Nadina’s Cremes: Seeking a “more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being”

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The practice of giving is universally recognized as a virtue and is the foundation of all spiritual practices. Another universally recognized truth is that giving provides reciprocal benefits.

In Sacred Economics, Charles Eisenstein “traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism” and visualizes “great opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being.”

Social entrepreneurs are discovering the reciprocal values of giving. Social entrepreneurship is booming globally. There’s a good reason for that: it works.

Social entrepreneurship is the work of entrepreneurs who create businesses directed toward solving social problems. Some entrepreneurs are highly successful with this kind of work, and they are finding that the benefits are indeed reciprocal. Jill Nadine Clements, owner of Nadina’s Cremes, is one of those.

Jill Nadine Clements’ journey toward social entrepreneurship began in 1986, when she traveled as an apprentice potter, selling cremes at Renaissance Faires. By 1989, she began working out of her grandmother’s kitchen, creating both cremes and containers. As a potter, she was well-prepared to create her beautiful, hand-worked containers.

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In 1990, Jill took definitive steps toward becoming a social entrepreneur, employing developmentally challenged workers to make ceramic jars and wooden displays for Nadina’s Cremes for the 100 stores she supplied by that time. In the following year, 1991, Nadina’s Cremes began to donate to environmental and social concerns and to share information about the Rainforest. In 1993, North American Indians started to make some of the jars for more than 1000 stores selling Nadina’s Cremes.

In 1995, Nadina’s Cremes introduced their “Have a Heart Gift Basket” to raise awareness about domestic violence, and a portion of the profits from each basket is donated to shelters for battered women.

In 2003, the company began a cooperation with Aubrey Hampton of Aubrey Organics on product development, creating Aubrey Organics scents and a lavender face mask and mist. In 2006, meetings with rainforest researchers Chris Kilham and Yellow Emperor’s Andy Levine brought a new level of knowledge and experience to product creation and ingredients at Nadina’s Cremes. Rain Forest Shampoo and Cream Rinse as well as a skin healing Tamanu oil product launched.

Social entrepreneurship has certainly been a two-way gift in the case of Nadina’s Cremes. Vulnerable individuals, environmental projects and society at large have benefitted at the same time as the company has grown and prospered. In 1996, Jill Nadine Clements, then 36 years old, was listed in Entrepreneur among 45 who made one million dollars before age 40.

Jill’s two passions are her all-natural, handmade body creams and her pottery, passions she has combined into one by designing and making both the creams and the jars in which they come. Throughout her amazing success as an entrepreneur, she has remained true to her company’s mission, advocating for education and many social issues, including rainforest preservation, domestic violence, homelessness and the developmentally disabled. As she says on her website, the company’s philosophy is to “contribute to a better future by giving back to the community.”

Nadina’s Cremes: a great example of how giving provides reciprocal benefits, providing, in the words of Charles Eisenstein, a “great opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being.”

Oka-B: Discriminating Shoppers Want to Know: Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?

Such cute shoes! Oka-B. We have them now.

Do black patent leather shoes really reflect up? This is the question asked in a very popular 1975 novel, later Broadway musical and movie, about eight Chicago-area boys and girls educated in a Catholic school. We can probably ask the same question about Oka-B ballet slipper style shoes as well as a number of others, like “Are they environmentally friendly? Socially conscious? Comfortable? Fun? Fashionable?”

Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes (to the latter questions). But do they really reflect up? Well, they’re probably shiny enough to do that, although that’s not patent leather that makes them shiny. The shoes are made with *Okabashi’s signature material, Microplast, is a proprietary blend of plastics specially formulated to provide maximum comfort, durability, and recyclability.” Additional characteristics include:

  • Soft & Flexible
  • Dishwasher Safe
  • Waterproof
  • Colorfast
  • Non-Slip
  • Odor Resistant
  • Anti-microbial
  • Made in the USA
  • Affordable
  • Vegan!

These delightful, fashion-savvy flip flops and now slides, slingbacks, cinderella slippers and wedges are just the thing for those who want a great, trendy look. The shoes have been featured in Style Watch, Atlanta Parent, Global Atlanta, The Nationalist, American Spa Magazine, Eco-Beautiful Weddings Magazine, Sportwear Magazine, Atlanta Magazine, Kentucky Bride Magazine and MV Magazine, to name a fewOther stories feature the shoes in Poland and in Venezuela, making them a global phenomenon.

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Cinderella slippers . . . a simple, classic, closed toe style. Also available in slingbacks.

These popular eco-chic shoes are part of the only 2% of shoes fully made in the U.S.A., coming out of a 110,000 sq. ft. factory in Buford, Georgia, where Oka-B employs 250 people from their surrounding community. The factory is low-waste and uses recyclable material in every pair of its signature sandals. Microplast is made from a combination of salt and fossil fuels and is even stretchable. Shoes are shipped directly from this U.S. factory to retail outlets, reducing their carbon footprint further. And . . . customers are urged to return their well-loved shoes for recycling into new shoes!

Oka-B shoes provide arch support and have bumps in the soles inspired by reflexology, so the shoes massage your feet as you walk. Customers say the shoes are very comfortable, allowing them to stand and walk for long periods of time without difficulty. Not since sneakers that we threw into the washer along with the rest of the laundry has there been a shoe so easy to clean. Just throw them into the dishwasher, and voila! Before you can make a meal to put on your clean dishes, the shoes will be clean.

Oka-B is a family-owned company that supports and fosters community-building in Atlanta and around the globe through their various philanthropic initiatives, including the American Cancer Society. After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Oak-B donated 20,000 pairs of sandals to the people of Haiti.

So really, with all these great attributes, does it matter whether or not the shoes reflect up? Come see what we have for you in Oka-B shoes for fall and winter, arriving now. The days of summer are waning, and you know you want just the right footwear to go with your fall wardrobe.

Already have Oka-B shoes? Maybe they’re well-worn, and it’s time for a new pair. Remember, Oka-B gives you a chance to do your part for the environment too. You can recycle your well-loved shoes by returning them to the factory. Eco-chic, eco-friendly, trendy and fun — and dishwasher safe?! Can’t do better than that!

P.S. Oka-B flip flops come on hangers, but the closed shoes come in a great little eco-friendly origami bag, almost as nice a gift as the shoes themselves.

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Oka-B wedges.

*Okabashi Brands is the parent company of Oka-B Shoes.

Mata Traders: Beautiful on Both Sides

From Mata Traders - Hello Dolly Dress, black.
From Mata Traders – Hello Dolly Dress, black.

When I was a child, my Dad gave me a reversible dress as a gift. It was my favorite dress because it was “beautiful on both sides.” I wore it all the time, and I remember every detail of it today, sixty years later.

I am thinking about that dress as I write about Mata Traders, and “beautiful on both sides” takes on a whole new meaning. Every dress, every skirt, every top from Mata Traders is beautiful on both sides.

On one side, Mata Trader vintage-inspired clothing displays meaningful block-printed designs on simple, eco-friendly, natural fabrics, usually cotton. On the other side, Mata Trader clothing reveals a world of hard-working, talented women with an opportunity to lift their families out of poverty in an environment that speaks respect and fair compensation.

Mata Trader describes itself this way: “Mata products are original designs handmade in India and Nepal by women’s cooperatives and artisan groups that practice fair trade principles. This means that our producers are paid a livable wage in safe and fair conditions, and do their work at home and in small workshops rather than factories.  Services like on-site day-care, medical check-ups, and over-time pay are offered.”

Maureen Dunn, the founder of Mata Traders, and her partners, Michelle King and Jonit Bookheim, met at the beginning of their freshman year at Northwestern University and became instant friends. “Their journey with ‘Mother India’ began in 2003,” when Michelle, Joni, and Maureen “spent 4 months traveling the subcontinent . . . After that, while Michelle went to grad school and Joni worked at a community org,” Michelle returned to India yearly on buying trips. She soon became aware of the conditions of poverty in which much of the population lives. She sought out “producer groups that paid their workers good wages and practiced the principles of fair trade.”

Soon, Maureen’s friends, Michelle and Joni, joined her as partners in the business, followed by Scott Rosenjack. Chicago-based Mata Traders “topped $1.35 million in sales in 2013.” Throughout its growth, the company has remained true to its founding mission, “to work with organizations that educate, employ, and empower women.”

“Everything is interconnected. The point is to know it and understand it.” Maureen tells the story of Harshali, who started out working as a helper at the women’s cooperative and helping her grandmother and sister sell fish at the side of the road. Today, Harshali is an assistant to one of the co-op’s designers, oversees all sampling work is on the road to becoming a designer herself.

Michelle tells the story of a day in the sampling unit, where some women are trained to work on sewing machines and come into the cooperative daily. For many women, it is their first time working outside of their homes. Other women are talented hand-embroiderers, many learning techniques at the cooperative but returning home to do the work. All the women work hard, rising early to prepare food and get their families ready for the day, working a full 10 AM – 6 PM day, and returning home to prepare dinner for their families.

Reading the story of these dresses is exciting. First, the dresses are beautiful, “inside and out.” Made of simple, real, natural material, cotton, each garment represents the idea of clothing with meaning. Hand done block-printed designs and embroidery have personal meaning for the designers, the personal care that workers put into the garments has personal meaning to the workers, allowing them to develop their traditional skills as well as new skills.  At the same time, their work brings them respect and the possibility of lifting their families out of poverty.

And then there is the joy you can experience of wearing an eco-friendly garment, made with love and care, that is “beautiful on both sides.” You can know you have a part in repairing the world.

Harshali