Tag Archives: handmade

Society COLLECTIVE + Giveaway!

Society COLLECTIVE began with Elinor Cripps’ dream of maintaining economic freedom for the indigenous Wayuu women of Latin America. Meet Elinor and discover the extraordinarily beautiful bags that she has brought to Australian shores…

Mochilas are handwoven bags used by the Wayuu to carry food and water across the desert. Every Mochila takes up to one month to make while the weaver takes care of the animals, gathers water, cooks and walks long distances from one community to the next always searching for water, the highest valued good.

Society COLLECTIVE started with an accidental journey to the Colombian desert where I ended up spending a lot of time with the Wayuu. The Wayuu are an indigenous, matriarchal, nomadic culture who roam the deserts between Colombia and Venezuela. They are an incredibly vibrant and passionate culture, having never been subjugated by the Spanish. I was lucky enough to form strong friendships with the Wayuu and be welcomed into their community for a few months.

The Wayuu live in one of the poorest regions of Latin America, and make some of the most beautiful bags I have ever seen… In recent years, the Wayuu way of life has seriously come under threat from overseas mining interests. The Mochilas are a means by which the Wayuu women can maintain independence both economically and culturally.

Every Mochila is a unique piece of art and is the personal and artistic signature of the woman who made it. This weaving tradition stems back thousands of years, and the colorful bags are canvases that reflect the weaver’s worldview.

Mochilas represent a circular cosmology where there is no before and after, but only threads of life spun from one cycle and woven into the next. The surrounding desert, animals, and natural elements all serve as major sources of inspiration for both design and color, such as the patterns of wind on sand, soaring birds of prey, the blazing sun, cactus flowers or rare waterholes.

We base our business model on fair trade practices. This means using our business to tackle poverty and empower producers. We have ensured that the Wayuu receive a premium price for their products and invest additional profits into a nearby school. Most importantly, we have created a transparent business model that gives the Wayuu access to democratic business-making decisions. They set the price, the nature of working hours and conditions as well as the quality of the product.

We are also proud of our commitment to the empowerment of women. By employing Wayuu women to continue their traditional crafts, society COLLECTIVE has helped contribute to their independence both financially and spiritually. Nicholas d. Kristof, explains: “‘Women hold up half the sky,’ in the words of a Chinese saying, yet that’s mostly an aspiration: in a large slice of the world, girls are uneducated and women marginalized, and it’s not an accident that those same countries are disproportionately mired in poverty and riven by fundamentalism and chaos…focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.”

The turning point that made me start Society COLLECTIVE was when my bag broke in Columbia. I had been carrying a mass produced bag that had, not surprisingly, barely lasted six months. One of the Wayuu women I was staying with at the time immediately gave me the Mochila she was carrying (I’ve had it ever since). In that moment she gave me a bag that was more than just another mass produced, designed-to-fall-apart, part-of-the-chain-of-consumption product. She gave me something that was part of her story and her world.

Every product has a story, and its up to consumers to decide whether that story is empowering or not. My broken bag, and my new mochila, made me realize I could provide a product that empowered the Wayuu and give fellow Australians a bag that actually lasted, had an empowering story and was incredibly beautiful!

I did my Honours in history at the University of Sydney (Nineteenth Century Hawaiian Mariners on Board Euro-American Whaling Ships… making anyone excited?!) While at university I studied feminism and environmental history. As much as I love writing about these subjects, I wanted to actually implement my ethics in the real world. Society COLLECTIVE has given me the opportunity to do just this.

My advice to other young designers is to stop putting off starting something new. People (myself included) come up with many reasons to not start something – the timing is not right, I’m not sure if I’m ready, it all seems too risky, I’ll do it later, I’ve never done this before… You will never actually know if you are ready to do something until you just do it. I’ve found that with a little hard work, faith in yourself and perseverance anything is possible.

When I’m not working I’m doing sweet, sweet nothing! Well, that’s when I’m not out in the vegie garden hunting caterpillars with a vengeance all in the name of my tomatoes and kale. I’m also a keen surfer spending more of my time in the ocean than on land. I get land sickness!

I couldn’t live without the ocean, organic vegies and my very hairy man.

Right now I am listening to Beirut – check them out!

The last ethical product I purchased was my Sseko sandals (www.ssekodesigns.com). Sseko sandals are made by high school female graduates in Uganda so they can generate enough income to go on to university. Just like society COLLECTIVE, Sseko strives to ensure customers understand that every product ‘has a story.’ I admire Sseko for their commitment to female empowerment and ethical manufacturing.

My favorite Bluecaravan seller is Idear Papergoods. I bought all my Christmas cards from them last year – her stuff is so clever and witty! I love it! I’m hoping all her cards will make my friends and family smile.

In the future… We’re hoping that Society COLLECTIVE gains enough momentum and support so we can return to Colombia and set up a local school for the Wayuu children. This is our driving force right now, and something we know we can achieve!

Visit Society COLLECTIVE

 // GIVEAWAY //         // GIVEAWAY //         // GIVEAWAY //

Elinor Cripps and Society COLLECTIVE are generously giving you the chance to win this exquisite handwoven Mochila valued at $190.00!

*Drawn next Friday the 16th March 2012*


1 entry = Head over to our Facebook and say ‘Hi’ – how easy is that?!

2 MORE entries = While you are there – be sure to hit the ‘SHARE’ button on the Facebook giveaway post for triple the chance to win….



Interview: Lily Loves Pearl + Giveaway!

Developing organic skincare range Lily Loves Pearl was a natural step for soon-to-be mother, farmer’s wife and naturopathy student Sam Molineux.  Sam let’s us have a little peek into her creative, productive and sustainable life…


Sam has offered us a jar of [Replenish Me] Hand Cream to give away to one of our lucky readers. Believe it or not, over 480 roses are in this divine little pot of heaven. I can smell it from here…

Just leave a comment here to be in the draw to win!  Good Luck.

Jen x

***Entries now closed***

MOTIF Mag // issue ONE // Nostalgia

We’ve noticed a new magazine on the scene, and it’s called MOTIF.

MOTIF Magazine is an online publication that was started by Sydney cousin’s Tegan and Lara. Their launch issue explores all thing NOSTALGIC and features plenty of cool vintage articles, interviews and links.

Their goal was to share good things with the world and to contribute to the creative cosmos by writing about things they love and promoting and supporting other emerging artists and creatives.

MOTIF regularly features bits and pieces from online ateliers and craftspeople and they love to support those who love to sell the things they love to make.

A little bit of fashion, food and plenty of genuine content, MOTIF’s themed approach to the magazine concept is a breath of fresh air.

We can’t wait for their INTO THE WOODS issue to hit the web!

Porcelain Bluebird Giveaway!


The Lovely Brianna Peterson of Mrs Peterson Pottery has given us this most beautiful porcelain Blue Bird on a sterling silver plated chain – to give away to one of our lucky readers…

Just head over to our Facebook page and leave us a comment to be in the draw. Winner announced this Thursday, so be quick and good luck!

Jen x

Meet Brianna Peterson…


A chat with Brianna Peterson of Mrs Peterson Pottery…

From   her  little  studio  in  the  Blue  Mountains  ( west  of  Sydney )  Brianna Peterson designs  and  creates  a  beautifully  cool  and  quirky  range  of  porcelain jewellery and  homewares.  Brianna  chats  about  her  pottery,   radio  show  and  a handmade life...

BC: Firstly, I just wanted to say how pleased we are to have you on the site  – how has your Bluecaravan experience been so far?

Brianna: It’s been really supportive and motivating! It’s so wonderful having people from all over Australia contact me about my work. I get stuck into my studio and it’s just me and my radio. I forget that people are out there looking at my pieces on-line. The magazine interest generated by Bluecaravan has been unexpected too. I have several features coming up before Xmas and that is SUPER EXCITING.

BC: Tell us about Mrs Peterson Pottery.  What / who inspires your work?

Brianna: Hmmm. Definatley inspired by my inner child! – and all the young artists that are part of the new pottery scene… It’s is an exciting time for the ceramic comeback!

The story beind my pottery? I started making the kind of things I wanted to see in the shops – that’s it in a nutshell really. I have an obession with stamping and print relief, so clay was a perfect medium for me. I looked everywhere for the type of homewares I had in mind and couldn’t find them… So I started making them myself.

BC: What did you do before Mrs Peterson Pottery?

Brianna: I thought a lot about making pottery! Some fine arts study… and lots and lots of travel.

BC: When you’re out of the studio what are you doing?

Brianna: I also produce a children’s talk-back show for the Community Radio Network called Kid’s Caravan. It’s so interesting to hear how kids interpret the world, their understanding of their physical and social environment, and the way they can neatly and confidently sum up complex issues. We can all learn a lot from them!

Apart from that I’m working on my sound production and computer skills… Hanging out with my True Love and being a general dork.  I spend quite a bit of time inventing new dance styles and thinking about all the different ways I can change the world to make it more fun.

BC: What are five words that describe you?

Brianna: Firey, talkative, funny, positive, kind…

BC: What celebrities would you like to see wearing your jewellery?

Brianna: Defiantly SIA. Umm… Claudia Karvan – my earrings would look perfect on her… Julia Stone – something cute for her… and of course a contemporary piece for OPRAH when she comes to visit – then of course I could sit back and become a pottery multi millionaire…

BC: What is the one thing you couldn’t live without?

Brianna: Good people and good music. The good people in my life give me hope and inspiration, and great music can always put me into a good mood. I’m listening to a lot of SIA and Old Crow Medicine Show among other things… I LOVE listening to music when I’m working…

BC: What CD is in your stereo right now – no cheating.

Brianna: Phoenix – catchy tunes by some awesome French guys…

BC: Reading?

Brianna: …I was just given a book for my birthday called Brida by Paulo Cohelho and I’ve read six pages in two weeks. I’m a busy girl! But in the studio I religiously listen to a podcast of This American Life produced by Chicago Public Radio.

BC: What is the last ‘ethical’ product you purchased, and what do you love about it?

Brianna: Peppermint Magazine. Apart from the content – I love how that eco paper smells!

BC: Who is your favourite other Bluecaravan seller? Why?

Brianna: Two of my fellow ceramic artists (Kanimbla Clay & Elm Designs) are also Bluecaravan sellers and I LOVE their work. A seller that I love and don’t personally know would definately be Epheriell. Jess’s jewellery is so stylish and her blog is full of exciting new updates all the time.

BC: Lovely to chat with you Brianna…thanks for the virtual cup of tea, and goodluck with your Bluecaravan store!

Visit Mrs Peterson Pottery

The Ethical Clothing Pledge

badge by heidi & seek (thinker maker)

I’ve just been over to the gorgeous Isis Made blog, and have taken her ethical clothing pledge…

Of course we are already acutely conscious of what we buy around here. But now we are clicking our heels and sending you all our best scout salute!

Is it difficult with a 10 year old daughter…? Yup.

…a little shop around Bluecaravan should do the trick!

Jen x

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T H E _ E T H I C A L _ C L O T H I N G _ P L E D G E 

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I pledge to only wear clothing that is one or more of the following:
1. Pre-loved
2. Handmade (preferably by me) *clothing by me? OK maybe not this bit!
3. Reconstructed
4. Made with ethical / environmentally friendly materials
5. Made by a company with strong ethical policy & workers’ rights

* Companies with environmentally friendly practices (such as cutting down on waste/energy/water) get brownie points
* If I get one little inkling of sweatshop labour, I’m outta there!
* Above all though, I think the most important thing is reducing the amount of things we use in the first place. Not purchasing ANOTHER piece of clothing just for the sake of it is the biggest statement we can make.

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all wrapped up and ready to go… well almost.

earthgreetings :: 100% earth friendly

It’s taken the better part of the past year, but Bluecaravan is all wrapped up and about to be revealed on the online highway…

We are amazed by the enormous support from within the design community, from amazing artists and artisans (and from patient family members) in getting Bluecaravan trundling along.

There are a number of sites out there promoting the loveliness of handmade products, but Bluecaravan is a world first in creating a venue for contemporary handmade, ethical and fair trade products that you can buy directly from both emerging designers and established independent brands.

We expect few people to visit us for a token ‘ethical’ guilt purchase. That’s not what we are about.  Bluecaravan promotes all things  interesting & lovely, edgy & urban, quirky & cute – all wrapped up in a warm glow!

We aim to create a venue for people to buy the things they love, and to feel good about what they buy.

Just a few more long, long days and we’re away. Look out for us in this Month’s Dumbo Feather… pass it on.


Jen x