Fair Trade Fashion and Ethical Shopping at Whole Foods

Did you know you can find fair trade fashion at Whole Foods?  Fair Trade Fashion at Whole Foods

My location in Vienna, VA has always had a small collection of sustainable apparel – mainly casual wear- on end caps, but recently they’ve included nicer items like dresses.   When I travel I noticed that some locations have larger collections. In the Reno, NV location I had to exercise serious restraint, because they had a huge section of clothes, shoes, and other accessories.

Whole Foods Sustainable Apparel Dresses

The main brand sold at my local Whole Foods is the Threads For Thought brand.  I’ve bought some of their items, mainly tees, leggings, and a hoodie.

I also have gotten several pairs of comfy foam flip-flops which are made by FeelGoodz.

If you’re looking to shop for more ethically made clothing, but you aren’t sure where to start – I think options at Whole Foods are worth a shot.


Handmade Business Secrets: Get product photos that rock!

If you’re selling your handmade products online, clear and pretty product photos are key to increased sales.  But how do you get those awesome images if you’re not a pro with the camera?   I’m sharing my secret today, in the hopes that it will save you the time I wasted.

Handmade business get product photos that rock

Psst:  Before we get started, I’d like to remind you that this is not a sponsored post.

This summer I launched an independent website for my pet bed and home decor business, Janery.  After selling for several years on Etsy, launching my own online store was the natural “next step” to take Janery to a more professional level.

Janery Pet Beds Home Accessories Screenshot product photography

I was ready to launch it more than a year ago, except for one huge roadblock:

My product photography was terrible.

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t terrible, not anymore.  I’d worked on it over the years, first getting a better lighting kit, then taking photos against the white wall of my studio, and then finally DIYing a large white backdrop.  I’d even played around with my camera settings a little.  But no matter what I did, I couldn’t get product images with a bright white background and well-balanced, realistic color.

My online customers don’t have the luxury of picking up and inspecting my products.  They’re  forming opinions based on the images on my screen.

Despite knowing this, I was about to settle for less-than-ideal photos for the new website, because I had delayed so long that I said “Jane, you just have to launch this.” 

A week before launch, I discovered companies that provide this photo editing service for you.  After reading reviews on several, I tried out Mister Clipping. They offer a variety of image editing services and were able to do what I needed for Janery.

I uploaded photos in large batches, then used these instructions (based on recommendations I found):

“Make the background 255 white. Keep the hard shadow under the product and fade the long shadow. Spot product and fix damaged areas. Correct for distortion. Deliver Full resolution jpegs with no compression.”

24 hours later, my edited photos were ready to download from the service.  I was very happy with the results.  62 photos edited for under $200, and all I had to do was select them, upload, wait one day, then download.

Check out the difference it made:

Janery Product Photo Editing Comparison

After the edited photos were loaded to my website, it took only a few more days to be ready for launch.  I could have kicked myself when I realized the one thing holding my business back for more than a year was lack of proper photos. 

I’d like to leave you with this lesson learned:  Sometimes it’s better not to DIY everything for your business.  Paying a professional to help where your skills are lacking is worth it, if you spend that time saved on the parts of the business you know and love.

Modern, Rustic Design Inspiration at Three Ships Coffee Roasters

During our trip to Virginia Beach, Ryan and I tried out some new coffee shops and coffee roasters.  We do this on every trip we take, and it’s always exciting when we stumble on a roaster with some really interesting coffees.  Three Ships Coffee Roaster Virginia Beach

Three Ships Coffee Roasters in Virginia Beach is definitely one of those finds for us!  Their cold brew coffee was among the best I’ve ever had – citrusy and fruity, and absolutely no need for cream. Also, they had killer ham biscuits.

Three Ships Coffee Roaster Ham Biscuit

But I’m not here to wax poetic about coffee today.  I also loved their rustic modern decor that had just the right amount of kitschy ship and captain items mixed in.

I fell hard for this rope and board hanging shelf unit!  It’s rustic but not country, at least in my opinion.  And totally DIY-able! Sadly, Ryan fails to be impressed by this inspiration. Three Ships Coffee Roaster Virginia Beach Hanging Plant Shelf

I also loved the chunky wood shelves.  This is not a new style, but it worked so well.  From a retail perspective, I also noticed a little detail – the small signs about the different coffee beans all had a bit of humor in the detail. It caused us to read all the descriptions carefully, when we might otherwise not have.

Three Ships Coffee Roaster Virginia Beach Chunky Wood Floating Shelves

Finally, I really liked the black painted wood plank wall  in the back by the roaster.  This style is a little unusual, but the black really makes the wood wall pop. Also, I’m pretty sure we had those bar stools in my woodshop class in middle school. . . it’s funny how basic they are, yet they really work in the space.

Three Ships Coffee Roaster Virginia Beach bar

We tried another coffee shop on the same day, and it couldn’t have been a more different aesthetic.  It was large and shiny and new, and trying to be awesomely modern,  but there was no personality.  It looked like they had a huge budget to buy all new, contemporary furniture.  I’ll take a more eclectic, thrifted look any day over all shiny and new.

Now I’m off to try and convince Ryan I should put some rope shelves in the living room . . .

Sapling Status: 6 Months

It’s official, Maple is no longer my tiny little newborn.  Long gone are the days of snuggles and naps on my chest, replaced by a tiny little alert human who wants to giggle and laugh and play all day. The other night she fell asleep in my arms, and I sat that way for another hour because it was so rare.Maple 6 Months

Speaking of sleep, here’s an update on that:  Maple sleeps in the bassinet next to our bed, and wakes up sometimes 2 times during the night to eat. I just pull her out of the bassinet and into bed and feed her, and I usually sleep through the feeding, albeit restlessly.  Sometimes she sleeps 8 hours, but her 8 hours start when she goes to bed at 8 pm . . . and my bedtime doesn’t start until midnight.  I’ve had weeks of being more tired lately, so I’m trying to work my body back to going to sleep earlier.

She’s still taking several naps a day, and I can tell when it’s time because she rubs her ears so hard and starts gurgling a yell like a wookie.  Most of the time when we set her in her crib for a nap, or in the bassinet for the night, she falls asleep peacefully.

So, what other activities and habits are new?

Sometime in the 4th month I tried holding Maple over the toilet when I realized she was ready to go.  It worked!  She makes dramatic faces before hand, and so it’s become routine for us to have her poop on the potty.  Maple is comfortable on her little padded training seat, and we just sit on a stool and hold her.  It’s certainly convenient for us since she’s in cloth diapers, and it keeps the mess down.

Maple’s funniest habit in her 5th month was learning to blow bubbles.  She sticks her tongue between her lips and basically blows raspberries, which results in a really funny sound . . . and spit/drool flying out of her mouth.  Here she is in action:

Maple Blows Raspberries

I’ve also been fortunate to have a babysitter for a few hours two days a week.  Those are my working days.  In July my day job work finally finished, so I’m officially all Janery all the time now.  Maple has a great time with the babysitter, although she eats less during that time and then makes up for it by eating more once she’s back with me.

Maple Paint Samples

The best part of having a babysitter is that it helps me feel more relaxed during the other week days.  I know I’ve done work during “work hours” and so I am able to focus on just being a fun mom for Maple on the other days.

We’ve been spending a lot of time outside thanks to the surprisingly tolerable summer weather, and Maple is really noticing things now.  The leaves, the birds, the dogs. . . oh, does she love the dogs.  Especially Amber, who loves to lick her tiny baby feet.

Maple and I traveled a bit, starting with a train ride from Delaware to DC.  She was a total doll!  She sat next to me and just played with her toy while I read.  I couldn’t believe it.

Maple on a train

The beach was a little less easy.  The weekend we went, it was so hot that Maple was fairly miserable  on the beach, though she didn’t mind having her feet in the ocean.  We did have a cabana for sun shade, but Maple just couldn’t nap under it.  It was really hot that weekend.  So it was a nice but not amazing trip, because we only spent one hour on the beach all weekend.  She did love the pool at the hotel, so that was good!

Maple Ocean

Fortunately she slept really well in the hotel, seemingly unphased by being away from home.

We started offering Maple food when she hit the 6 month mark! I’ll tell you about that in the next month’s update.

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