The Beautiful Traveler is a series featuring the beauty products, gadgets and accessories I love to travel with. After three years on the road, I learned that you might be able to skimp on clothing and get by with a couple pairs of shoes, but there’s no substitute for taking care of yourself while seeing the world. Today’s post is for those who know that beauty is about more than wrinkle-free skin, and travel is more than resorts and fun and the perfect Instagram feed.
Travel is the best, but I don’t have to tell you that – you’re already here reading a travel blog! But let’s be honest. Travel can be a very selfish pursuit sometimes, can’t it? It’s all about fulfilling our desires – what we want to do, what we want to see, where we want to go.
How we want to spend our money.
If we aren’t careful, it’s easy to miss the most meaningful benefits of traveling like the moments where we connect with people from all walks of life, help out when we can and learn about the daily struggles & successes of our fellow humans.
This month I want to share two websites that are doing great things for the folks you might meet during your travels.
You may have read my posts about Jacksonville’s One Spark, an annual crowd funding festival that takes place in my hometown. The big winner in 2013 was Rethreaded, an amazing local company founded by Kristin Keen, a fellow travel enthusiast I met when we both spoke at Generation W a few weeks ago.
Human trafficking, prostitution and pornography are a multibillion-dollar industry, founded on the exploitation of mostly women and children. For 5 years, Kristin lived in Calcutta where she encountered many enslaved women. To assist those who had escaped the sex trade, she co-founded a business there called Sari Bari, which now employs more than 75 people who create beautiful handmade blankets and other products from traditional fabrics.
When she returned from India, Kristin continued to fight the sex trade locally. She learned that the biggest need for these women was a safe work environment where they could earn money, learn a skill and experience healing in a supportive community. That’s where Rethreaded comes in.
From Rethreaded.com, “Rethreaded loves people affected by the sex trade by fostering relationship and life-giving community. Our vision is to unravel the effects of the sex trade by fighting business with business on a global and local level. Rethreaded provides a four-month holistic training program for women in the Jacksonville, Florida area who are coming out of lives of addiction, violence, human trafficking, and prostitution. Many of these women leave prison with felony records, creating significant challenges to employment. Rethreaded is a safe place where women are paid a living wage to become artisan seamstresses and ‘upcycle’ donated t-shirts into new creations for sale.”
In a nutshell, Rethreaded provides safe and dignity-giving work to survivors of the sex trade. I recently got my first Grace Scarf ($24-$34), Rethreaded’s signature product, and I’ve been wearing it every chance I get. The Grace Scarf is made of used T-shirts that are stripped and dyed and put back together again by the women in the program.
How’s that for a beautiful metaphor?
Want your own Grace Scarf? Of course you do! Check Rethreaded out on Facebook and Twitter and shop for your own Grace Scarf here. It comes in a zillion colors, so if you have trouble choosing just one, throw a few in your cart for Mother’s Day and any upcoming birthdays or bridal showers. Oh, and game day – there are Florida and Alabama options, too.
In the meantime, Rethreaded is providing one Grace Scarf to a lucky Angie Away reader… so enter in the Rafflecopter widget below, and good luck!
(There are MANY amazing fashion lines that offer the chance to help out. Check out Rethreaded’s partner list here.)
Have you ever traveled somewhere and wanted to load your suitcase down with one-of-a-kind souvenirs only to realize you just didn’t have the space? NOVICA.com can help!
In association with National Geographic, NOVICA is an online global marketplace that supports artisans you might meet during your travels. Through the site, talented artists from around the world have the chance to sell their authentic goods and handmade gifts to you directly. Sounds great, right? The only problem I had was choosing from thousands of accessories, jewelry and home decor items from Thailand, Mexico, West Africa, Bali & Java, Brazil, the Andes and Central America.
NOVICA’s mission to empower artisans and connect them with customers is admirable — and successful! I never would’ve had the chance to bring home a sizable product from Indonesia if not for this website, and I know I’d much rather support a real local craftsman than order something from Amazon made by a factory in who-knows-where.
I recently ordered a hammock from Bali and a silk scarf from India from the site and was pleasantly surprised at just how easy it was to scoop up souvenirs without having to lug them 10,000 miles back to my home.
After perusing the site for hours — yes, I truly fell down the rabbit hole — I eventually decided on the hammock and scarf, but there were SO many cool items that reminded me of places I’d been. Jewelry from Mexico and sculptures from Thailand. Handbags and rugs and tapestries — really, everything I ever wanted to buy while traveling that I never could logistically.
I love that every product from NOVICA comes from a real person. My goodies came with handwritten thank you notes from the creators attached with colorful wrappings, and once you’ve received your souvenirs, you can leave feedback for the artisan who created them. It adds a beautiful layer of personal connectivity to the purchasing process.
AND! Since I’m all about giving back to those I meet along the way, you can provide microloans to the artisans in partnership with KIVA.com. How wonderful is that? Such an easy way to help make a difference.
Your assignment for this week: check out Rethreaded & Novica and then tell me in the comments where you’ve been in the world that made you want to give back. Thanks for reading, guys! I’m off to lounge in my hammock while wearing my Grace Scarf =)
Some products featured in Angie Away’s Beautiful Traveler series were provided complimentary. Others weren’t. Either way, all opinions are Angie’s.