Spotlight: Fashion For Good

By Melissa Camilleri

We all know that looking good feels good. When we put on our best pair of shoes, or have an awesome hair day, or slip on our little black dress we actually feel better. That’s old news.

A little more novel is the idea that when we FEEL good, we LOOK good. Think of those women you see who simply light up a room. Whether they’ve just finished a run and their cheeks are aglow, or they just got off the phone with someone who shared wonderful news– feeling good shows on the outside, too. Maybe it’s a classic, fashion-minded version of “which came first, the chicken or the egg.” Whatever the case, what we wear on the outside is an expression of who we are, and how we feel about ourselves and the world.

When I founded my company, Compliment., I think I knew this truth somewhere deep down, maybe not as consciously as I do now. With each piece of handmade jewelry, I include a personalized compliment inside the box. Words of affirmation and encouragement combine with a pretty physical reminder of those kind words.

Fashion For Good

Tapping into this idea, I decided to build a company around it. At the time, I was still a full-time high school English teacher. Initially, I thought it would be a nice way to raise money for some of my most financially-struggling students to help them on their educational journeys, because I believe so wholeheartedly that education is the key to breaking generational cycles of abuse, poverty, and addiction.

Now that Compliment has grown and I’ve since left the classroom to pursue this full-time, my mission remains the same. Since day one, a portion of my proceeds benefit the Compliment Scholarship Program, that supports young women pursue their dreams through higher education.

Fashion For Good

While building my business, I’ve become a more savvy consumer. I started seeing that fashion didn’t have to be frivolous and self-centered. Feeling good on the inside and the outside could be my standard practice.

I now look for opportunities to support other women entrepreneurs who are building businesses that make the world a more beautiful place to be, are of service to those in need, and give back to women’s causes.

Here are some of my favorites:

ENCIRCLED | Kristi Aynsley

Encircled / Fashion For Good

Kristi Aynsely, chief fashionprenuer of Encircled designs, a line of luxe, environmentally friendly travel and lifestyle clothing. Her Chrysalis Cardi is a piece that can be converted through hidden snaps to ten different wearable designs ranging from a scarf to a dress, allowing women to “travel light.” Not only does Kristi seek to lessen her impact on the environment through her manufacturing practices, she promotes mindfulness, as well. She says, “Think about where the garments you are buying come from – how they are made, with what and how those workers are treated.” Encircled is based in Toronto and manufactures everything in North America. She maintains, “There is no purpose in creating something without giving something back in the process.” Thus, ten percent of Encircled’s net proceeds from their online sales of the Chrysalis Cardi is donated to a different worthy cause each month. This past December, the company gifted their largest donation in company history to Nellie’s Shelter, an emergency shelter to women and children affected by domestic violence, poverty, and homelessness.

BUY THE CHANGE | Kari Hughes and Shanan Buzendahl

Fashion For Good

Inspired by the books Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide and Global Girlfriends: How One Mom Made It Her Business to Help Women in Poverty Worldwide, founders Kari Hughes and Shanan Buzendahl founded Buy the Change, a company that sells handmade “gifts that matter.” Each of their products is made by women artisans from impoverished countries for a fair and sustainable wage to give them economic freedom. As a registered B Corp Buy the Change is a for profit company with the goal of creating social change and benefit rather than a focus on profit. Their mission? To be a force of positive change for the hardworking women around the world who produce their products and their customers who have become a part of the solution through their buying choices.

What are some of your favorite brands that give back? What causes do they support? Join the conversation!

Melissa Camilleri is the Founder and Creative Director of Compliment, a brand that believes that words matter. Melissa believes every woman, because of the unique gifts she offers the world, is beautiful. Just by being. She seeks to honor that beauty through the personalized hand-stamped compliments that accompany every piece from her shop. She lives, plays and prays in Northern California. To join the feel-good movement, visit Shop Compliment.