Shopping with Purpose + Chicago Film Photography Mentoring Session

I’ve been thinking a lot about being a more conscious consumer lately. I think a lot of times women (& creative women especially) have this guilt about making money from their passion. We are doing what we love and that should be enough, right? The idea of following our dreams and simultaneously (or because of that) making enough money to live comfortably can feel dirty to some people. And honestly, it did to me initially too… because if I could afford to take photos for free – I really would. But that is not reality. And I’ve realized that by following our dreams, we are able to pay it forward and put our money towards causes and companies that we feel strongly about… and that really is such an amazing thing. We are able to follow our dreams and pay it forward in ways that allow others’ to reach their full potential and follow their dreams too!!

I’ve always been socially and environmentally conscious, and really try my best to leave a positive imprint on the world (although Chicago’s recycling program leaves much to be desired, and has my environmentally conscious heart hurting). I’ve always had these kinds of things on my mind, but often felt like I couldn’t find companies whose missions I could get on board with because I just didn’t know they existed!! But now, with social media (and the internet in general), the world feels much smaller and more accessible, and we are able to find these amazing companies, run by people like us – following their dreams and trying to make a difference!!

A few companies in particular have been on my mind, as this year I really try to focus on supporting businesses I believe in, and pay closer attention to what I’m putting in and on my body. In case any of you out there are looking to make a difference in this way as well – I wanted to shout out to some companies and causes here today!


1. Beauty Counter – I’ve been doing a lot more research lately into the products I’m putting on my skin and nails every single day. Do you realize the US only has 11 prohibited substances in our cosmetics and they aren’t required to be approved by the FDA before they are sold??? Meanwhile the European Commission has 1,377 substances prohibited in cosmetic products. I realize many of these substances are in tiny trace amounts in our products, so people can argue they may have no lasting effects, but if I have a choice to avoid them or to use them every day – I’m going to choose to avoid them. I feel like I’m constantly hearing of another friend or family member being diagnosed with cancer at younger and younger ages. Seemingly perfectly healthy people that take care of themselves, having to fight these awful diseases!! And if I’m being honest, it scares the crap out of me. So, I’m starting to be more conscious about not just what I put in my body (James & I have been eating organic veggies & fruits for years), but now also paying closer attention to what I’m putting on my skin. I have been trying Beauty Counter’s products for a couple weeks now and am loving them! I realize there are lots of toxin free companies out there and other options as well (like making your own!) – so I say do whatever fits you best! Please, just at the very least get educated on what you are exposing yourself and your family to so you can make educated decisions about it.

2. Zoya – You all know my obsession with nail polish, but after learning more about what I listed above – I realized that nail polish has some pretty scary ingredients. (Formaldehyde, anyone?) So I looked into “5-free” nail polish companies (those that don’t use: Dibutyl Phthalate, Toluene, Formaldehyde,Formaldehyde Resin, and Camphor) and was so happy to see that Zoya is one of these companies! Unlike other similar nail polish companies, Zoya has TONS of colors and is at a comparable price to what I normally spend on a bottle of nail polish from Essie or OPI (i.e. NOT $20 a bottle!!) – and I’m loving it so far!

I ordered a base and top coat, along with a few colors to start my new 5-free collection – and they sent me a free nail polish remover and three extra colors for free! Yes, please!



3. PAWS Chicago – I mean, obviously I had to shout out to PAWS!!! We love PAWS! They are an awesome “no-kill” shelter in Chicago, doing some amazing work with animals! We adopted Chloe from PAWS as a puppy a few years ago and we are so happy we did! Ever since then we decided we wanted to give back more regularly, and so $50 from every wedding we book gets donated to PAWS. Last year we were able to give $1,200, which makes me (and lots of pups & cats) so happy! If you’re considering getting a dog – please look into rescuing one!

I mean, seriously… how cute was she the night we brought her home in her little PAWS Chicago bandana?!



4. Sseko Designs – I stumbled upon this company on Instagram of all places (someone was wearing their shoes and I thought they were so cute!) and went to their website to realize that not only do they make awesome products, but they have an amazing mission!! If you want to read more about the company in detail – I’d definitely suggest checking out THIS PAGE on their site, but I’ll try to summarize here: Basically, the company uses fashion to provide employment and scholarship opportunities to women in East Africa, helping them to pursue their dreams and overcome poverty. They also make their products in East Africa, providing jobs and contrubuting to the economic development of the region. The booties I recently bought (that I’m loving) were made in Ethiopia – a country so close to my heart! (p.s. Sseko Designs will be on the show, Shark Tank, on ABC on February 13th at 8pm central time! Make sure to check it out if you’re interested to hear more about the company!)



5. Purpose Jewelry – I was first introduced to this company also on Instagram! After connecting with the company they sent me some pieces to see in person, and I fell in love! Even more awesome than the jewelry though – is the mission of this company. Their jewelry is all handcrafted by women and girls rescued from sexual slavery, and 100% of the proceeds go to International Sanctuary, a non-profit that provides care for survivors (in the form of education, scholarship, medical care, counseling, and more). I mean… wow. Seriously. And this brings me on to the photos!

I recently did a film mentoring session for Keren Sarai Photography and we had the lovely Jennifer Claire model for us so Keren could get some hands-on practice shooting film! For a few of the shots we had Jennifer model some of the Purpose Jewelry I had been sent and so you can see a couple of the pieces below! (The teal earrings and pearl cluster necklace.)



So tell me – what companies do you guys love and support?! What causes should I be made aware of?! I’d love to hear them!!!

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And as an important side note: I’m over on Lauren Wakefield Photography’s blog today in a new #WCW (women crush Wednesday) series she is doing where women get reeeeeal real and share their insecurities, truths, whatever you want to call it! I’d love it if you’d hop over there and read my way too vulnerable post. It wasn’t easy to write. Thanks a million. xoxo

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Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!