I have forever been a fan of ethical fashion. When I came into college here at the University of Missouri and decided to major in International Apparel Marketing and Merchandising, I came in thinking that upon gradation, I wanted to work in the fashion industry with the goal of making it more sustainable and ethical. This passion hasn’t died down, and ultimately I would love to pursue that goal. In fact, when I was living in Guatemala, I happened to meet the founder of Noonday Collection, Jessica, when I was in Antigua. This was such a memorable experience because I was able to go to the hotel she was staying at and chat poolside with her and some other world-changing Noonday ladies all about ethical fashion and the challenges and advantages that can come with all things sustainable and fair trade.

My life experiences have really culminated to make this passion in my life so strong and it only makes sense if I would end up at a company that places an emphasis on the ethical treatment and payment of employees. If you haven’t heard much about ethical fashion, I would check out the documentary The True Cost or THIS article I wrote a few weeks ago on fast fashion.

In my mind though for a long time, my opinion of ethical fashion was that, while it was for a good cause, it wasn’t necessarily the most fashionable. In my mind, I’d seen some wares that were made around the world that were advertised as fair trade that were simply just not that great. While they helped other people, I would have never just picked them out because I liked them.

However, the future of ethical fashion is definitely changing and there are so many companies that work with artisans all over the globe that create some of the most gorgeous products that I have ever seen. Later this week, I’ll be highlighting an ethical fashion company that makes some of the most beautiful things with an outfit post, but for now, I have created a gift guide stocked with some of my favorite current picks from my most favorite companies! What ethical fashion companies are you currently crushing on?

 

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My Most Favorite Ethical Gifts I’m Loving Right Now

1. Antonia Scarf ($65) from Noonday Collection

2. Saddle Bag ($55) from Hiptipico

3. Camera Strap ($78) from Nena + Co.

4. Coasters ($4 each) from Mayan Hands

5. Bottle Stopper ($10) from Roots of Creation

6. Leather Backpack ($238) from Nisolo

7. PomPom Keychain ($8) from Macvilho

8. Basket in Sea Foam ($42) from Wolof Weavers of Senegal

9. Necklace ($15) from Haiti Design Co.

10. Boots ($178) from The Root Collective

11. Tasseled Pouch ($12) from Mango + Main

There you have my roundup of favorite goodies perfect for Christmas gifts for family and friends! Not only are they beautiful and thoughtful choices, but they are also ethically purchased, so it’s kind of a win-win all the way around. If you have any favorite companies that you love shopping from, drop the name down in the comments below because I want to know!

Each and every one of us holds the power to make a difference as a consumer with every purchase we make. Why don’t we make our purchases count towards something and make the lives of others better?

I’ll be back later this week to share more about one of my favorite ethical fashion brands!

Olivia

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I’m so excited to share a post that Jake from Navy Blazer Club wrote! He created a great look for my next installation of the Men’s Corner series that is perfect for this month’s chilly temperatures. While it can be quite cold at times, don’t let that put a damper on your excitement for the outdoors. Jake will be sharing all about his favorite fall hiking outfit today. I’ll let him take it from here…

I’m an avid reader of A Drop in the Ocean and everything Olivia puts out on social media, and as J. Kurtz Style approaches its one-year anniversary, I couldn’t be more excited to guest for one of the blogs that inspired me.

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One of my favorite things to do as the leaves roll into winter is go out hiking. I’m a huge follower of “style through functionality”,  and the hardy nature of autumn in the outdoors brings the best clothes out of my closet. While I was on Thanksgiving break, I grabbed my photographer/girlfriend/better Instagrammer and hit the trails.

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For outerwear, I picked the jac-shirt from Filson (Seattle, WA). I do not like putting too much thought into my outfits, and this plain, navy heavyweight is great for the “apathetically particular”-minded like myself. Made out of 100% wool and weighing 18 oz., Filson’s jac-shirt has weathered whatever conditions I’ve put it through.

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At the heart of my hiking outfit is the L.L.Bean tartan flannel. L.L.Bean flannels are as comfy as old friends or a Thanksgiving fire, and the rugged, yet refined, tartan patterns are perfect for the outdoors. Unlike its slimmer counterparts at urban stores, the L.L.Bean flannel is cut for a full range of motion. Nothing like a shirt that won’t fall apart when you ditch the coffee shop for the unbeaten path.

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To top it all off, I wore my 10’ Bean Boots in classic tan. L.L.Bean’s duck boots are at a level of popularity they haven’t seen since the 1980s, and I’m not complaining. The leather upper + rubber lower combo is PERFECT for crunching over rocks and branches.

That’s it from me, for now! If y’all are interested in keeping up with J. Kurtz Style, shoot me a follow on Instagram @jkurtzstyle or visit my home turf at Navy Blazer Club.

Have a great December! 

Jake

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Hey friends!

2016 was a huge year for me. I spent January through June living in Alicante, Spain, and traveling through nine other countries, visiting Europe, Asia, and Africa all in a matter of months!

Because of that, I’ve gotten lots of requests from other girls who are planning on studying abroad asking about a packing list. I thought I’d share some of the things that I brought with me for my six months abroad. This is going to be pretty specific to my experience in Spain, so if you’re going somewhere else, take what I’m saying with a grain of salt. For example, in Spain, most people dress extremely well, so my Nike shorts weren’t ever going to work for me. However, I’ve had friends who’ve studied in Australia and basically lived in gym shorts and a t-shirt. So, most advice can be taken generally, but some is definitely more specific to my experiences in Spain.

Overall, I brought one suitcase and one huge backpack, but in reality, that sounds like nothing, considering within these bags were all the things I would use for a six month time period. After packing, repacking, and probably repacking again, I finally was able to fit all of my things in those bags. Then, while I was living in Spain, I traveled extensively throughout Europe, so I was constantly relying on my packing abilities to ensure I had everything, but wouldn’t exceed any weight limits for the airlines.

Since I was living in a beach town in Spain, I thought it would be warm most of the time there. Oops. I was super wrong on that, because Alicante didn’t start getting warm until about mid-April. Otherwise, it had pretty chilly temperatures that required me to wear a coat most of the time. So, despite some errors that I learned along the way, I feel like I did an overall pretty good job of planning for what to pack. That being said, I want to share some of my top tips that you can use for packing both in a practical sense, but also a stylish one!

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Consider a Capsule.

As far as what to pack for clothing, I would highly recommend creating a capsule wardrobe and bringing that with you when you travel abroad for an extended period of time. I’d always heard about the concept of a capsule wardrobe, but was always a little unsure about the specifics. The blog Unfancy really opened my eyes on how to create a capsule, so I attempted to create one for my semester abroad. Basically, a capsule wardrobe is a mini version of your own wardrobe that’s all able to mix & match. On the Unfancy blog, Caroline recommends 37 pieces {including shirts, pants, dresses, shoes, and outerwear}, so I decided to pretty closely follow her advice. For more specifics on creating a capsule wardrobe, click HERE. I personally packed a few items under the 37 garment limit because I knew that I also wanted to do some shopping specific to the trends that I’d be seeing in Spain. I’m glad I did this because it allowed me to grab up a few pieces in Alicante that I wore basically 24/7 {I’m specifically thinking of my amazing leather jacket and my favorite pair of fringe booties…both of those items pretty much became invaluable staples}. I also think a great tool for helping plan your outfits abroad would be by downloading the Hanger app to create outfits and visualize all the items that you’ll be bringing with you! The concept of a capsule wardrobe is a  technique that most minimalists use, but I also thought it was a perfect strategy for studying abroad for a semester.

The Pants vs. Shorts Dilemma.

In my mind, when packing for studying abroad, I simply thought about the place – Alicante, Spain, a beach town on the Mediterranean coast. So when I think about a beach town, I think, “Ok, I’ll pack some shorts/skirts, tank tops, and sandals and we’ll be good, right?” Wrong. SO wrong. I can remember the first time I wore shorts and Birkenstocks. My host parents just kind of rolled their eyes, but I had no idea why. I headed out the door and walked to my tram stop, but almost turned around and went back to the house. The sheer amount of death glares and stares I received from teenagers and old women alike was insane. For some reason, it’s super socially unacceptable to wear shorts in public in Spain (and this was also pretty consistent throughout all the other countries I visited in Europe, I just can’t speak for them like I can Spain). So, needless to say, a few of the shorts and shoes I packed pretty much were wasted space and I never wore them except for turning some of the shorts into pajamas, haha.

Use All Your Luggage Space + Don’t Waste It.

Sorry to sound blunt here, but if you’re studying abroad somewhere where there are well, um, stores…you can easily pick up plenty of necessities and save precious space by not packing them. I’m specifically thinking about shampoo, body wash, school supplies, etc. that you can buy whenever you reach your destination, so that if you’re really tight on space or close to going over your allotted weight limit, you don’t have to do too much worrying about that. The exceptions to this, from my experience, would be the makeup that you really love and sunscreen. Most of my drug store beauty products were just as easy to find in Spain {or I found something almost identical to it}, but I made sure I brought some of my more hard-to-find makeup because I didn’t want to try to deal with a different brand. Additionally, for some reason, sunscreen was SO expensive. I brought some with me and I was glad I did. I still had to buy some, however, because I forgot to bring mine when I took a weekend trip to Morocco. It ended up coming in the tiniest tube I’d ever seen and was around the equivalent of $28, so that hurt quite a bit. 🙁 Other than that, my only note to add about packing is just to be smart about how you pack your suitcase. Fill your shoes with as many pairs of socks as you can, roll your clothes instead of fold them, and overall use all the space saving hacks you know! Space goes quickly in a suitcase when you’re trying to pack for months on end!

Other Important Details.

There were some things that didn’t really deserve their own entire paragraph, so I created a list below of some random things that are pretty important to bring, so if you want, you can take these into consideration when packing.

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Sunscreen – Like I said before, sunscreen was so outrageous to purchase, that you’ll just save yourself a lot of money by bringing a little with you ahead of time.

WhatsApp – I would highly suggest downloading this app on your phone before you go. Any Spaniard I met used WhatsApp instead of texting, and I also used this to communicate with my parents instead of relying on a crazy expensive data plan. A few weeks ago, WhatsApp rolled out video calling too, so really, this app has all you need to communicate with people in-country and back at home!

Makeup Bag – I think I put this in here simply because I was an idiot and forgot to bring a makeup bag with me. I was also too cheap to purchase one while I was there so I used the same Ziplock bag to keep my makeup in for about six months, haha. This is basically a PSA to not be a dummy like me!

Headphones – In the name of space saving, I would say bring earbuds, so you can just roll them up and throw them in your bag. In the name of crazy loud crying babies on airplanes, I would say bring noise-cancelling headphones. Either way, it’s up to you. Just don’t forget something to listen to music with!

Travel Book – Josh’s siblings gifted me Lonely Planet’s Spain book before we left to study abroad, and by the end of my time in Spain, the book was literally falling apart. I honestly used this book almost every day to not only plan trips all over Spain and use the great attraction and restaurant recommendations, but I also used it to learn about the rich history of the country I was then calling home.

Camera – With the quality of iPhone cameras these days, I mean, you technically could just bring your iPhone and all would be well. But, as I print pictures from the trip, I’m noticing the stunning quality difference between pictures that were taken on my phone and ones that were taken on my camera. I have a Canon Rebel t3i for reference – I absolutely love it!

Adidas Superstars – Ok, granted, I actually didn’t have these while studying abroad, but it felt like every single other individual living in Europe owns these shoes. I purchased mine shortly after coming back to the States, and I basically haven’t stopped wearing them since. They’re great to walk around in, and since you walk a lot more in Spain than I typically do in the U.S., I really wish I had had these to not only be practical, but in style in Spain.

Portable Adaptor – This is an obvious but important piece of advice. It is absolutely key to have an adaptor so you can use your electronics. As an additional note, I brought my flat iron and curling wand from home and simply plugged them into my adaptor, and all worked well. However, friends from my trip either a) tried to do that and their device exploded on them or b) just opted to purchase a new straightener when they got to Spain. Granted, they aren’t that expensive, and it might be a better option than having your electronic freak out and almost kill you, haha!

A Legit Backpack – Ok that sounded dumb. What I mean to say here is that a small, school-sized backpack just won’t cut it. Since I traveled almost every other weekend, I needed something that would carry all my things without a problem. I opted for the Osprey Kestrel 38 oz. backpack, and it even had enough space that I could pack enough things for my three week spring break all in this pack! It really worked out so well and I would highly recommend investing in a bag like this.

A Travel Journal – Oh my goodness, this has been so fun to look back on and read. I wasn’t the most consistent writer by any means during our trip, but it honestly has me smiling, laughing, and even crying to read over my memories now. Whether it’s in paper form like this journal, or even in the form of a blog…I think it’s absolutely vital to write those memories somewhere.

Ibuprofen – Ok so of course first and foremost you need to remember to bring your prescription medication, and make sure that you can get enough of it for however long you’ll be abroad. But, especially if you can’t speak the native language of the country you’ll be in, I think it ultra-simplifies things to bring medicine with you. This for me included Advil I took for cramps, and medicine I take for allergies. While I’m confident that my Spanish is strong enough I could have purchased this without a hitch in Spain, I don’t want to think about the complications due to the language barrier that would have occurred if I tried to purchase medicine in other countries I visited like Hungary or Belgium!

A Portable Charger – This is such a duh thing that I’m sure you all are thinking I’m ridiculous for even having to mention this. But seriously you guys, my portable charger saved my life so many times when my iPhone would unexpectedly die even though it said it had 60% left. I was always having to reference my apps like WhatsApp or my offline maps, or Airbnb to message my hosts in the places I was staying, so a dead phone would have been a terrible thing. I just wanted to emphasize how important this item is and how many times mine actually saved my life!

A Cross-Body Purse – Before I left, my Dad took me shopping for Christmas and I picked the cutest cross-body out from Nordstrom (similar) that was on sale. I used this so much not only to keep my belongings safe where I could actually have a secure way of carrying them, but also because this bag was big enough to carry my camera inside it, too. This made for a perfect bag to take out with me sightseeing because I didn’t have to have an extra camera bag or a backpack, but it also was super cute!

With that being said, those were just a random assortment of items that I really didn’t want to end this post without mentioning, because they truly helped me so much! I hope you enjoyed this post, but if you have any more questions about specifics, I am definitely here to help! Shoot me an email at olivia.adropintheocean@gmail.com or drop a comment below and I’ll be sure to give you all the help that I can.

Have a great week + happy Monday!

Olivia

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Hi friends!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends! I’m spending Black Friday today at my aunt and uncle’s house in Iowa, and we’re spending the day playing games, watching football, and eating lots of yummy leftovers! Since I’ve been in Iowa, though, the temperatures have definitely plummeted, and I’ve realized that it’s time to get serious about the cold weather. It’s time to share some of my favorite cold weather hacks to help you get through these crazy cold temperatures that you might be facing wherever you live, along with one of my favorite photo shoots by Katie Prestemon Photography.

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1. Lots of Layers

This is kind of a given during the cold weather seasons, but, I’ll reference one occasion where this was absolutely vital for me. While I was studying abroad last semester, I backpacked through Europe for about three weeks. During this time, I was in some pretty toasty climates, and would then transition to countries that were absolutely freezing. One instance in particular, in Copenhagen, it was absolutely vital to be so heavily layered, yet I had to also incorporate my clothing from the warmer weather places. For my favorite layering outfit, I wear a turtleneck tucked into a skirt with leggings underneath that. Over the turtleneck, I wear a leather jacket, and if it’s really cold…I wear a winter jacket and scarf thrown over that. Don’t forget to see my other outfit ideas on the Hanger app (+ friend me with username @oliviableeker).

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2. DIY Boot Cuffs

I’ve had several sweaters that I’ve tried to sell at secondhand clothing stores, but they’re too worn to sell. So, an easy way to recycle the sweater is to simply cut approximately six inches of sleeves off and wear them right above where your boots end as faux boot cuffs! This way, you not only don’t have to purchase them, but also, you don’t have to deal with the bulk of full length boot socks!

3. Keep Your Legs Toasty

On those particularly cold days, what I’ve done to stay warm is by wearing leggings under my jeans. I’ll do this on frigid days when I have to scoop my driveway or walk a far distance around campus. I’ve found that either Under Armour leggings or PINK leggings can be some of the most thermal leggings that I’ve worn so far. Do you have any leggings that you find to be ultra cozy?

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4. Drink Up

One of my favorite things about the winter is simply the coziness of the season. There are plenty of yummy drinks that are my winter favorites like chai tea, hot chocolate, or apple cider. All of this can be topped off perfectly with some candles, string lights, and Christmas music to really bring about the holiday feels.

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Well, that’s all for now, but I want to hear from you. What are some of your favorite ways to stay warm during the impending cold months? I want to know, because I’m always looking for new tips and tricks, since it is absolutely brutal walking across campus in the ice and snow!

Happy Black Friday!

Olivia

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Hey friends!

As I sit here typing this, I am all but ready to dash out of my apartment in my college town and head home for Thanksgiving. Just kidding. There’s still about a week more until I can officially head home, but my mind is so incredibly focused on thankfulness and how grateful I am (and yes, the Thanksgiving turkey, haha!) that I can hardly contain it.

That being said, I wanted to share a bit about why I’m filled with so much gratitude right now…and to finally tell you about my secret project that I was working on a while back in Chicago.

A few weeks ago, I was asked by the Kraft Heinz Company Foundation to come to Chicago, one of my most favorite cities in the world, for an exciting collaboration to go behind the scenes at the Kraft Heinz Company Foundation. When I learned about the Foundation’s efforts to eliminate world hunger and malnutrition, it was such an easy choice to jump on board!

I was invited to spend a day helping pack meals that would get sent around the world. The Kraft Heinz Company Foundation wanted to create a momentum of giving back within their company, so they host meal packing events like these to spread the word about their mission of ending hunger throughout all realms of the company.

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It was so wonderful to see the KHCF do something so different than simply just writing a check. As a group, hundreds of employees signed up to work different shifts during the day, in order to package the meals that would then get shipped all over the world.

In these bags, a small (but mighty) packet of micronutrients is included. This is sprinkled on the food that’s included in the package in order to combat malnutrition. These packets were filled with all the healthy essentials that are so important for us to intake, but so often aren’t included in the types of meals that those living in poverty eat regularly.

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Throughout the entire process of packaging meals alongside so many other people, the staggering statistics of how many millions of people are living around the world in hunger really sunk in. Being part of such a movement, I realized that the things I saw firsthand while living in Guatemala could now be helped. When I spent the summer living in Guatemala before I started college, I saw people whose entire meal planning process depended on how much they made selling their wares in the market that day.

There were plenty of people in Guatemala who wouldn’t be able to afford meals after a slow day at work, and that has always stuck with me and deeply impacted me by witnessing that. This campaign really touched me because I was given a tangible way to help people around the world, combatting hunger and malnutrition.

I couldn’t be more grateful for this experience as well as to be introduced to some of the sweetest and most genuine ladies EVER. The opportunity to share this experience with several other college ladies who blog was something that I don’t take for granted. It was so awesome to get to be included in this time of helping others and see Chicago all at once with some women whom I now get to call some of the most inspiring girl bosses I know.

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Now I want to hear from you. What are you grateful for this fall? I want to challenge you to take that overwhelming amount of gratitude and do something special for someone else this season. There’s not really much that beats the feeling of helping others, and I want to start a momentum of doing good and giving back. Let’s get in the spirit of Thanksgiving, friends!

Much love,

Olivia

Kraft Heinz paid for my trip to Chicago for the meal packaging event and I couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity. 

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