Monday, October 4, 2010

Feeling at Home at the Loft

Oh where, oh where have I been all summer? you ask… well, the only scooping I’ve been doing all summer has been of my favorite dulce de leche gelato in between accomplishing some personally monumental tasks like moving my entire life, home and family from Los Angeles back to the San Francisco Bay Area. Many thanks all my muses and readers in Southern California for you inspired me to pursue my labor of love. However, it was time for me to retire my Juicy track suit and go back home. However, I will forever wear flip flops throughout the entire year in your honor.

Now back to business. October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month and you can support this worthy cause and the many breast cancer research, advocacy and charitable groups by buying any of the beautiful products I'll feature this month, many of which were created by emerging and notable designers specifically for this cause. So the timing is perfect to be settling into my new Berkeley loft so that I can start thinking pink.

Speaking of loft though, Ann Taylor LOFT brought together three of its favorite jewelry designers - Robin Renzi for Me&Ro, Kara Ross and Anna Sheffield – to create exclusive accessories benefitting The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Ann Taylor Loft will donate $5 from the sale of each of these pieces. I really love the mosaic bracelet (right, US$29.63 after 25% discount) created by Kara Ross. And I just bought the Anna Sheffield necklace (bottom, US$34.50) in their store (appears to be sold out online).

Also if you buy a $25 LOFTcares card, you will get 20% off your purchase of $100 or more and 90% of the card’s purchase will go to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. And everytime you spend $100 or more through November 15th, show your card and get 20% off your entire purchase (perhaps a great way to get some early holiday shopping done). I really love some of the pieces in their new collection
like the Sujean tote. It is so charming, the picture reminds me of my youngest sister and I'm quite fond of the name (top left, US$22.13 after 25% discount). So go do some smart shopping for a cause.

[Please note this posting was corrected from it's original on 10.04.10; the LOFTcares card is not a gift card, but a special discount card which permits you to get 20% of purchases of $100 or more; please see details on their website.]

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vintage and Visionary

I’m reading this book Design Revolution – 100 Products that Empower People (by Emily Pilloton) and I’m 100% convinced that good design is at its best when designed for good. One product featured in the book is something I’ve seen before and was mesmerized by its brilliance and simplicity– adaptive eye care (photo at, credit The Guardian, via Michael Lewis). Created by Joshua Silver, a British physicist at Oxford University and director of the non-profit Center for Vision in the Developing World, these eyeglasses feature fluid-filled lenses, adjusted to suit the individual’s eye prescription, and sealed within a sturdy frame. These eyeglasses cost about $10 per pair and have been distributed throughout some of the poorest populations in Africa and Asia.

The World Health Organization estimates that one billion people, including 100 million school children, need vision correction but do not receive treatment. These people remain disadvantaged in quality of life, employment and education prospects, productivity and general health because of lack of eye care. “Using the World Health Organization's standard measure of the effect of a given health issue…, refractive error will rise into the top 10 global health issues affecting productivity and opportunities by 2030, passing HIV/AIDS in its global burden.” (Global Vision 2020). Something as simple as a pair of eyeglasses can change a person’s life as well as turn the tides of a global health concern.

Certain charitable organizations like Global Vision 2020 and Vision Aid Overseas, provide eye care services to the developing world with programs that include collection and redistribution of used eyeglasses to those in need. Some for-profit businesses have partnered with non-profit organizations like, a charitable initiative dedicated to delivering reading glasses to the many underprivileged people worldwide, and Warby Parker, a producer of vintage inspired frames.

For every pair you buy at an eye-opening, incredible low price (US$95, which includes the prescription lenses), Warby Parker will distribute a pair to those in need as identified by non-profit organizations like I’ve had to wear eyeglasses and corrective lenses for most of my life so I’ve seen some really good and bad frame designs over the years. These Warby Parker eyeglasses are undeniably spectacular, especially the bright colored Coltons (orange), which scream “these-are-so-not-your-grannies” reading glasses. Also, take a peak at the Roosevelt (baby blue) which could only be hotter if our favorite Mad Men, Don Draper was wearing a pair. This is clearly vintage and visionary!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Festival Fashion - Fashion Against AIDS

Today, H&M launched its third Fashion Against AIDS campaign, which includes its first festival collection for men and women. The festival look is described as fashion which celebrates music, freedom of expression, creativity and the shared experience. And with 25% of the sales donated to youth HIV/AIDS awareness projects, it’s not only festive, it's philanthropic.

The money raised will be divided between several non-profit organizations which promote awareness of HIV/AIDS among youth including Designers Against AIDS (DAA) which was launched in 2004 in order to raise AIDS awareness in the international media and towards the general public, more specifically towards young people in the industrialized countries using elements from pop culture (music, fashion, design, arts, sports, film, celebrities, etc).

The fashion nostalgia is as comforting as that perfect pair of broken-in boyfriend jeans, whether you top it off with leather to be a little punk rock or bare feet and beads ala billyrock (yes, that's the fabulous range of style and music growing up in Virginia). Luckily I hold more great memories today and less of the wardrobe that inspired me through Grateful Dead concerts or Winter Music Conference in South Beach. So check out H&M’s collection which undoubtedly will inspire you to relive your Woodstock or Burning Man glory.

photo courtesy of H&M and DAA website.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

From Shelter to Suite

Upward Bound House Family Shelter from DocuCinema on Vimeo.

Upward Bound House is a community-based, social services agency located in Santa Monica whose mission is to eliminate homelessness among families with children in Los Angeles by providing housing, supportive services and advocacy. A friend of mine is their volunteer coordinator and was involved with this amazing project. Family Shelter, a homeless shelter located in West Los Angeles serves approximately 210 children and their parents. Families stay in the units for three months, during which time they work with case managers to get back on their feet through employment services and permanent housing placement assistance. Since 1997, more than 1,100 individuals – including over 650 children – have graduated from Upward Bound House and are no longer homeless.

Family Shelter, however, is not your typical refuge with bare walls and spare interiors. A group of professional interior designers volunteered their services to decorate each of the 18 units. These units are filled with modern furniture and colorful, sleek accessories that could be taken from the pages of Dwell magazine or your favorite HGTV showcase. Many of the furniture pieces are refurbished or reclaimed. Nothing about these rooms evokes a sense of displacement or despair. By turning this concept of a basic shelter into warm luxurious suites, Family Shelter inspires and elevates hope to its residents by brightening their living space and their outlook on the future.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Delectable Designer Diet

I’ve decided to stop eating meat for a while … but what does this have to do with this blog you ask? Well indulge me for a second here … you see, the documentary Food, Inc. made me reconsider my food consumption practices (especially after just succumbing to my bi-annual craving for KFC) …which prompted my consultation of some of my tell-it-like-it-is foodie advisors on whether I would be mad as a cow to attempt a vegan diet for a significant period of time… which led to a lengthy conversation with my vegetarian friend and her weakness for leather shoes and bags. And while we’ve heard about the existence of more modern, eco-friendly designers out there, sadly she and I couldn’t even name one.

So I’ve launched myself down this good-for-the-body/ good-for-the-planet inquiry. As for the latter, I found some key sign-posts along the way, namely “Vintage,” “Reclaimed,” and “Repurposed.” Whereas “Vintage” evokes homage to Chanel, Dior and Hermes (most worthy yet too much to tackle here), “Reclaimed” and “Repurposed” seem to be the modern alternatives. I’ve seen the quirky results of eco-crafty designers repurposing license plates, gum wrappers, juice bags and seat belts… but I never really considered the result and art of high end repurposing other than metals for jewelry. So here are a few reclaimed or repurposed, eco-chic products for you to chew on:

ReFind Originals' creator Anita Hopper combined her love of sewing with her interest in recycling to make handbags from outdated leather apparel and upholstery. This clutch with flower (US$75), which makes green synonymous with glamorous, can be found at Ecoutrement, an online store of fabulously green accessories (all their products are fair trade, organic, made from recycled or reclaimed materials, or produced using environmentally ethical standards).

Another eco-boutique is Grasshopper 510 which has a collection of repurposed or reclaimed designer products – my favorites of the reclaimed leather are this pair of leather baseball cufflinks
(US$145, made of actual major league game balls). Lastly, I’ve found the perfect accessories to motivate my meatless manifesto. This Street Sign Tray (US$85, above) by artist and teacher Boris Bally (whose collections can be found in over 20 galleries world-wide, including the Cooper-Hewitt and Smithsonian American Art Museums) and this salt and pepper shaker made of reclaimed walnut wood (US$50) will help serve up the 1,001 delicious tofu entrees soon to be incorporated into my daily life.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Joy Joy Melissa Joy

Melissa Joy Manning is one of my favorite jewelry designers for many reasons. Not only are her handcrafted jewelry unique and gorgeous with nature inspired designs, but she also maintains beautiful, ethical and green business practices and gives back to the community. All her gold and silver pieces are handcrafted by trained metal smiths earning a living, working wage in Oakland, California, with profit sharing and other employee-friendly benefits. Melissa purchases 100% recycled metal and uses Kimberly Process certified conflict-free diamonds. She is committed to giving back to her community supporting various non-profit community organizations on a regular basis including Girls for a Change and Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, both of which I've had the pleasure of working with in the Bay Area.

There's so much to love in her collection. I especially adore her necklaces like the made-to-order 14-karat gold collar necklace (above US$4,375) which she describes as a virtual waterfall of metal; it's so complex yet super delicate. Also, among her new collection is this "i love you" lower-case script necklace (Silver US$90; gold US$325) which would be a great gift for your Valentine or loved one any time of year. Ten percent of all sales from Melissa Joy Manning currently benefit the Red Cross Haitian Relief.

In addition, 100% of sales of this silver rainbow moonstone ring (US$200) benefit the Red Cross Haitian Relief.

It's hard to believe that it has already been one month since the devastating earthquake hit Haiti, and still more than 1 million people are in need of shelter. Organizations like the Red Cross are continuing to provide blood, food, water and shelter, and our support still matters to millions of displaced survivors.

Most of us have felt at one time or another that little flutter of joy when wearing something beautiful. With Melissa Joy Manning pieces you will surely reap a bounty of joy from also contributing to something meaningful.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Heath Ceramics benefitting Haitian Communities

I send this wish for a Happy New Year to all of you and thanks for all your support.

Unfortunately this year has started for the worse for the people in Haiti and they will only survive this tragedy through global community efforts assisting in their recovery. If you haven’t already, please do what you can. So far, I’ve supported the American Red Cross through monetary and blood donations. And there are countless other organizations like Doctors without Borders or Architecture for Humanity who provide critical assistance in the relief efforts.

Certain businesses are also trying to make a difference. Heath Ceramics is one of the few remaining mid-century American potteries still in existence today. Started by Edith Heath in 1947, they have been making tableware and tile for 60 + years in Sausalito, California, still manufacturing each piece in their original 1959 Sausalito factory, using original methods, equipment, clay and glaze. Their team of 60 craftspeople hand-make each piece, which is fired at a low temperature thus saving energy and still producing a durable, non-porous product. All of the ceramic housewares, tablewares and tile have that hand-crafted feel with a clean, modern design.

For any purchase made between January 15-17th, Heath Ceramics will donate 25% of sales from their Sausalito, California, Los Angeles, California and online store to Architecture for Humanity’s earthquake reconstruction efforts in Haiti. AFH is a non-profit organization that brings design, construction and development services to communities in need. AFH is expanding their current efforts with Yele Haiti, the local NGO, to provide relief and recovery as well as meaningful long-term reconstruction to the Haitian community. You can also donate directly at AFH with every dollar going to relief efforts through February 12th.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Create a Love Drawing - Sac(RED) Art

Today is World AIDS Day, and I just spent the best 15 minutes of my day creating a love drawing at Starbucks Love Project. For the first 1 million drawings created by people around the world, Starbucks will donate 5 cents each to the Global Fund which will help to provide treatment for children and adults living with HIV, helping to fight AIDS in Africa. So revive that artist and philanthropist within and create your love drawing now. Then enjoy a browse through the beautiful patchwork canvas of all drawings in the gallery; it's quite a spiritual experience. Unfortunately, I couldn't upload a copy here for you. But for the first reader that can find my drawing (clue, it has a dark red background and will be labeled "Su-Jin L.") and email me a description, I will send you a LOVE CD.

"Philanthropy is beautiful" by Joan Hornig

Joan Hornig donates 100% of profits from the sale of her jewelry to over 500 different worthy causes. This 46" sterling silver vermeil chain with white topaz and "Giving Rocks" pendant which can be worn long, doubled or as a belt ($575) is my top pick for this holiday season.

Monday, November 30, 2009

29 Gifts of Gratitude and Giving

It is perhaps a universal truth that by giving, one receives infinitely more in return. I am inspired by Cami Walker's book 29 Gifts, which was an uncommon prescription for Cami's diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis from an African medicine woman named Mbali Creazzo: Give away 29 gifts in 29 days. “By giving,” Mbali told Cami, “you are focusing on what you have to offer others, inviting more abundance into your life.” Cami is inspiring a global movement of generosity and challenging us to giving, whether it be in-kind gifts of money, food or services or simply of ourselves through a compliment, a smile or kind words. You can join this movement at

I believe there may be a significance to the number 29 in the African medicine tradition and it has also been suggested that it may be the number of days it takes to make a practice a life-long habit. I found it interesting that there are exactly 29 days between Thanksgiving - a time of gratitude - and Christmas - a season of giving. Carrying this theme of gratitude is far healthier than the seven extra pounds of holiday feast, don't you think? Perhaps with a little practice we can all make philanthropy and generosity a constant life practice.