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Bride Blogger Feature: Antoinette & Martin’s Wedding Plans with Purpose

The following content was written by a dear friend and newly engaged bride, Antoinette, I had the pleasure of meeting while photographing a missions trip in the Dominican Republic back in January of 2015. *The faces are blurred out to keep everyone’s identities safe. unnamed-51 “I believe I found my passion in 2009 when I learned of the harsh realities of sex trafficking in the United States. I feel everyone has that one thing that just “gets them”, that one thing, whether it be hunger, disease, or orphans that they can’t turn their head from. Mine is human trafficking. I began searching for ways to make a difference in the lives of those affected by this horrific crime. In my search I found many organizations that I was able to work with throughout the next few years. The first one being Wellspring Living and then others, such as, the Not for Sale Academy in San Francisco, Traffic Free, and We Are Cherished-Ohio. I had a passion to bring light to this issue and was able to pioneer and lead a few social awareness campaigns. unnamed-48 On a short term mission trip to the Dominican Republic in 2014 I learned of an incredible organization called Lily House through SCORE International. Lily House not only houses, but employs survivors of human trafficking. I majored in Business Management so their employment piece thrilled me! The ladies at Lily House learn to sew, make jewelry, and bake. To expand on their business efforts they also have a salon, bakery and gift shop! Through much prayers, deliberation and even some hesitation (this wasn’t in “my” plan)… I was SO blessed to return to the Dominican Republic for 6 months in 2015! Throughout my time there I was given the opportunity to work on the business side of Lily House, as well as stay in the home with the girls. Honestly, there are not enough words to describe the changes that took place in me while I was there. unnamed-49 What a blessing it was to be a small part of their journeys! I got to stand beside them as they chose beads and tools to create their very own unique pieces. I was honored to watch their smiles as customers came through and purchased their very first creation! This is just one small piece of the transformation that takes place at Lily House. unnamed-50 My fiancé and I have decided to use our wedding as a platform to positively impact more than just ourselves and our wedding guests. We created a wedding registry through This gave us the chance to add items from any website. We were able to register from organizations such as Servv, The Little Market, Equal Exchange and more! We are also purchasing gifts for our wedding party from organizations that give back such as Fancy Freedom Designs. Our invitations are printed on eco-friendly and recycled paper, handmade and cut to order! Another organization we’re using is Dot Products for our wedding guests! 12771921_10157033738520497_1411709455819282290_o I learned first-hand why buying products from organizations that sell ethically sourced, fair trade, and hand made products is so important! It is far too easy to allow ourselves to shop without thought. But there is this incredible feeling you get when you hold, in your hand, a product that is uniquely created by a human being. Usually, that feeling is even more exciting than the product itself.”    

Fair Trade Friday- Wedding Gifts that Give, V1

It’s Friday, it’s Friday!  I know we all love Friday, but it’s extra special here on the blog because it’s FAIR TRADE Friday!  We will be highlighting some awesome Fair Trade and socially or environmentally conscious home decor the next 2 weeks.  They make the perfect wedding gift…. hint, hint, Aunt Martha! 😉 Fair trade home   1. Cultural Elements– Mango Wood Tea Light Holders, $35. Made from Mango wood of trees that are no longer sustainable for commercial use.  These trees are replaced with newer, younger trees.  Fair Trade and handmade
When a mango tree reaches 20-30 years, its fruites are no longer suitable for commercial use. Older trees are harvested and replaced with young trees in a process that protects the mango forests. – See more at:
This product is sourced from controlled, sustainable mango plantations. When a mango tree reaches 20-30 years, its fruites are no longer suitable for commercial use. Older trees are harvested and replaced with young trees in a process that protects the mango forests. – See more at:
This product is sourced from controlled, sustainable mango plantations. When a mango tree reaches 20-30 years, its fruites are no longer suitable for commercial use. Older trees are harvested and replaced with young trees in a process that protects the mango forests. – See more at:
This product is sourced from controlled, sustainable mango plantations. When a mango tree reaches 20-30 years, its fruites are no longer suitable for commercial use. Older trees are harvested and replaced with young trees in a process that protects the mango forests. – See more at:
2. Canvas Home– Soapstone Placemat/Charger, $8.  Produced under Fair Trade principles in India. 3. One World Fair Trade – Alabaster Lamp, $150.  Handmade by Fair Trade artisan partners in Cairo, Egypt. 4. The Spotted Door– Teak Side Table, $225. Work with eco-conscious designers, artisans, craftsmen and innovators who capture landfill-fated materials and give them a new purpose, a new life, a new existence! 5. Indego Africa– Cow Horn Vase, $75.  Profits fund educational training programs for the women who hand craft the products. 6. All Modern– Organic Silk Table Runner, $74. Hand woven on bamboo looms by indigenous women weavers in India. 7. Indego Africa– Copabu Wooden Bowl, $55. Profits fund educational training program for the women who hand craft the products.

A little giving goes a long way – Weddings that give back

472Brown Almost 2 years ago I helped with a nation wide shoe drive for Dando Amor… It was a huge task! I had schools collecting unwanted shoes across the city of Tampa and ended up with almost 4,000 pairs to add to the final tally (nearly 100,000 collected altogether). While picking up a car load of shoes at a local school I met a lovely teacher with a recently engaged daughter, whom also had a heart for Africa. We swapped information and not a week later Jamie and I were sipping coffee with her finance, Robbie, and we were selected as their wedding photographers. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected: 1…. Collecting unwanted shoes would lead me to one of my most cherished client/friendships in personal business history. 2. … the following summer she would also end up collecting shoes and sitting on the plane next to me heading to West Africa. There is great opportunity for Brides and Vendors to join forces for good… Take a moment to look around and see the needs you could fulfill with  your wedding partnerships and shared passions, a little giving goes a long way. 10350997_10154325961205601_5786844973546307755_n

Cause Spotlight- Light Gives Heat

When they decided to adopt a baby girl from Africa they had no idea how their lives would be turned upside down…. Light Gives Heat is a non-profit seeking to empower and encourage the masses through film and commerce. 10455049_907439925949723_9074481779242482322_n
1. What was the Match that lit this ‘Light Gives Heat Movement’ ?
LightGivesHeat started because my wife and I were adopting our daughter from Uganda. After a year and a half we decided to move there, quit our jobs, and start this organization, but like most things, what started out as one thing became quite another. We quickly realized that our story began to inspire a lot of other people. The more vulnerable we were about our journey the more that invited other people into it. Over the next few years we worked on a full-length movie about our story. We were invited to speak on the Oprah show, and a whole bunch of other crazy things happened. We began to see the power that media and story telling had on the world.  
2. What brought LGH’s passion for film colliding with fashion/socially-conscious consumer goods?
Well first of all, when starting a nonprofit in America, we realized that Americans were better at buying things than they were at donating. ha! We also saw the power that film and TV had on us and other people in our culture. So basically we took what we knew, film, and begin pouring ourselves into both: creating products that created jobs in Africa, while coupling those products with good storytelling and amazing filmmakers.  
3. How can LGH be incorporated into wedding planning?
Because we carry mainly jewelry/accessory products that create jobs around the world- They naturally fit in with the other beautiful items that would join your wedding day details. Couples will also use LightGivesHeat as their designated charity choice for gift alternatives, because they believe in the message. Really you just have an audience of friends and family that happen to really care about you and the person you’re marrying… And so getting to share about things that you are meaningful to you goes a long way, and is this perfect collision.  
4. What projects are you guys working on right now?
Our film, Moving On is in distribution around the world and soon to get a theater release, a Netflix Release, and TV networks. So our next step is creating something we’re calling It was started because LightGivesHeat was working on a TV show pilot and we kept hearing from networks that they were very interested if… “We would make it more sexy, more dramatic, or just crazier.” We didn’t think good entertainment needed that, and so we’re launching our own network.   ‘Moving On’ Official Trailer from Light Gives Heat on Vimeo.  
5. How has the decision to help others impacted your business in a positive way?
Our organization is only as strong as our story. Because people hear about our story, and the story of people we are working with around the world… they tell their friends and family about us. Without that connection to the good we were doing in the world, there is no way LightGivesHeat could’ve grown over the last seven years like it has.   Plus it’s been the thing that is making us into the people we want to be anyway.   Go Check Light Gives Heat and support their awesome efforts by snagging their awesome Global Finds.

Product Spotlight- Philantropic Panda- Jewelry that Gives Back!

As I happened to be paroosing around Etsy… looking up all things ‘Giving’… I came across this amazing jewelry shop, Philanthropic Panda,  and their awesome mission… Using handmade jewelry to help others! 2014-07-23_0001
Tell us about your business?
Philanthropic Panda is a jewelry company that helps customers change lives through donations to amazing non-profit organizations. Our partners focus on empowering communities to lift themselves out of poverty.  
Where in the world did your name come from… Its Awesome?
I’ve loved pandas for as long as I can remember. When I first came up with the idea to make jewelry and donate a portion of the proceeds to non-profits, a  friend thought of the name, and I loved it.  
What made you model your business around giving?
My outlook on life changed dramatically in 2010 when I left a stable job to travel and volunteer with NGOs across Asia. After seeing extreme poverty firsthand, I wanted to dedicate time and money to support organizations that provide sustainable and culturally responsible solutions to poverty. Upon my return to the US, I created Philanthropic Panda to combine my drive to make an impact with my lifelong passion for making jewelry.  
Is there one particular piece of jewelry that has brought in more profits (donations) then others?
The Water Empowerment Necklace has been one of my most popular pieces. 20% of proceeds go to fund clean water projects for rural families in Cambodia. To date, proceeds from sales have funded four bio-sand water filters and one pull-pump well.  
How can brides use Philanthropic Panda into their wedding day details?
I love working with brides to customize pieces for their wedding parties or a special mother of the bride item. I can be reached via the contact form on the Philanthropic Panda website.