The clouds sat perched above the New Mexico desert with indescribable tenderness. My legs laid half-hazerdly over the dash while his hand made a home on my thigh. Open road. Two lane highways stretching for miles into the unknown. Patty Smith's voice came floating through the speakers as she spoke of her time as a young artist in New York City, though my attention went in and out. Usually discussion about what art means or its importance would have had my full attention - but not today. Today the clouds were too inviting. They taunted me into day dream. A day dream I was all too willing to submit to. 'Is this the same sky Georgia O'Keefe lusted after? Does the writing I do matter? How can nature make me feel insignificant yet wholly valued and known at the same time? Am I on the right path? Can one person make a difference? Can I actually help heal the environment? Am I beautiful? Does it matter?'
The clouds smiled and nodded a prophetic 'yes.' I accepted that answer as adequate on all accounts and continued listening to 'Just Kids.' I closed my eyes and gave his hand a squeeze as the highway carried me gracefully into a week that would shake my soul awake, clouds nodding me along all the way. Little angels in the sky.
I just spent a week traveling around New Mexico in Arraei Collective's spring / summer line. Arraei Collective is an ethical, sustainable, and conscious clothing brand that evokes nature and promises longevity. All garments are made ethically in Vancouver, Canada. Their timeless pieces ooze integrity and I was thrilled to take them along on my desert adventure.
For me, this trip was about re-connecting. Re-connecting to myself. Re-connecting to my partner. Re-connecting to nature. This year has been a whirlwind so far and it was a great way to slow down and get back to what inspires my spirit and mind. We spent 8 days traveling all around New Mexico... we went down South and slept on silky white dunes under a sky full of stars, went West to explore the oldest wilderness area in the United States and soak in magical natural hot springs, up North to dry desert badlands reminiscent of Mars, and ended in the historic city of Santa Fe. We stopped all along the way and soaked in tiny moments of magic and splendor. We ate in road side cafe's, drove through the amazing town of Toas, walked over bridges, and kissed on the side of the road. The trip sparked something in me. It resurrected a longing for adventure and unplanned magic that I forgot lived in my bones.
Wearing Arraei Collective made it seem as if there was nothing between myself and the natural wonders I was experiencing. The natural hemp fabric hugs your skin and you feel like you're apart of the landscape. When you hold the pieces in your hands you can see and feel the immense amount of love and intention that goes into creating each garment. I love wearing their pieces because it reminds me that we are nature. That there is nothing between us and the beauty abundant in nature except our limiting beliefs and perceptions. That what we revere about the world around us is actually within us. Endless beauty. Ultimate love. I floated around the dunes in the TWA trench coat at sunrise and understood with delightful clarity that we are connected. To everything. To everyone.
The reason I am so excited about this brand and what they are doing is this: I believe that we vote with our dollar everyday. It matters that we support small businesses with ethical business practices. It matters that we choose companies that value sustainability and try their hardest to reduce their carbon footprint. It matters that we buy clothes that don't pollute our water sources when we wash them, need harsh chemicals to be produced, or put a human life in jeopardy just so we can look trendy for a moment.
Our small everyday choices matter.
Arraei Collective understands this sentiment and puts conscious practices into place so that you can feel good about your purchase. Each piece is meant to last a lifetime -- to be worn and loved again and again and again.
There is much to say about the importance of the slow fashion industry and I will likely come back to this subject on the journal soon. For now I will leave it at this: I believe wholeheartedly that everyone should join the slow-fashion movement. The fast fashion industry as it stands now has devastating practices that forces poverty stricken women and children to work long hours in inhumane conditions for no pay. It also has tremendous environmental implications. People have become accustomed to paying $5 for a trendy shirt, wearing it once, and then throwing it away. This increase in demand for cheap clothes has caused manufacturing emissions to raise significantly. Our over-indulgence in consumerism and need for 'trendy cheap clothes' is adding billions of tons of CO2 to the atmosphere every year. Our landfills are filled with gently worn clothes and the life span of our clothing is getting shorter every year. The slow fashion movement invites us to invest in ethically and sustainably made pieces and cherish
them for a lifetime. They are timeless, thoughtful,
and centered on sustainability.
Arraei Collective is combating the problems within the industry in several ways: from ethical wages and safe work environments to sustainable production and fabric choices. Most of their clothing items are made from hemp which is about as eco-friendly as you can get. Hemp is a hardy plant and is high yielding which means less resources are needed to grow and produce large quantities of the plant. Arraei Collective loves hemp fibre because it "produces an amazing natural textile with numerous properties and characteristics that make it completely eco-friendly, biodegradable and easy to wear."
Natalie Florence Hellyar, the founder and artist behind Arraei Collective says:
"Arraei Collective is a way for us to connect with the earth. To go back to nature, and be rooted in a conscious lifestyle. Our vision is to harmonize humanity and the planet, by facilitating the union of responsible thought with action, and providing a way for people to connect with ethically and sustainably made products that uplift and empower humanity."
When I slip on my Arraei trench coat I feel how powerful it is to be aligned with nature. It reminds me how beautiful and abundant this life is - and how important it is to embrace each day with intentional gratitude. Their pieces are timeless and stand as an eternal reminder of the magic that unfolds when we put our earth home first.
I wrote this poem as we drove across the New Mexico desert -- wearing head to toe Arraei Collective, listening to Joni Mitchell, my hand dancing in the breeze out the window of the car, starry eyed, with a heart full of love:
the clouds taunted me to join them
but stayed elusively beyond my reach
dancing away like the gold pot
at the end of the rainbow
holding both the questions and
their eloquent answers
they spoke of something more
while all at once being enough
and isn't that a beautiful sentiment?
that clouds could be enough
that we could be enough
that in this moment,
you, too, are enough.