Here in the South, Spring and sprung, and oh Lord, how I am thankful. Having a stir-crazy 3-year-old who loves riding her pink bicycle makes chilly winter days far less endearing.
When this time of year rolls around, we all trade in our boots for sandals, and you are probably just as guilty as I am about picking up a pair every time you make a Target run.
Part of my personal challenge to myself in building an ethical wardrobe is not only to purchase items I know were made with high standards, but to also MINIMIZE how much I’m actually buying! The reason is three fold.
- There are simply better things I can spend my resources on (like, um, funding our adoption).
- The more I buy, the more I’m perpetuating the Western world’s mentality of demanding more things, which in turn perpetuates funding the use of slave labor and poor manufacturing practices to meet those demands.
- It also creates more things in my home that I have to find a place for. Which really just means I’m creating more clutter for myself.
Here are my crimes over the last couple years…in SANDALS ALONE!
WHY do I need all of these?! This is crazy!
Employing the KonMari method, I decided which pairs still “spark joy”, and realizing that like, none of them do, I have thrown almost every pair in my yard sale pile. I have invested in one pair. One of just a few pairs that will last me until the boots come back out.
These beauties from Sseko Designs. They were made by a lady named Florence.
The leather is so soft and beautiful, and the accents on the straps across the toes are interchangeable! At $20 a pop, these tabs might be lasting me a while, but there are SO MANY pretty options to choose from! These sandals also come in a t-strap option, both in caramel and espresso.
Sseko is based in Uganda. There, they employ women, teach them a trade, pay them a living wage, and then when they “graduate”, they head to university. Amazing, right? It’s really easy to have the mentality that giving money will solve poverty and the injustices that stem from it. But in reality, creating meaningful, dignified opportunities and educating those who have never had access to it is the foundation of breaking the cycle of poverty.
For Sseko, this is working. Every woman who has graduated from Sseko is pursuing, or has graduated, from college. Every. Woman.
Additionally, they partner with other artisan groups in Kenya and Ethiopia to produce more gorgeous accessories, creating more sustainable opportunities to grow East African economies.
Exciting stuff right?
So here is my new and improved spring/summer shoe wardrobe. Two pairs of Ssekos (I got a killer deal on the ribbon pair last fall!), my TOMS I’ve had for two years that still look great, and a pair of leather t-straps I had made in Sorrento, Italy several years ago.
I hope you’ll head over to the Sseko Designs website to pick out an ethically made pair for yourself, and maybe even go so far as to replace the pile of the ones you have already that probably weren’t made ethically. It sounds crazy, but crazy is what will make an impact! To help in picking out your size, know that the sandals do not come in half sizes. I am true 6.5 across every board. My ribbon sandals are size 6, and my new sandals are a 7. I definitely suggest going down in size for the ribbons. A 6 in my new pair would have been ideal, but they are already sold out, and since the ankle straps are adjustable, it’s easy to make them work.
To learn more about creating a world in which all products are ethically made and all people have access to dignified employment, check out Made in a Free World. To learn more about creating justice for all, head over to my favorite nonprofit, the International Justice Mission.
Note: This post in not sponsored nor endorsed by Sseko Designs.