The Inside Scoop: Becoming a Noonday Ambassador

To celebrate my four year anniversary with Noonday Collection as a Noonday Ambassador, I thought I would share what it has been like being an Ambassador and why I've loved it and I'll start with introducing myself for any new faces around here.

I’m Brooke, wife to Aaron and a St. Louis transplant from Virginia Beach, Virginia — we moved here so Aaron could attend grad school and earn his Ph.D in Research Psychology. It’s been an adventure growing together in a city that is new to both of us! I work full time at Washington University in St. Louis for Olin Business School, but after work or on the weekends, you can find me partnering with women in St. Louis, sharing Noonday Collection with their communities, or cuddling with our labradoodle, Rosie.

Before sharing more about my journey with Noonday Collection, however, I should probably begin by explaining what it is for those who haven’t heard about the company before. Noonday Collection is a socially responsibly business that uses fashion and enterprise to create meaningful employment opportunities for people around the world. All of our pieces are handmade by 29 artisan business partners from 12 countries who earn a fair wage for their work.

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I’ve always loved jewelry. My first “real” job outside of cleaning my dad’s business growing up was at a local silver jewelry store called Hi Ho Silver. I loved helping my customers find that perfect piece for their friends or family and I especially loved the relationships we got to make with our repeat customers who soon turned into friends. Even though that job was only for a summer, it clearly left a mark on me as I embarked on my journey to be a Noonday Ambassador seven years later.

Noonday Collection first caught my eye at a local fundraising event at my church. There was a table set up with Noonday samples and lookbooks for us to browse the whole collection. I was immediately drawn to the creative ways the paper bead necklaces were made. I also owned multi-colored papered necklaces, but I had never seen them styled in the way Noonday was designing them: Solid color beads, some with gold accents, was a totally new way of designing artisan-made jewelry. I was hooked from the design aspect alone, but then I found out how it was made, how it was fair-trade and ethically made, and how it was helping break the cycle of poverty — and I knew I was done for.

I hosted my first Noonday trunk show a month later and had a blast. I gathered girls from my community group who I had just started getting to know and we had our very own grownup dress-up party, complimenting each other and changing the world right from my first little apartment in St. Louis, MO.

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A month after my first trunk show — and two months after the initial fundraiser at my church — my heart and mind wouldn’t stop thinking about the impact Noonday Collection was having on the world and how I could be apart of it: By purchasing Noonday for myself and for gifts, hosting a trunk show, or — best of all — becoming an Ambassador myself to share Noonday with anyone and everyone who would listen!

The first two options were simple. I love to shop, so purchasing Noonday was easy. I also love having people over and earning free jewelry, so continuing to host trunk shows was another no-brainer. But, becoming an Ambassador in a city I had just moved to eight months earlier? Now that was something I would need to think about.

Still new in St. Louis, I didn’t have the security of close friends and family to support me and show up at my launch party or host my first trunk show. What if no one showed up? What if I didn’t meet anyone to share Noonday with? I knew it would be a huge risk to begin selling this world-changing jewelry in a place where I was still building my new community — especially because I’ve always loved staying behind the scenes. Becoming an ambassador for Noonday would not only require me to push outside my comfort zone, but I would also need to find the courage to be vocal about the jewelry and share the vision and heart behind the beautiful jewelry I was wearing.

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After wrestling with my decision for weeks, I finally said “yes” to my new role as a Noonday Collection Ambassador and I can honestly say that my life has been changed forever for the better — and it is all because of one thing:

The incredible community of artisans that Noonday partners with around the world.

Over the past several years, two of my biggest highlights as a Noonday Ambassador have been the two opportunities I have had to travel to Guatemala and Peru and to meet our artisan partners who make our gorgeous jewelry in person. On both of those trips, I have seen with my own eyes and felt with my own heart the impact we can have when we decide to shop fair-trade with our money. Noonday also partners with leaders in the communities we work in, so we are empowering local leaders across the world to create change and help their artisans and employees break out of the cycle of poverty.

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To Americans, it’s a no-brainer that we earn at least minimum wage at our jobs, if not more, but in workshops and factories around the world, this is sadly an exception. Fair trade means Noonday artisan partners are paid minimum wage or higher, on time, every two weeks, and that they are only working 40 hours a week. This is a game changer in helping to alleviate poverty. Poverty often means living day to day, and doesn’t allow anyone to think about the future because they don’t even know if they will have money for their children the following day. Earning minimum wage or higher allows parents to dream about their future, save money for a house, and pay their medical bills.

The knowledge of Noonday’s impact never fails to give me fresh energy and encouragement. In the moments when I might feel tired of loading my Noonday Collection samples into the car one more time or asking again and again if someone in my community in St. Louis will host a Noonday trunk show, I simply think about meeting Ana in Guatemala and José in Peru, who are running incredible businesses in their communities. And I think about how lives are being changed by business — and by things as seemingly simple as earrings, necklaces and accessories.

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Being part of Noonday Collection has done more than help me be more connected to my local community in St. Louis — it has opened my mind, widened my worldview, and given me a passion for making every purchase count. Every sale matters — no matter how big or small — and they all help towards making positive changes around the world. So when you wear fair-trade jewelry in the future, you should always smile, knowing you are helping to end poverty right where you are.

If you would like to support myself & Noonday Collection, you can purchase through my Ambassador page here. Thank you for supporting fair trade & artisan made goods!

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My Favorite Ethical White T-Shirts

For the rule-followers amongst us and with Memorial Day weekend now behind us, I thought it
would be fun to share some of my favorite ethical white t-shirts and blouses, as well as different
ways I like to style them. My most favorite ethical fashion company of all won't be a surprise to
those who've followed me for any amount of time, but — you guessed it — Everlane.

Everlane

I'll lay out a few of my top reasons I love Everlane and then we’ll get on to the shirts.

  1. They are known best for their "Radical Transparency". They believe in knowing who makes your clothes and that everyone deserves being paid a fair wage.
  2. They don't believe in the "mark-up" and are up-front about why they are charging what they charge. (see image below)
  3. A huge part of sustainable fashion is buying quality over quality and Everlane is just that. You buy clothes that last with Everlane and I can appreciate that about them.
  4. Their clothing is timeless and I love how most of their pieces are solid colors so they can be in my closet for years with no sign of "out of style".

With some of my favorite reasons why I love Everlane laid out, I'll now share some of my favorite white blouses/tees.

I'm wearing the The Japanese GoWeave Back-Zip Tee in White and I can't say enough good things about it. It's the perfect summer shirt as it is made from 100% triacetate—making it crease-resistant and cooling, perfect for surviving the heat with a subtle texture and silky drape. It also has a great weight to it that gives me the reassurance it will last for years to come.

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I am also a huge fan of scoop neck blouses and shirts and all the variety it allows when
accessorizing. I fully believe in working with a variety of textiles and materials when putting an
outfit together. With the subtle texture of this blouse plus the texture from my water buffalo horn necklace or bandana scarf from Noonday Collection, they compliment each other beautifully. 

I also love the creativity of the back of The Japanese GoWeave Back-Zip Tee, and how it elevates the style of the shirt.

My other favorite white t-shirts from Everlane are from their linen collection. Their lightweight linen gives you an easy drape and a breathable feel for warmer days. These are my go-to items when packing for a summer getaway.

Everlane also carries Men's and children's clothes as well so you can get your whole family amazing quality staples and ethical pieces in one shopping trip!

Other Favorite Ethical White T-shirts

I have other white t-shirts in my closet from a few of my favorite sustainable companies that I thought I'd share below - you might not need a new one now, but my hope is that when you have a gap in your closet and you need to fill it, you'll think of the companies I share here on my blog when you shop!

Live FashionABLE

FashionABLE has been a big favorite of mine as I have three of their purses, but they just came out with their new clothing line last week called .ABLE and I'm over the moon for it. I happened to be in Nashville over the weekend and got to try on and personally shop the new collection. I was like a kid in a candy shop. Their new clothing line is all handmade in Peru and is incredibly soft and could be mistaken for wearing butter. They are such great quality pieces and timeless. I'm a big fan of their color scheme and how I can have it in my closet for years to come.

ThredUp

ThredUp is a great second-hand online clothing company. A great way to shop ethically is to shop second-hand to give clothes a new life and ThredUp is my favorite avenue for shopping via thrift stores. You can filter by your size, type of clothing (tops) and color (white), and quickly scan to shop what you are looking for!

Krochet Kids intl.

Krochet Kids intl. makes their clothing line in Peru just like Live FashionABLE and considering I traveled to Peru last summer with Noonday Collection, that pulls on my heart strings. I love their Standard Tee and the Organic Tee.

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Made in the USA

Lastly, I encourage you to keep asking major companies #whomadeyourclothes and if your shopping at major companies such as Nordstrom or Macy's, don't forget you can search "Made in the USA" in the search bar! They make it so easy to make an ethical shopping purchase without even realizing it with the "Made in the USA" note in the details section! 

*this post is sponsored by Everlane, my favorite Ethical clothing line!