was met by 6/22, I would have a special sale on my website to celebrate. So here it is!! From now (June 27’th) until July 3’rd, if you enter the code “Ghosts25” in the special instructions/codes field at check-out time, anything that you order that is not already marked down, will be discounted by 25%. I don’t have a website that handles codes the ‘normal’ way, so you won’t see the discount reflected in the price at check-out but I don’t apply charges until I am ready to ship – and if I see this code, I will apply the 25% discount – and send you an e-mail with info about what the true cost is. It sounds cumbersome and requires some faith on your part – but it does work!

Check out this link if you would like to learn more about the fundraising campaign.

The dog in the picture was our beloved Betty. She was a rescued dog and we were really fortunate to share our lives with her for 2 years. She died last August and it is still difficult to even say her name. All animals are beautiful and wondrous and when we open our hearts and minds to them, we are the recipients of love without limits.

Mission statements – if you have a business, lead an organization or are simply applying for a job, you need to have a mission statement. I have agonized over this – even the “About Us’ page of my website presents me with a problem. Every time that I read something that I have written about what my shop is all about or what I’m trying to do, I cringe. It usually sounds too lofty, too much blah blah blah, too trite – or worse yet – too pretentious.

 Really, I think that my mission statement is simply – “I’m just trying to do something good”. Does that sound silly?

As I was getting dressed this morning, I thought about  the clothes that I was wearing. A pair of black pants that I’ve had for 8 years now,  a Vaute Couture message tee and my beloved popomomo cape. And I thought, “I’m dressing in memories”. I remembered buying these pants at a women’s clothing store down the block from me and thinking at the time that they were expensive – but I knew that I would wear them all the time. Eight years later, that has certainly been proven to be true. The Vaute Couture tee is especially cherished by me.  I remembered when I first heard about this brand, my first conversation with Leanne, the first time that I met her – lovely memories. So each time that I wear it, it’s like having Leanne with me. The popomomo cape is special to me because – 1) I just absolutely love the style 2) I met the designer Lizz  at Rendezvous back  in the fall of 2010 3) Abigail Doan of ecco*eco bought the same cape when she visited my shop last fall, and so every time I wear it, it’s like having her with me.

 

The above photo was taken of me by Abigail when she visited me – on that day, I was wearing the same tee and cape as today. I wear the clothes that I love constantly.

Every time that we wear something, it absorbs more memories. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that we have such a hard time cleaning out our closets – it’s hard to part with the dress that you were wearing when you met someone who became a special part of your life. What do you do with items that no longer fit but you really cherish?

Today is the first day that I have really felt like I want to wear something spring-like  instead of the endless layers and over-the-knee socks. Plus, most of the spring/summer inventory has finally arrived. I thought that it would be fun to show some pairings of styles (Dresses matched with shoes, etc.) that I personally like.

The first paring is actually what was used in a photo shoot by Chronogram Magazine. I wish that I could post the photo here – if you are able to get your hands on the April issue, check out page 51. The model is wearing this great dress from popomomo –

paired with these equally stunning Cri de Coeur Emma shoes –

and this lovely (and very colorful) bag from Dialog –

Next up is a pairing for times when you want a more sophisticated look. I love naturevsfuture – and this trench style coat looks so great as a dress too –

Pair it with the  gorgeous Galaxy shoes from olsen Haus

and this eco, beautiful and versatile clutch from GG2G (in a wonderfully eye-popping color)

stay tuned for more pairings –

Happy Spring!

 

This is a picture of a pair of vegan boots that I had custom made for me about 20 years ago – style-wise, it is certainly a far cry from the fantastic styles of Cri de Coeur, olsen Haus, Beyond Skin, Mohop (and others). They were also much more expensive. But these other designers weren’t around at that time . After wearing poorly made, plastic shoes for a few years, I ended up going to Eneslow – a shoe store in NYC that specializes in orthotics. I still love these boots – they do “fit me like a glove” and so I pulled them out of my closet the other day (after neglecting them for a few years). Don’t they look sweet with the lovely pin made by Leanne Hilgart of Vaute Couture decorating them? In case you can’t read the pin, it says “No Fur For this Girl”.  No leather either.

Made with LOVE

  

For months now, I have been trying to get my thoughts together for this post. I had originally intended the title to be “The Price of Ethics”. But as time went on and I thought about what I really wanted to say about all of the products that I am going to talk about – well – it became clear that one of the things that they all share in common is that they are MADE WITH LOVE. From the absolutely perfect chocolates made by Lagusta’s Luscious to the stunning footwear created by Cri de Coeur and olsen Haus to the fabulously warm and beautiful winter coats by Vaute Couture to the gorgeous handbags by GG2G  – they are all made wth love. 

  They all share the desire to fairly compensate everyone along the way in the production of their goods. This comes at a cost. And because we as consumers have been conditioned to seek out what is cheap or a bargain, many of these companies have been scrutinized for their prices. I see it in the comments that people make on FaceBook pages or in e-mails that I get from customers asking about the pricing. In fact, Leanne (of Vaute Couture) wrote a post on her blog last year – “Why my coats aren’t cheap”. She covers every point so well that it would be ridiculous for me to paraphrase anything. If you haven’t read it, please check it out – she spells everything out so clearly:

http://onoursleeve.com/?p=1615

 What does it mean when we buy somehing that is “cheap” ? So often we hear people saying – “Oh, you should shop at xyz, their stuff is so cheap!” I decided to look the word up in a dictionary – there were numerous definitions but these 2 were of special interest to me:

“of little account; of small value; mean; shoddy: cheap conduct; cheap workmanship”

“stingy; miserly: He’s too cheap to buy his own brother a cup of coffee.”

Do we really want cheap? Do we want to spend our money on something that is made poorly or do we want to be seen as miserly?  I am really interested in what you think about this issue. This post is the intro to a series – I would love to incorporate your thoughts.