February Reading List

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In other posts, we’ve talked about the importance of self-care, how these rituals look different for everyone and why it's so important to carve out time for ourselves on a regular basis.

One of our absolute favourite acts of self-care during the cold winter months is soaking in a hot bath at the end of the day. Although it’s definitely nice to light up our candles, close our eyes and do absolutely nothing, we can often find ourselves in the company of a good book when taking a soak.

In need of a good read? Here are a few gems that we're reading this month.

THE SEAT OF THE SOUL- by Gary Zukav

The Seat of the Soul is one of those books that changes the way you see the world, and your interactions with other people. It also helps you to gain an understanding of your own actions and motivations. Chances are, you’ll read this book more than once; it's our third time.

"When the personality comes fully to serve the energy of its soul, that is authentic empowerment."

NEON SOUL: A COLLECTION OF POETRY AND PROSE- by Alexandra Elle

Alex Elle shares her message of hope through her powerful prose.  She writes frankly about her experience of healing from hurt and preparing for joy. Through her writing, she celebrates her triumph over adversity and her incredible resilience.

For those of you on the gram, her account @alex_elle is one of our all time favourites!

HOUSE PLANTS: LIVING WITH SUCCULENTS, AIR PLANTS AND CACTI -by Rose Ray and Caro Langton

Here at Stray & Wander we are OBSESSED with succulents, air plants and cacti; they fill our homes, our office and of course they’re plastered all over our Instagram. As you can imagine, we were SO excited to receive this gorgeous book as a gift.

House of Plants is an exceptionally beautiful guide on how to love and care for your succulents, cacti, tropical and air plants. We LOVE that it offers up tons of practical info on how to look after your plants: soil, watering, light etc. Basically, this book filled with stunning photography, teaches you how to keep these lil beauties alive.

BONUS: They also show you how to take cuttings to share with friends, make gifts, and how to make your own terrariums!

 

Happy Reading! 

XOXO

Stray & Wander Team

 

 

 

 

 

Brands We Love- Sudsatorium

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Sudsatorium, named one of Toronto's 'Top Ten Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Brands.' (BlogTO), is an indie beauty brand handcrafting ethically-sourced, organic, vegan fair trade cosmetics, with a portion of all proceeds proudly donated to grassroots charities around the world.

On a chilly Sunday afternoon, we sat down for an interview with Sudsatorium's founder, John Luther, to learn more about his amazing line of natural cruelty-free cosmetics and how it all started.  

SW:  How did Sudsatorium get started ?

JOHN: Sudsatorium is a dream that sprung up out of necessity, rooted in my own personal need for truly clean beauty product options. After struggling with extreme allergies and hormonal skin for much of my life, I began crafting natural, organic beauty products out of my own kitchen in my teen years because it was simply becoming impossible to find commercially available products that would not leave my skin reeling.

In 2014, I made the decision to begin pursuing my passion head on, and began studying aromatherapy to better understand the realm of essential oils and how they relate to both our physical and mental health. Together with what was already a strong understanding of chemistry from my years of schooling, this all came together to form the foundation of my skincare expertise, as I began avidly experimenting with organic, ethically-sourced, and of course vegan-friendly ingredients.

SW: What is green beauty and why is it important?

JOHN: Every individual's and every brand's definition of what 'green beauty' is, is different. There really is no industry oversight regulating what it means to say that a product is 'green'. For us, we define green beauty with four main criteria ensuring that the health and wellbeing of both the end user and Mother Nature are central:

A movement: a mindful effort of beauty and wellness brands to source the purest, most sustainable ingredients possible, in order to create effective and safe products.

An environmental standard: a commitment to the earth, guarding its resources and the medicinal properties of plants, herbs, flowers, etc.

A community: a group of like-minded people determined to share what they’ve learned and discovered, so as to inspire and educate others to make mindful choices

A lifestyle: a conscious choice to avoid products proven to be harmful to the health of our planet and its inhabitants 

SW: How important is the quality of the ingredients that you use?

JOHN: Quality is the MOST important factor when formulating any product. Because we believe in formulating our products with minimal ingredients, our focus is on using only organically farmed and ethically-sourced plant based materials.

The other important aspect that relates to quality, and that really encapsulates our approach to skincare, is the importance we place on working with minimally processed ingredients, opting for whole foods like fresh bananas or hand picked rose petals instead of highly refined powdered banana extracts or commercial rose water that is laced with preservatives. Our lab really does not look that far off from a juice bar or kitchen, which is exactly the point – if you're not able to eat the ingredients going into your cosmetics, why would you want to put it them on your skin or hair?

SW: Who are Suds products for?

JOHN: Our aim has always been to craft quality products for people looking to greenify their beauty routine, but who don't want to spend a small fortune to do so, or who may feel a little intimidated or unenthused with the rather stuffy, highfalutin nature of most high end clean beauty brands. Sudsatorium is very much meant to be an approachable brand for the everyday women or gent that emphasizes simplicity.

Also, although we are proud vegans crafting PETA certified vegan-friendly and cruelty-free products, we never want people to think that they too need to be vegan in order to enjoy the plentiful benefits of opting for plant-based cosmetics.

SW: Your product names are super witty; where do you draw inspiration from?

JOHN: I've never met a pun I didn't like, so you can expect to see quite a bit of wordplay going on when it comes to our product names. There is also a heavy emphasis on pop culture references that's the result of a childhood spent engrossed in cable television and indie cinema.

At the end of the day, some of our product names might not be for everyone, but so long as we're able to make one person chuckle or feel nostalgic, I think we're doing our job. You're not likely to remember a conditioner named something mundane like 'clarifying conditioner' by company XYZ, but a midnight black bottle of charcoal-infused conditioner called 'Dark Side of the Mane' will be harder for you to forget.

SW: When you aren’t working what can we find you doing?

JOHN: What is this 'not working' thing that you speak of, because it sounds wonderful.

SW: What can we expect to see from Suds in 2018?

JOHN: Hopefully quite a bit! We have a few new product lines we're hoping to launch in 2018, including a range of fresh hair and face masks based around whole food ingredients like fresh berries and nut milks.

You can also expect to see us continue to expand upon many of our existing product lines, including more 'naked' products that do away with packaging in order to offer customers an even more environmentally responsible product. Solid conditioners are definitely on the docket for 2018, as are a few other secrets.

SW: I can't wait to try the fresh hair and face masks; I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open for those!

SW: Name three things that we should all have in our bathroom:

Definitely one thing everyone needs is a good cleanser. Whether you pine for one of those foaming face washes like the ones we all remember from our teenage years, or are all on board the oil cleaning bandwagon, everyone needs to get into the routine of properly washing their face in the morning and at night to keep skin clean and clear, especially if you're choosing to wear makeup.

After that, everyone should have a bar of bomb-ass soap sitting in their shower. Besides being more environmentally friendly than liquid soaps and body washes (less packaging is always a good thing), the humble bar of soap is the ultimate in affordable skincare.

Lastly, and this is not even a product we make, but nothing sets off a bathroom like a brightly coloured (and fairly traded) hand towel crafted by hand from the finest organic Turkish cotton. If only this interview was being posted to a site where such a splendorous product existed.... 

SW: So glad to hear that you're loving your towels! Our bathroom is also well-stocked with a selection of Suds soaps at all times. My absolute favourites are Naughty and Pine in the Aspen

SW: For those interested in green beauty, who may be a little afraid to take the jump, what baby steps do you recommend?

JOHN: The most important thing anyone can do before they take their maiden voyage to the land of green beauty is to ask themselves 'why'. Why are you interested in transitioning to a green beauty routine? Are you interested in having children one day and are worried about potential reproductive disrupters? Cut out PEG compounds and phthalates. Is your skin highly sensitive and causing serious discomfort? Get rid of sulfates. Do you love animals? Shop for products with the cruelty-free bunny seal. What turns more people away from making the switch to clean beauty products than anything else is how overwhelming it can feel to get started.

Start off with eliminating the things that matter the most to you, or swapping out the products you use the most, like your lippie, if you're someone that can't leave home without painting their pout, or your shampoo if those sebaceous cues of yours require your attention each and every day to keep them clean.

SW: How do you refuel or recharge?

JOHN: Sleep seems to work pretty well for me.

SW: What is one really good piece of advice you’ve received in business?

“Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” This advice may have originally come from a fictional television character, but at its core is some real truth. Running your own small business can often feel like trying to juggle fifteen things at a time (all the time) but the reality is that believing that you can multi-task your way through the day is all wrong. Multitasking isn’t like tennis or sex; you don’t get better the more you do it. Your brain isn’t designed to focus on more than one thing at a time, and an attempt to do so results in splintered focus and a half-assed result. Do one thing at a time, do it well and with your whole ass, and move on to the next task once you're done. It's as simple as that. 

 

 

Featured Retailer: Sattva Boutique

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We’re so excited to have our line of ethically sourced Turkish towels and blankets carried at Sattva Boutique in Halifax. This beautiful boutique offers shoppers a unique and conscious collection of carefully selected women’s wear, accessories, and lifestyle pieces while working hard to promote a joyful relationship between women and fashion. 

Just like us, Sattva believes in the world-changing potential of conscious consumerism.
 Each of their brands has a story to tell, whether that story is about using recycled materials, sourcing organic fabric, using innovative manufacturing processes, or making charitable contributions. Their products are all carefully chosen with four commitments in mind: ethically made, eco-conscious, locally sourced, and socially aware. 

Sattva is a shopping destination for those who enjoy stylish, modern, high quality and socially aware products. By curating a unique collection of clothing, accessories, jewelry and natural beauty products, they create opportunities for customers to look and feel beautiful in all aspects of life.

On Being Present

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For many, ourselves included, staying present when immersed in countless daily activities can be a huge challenge. We often find ourselves multitasking, while simultaneously thinking about all the other things that we think we should be doing. The thing is, when we think about the past and/or the future, what we’re missing is the experience of the present; the experience of the exact moment that we’re in.

Being present starts with recognizing that we can really only do one thing at a time and that we ought to do that one thing mindfully. Being present goes hand in hand with being mindful.

Staying present means staying RIGHT HERE. Because most of our time is spent thinking about the past or the future, what we often end up doing is passing through the present moment, on our way to something else. The problem with this is that we end up missing the moment. This is literally how life can end up passing us by. 

START WITH YOUR BREATH

Being present starts with breath. Start by taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly through your nose. Ask yourself, what am I doing right now? You are reading. Are you just reading, or are you thinking about what to cook for dinner, helping your kids with their homework, or the 6 loads of laundry that need to be done? You are reading-that’s it; JUST read.

LETTING GO

We have a tendency to feel like we aren’t enough, or that we aren’t doing enough. YOU ARE ENOUGH. YOU DO ENOUGH. Repeat this mantra daily.

It is easy to not be present, our minds wander constantly, we worry about our finances, the health of our aging parents, does my boss like me, when will I find time to get to the 97 things on my to-do list? When we catch our mind wandering, we need to gently bring it back to the ONE thing we are doing, and focus on that. By focusing on breath and the task at hand, we can practice letting go of whatever is not in that moment.

PRACTICE

Practice being present. Social media and the large number of other digital distractions can’t interrupt us if we close them, and instead, focus on completing the task at hand. When you’re at the dinner table, put your phone away. When you’re talking to a friend, don’t scroll through social media. When you’re typing, liking, swiping, or posting, you are not being present.

Practice being present until it becomes natural. Whatever you are doing right now, learn to focus entirely on that one thing. Pay attention to every aspect of what you’re doing, to your body, to your sensations and to your thoughts. Try your best to be joyful in whatever it is that you're doing; be grateful that you're able to do that task. 

The secret to being present isn’t really a secret at all....it just requires us to be right there, right then; that is all. Being present is, in a sense, it’s own meditation, where the stillness comes from actions, breathing, and letting go. This simple practice can profoundly change how we experience the world, how we show up for others and most importantly, how we show up for ourselves.

XOXO

Stray & Wander Team

 

Reflections on 2017

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As the year draws to a close, our team has been reflecting on all of the amazing moments we’ve enjoyed. From meeting so many of you in person at our pop ups and markets, to launching our blog and newsletter, and giving back to the community by joining forces with brands that we love. We are so proud of the relationships we have developed with our artisans, our customers, and all of our amazing stockists in both Canada and the US. We’re incredibly grateful for the year we’ve had and we couldn’t have done it without you!

Every part of our business matters to us, from the sourcing of our organic cotton, the talented artisans who weave the towels and blankets we sell, to the amazing retailers we work with, to you, our conscientious customer. Stray & Wander wouldn’t be what it is without all of those pieces in place.

Our business has grown over the past year but our philosophy has remained unchanged. Our philosophy is simple: we buy directly from the artisans who make our products, they set the prices for their goods and are paid fairly for their work. Our products are made one at time by hand and we value the traditional methods of production. We believe in buying ethically and buying less. We believe in the beauty of imperfection and that handmade products carry within them the energies of their maker. We support women and help to create sustainable livelihoods for people living in rural communities. We give back to the communities where our partners work and live.

There are ethical ways of doing business, and this belief is central to every single decision we make. In 2018 we will continue to fairly source beautiful, organic cotton Turkish towels and blankets for you to enjoy and we look forward to launching new products. We are excited to continue to build our Stray & Wander community, and to offer you even more exciting and relevant content in our newsletters and blog. The feedback from you about our contests and giveaways has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are planning many more exciting collaborations in the coming year. We love seeing your pics and reading your comments and suggestions; your feedback is important to us.

We're heading into the New Year with incredible plans and grateful hearts.

Wishing you all wonder and merriment this holiday season,


XOXO

Stray & Wander Team