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Discovery of the Week: Cook & Gates

I spend a lot of time in San Francisco at meetings, auditions (I'm an on camera actress) and for work. It's a city that requires a lot of walking and you have to prepared to haul all your stuff everywhere in a simple, practical, efficient, and stylish manner. One way to accomplish that? With a Cook & Gates mini duffel bag. A friend who has one of the line's duffel bags said she constantly gets stopped on the streets about her bag. It's no wonder. Made by design duo Ethan Cooks and Sarah Gates, these striking canvas bags are all hand-dyed. 

The collection seen here is a part of the Of a Kind exclusive offerings where only a small number of bags are made and sold at Of a Kind. Each duffel seen here is $135 and for the kind of wear I'd get out of one of these, I just might have to buy two. 

Discover the line at or see the exclusive collection including the above items at Of a Kind


Eco Habits: Repairing Clothes  

I had an a-ha moment at the car wash last week.

I was sitting at a counter, flipping through a recent issue of Lucky magazine (it was a light reading kind of day, you see) when I came across journalist Kayleen Schaefer’s personal essay, “Does a Perfect Wardrobe Equate to a Perfect Life?”

The piece chronicles her obsession with having the contents of her wardrobe repaired—a habit that has her running from her tailor to her shoe repair place (actually, she “rotate[s] between a few shoe guys for resoling and de-scuffing”), as well as to her jewelry polisher, dry cleaner and even a reweaver.

“At all times, I have a list on my phone titled ‘to fix,’” she writes. “I spend at least $100 with my repair crew every month.”

It’s an honest and dizzying account of behavior that borders on obsessive compulsive (see: “I believe, somehow, that if my clothes are perfect, my life will be too”). But I took something important away from it that I don’t believe the writer intended. In her story, I spotted a gaping hole in my eco-friendliness: I’m too lazy to take items to be repaired. After shamefully lengthy periods of wearing ripped, scuffed or otherwise battered clothes, I give them away or retire them as rags. As for clothes that never fit right in the first place, they languish in my closet, unworn reminders of what could have been.

I’m far from the perfectionist Kayleen Schaefer is, nor do I want to be so bound to the cycle of tiny adjustments at the tailor and the buffing of every scuff on my shoes. But she’s on to something that I now realize I should grow up and embrace. Because why waste a garment when it can be fixed? Why replace it with another item that will also fall apart someday instead of making the small trek to the tailor? 

It all ties into another aspect of green wardrobes that I’ve been pondering lately: investment pieces. Schaefer writes that she keeps a fairly minimal closet comprised mostly of timeless investment pieces. It makes sense to repair expensive items that you’ll still want to wear (and that will still be stylish) 10 years from now. When it comes to investment pieces, a bigger upfront cost in the present means a bigger payoff in the future—and less waste. As I advocate for moving away from “fast fashion” (cheap, poorly made clothes that we use up and toss out like a cup of coffee), well-made clothes that will last longer—thus slowing the waste cycle and diminishing our closet’s environmental footprint—are a sensible replacement. And to help these items last well into the future, we can take a page from Schaefer’s story and visit our local repair shops. Not as often, perhaps, but that’s probably for the best.


Beauty Blast: Herbivore Botanicals—Face Mask


Lately, I've been exploring various items from a new favorite line, the all-natural skincare brand, Herbivore Botanicals. I had noticed the line at Stripe, a lifestyle boutique in my hometown of Santa Cruz, and I was enamored with the packaging, so much so that I had to try the products (especially because the claims were alluring). Last week I did a test drive on the Coconut Bath Soak and I was wowed. This time around, I tried out the Brighten face mask.

So as to avoid using preservatives in the product, the basic ingredients come in a powder. Pour out a little bit into your hand or a small bowl and add a few sprinkles of water to get your preferred consistency. 

Made with tourmaline gemstone and white clay, the product claims to, "give your skin a boost in radiance and vitality. Tourmaline Gemstone combines with gentle White Clay and glow enhancing therapeutic oils of Neroli and Rose Geranium ... to vitalize skin while also allowing other ingredients to absorb more deeply into the skin."

I tried it out a few days ago and the following day I bumped into a good friend who mentioned how "bright" my skin looked.

Bottom line: this product does exactly what it claims. Henceforth, I'll lean on it whenever I need to "brighten" up. 

The Brighten face mask by Herbivore Botanicals sells for $34 online or at Stripe in Santa Cruz.


Heavy Metal: Cradle Jewelry

Instagram is one of my favorite places to discover jewelry and clothing lines that I haven't yet been introduced to. It's a treasure trove of visual stimulation and creative inspiration. On one of my rabbit hole adventures on Instagram, I recently discovered Cradle Jewelry, an indie line based in Portland, Ore., that's helmed by 28-year-old designer Sonia Marie Mitchell. Since discovering her line, I've been crushing on her work, which she describes as being "influenced by European minimalist and avant garde design." As a new fan, I had to learn more about this innovative artist. 

When and how did you launch your line, and how did you come up with the name Cradle Jewelry?

I have been designing jewelry off and on for years and first started selling my pieces in Bay Area boutiques in 2006. I then moved to New York City to work in the fashion industry, but I still accepted commissioned work. While there I took classes with Studio Jewelers Ltd. and at (the now defunct) 3rd Ward. Before I knew it, I was spending almost all of my free time making pieces and had soon designed most of the current collection. 

In pursuit of more space and time, I took a big leap and moved to Portland and launched Cradle. The name Cradle was a name that stuck with me in brainstorming. Cradle is a place of origin, of beginnings, and one cradles something, or someone, that is cherished and cared for. It seemed fitting for a handmade line. 

What’s the aesthetic of the line?

It is very much modern minimalist. I try to create pieces that are elegant but bold and volatile. They can transform themselves to fit any situation. In a world of ever consuming “fast fashion” I wanted to challenge that concept by creating a line that was both modern and timeless.

What are a few of your favorite pieces?

If I had to choose, I would say the Aella and Ara rings are my favorites.

How would you suggest wearing your jewelry?

My pieces can really be worn with anything. They can be dressed up or dressed down. They really pop on solid colors like black or grey but are minimal enough to wear with even the craziest patterns. The necklaces can be worn alone, or are great for layering with other necklaces. One of my newest pieces even comes in multiple chain lengths specifically because I think it looks great in multiple.

How would you describe your personal style?

Like my jewelry, my personal style is fairly minimalist. I wear a lot of black, grey and white. I like to have a solid palate to accessorize with lots of jewelry because that's my favorite part. The only colors I'll really wear are red or right now I have an infatuation with cobalt blue (hence the blue block eye make-up in my recent shoot). I also don't wear a lot of pattern and tend to stick to classic stripes and polka dots. I can't begin to count the number of black ankle boots I own. I live in ankle boots, maxi skirts or black pants, and either my leather or army green vintage jacket.

What’s your favorite brand of denim?

I don't really wear denim but I do own a pair of Cheap Mondays. 

What fashion designer (or beauty brand) are you eyeing right now?

I am obsessed with the Israeli designer Alon Livne. His work is surreal and other worldly and I am blown away by the beauty and strength of his designs.

What’s your favorite skin care item?

I used to work in skin care so this is really tough. I really like the Juice Beauty antioxidant serum but I would have to say my ultimate favorite is simply lavender water. I mix drops of lavender essential oil with water in a cobalt glass spray bottle. I use it obsessively. Lavender is already a natural antioxidant. It moisturizes and cleans your skin and is an anti-stress remedy all at the same time.

What beauty products would we find in your purse?

So many lipsticks! I have every color of lipstick in my purse at all times. Although I mostly wear a bright orangey-red shade. 

Mani or pedi? 

I suppose a pedicure makes more sense. Since I'm a jeweler I would ruin a manicure pretty quickly.

Lip gloss or lip balm?

Balm, I don't even own lip gloss. 

Heels or flats?

Ankle boots.


Ponchos for Everyone


What do you do with a reluctant autumn? It's cold at night, and in the morning, but during the day temperatures warm up to the mid-70s and it makes sense to still be wearing summer garb. So I'm embracing a poncho instead of the usual light weight toppers: sweatshirts, fleeces, or cardigans. Sometimes, you just need a different look and a poncho has an effortless ease that fits most occasions. Although a poncho might conjure images of Boho chic styles with fringe and tassels, there are some sleek choices available as well; even a few that are tailored and crisp. Whether you break out the faded flares, rock boyfriend jeans, leggings, trousers, culottes or even mini skirts, there's a poncho for everyone.