FUTURE & FAUNA

All photos C/O futureandfauna.com //  Set of 2 vases , $74

All photos C/O futureandfauna.com // Set of 2 vases, $74

I met Hilliary this January in a class we were both taking on ethical fashion at FIT. That’s when I first heard about Future & Fauna, her online retail site selling ethical pieces made by women around the world, mailed to you with responsible packaging. Hilliary spoke with passion about her project, and we all loved her concept that instead of the future being female, let’s make the present such. Future & Fauna is all about supporting women and sharing the stories of the makers behind the products. Unfortunately our mass consumer culture has, in many cases, resulted in a much reduced appreciation for the goods we buy and the way in which they are made. When we support Hilliary and the brands she carries, we are supporting a conscious shift to move away from mass-produced, often disposable goods towards more purposeful purchases that honor the art of craft and the people behind them.

Future & Fauna carries a variety of products ranging from bags and jewelry to home goods and perfumes, all made by women of course. Happy shopping!

One of Back to Basil's summer must-haves!  The Circular Bag  from Shicato, handwoven in Ecuador. // $142

One of Back to Basil's summer must-haves! The Circular Bag from Shicato, handwoven in Ecuador. // $142

The Shape Shifter Earrings  from Shicato. Made using the tagua nut, a sustainable material // $84

The Shape Shifter Earrings from Shicato. Made using the tagua nut, a sustainable material // $84

ASHLEY: I really love your mission of empowering women by supporting their crafts, and I especially like that you offer background on the women and/or organizations behind each product. Were you familiar with some or all of the brands you carry prior to starting Future & Fauna or did you discover them along the way?
HILLIARY: I have actually discovered all of the brands and makers along the way. I first had the idea for Future & Fauna while traveling in Guatemala while getting to first hand see the products being made and meet the women doing so. After that trip to Guatemala, I spent more time traveling around Latin America meeting more and more women making beautiful products. The women I have based in the US, I have mainly met by being personally connected as well. I wanted the site to be a place others could feel like they were discovering something too and not become another mass consumption store. 

I know you have a background in retail and fashion so I’m curious, would you be interested in opening a brick and mortar location down the road or do you foresee Future & Fauna as e-commerce exclusive?
It's my background in retail that made me want to start Future & Fauna only online; how we shop is constantly changing, by having our platform be e-commerce we can adapt to those changes. Hopefully, soon we'll do some Future & Fauna pop-ups and events so that our customers can see our items IRL but no permanent brick & mortar anytime soon! 

I imagine that starting your own company comes with a lot of stress, and unlike many people, you don't just get to walk away from it by leaving an office. Since you’re a certified yoga instructor I assume you practice regularly. Aside from yoga do you have any other self-care rituals you perform to stay balanced and calm? 
I have to practice regularly to de-stress and stay sane. It's not yoga everyday but I need to do some type of movement! Also just having moments where I'm able to turn-off help - sometimes It's a quick getaway with my boyfriend or an afternoon of reading by myself. 

And lastly, who are some of your female role models in today’s society?
All of the women who are featured on my site; they have also built their own business and I'm always inspired by the work they are creating! 

Head to futureandfauna.com for more product offering and to read more about Hilliary's mission!

SUMMER SKINCARE

When I think of summer, I think of backyard barbecues and long days spent by the ocean. But the reality is that I, like many New Yorkers, spend most of my summer in the gritty city heat, with open pores absorbing pollution and sweat, instead of that salty air. Sometimes my “glow” feels more like grease and I tend to breakout more in summer than any other season. A less attractive picture, I realize. But with extra care and thorough but gentle cleansing, you can still maintain a clear complexion all season long. 

My first rule of summer is protection. It’s non-negotiable and rest assured, your older self will thank you for your diligence. So protect during the day, cleanse at night, and soothe your sun-exposed skin while you sleep. Oh, and mask once or twice a week while you’re at it. 

I’m all about the double cleanse before bed. I start with Tata Harper’s Nourishing Oil Cleanser and usually follow up with her Purifying Cleanser, which feeds your skin nutrients while pulling out the bad stuff. Both work best applied to dry skin, so just pat dry between cleansers. The Purifying Cleanser might feel a little thick at first, but as you rub it in it breaks down to a milky oil and glides across the face. Spend extra time massaging your skin with it and rinse off with warm water, following up with a splash of cold to close the pores. 

About once a week or so, I switch out the Purifying Cleanser for this powder-to-foam matcha based cleanser from Odacite. Reason being that for my skin type, I think too frequent use might dry me out. Wear an old tee shirt when using it to avoid any green stains from drippage. The chlorophyll in the Green Ceremony Cleanser is a great detoxifier and the foaming texture makes you feel squeaky clean afterward. This is a good one to use on especially sweaty, grimy summer days. 

After cleansing, follow up with toner to rebalance the skin and prep it for moisturizer. The COQ-10 toner from Indie Lee is a favorite of mine (it’s super gentle, soothing, and hydrating) and the packaging recently changed to a spray applicator. This is excellent news because I used to go through the pour bottles so quickly and also found that they leaked a tiny bit when traveling. Mist it on a cotton pad and wipe off any excess cleanser (there’s usually a little matcha residue I miss when rinsing the Odacite cleanser!). After the face, be sure to wipe your neck off as well. It’s often a neglected area but it needs your love too.

Follow up with face mist and serum. Then apply moisturizer and facial oil at night if that’s your thing. You can also skip moisturizer and go right to oil if you prefer, or simply stick to the former. The Lapis Oil from Herbivore is great for soothing irritated skin, and it’s ideal for oily, combination, and blemish-prone skin. The blue tansy it contains can help reduce redness from irritated skin and aid in clearing the complexion. It’s sold in a set with the Blue Tansy mask for $29 - a real steal for both products. The oil in the set is travel size which is great for A) travel (of course) and B) taking it for a test drive.

During summer days, I skip facial oils and apply spf on top of my regular moisturizer. I  just ordered the SPF 30 elemental sun balm from AKT Therapy and am already in love. It’s a non-nano zinc oxide formula with a subtle tint (if you can even call it that...I find it goes on clear and the tint simply cancels any white cast) in a luxurious, moisturizing balm formula. It is the polar opposite of a thick, chalky sunscreen; it leaves a dewy sheen that lasts all day and has zero signs of whiteness often associated with zinc. Mineral sunscreen provides a physical barrier between the sun and your skin, and as soon as you put it on, you’re protected, unlike chemical sunscreens which require a waiting period before fully effective.

For masks, lately I’m loving the aforementioned Blue Tansy from Herbivore, which comes in the nifty little set. I’m also enjoying the Radiant Glow Mask from Evolve Organic Beauty, a UK brand. This mask contains coconut shell powder to gently slough off dead skin and cacao for an antioxidant boost. It also smells like brownie batter so it feels very indulgent sans the calories! It’s a real treat without compromising the beach bod. 

I hope everyone's summer is off to a fabulous start! 

SUSAN ALEXANDRA

Susan Alexandra, designer, pictured above. Image c/o susanalexandra.com

Susan Alexandra, designer, pictured above. Image c/o susanalexandra.com

Truth be told, I had another post planned for today on summer skincare, but I decided that can wait. I’ve been very moved by the outpour of support and action on social media to stop families from being separated at the border. At the core, we are all human beings. We have no say over where we’re born or what means we are born into. And when those fleeing political oppression or gang violence or domestic abuse or other life threatening situations - when they work up the courage to make dangerous journeys to a new country seeking a better life, it feels downright inhumane to turn them away, to deny them asylum, to cage them, and/or to separate them from their family members. Let's not forget that our country was built by brave men and women who also journeyed to a new place in hopes of a better life. 

Scrolling through Instagram earlier today, I stumbled across a favorite accessory designer of mine, Susan Alexandra, whose post poignantly described how so many of us feel. What really resonated with me was how she described her greater purpose as a designer. Rather than summarize, I’ll share her post verbatim:
The world feels really confusing and dark right now. I feel so confused and helpless. It’s also a time for personal reflection. As a person and as a business, what can I do? I am committed to treating people with kindness and compassion. This is the reason all my pieces are made by hand by women (mothers!) in NYC. Your purchase helps these women provide for their families, and for many of them, this is the first job they’ve ever been able to have because they can work from home while watching their children. Fashion comes and goes and it sometimes feels so empty. I am constantly reminded that I create because there is a greater goal and purpose which, when it comes down to it, is love. Proceeds from sales for the next week go to efforts to unite children with their families.

During dark times, Susan’s playful accessories can spark joy, and for the next week, the proceeds from sales will help the greater effort to bring migrant families back together. The latest update from the White House claims that the president will be signing an order to stop his policy of separation later today, but we still don’t know exactly what it will entail or what will happen to those already separated. We should continue to fundraise, fight, and speak out about this ongoing crisis.

Pillow cover, purses, and earrings can all be purchased on susanalexandra.com

Pillow cover, purses, and earrings can all be purchased on susanalexandra.com

SUPERNATURAL

CAFE AND CONVERSATION WITH RACHELLE ROBINETT

Rachelle, herbalist and Supernatural Cafe founder.

Rachelle, herbalist and Supernatural Cafe founder.

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Rachelle Robinett opened the Supernatural Cafe at WOOM Center on January 2nd this year, but she’s been studying and working as an herbalist for years. Rachelle grew up on a farm in Washington State, but she told me, “all I wanted to do was live in New York and work in fashion.” And that she did. Rachelle worked in advertising for fashion clients, and also did some modeling before eventually transitioning into the world of wellness as a full-time career. I asked her what the tipping point was for her to make the jump, and she says while friends had been encouraging her for a while, she credits one woman with giving the final push. The woman, who is now a friend, works at Estee Lauder. Rachelle explains, “I was in a meeting there presenting some advertising strategy and she interrupted me” asking, “could you please tell me what your skincare routine is?” Yes, you read that correctly: a meeting with one of the largest cosmetic & skincare brands and conglomerates in the world. Rachelle was caught totally off guard in the middle of a presentation, and started explaining that she drinks a lot of green juice and water, but the woman - whom she had never met, mind you - kept wanting to know more. After the meeting she pulled Rachelle aside to tell her that the information she had and the way she communicated was really special, and that she should really consider sharing it with a greater audience. So Rachelle started a blog and things grew organically from there.

Today Rachelle works individually with numerous clients to tackle their concerns on an individual basis. Her approach is very personalized for everyone, but she says she usually starts with food. She’ll even go grocery shopping with clients when needed. One of the most refreshing things about Rachelle is her down-to-earth, no frills approach to wellness. In the last few years the wellness movement has really taken off, and some days it feels like we’re being told we should buy ten different powders and try a variety of expensive treatments. Not only will that burn a hole in your pocket, but it’s often unnecessary. She says, “if we can fix a symptom with a food, we’ll use a food.” And that “diet is first...good quality food, good quality water, good sleep, good exercise - then herbs,” starting “with the weakest stuff first.” If you want simple, honest advice (there’s a lot of misinformation out there!) to improve your health, Rachelle’s your girl. If you want a delicious plant-based, non-dairy medicinal mylk, Rachelle’s your girl. If you want to hang out at a cool cafe, inside a very special yoga studio, and talk to a total babe of an herbalist - you guessed it, Rachelle’s your girl.

You can visit Supernatural at the WOOM Center at 274 Bowery, 2nd Fl.

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Before sitting down with Rachelle this week, I emailed her a few questions:

ASHLEY: I was first introduced to the Supernatural Cafe when I sampled an elixir after a WOOM class (and it was delicious!). How did the idea to open a cafe inside WOOM Center come to you? Did you practice yoga there regularly beforehand?  
RACHELLE: So glad you liked the elixir! Making mixes for the yoga guests there is a great perk of being in a place with such a lovely community. Supernatural coming to be there was really organic and spontaneous even. After a practice there, the owners and I got to talking about my taking over the area that became the apothecary/cafe. We co-hosted a dinner together (they cooked and I taught about food as medicine) and the rest is (recent) history. 

I love mixing my own potions at home and have fun combining different ingredients. Are there any adaptogens or herbs that you don’t recommend combining? Do any counteract each other in your opinion? 
The beauty of plant medicine is that it's generally safe, though not always and not for everyone. It's always wise to read up a bit on any herbs you're using and usually to ensure that they don't interact with medications, or that they won't keep you up at night when you're trying to sleep because they're stimulating, for example! Otherwise, mix away.

With summer around the corner I wanted to ask if you have any herbal topical or ingestible solutions to ease redness from either sunburn, heat rash, or insect bites?
Internally, nettle (probably my favorite herb) is a wonderful antihistamine. Great for allergy season, or if you get a rash of bites, say. Topically, arnica and aloe are great. Comfrey and camphor and mints are soothing (though can be too sharp if you're sunburned). Coconut, shea, and jojoba are excellent moisturizers. (I haven't used lotion in years!) Witch hazel is also a great toner. I make simple essential-oil infused witch hazel-based mists and use them all day long in the summer, especially after a run or lots of sun. Verte Essentials' is also beautiful.

What are some of your favorite in-season plants to eat in the summer?
Fruit! Anything local. Lots of spring and summer greens. Lighter, softer things usually. And herbs that are food-medicine too, like nettle. And always mushrooms. 

In addition to WOOM Center, what are some of your other favorite NYC spots for self-care and yoga?
I'm a fan of simplicity and affordability so parks are always great - even if it's just a small neighborhood one. I love riding my bike and running - again as simple, free ways to get some sun and air. City Acupuncture is my favorite acu spot. Daniel Ryan for mind-therapy. A secret massage spot in the West Village for deep work. The Alchemist's Kitchen for herbal shopping and inspiration. Modo Yoga for yin or kick-ass flows. The Union Square Greenmarket! Jamie Cook for my hair, which is no small project. So many great spots...

Do you plan to expand the Supernatural Cafe to other locations in the future?!
If that's what the people want, then: yes!

Click on the menus below to enlarge.

Photography by Colin Ziemer.