Nizhoni Lee is a Navajo and woman-owned small business that is based out of Flagstaff, Arizona. Kimberly Lee is the owner and designer behind the brand, which specializes in handmade jewelry made from upcycled salvaged leather. She believes that everyone is given a natural talent so they can give back to the world, so she feels that creating these sustainable wearable works of art is her way of giving back.
Lee grew up in Black Mesa, AZ, and comes from a long line of artists. She would watch her mother forge jewelry from seed beads, while her father made alabaster sculptures. Her parents always encouraged her to experiment with using different forms of mediums when it came to the arts and crafting.
Her brand was established in 2018, when she noticed a need for more cutting edge, yet eco-friendly accessories. ‘Nizhoni’ is Navajo for “beautiful.” She finds inspiration from Navajo rug textiles and colors that are found in nature.
The statement earrings in the photos are the Floral Swarovski Leather Earrings. They are beautifully made, using angelus leather paint, Swarovski beads, dyed horsehair, Czech seed beads, leather, and sterling silver hardware.
Aravaipa Farms Inn and Orchard is located about 70 miles north of Tucson. The drive up via Arizona 77 is beautiful and takes you through the small towns of Oracle and Mammoth. Once you turn off 77, it’s another seven miles to get to the inn (with three miles being well-maintained unpaved road). The driveway is a somewhat steep descent into the property, where you can either leave the car parked and get shuttled across Aravaipa Creek (which is generally low and accessible with a four-wheel-drive but isn’t required). I chose to leave my car across the creek and requested a shuttle ride across the creek. The Inn owners- Jill and Kevin Maddon, and the Inn’s host- Laura Bailey met me and took me across the creek and to the property.
The Inn and (mainly peach, pear, and apricot) Orchard sits in a riparian countryside, and is nestled beneath the shadows of Brandenburg Mountain. In 1995, Carol Steele (widely known in the Phoenix and Scottsdale culinary scene in the 70s through 90s) acquired the property from Bill Farney. For almost twenty years, she hosted guests in her “reverse B&B” (Arizona Highways- March 2001) and served up her legendary artisanal food. In October 2016, the Maddons bought the 46 acres after learning that Carol was retiring and was selling the property. They did some renovating, while still maintaining Carol’s original flair and tradition, and re-opened in 2017. Check out the article on ‘Carol Steele- The Godmother of the Phoenix Culinary Scene’ here.
I was given a tour of the Inn, which included a peek into most of the casitas (minus the Blue Door Casita, as a guest was staying there), The Tree House, and the Farmhouse. Two casitas are housed in the original barn, where you can see remnants of the original horse stalls and the barn doors. Other features include galvanized steel roofs and ceilings, and Saltillo tiling. The other two casitas have been built out (of the original property). The Farmhouse is the largest of the lodging options, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a full kitchen. The Tree House is the largest of the casitas, with a tree trunk post that stands majestically in the middle of the space. Each of the lodging options has its unique style, decorated with kitsch and rustic items (Carol’s quirky folk art, handmade birdhouses, paintings, rocks, primitive items, etc.) that don’t necessarily make sense, but yet, fit perfectly in their nook. Walkways feature bits of broken pottery and old dishes.
Inside The Farmhouse, The Tree House, and Mountain + Garden Casitas
I stayed in the Orchard Casita- a beautiful stucco suite with eclectic furnishings, and stonework designed by Lazaro Cervantes (you can see more of his work throughout the property). The kitchenette was well-stocked with fresh coffee, honey from the orchard, sugar, and creamer. The distressed hutch contained utensils and dishware for my convenience. Breakfast is available for an additional fee, but I highly recommend it. You’ll find a homemade frittata, yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, orange juice, and muffin(s) in the mini-fridge. There is no phone nor television, however, I was still able to access wifi on my phone (which was still spotty).
Inside the Orchard Casita + Breakfast
In the evening, we gathered at the main house’s patio for Happy Hour. When the dinner bell rang, we proceeded to the communal dining room for the farm-to-table three-course meal that was prepared by Laura and her lovely staff with recipes that have been handed down by Carol. It was an intimate group, with the Maddons and the only other guest at the Inn. We started with salad and Laura’s homemade bread (which I’m still dreaming about to this day…). The main course was a noodle dish with veggies for me (let the staff know ahead of your stay of any food allergies or dietary restrictions), while the others had fish. Dessert consisted of prickly pear sorbet with a madeleine cookie. Everything was delicious! Tip: Bring reusable containers for leftovers.
Dining Area and Dinner
This was a wonderful and peaceful experience. I enjoyed roaming around the orchard, stargazing and watching the bats flutter around the casita porch after dinner, looking at all the unique curiosities, taking photos, and just enjoying the solitude. I would’ve taken a dip in the pool, but the temperature was too cool for me. However, when I stay there again, I’ll be sure to test out the waters. Tip: Be sure to obtain your hiker’s permit prior to staying here, as it’s only three miles to Nature Conservancy’s Aravaipa Wilderness Preserve.
The most photographed door on the property, which has also been featured in Arizona Highways and Sunset Magazine.
Enjoy this video of the serene Aravaipa Creek …
Address: 89395 E. Aravaipa Rd., Winkelman, AZ 85192
Renae Moomjian and her daughter Helena are the beauty industry’s newest game changers. Imagine- not having to walk into your neighborhood drugstore and spend countless minutes, waffling over the large variety of lipsticks, their ingredients, and trying to find your true lip match. I know that feeling all too well. Well, the time has come where you don’t have to do that anymore. Enter: Tucson-based clean beauty brand- NipLips. Renae and Helena perfected the ingenious way of finding your true lipstick shades, and that is through the color of your nipples, which you can scan through their app (the image is not saved, just the colors).
So here’s the story of how the idea came about… Helena was reading Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader one day, and was mulling over an article about a woman’s nipple color being the perfect color of her lipstick. So she told her mother about it, and they both agreed that it was pretty cool. The next day, they took pictures of their nipples and went to Walgreens, going through the lipstick aisle, and holding up the pictures to each lipstick. They each got five lipsticks, went back home and drew on themselves to see which one fits the best. After finding this idea beneficial, Renae then asked some of her girlfriends if they would go figure out what their nipple color is and lipstick, then try it on and see if it works? About 90% of them absolutely loved it. The people that weren’t so sure, their perfect color ended up being the next shade darker. The duo did more research, and found articles in Cosmopolitan, Allure, and The Doctors show that talked about the concept two years ago, but no beauty companies picked up on the idea. So that got Renae to thinking that there’s got to be a better way besides taking pictures of your nipples and wondering endlessly around the lipstick aisles, wasting money buying all these lipsticks trying to find a match. Then the idea hit her- let’s create an app where you can just scan the color, and then the colors translate to the lipsticks.
Renae comes from a 30-year background in the medical device industry, an industry that is mainly male-dominated. She also has had a medical device consulting firm for the last five years. “I am frequently the only female executive, and usually the only female in the boardroom during meetings. It’s great, but I have had to learn how to communicate like a man, and it’s kind of a tough place to be. This is all about coming back to being able to communicate, and be who I am in whatever space I show up in. I’ve always tried to figure out ‘ok how do I need to say this so these guys can understand my point?’ I don’t want my daughter and all of you going through that, so if I have to step out of my industry and do something a little bit different in cosmetics to help people get more centered and focused on who they are, and feel strong about how they communicate and they can go back into those fields, then that would be great.”
The lipsticks are made in Tucson and manufactured by Sia Botanics. The current Desert Botanical Matte line is 84% organic, with zero synthetic chemicals. All the packaging is as sustainable as possible, with the tubes being bamboo. All the colorants are natural micas and oxides from Sonoran desert. “Part of our commitment to our customers is that they will always have vegan clean beauty formulations. As much as we can, we will package eco-friendly and sustainable, and we are committed to donating back to underserved causes. In the desert line, there’s jojoba seed oil, prickly pear seed oil, jojoba esters, and natural waxes. Even though they are a matte, they are lightweight and moisturizing. It’s all about looking to you to define your beauty. Your color that you put on your lips comes from you. It’s not like you’re looking at the latest celebrity trend, or what fashion week says I should wear. You’re defining it, which is a big part this brand too. It’s accepting yourself, and being true and authentic to who you are, and that’s important. We’re creating this amazing community of woman and men that just want to buy products that are clean and don’t have bad chemicals in them, that aren’t tested on animals, that are respectful of the environment, and also give back.”
When I first heard of NipLips, I thought, what a great concept! Who knew that the answer to finding your perfect lipstick shade, would be from one of your most important assets?! Normally, I’d go for a red hue when picking out a lipstick, but after scanning through the app, I realized that that may not always be the case. But Renae did mention that nipple colors do change due to hormone levels changing throughout the month, after a workout, etc. Every time I’m at one of their events, and I see the other folks wearing their color, it ALWAYS looked great on them; which goes to show you how well the concept works. I love supporting brands that empower women, care about the environment (while also providing helpful information about sustainable living and environmental issues on their social media), and are so clean that you can practically eat them!
Be sure to also look into getting a lip facial or buy the Lip Transformation Kit to do it yourself at home. I did a lip facial, and it was life changing! My lips were insanely dry and chapped, but after doing that, they were as smooth as butter. In fact, it’s been several months since the facial, and my lips still don’t get as chapped as before. It also only takes up to fifteen minutes. For a list of where you can find NipLips in Tucson, you can go HERE. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.