Our Favorite Ethical Summer Products

The temps are still high and the nights are still longsummer is here to say for at least a little while longer! We love supporting our fellow mission-driven brands, so here are some of Loom's favorite pieces for keeping fun, stylish, and environmentally and socially conscious this season.

1. Romper by Threads 4 Thought

Photo courtesy of  Threads 4 Thought .

Photo courtesy of Threads 4 Thought.

Photo courtesy of  Sseko Designs .

Photo courtesy of Sseko Designs.

Made from recycled polyester-organic cotton, this romper is the perfect instant-outfit for summer! What began as an eco-friendly t-shirt company has grown into a full-on fashion brand. Threads 4 Thought is committed to socially responsible manufacturing practices and sustainable materials, all with the hope of changing the damaging "fast fashion" industry. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Based in Uganda, Sseko began as a way to help young women earn an income to attend university and achieve their dreams. Now they also work with artisans in East Africa at all different points in their lives to help them reach beyond poverty.  In addition to handcrafted shoes like these fun flats, they also make charm bracelets and leather bags. 

Photo courtesy of  Greenheart Shop , where our fellow Chicagoans can also pick these up.

Photo courtesy of Greenheart Shop, where our fellow Chicagoans can also pick these up.

 

 

JOYN products are made by artisans in Rajpur, India. JOYN provides their employees not just with vocational training but also with medial resources and meal plans. Their bags are completely handmade, from spinning the raw cotton, to block printing the colorful designs (this clutch was worked on by twelve different artisans!). 

 

 

Summer is also the perfect time to have some fun with color! Try a bright statement necklace (this one also comes in lavender and navy). Mata Traders is a fellow Chicago-based brand. With bright and colorful clothing and accessories made fairly by artisans in India and Nepal, they aim to put and end to poverty and improve the fashion industry.

Photo courtesy of  WEWOOD .

Photo courtesy of WEWOOD.

No summer outfit is complete without sunglasses! WEWOOD makes theirs with natural cotton fiber to reduce plastic waste and help preserve the environment. Plus, for every pair sold they'll plant a tree to support reforestation!

Women in Media

What can a woman do with the power of her voice in the media? Loom participated in an event called “A Night for Women in Media” put on by liftUPlift, an organization dedicated to both providing a marketplace for women-owned businesses and working internationally to end violence against women. The event, which took place on June 29th at the Catalyst Ranch, was put on with the intention of connecting women in Chicago media so that they could share stories and talk about the challenges they face as well as the ways they can use their voices to positively impact the lives of women everywhere.

Photo courtesy of  liftUPlift .

Photo courtesy of liftUPlift.

The event’s open discussion on the representation of women in the media was led by Kendra Chaplin, founder and owner of Chicago Woman magazine, Heidi Stevens, “Balancing Act” columnist for the Chicago Tribune, and Amanda Elliott, writer of the blog Windy City Cosmo. They spoke about some of the challenges they face in their professions, like judgmental criticism and a focus on body image over intelligence. What they agreed upon, though, was that the way to rise above the negativity is to acknowledge the value of what they have to say and to set a strong example for women everywhere.  

Photo courtesy of  liftUPlift .

Photo courtesy of liftUPlift.

Photo courtesy of  liftUPlift .

Photo courtesy of liftUPlift.

One way they can do this is by spreading positivity and awareness about the great accomplishments being made by and for women. Another part of the event was dedicated to female entrepreneurs in Chicago sharing these types of stories. Loom Coordinator Allie and Loom artisan Batool spoke at the event to share the story of how Loom empowers women in Chicago. Speaking alongside them were fellow female entrepreneurs, Emily Snider from Heshima Kenya, an organization that works to care for and protect refugee girls and young women in Kenya, and Karen Torres from Tulia’s, which provides a marketplace for indigenous tribes and traditional artisans from Columbia to sell their products. These organizations, like Loom, work to help empower women beyond their struggles. The stories of these women lifting each other up present a strong image of women and their power to make a positive change in the world.

Event attendees, including Allie and Batool.  Photo courtesy of  liftUPlift .

Event attendees, including Allie and Batool. Photo courtesy of liftUPlift.

How We Made It: Jewelry Basics & Sun Transfers

Loom has been full of new projects lately! We have been lucky to have had Tania Rodamilans join us for some recent workshops. She is a jewelry designer and artist originally from Barcelona, Spain now living in Chicago. Her products are sold online on Etsy as well as in multiple stores in the Chicago area and in Michigan and Wisconsin. She shared her passion with the women of Loom, working with them on several projects and teaching them new skills. Her love for creativity was clear from the excitement she showed when teaching the artisans and from how she spoke about the potential for endless other projects. 

Tania with  Batool .  Photo courtesy of Mike Handler.

Tania with BatoolPhoto courtesy of Mike Handler.

One very detailed and useful process the artisans learned was the basics of jewelry assembly. Each artisan used a set of different types of pliers brought by Tania. She showed them the best way to hold the tools and taught them the proper way to cut, bend, and wrap wire in order to assemble the different pieces of bracelets and necklaces, from beads, to chains, to clasps. While trying out making different pieces with different chains and stones, many of the same basic skills were used. 

Photo courtesy of Mike Handler.

Photo courtesy of Mike Handler.

Hlaiwah  learning to use the pliers.  Photo courtesy of Mike Handler. 

Hlaiwah learning to use the pliers. Photo courtesy of Mike Handler. 

Photo courtesy of Mike Handler.

Photo courtesy of Mike Handler.

Tania giving a demonstration.  Photo courtesy of Mike Handler.

Tania giving a demonstration. Photo courtesy of Mike Handler.

Photo courtesy of Mike Handler.

Photo courtesy of Mike Handler.

Some of the finished products. 

Some of the finished products. 

While it’s tough to learn such intricate new skills, the women laughed through the frustrating parts and rejoiced in their successes. They improved the more they practiced and ended up with some beautiful pieces.

Saleemah  smiling as she works.  Photo courtesy of Mike Handler. 

Saleemah smiling as she works. Photo courtesy of Mike Handler. 

Batool  taking pride in her accomplishment.  Photo courtesy of Mike Handler.

Batool taking pride in her accomplishment. Photo courtesy of Mike Handler.

Another new process the artisans got to try their hands at was making sun transfer prints on canvas. Using SolarFast dye, the artisans painted a base coat on the fabric. Then Tania helped them select objects to place on top that would create the print. They tried out different leaves and branches from outside as well as a few random plastic objects found inside. 

Arranging leaves to create interesting patterns. 

Arranging leaves to create interesting patterns. 

Boj Josi, Chandra Magar, and Mon Maya from Bhutan work on their projects.

Boj Josi, Chandra Magar, and Mon Maya from Bhutan work on their projects.

The artisans got creative as they arranged their items on the painted fabric. Then it was time to wait—the projects needed to be exposed to sunlight to take effect. Tania and the artisans took this time to enjoy some cake and a bit of singing and dancing. After exposure, when the objects were removed from the painted surface, their spaces appeared lighter and created images. 

The projects soaking up the sun.

The projects soaking up the sun.

The final effect of the solar dye.

The final effect of the solar dye.

Thanks to Tania, the Loom artisans got to learn some new fundamental skills and experiment creatively!

World Refugee Week

“Today, over 60 million people are living without a permanent home.” This was a striking quote on display at an exhibit called “Sanctuary & Sustenance: The Story of Many Journeys,” put on by ART WORKS Projects in honor of World Refugee Week, presented with the Center for Forced Migration Studies, Buffet Institute of Northwestern University. The exhibition is a multimedia display of photography, film, and music being shown in multiple cities across the U.S. and in Europe with the intention of showing audiences the long journey a refugee takes from displacement to settlement. 

Photo courtesy of  Manifest Media .

Photo courtesy of Manifest Media.

Alongside each exhibit is photography showcasing refugees living in that specific city. On display in Chicago’s Boombox in Wicker Park from June 19-27th was the work of Maren Wickwire, titled I miss you all. Wickwire is a filmmaker, designer, and photographer who uses her work to raise awareness for issues of social justice. For this project, she photographed refugees from Syria, Iraq, Laos, Cambodia, and the Republic of Congo who had to flee their home countries to move to Chicago between 1983 and 2016. The collection shows these refugees and their challenges, hopes, and dreams with the intention of helping community members better understand and support their new neighbors. 

Photo courtesy of  Manifest Media .

Photo courtesy of Manifest Media.

Loom participated as a vendor for this weeklong event. Our artisans have come to Chicago from all over the world, and we recognize that they face these struggles of adjustment. Through our weekly workshops, these women come together to learn new skills while gaining a source of income in order to help them build a sense of community and adjust to their new lives in Chicago. We are proud of our artisans’ continued resilience and positivity.

Loom products on display alongside others.  Photo courtesy of  Manifest Media .

Loom products on display alongside others. Photo courtesy of Manifest Media.

Purchasing Power

How much do you know about who made the clothes you’re wearing? June 15th marked the opening night of Purchasing Power: Chicago’s Relationship with Conscious Consumerism, an exhibit that makes viewers think about this question. The aim is to raise awareness about the unethical and unsafe realities of the modern fashion industry for the environment and for the majority of people who make our clothes. The walls of the gallery are lined with staggering facts about how much clothing we consume and throw away. For instance, the world consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year; Americans specifically send 10 million tons of clothing to the dump each year. The people making these clothes are subject to incredibly long hours and poor conditionsmany of them are children. 

The exhibit asks viewers to think about these facts in light of their own consumption, but also provides encouragement for change. It showcases a number of businesses in Chicago that are paving the way for a fair and sustainable fashion industry and serving as alternative sources to purchase clothing and accessories. On display are various beautiful garments, pieces of jewelry, scarves, and bags. 

Purchasing from Loom, like the other featured ethical brands, is a way to empower the people who made the product you’re buying. When you buy a scarf from Loom, you not only have a beautiful piece to enjoy, but you know that the artisan who made it was paid a livable wage. This exhibit proves that choosing where to purchase from can have a powerful impact on people and the environment. Loom is proud to be a source to use that power for good. 

Loom crochet earrings on display at  Purchasing Power.

Loom crochet earrings on display at Purchasing Power.

Loom knit scarf on display.

Loom knit scarf on display.

The curator of the exhibit, Shifra Whiteman, is in the process of developing her own ethical fashion brand, Pintl + Keyt, which was also part of the display. She said that the exhibit was created with students in mind—and it truly is a learning experience.The first step to change is learning, so check out Purchasing Power at the Hokin Project Gallery at 623 S. Wabash. The exhibit will be open Monday through Wednesday from 9am-5pm until September 22nd. If you have any old, frayed, or holey clothes or linens, you can bring them with you and they will be sent to the Chicago Textile Recycling Center. 

Spring Sale Pop-Up

In early May, we braved the cold, Chicago weather to be a part of Heshima Kenya's Pop-Up Spring Sale. The wonderful ladies behind the organization did an amazing job coordinating this shopping event along with liftUPlift. Since Loom, HK and liftUPlift have similar missions to empower women, we were thrilled to be a part of the shopping event!

The ladies of Loom and Heshima Kenya

The ladies of Loom and Heshima Kenya

Heshima Kenya is a holistic organization working to protect refugee girls and young women in Nairobi, Kenya. Through their Girls' Empowerment Project, education and livelihood opportunities are provided in a unique classroom environment to serve participants of varying learning levels, cultures and languages.

The Maisha Collective is one way Heshima Kenya fosters self-sufficiency. Participants create and manage unique, hand-dyed scarves. Heshima Kenya is also working to develop a small grant initiative for members to create their own enterprises.

Scarves made by the Maisha Collective

Scarves made by the Maisha Collective

On Sunday,  the amazing women business entrepreneurs of liftUPlift stopped by the pop-up shop. LiftUPlift is a super cool organization founded in 2014 by Corielle Laaspere that functions as a global alliance to connect and create more opportunities for women owned businesses. LiftUPlift also serves as a marketplace for women owned businesses and as a nonprofit organization that empowers survivors with resources, tools and training to end violence against women.

Corille Laaspere of liftUPlift and a member of liftUPlift's Maker Alliance, Ana of  AVP Jewelry .  Photo courtesy of liftUPlift.

Corille Laaspere of liftUPlift and a member of liftUPlift's Maker Alliance, Ana of AVP JewelryPhoto courtesy of liftUPlift.

Loom artisans Hlaiwah, Saleema and Batool with Loom Coordinator Allie.

Loom artisans Hlaiwah, Saleema and Batool with Loom Coordinator Allie.

Thank you to everyone that came out to the shopping event and stay tuned for more coordinated efforts between Loom, Heshima Kenya and liftUPlift to help empower women both here and abroad. 

How We Do Indigo

Our last two workshops focused on crafting more indigo scarves and tote bags. Did you know indigo is a natural dye and has been used for thousands of years in many cultures? We use marbles and wood blocks to create unique patterns on silk scarves. We're so excited to share not only the process of how our products are made, but also the artisans techniques and thoughtfulness that is present in each piece they create. Huge thanks to the incredibly talented Jaclyn Simpson for her photography and hard work! It's been wonderful to work beside you and capture these special moments at our workshops.

Left to right: Batool, Saleemah and Hlaiwah sharing laughs in preparation for the indigo dye workshop.

After setting up the room to avoid a mess and have all of our supplies organized we are ready to get started! Before we get into creating patterns, we take our 100% white silk scarves and make sure they are pre-washed, thoroughly. 

Next, we get creative with patterns! During the process the artisans always like to step out of their comfort zone and try everything and anything. Using materials such as: marbles, wood blocks, stones, rubber bands etc. The list goes on!

Once the scarves are all bundled up, they're ready to be dyed. Using several large pots/buckets full of water and indigo dye mixture, stirring in a circular motion. Once the dye has a neon yellow-ish color we are ready to begin! 

Each fabric dyed can go through a different process. Some can be fully submerged for several minutes to get that rich indigo color and others can be dyed halfway giving the scarf a beautiful ombre look.

Above: Loom instructor, Hana (also owner/artist of VEZ) is a wonderful guide for our artisans during our workshops. She brings her personal knowledge of working with indigo dye, while helping each artisan learn the process of working with the materials properly. 

Finally, after the silk scarves have been through the indigo dye process they are ready to be unraveled and hung to dry! We always get so excited to see how the patterns turn out in the end and find ourselves in awe of how each piece is so unique. 

Batool showing off the stunning results!

Thanks for reading and let us know what you think in the comment section below! 

Loom has a Loom!

This week the artisans have been easing into autumn with some exciting projects ahead! We had the lovely Monika Neuland from The Social Fiber Project (read more by clicking the link!) instruct a class on how to spin wool and use a floor loom! 

Ganga weaving away!

The artisans had such a wonderful time sharing stories about their personal experiences with spinning wool and weaving growing up. They shared personal stories about their grandmothers as well as men and women in their families spinning sheep's wool. Later turning them into pillows and blankets to have in their home. 

It was such a treat to have Monika's wonderful energy at Loom and we are looking forward to collaborating in the future. *Huge thanks to Monika and Social Fiber for helping us get this beautiful floor loom!* 

More to come soon!

Monika and Dil T.

LOOM at EdgeFest!

We are excited to share that we will be hosting ANOTHER sales event this weekend at EdgeFest. Come shop our many beautiful hand-made summer items! 

Note the information below for details >> we can't wait to see you all there!

WHEN:
Saturday August 1st 12pm-10pm
Sunday August 2nd 12pm-9pm

WHERE:
http://www.edgewater.org/programs-and-events/edgefest/
Broadway, between Thorndale (off the Thorndale red line stop) and Ardmore. *Booth 309*



Come shop with us this Sunday!

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We are so excited to announce that we will be hosting an event this Sunday at the Berry United Methodist Church (details on flyer). Come out and shop our beautiful summer items and a chance to enter in a raffle to win one of our products!! 

Can't wait to see you all there!

**Thank you Catholic Charities for helping us make this happen!**

Klezar's Wedding Designs

We are so excited to share artisan, Klezar's work on customizing Sarah's wedding dress! HUGE Congratulations to the newly weds - we couldn't be happier for you! 

Loom interpreter, Aya helped Klezar and Sarah (who was previously with us at Loom) work together in coming up with this gorgeous and flawless design. Klezar has always had a knack for making thinks by hand. She also has a great eye for putting together her own patterns, designs, and colors at Loom. 

In Sarah's Instagram post she writes, "Meaningful times working with my mom and one of the talented Loom artisans @loomchicago to design my wedding dress - cardamom tea at each dress fitting and she tells me about the rest of her family, Christians in Iraq, who are currently displaced during the ISIS crisis."

We spoke with Klezar about the exciting process and she explained that she and Sarah collaborated on coming up with the perfect design to add to her dress. Within 24 straight hours (wow), Klezar put all of their ideas together in one finished product! 

Klezar gained a lot of her experience through sewing and working with textiles while living in Iraq and from her family. She also works with Jamie Hayes at Production Mode sewing bags, jackets, skirts, and other products, specifically working with leather. At Loom, Klezar loves to sew and make crochet earrings, so be sure to check out a few of her items available in our online shop!

We are constantly amazed that the artisans go above and beyond their projects and can't wait to share more stories like these in the future! 

Did someone say tea towels?

Yes! We are making more tea towels! We had such a great success with them at Dose Market which made the artisans so excited to make more. This week we sketched our patterns with the help from the lovely Loom instructor, Hana! Most of the artisans have been practicing the handcraft of embroidery throughout most of their lives -- it's wonderful to see them put so much love into each piece they create.

Besan has been working on a little q&a with the artisans that we plan on including in our new product cards. Our goal is to give the artisans a voice for each product they make. 

We have had such great progress these past few weeks at Loom and cannot wait to share more of what we have in store for you all. Be sure to follow along through our social media pages to stay in touch with what's happening this spring/summer.

Updates with Loom

This week has been a whirlwind! Sadly, we had to say goodbye to the lovely Kait. We are so proud of you and excited for your next adventure in Omaha. Loom won't be the same without you! We are so lucky to have had you a part of our team and we are also extremely grateful for all of your hard work. We will miss you, Kait! 

Along with our little goodbye party we had great progress with our leather & woven belts! (Collaborating with Chicago designers Jamie Hayes of Production Mode and Kimmy Compton of Gather Handwoven) The artisans have been working so hard at putting their heads together to finalize this product and we couldn't be more amazed by their ideas and efforts. 

Artisan Saleemah attaching leather to the woven piece of the belt

Let's Chat

What a great few weeks it has been for us at Loom! We had so much fun at Dose Market -- huge thanks to everyone that came by to shop with us. It was so wonderful to see some familiar faces and get to know the new ones! 

This week we had a Business Development Workshop led by the lovely Asheley! We spent the afternoon setting short, medium, and long term savings goals. Batool talked about how she wants to bring her children from Iraq, Ganga said that she wants to save money in order to send her children off to college! 

Every week is a treat for us because we get to spend time with the artisans, while watching them grow and develop Loom with their ideas and goals. Their passion and determination is what keeps us moving forward! 

Thank You

Big thanks to everyone that came out this weekend to Randolph Street Market. We really enjoyed meeting you and seeing some familiar faces! If you didn't get a chance to see us this weekend, be sure to check out our online shop.

Here are some photos we'd like to share from our weekend -- stay tune for future events!


Come see us at Randolph Street Market!

March 28 & 29 from 10am-5pm. Located at 1340 W Washington (Indoors at Plumbers Hall). We're looking forward to being a part of this exciting event and hope to see you there! Here's a sneak peek at what you can shop next weekend -- 

These are just a few of the goodies you'll find at Randolph. Be sure to stop by to shop our products and meet the wonderful Loom artisans! See you there!