Category - Spotlight On

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Ceibo Handbags- Vegan Arm Candy Made in Houston
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Grit Grocery- Houston’s First Mobile Food Shopping Experience
3
Sonoran Rosie – Natural Desert Goodness for Your Skin

Ceibo Handbags- Vegan Arm Candy Made in Houston

That gleaming gold metal circle handle… The buttery soft vegan leather… The strong and functional geometric structure…

These lovely handbags I’m describing have been seen all over Houston, on the arms of influencers, and at many a local market. Self-taught designer Maria Cadena moved to Houston from Ecuador just four years ago, and has already gained a good amount of traction in the local handbag market.

Maria learned sewing from her mother when she about about twelve. Her family also owned a handbag store, so that’s also where she hoaned her skills. When she was older, her mother and she discussed starting their own handbag line. They started out by doing simple silhouettes, such as an envelope handbag with a crossbody chain. A few months later, they further developed more designs, while also constantly learning the business. The business continued to grow, and they found themselves selling wholesale, and hiring on people to help make the handbags in order to meet the numbers.

Maria felt that the transition to Houston was somewhat tough, as she was starting over from scratch, and by herself. But she quickly learned to adjust, and decided to create her own brand, which she named Ceibo (pronounced say-bo). The inspiration for the name went back to her Ecuadorian roots- the Ceibo Tree. “I grew up seeing the tree, so I wanted to have something that reminded me of home.” (For a peek of a Ceibo tree, go HERE.)

Ceibo launched in November 2016, and consists of just Maria. She loves being able to do everything by herself, as she missed that while running the business in Ecuador. She enjoys the slower pace, and having a more personal and hands-on approach to the craftsmanship of the bags. When designing handbags, she believes that less is more, when it comes to interior pockets. Her bags only consist of one zipped pocket, or a removable pocket that can also be used as a coin purse. She also likes to create bags that aren’t so big, because we women tend to carry a little more than what is usually needed, and it only adds as extra weight on our bodies. “I make myself carry the things that I know I’m going to use,” Maria added.

Along with her signature structured, geometric handbags with the gold ring handles, she also offers small accessories. I’m also a fan of her belt bags. “It’s a small accessory that you can carry all day!” Oh, and she now carries handbags with zig-zag handles- the coolest thing EVER! I love that you can also get her bags in every color. She also appreciates experimenting with color-blocking, and it’s usually spot on.

Ceibo Handbags, made in Houston, handbags

Ceibo Handbags, made in Houston, handbags

Ceibo Handbags, made in Houston, handbags

Ceibo Handbags, made in Houston, handbags

Ceibo Handbags, made in Houston, handbags

Ceibo Handbags, made in Houston, handbags

Ceibo Handbags, made in Houston, handbags

Ceibo Handbags, made in Houston, handbags

Ceibo Handbags, made in Houston, handbags

Ceibo Handbags, made in Houston, handbags

Ceibo Handbags, made in Houston, handbags

Ceibo Handbags, made in Houston, handbags

Ceibo Handbags, made in Houston, handbags

Oh, and REALLY great news… Ceibo is launching a collaboration with my fave Houston skincare brand- Rosehip Essentials this month! Stay tuned! In the meantime, here is a sneak peek…

Ceibo Handbags, made in Houston, handbags

Aside from shopping Ceibo online, you can find her locally at Collectivo, LAUNCH, Thinking Boutique, and Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. You can also find her at many of the local markets that take place throughout the city. Be sure to follow her on Facebook and Instagram for updates!

 

Grit Grocery- Houston’s First Mobile Food Shopping Experience

Grit Grocery‘s recent launch is one of the best things that’s happened to the Houston food scene. I was able to check it out on a recent Sunday, while I was in the city. It was parked at Levy Park, with a white and black striped awning, and a neatly stacked pile of shopping baskets beckoning shoppers. Fresh produce and an assorted batch of local seafood, pasta, milk, bread, etc., lined the shelves of the open-air store front. The friendly one-on-one service was also a great perk.

Dustin Windham and his wife were living in Azerbaijan a few years ago, while Dustin was in the Peace Corps and working on some food projects. He recollected that they would visit the neighborhood butcher, bakery, and fruit stands several times a week. When they returned to the U.S., they noticed that the concept of having local and fresh food readily available was not a really an option, especially in Houston. Co-Founder Michael Powell further explains, “[While Dustin was in Azerbaijan], he saw how people around the world shop for and consume food. People eat fresh, they shop often and there is easier access to food markets on the street or in small shops. In places like Azerbaijan, “local” is not a food trend, it’s a way of life. And that’s a radically different model than what we’ve become accustomed to in the United States, which relies on a giant food industry driven mostly by profit margins and processed food. Grit takes inspiration from how people have been shopping for food for centuries. We want to see more people making more trips to the store, but it has to be an easier and more friendly retail experience.The other side of Grit’s inspiration is from entrepreneurial startup culture, where people are making dreams a reality and where technology can facilitate solutions that society had never anticipated. Grit is using a range of high-tech solutions to make this old-school grocery a model of innovation.”

Grit Grocery was launched in 2015. The team found that it takes grit to take back your health, thus inspiring the company name. “It takes grit to farm the land and produce the nutritious products that make people live healthy. Oh, and we’ve quickly found that it takes some grit to start up a grocery store in the 21st century,” Powell stated.

When asked about why they chose to have a mobile truck, instead of a brick n’ mortar, Michael explained, “I’ve actually been working in the food retail design industry for the last 12 years, which is how I connected with Dustin. I have a PhD in cultural anthropology and have been working with a design firm as a consultant, studying shopping behaviors, food culture trends and food brands. In that time, I’ve consistently found that most people are less than satisfied with their grocery shopping experiences. It’s a time-consuming chore. While food culture is blowing up around us, the grocery store is mostly stuck in the mid 20th century. And that’s largely because people don’t have many viable alternatives. So it’s no wonder that as soon as online grocery or alternative stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods came along, people jumped the grocery ship quickly. But those experiences are lacking, for a number of reasons. Grit offers a more social and neighborhood experience. Our merchants don’t just stock shelves, they’re passionate advocates for local food, and the value of cooking and eating together. And the products that Grit offers are not just local, but we don’t carry any of the processed junk that has now come to fill the shelves at many of our competitors. The truck is a flexible, convenient platform. It allows us to go places where our competitors can’t or won’t go. The numbers make sense, too. A new ground-up grocery store can cost upwards of $15 million, and then they have to employ 200 people and maintain the 50 thousand square foot building (and 100 thousand square foot parking lot) 24-7-365. Grit trucks cost a fraction of that price, and maintenance is much lower. So basically, the cost of a few grocery stores could fund enough Grit trucks to be in most Houston neighborhoods, not to mention effectively ridding Houston of food deserts.”

They have quite a variety of locally-sourced product, including, “In produce, our main suppliers are Gundermann Acres in Wharton, Lightsey Farms in Mexia and Sustainable Harvesters in Hockley. Meat is supplied from Three Sisters Farm in Tomball, Liberty Provisions in Richmond and Rocking 711 Ranch in Edna. Seafood from Katie’s in Galveston. Fresh pasta from Fabio’s in Montrose (Houston). Ice cream from Fat Cat Creamery in the Heights. Baked bread and cookies from Cake & Bacon in Houston. Brazos Valley Cheese from Waco. The list goes on. We also produce a lot of products in-house, so you can look for our Grit Grocery brand on: juice, hummus, prepped salads, soup and a few upcoming items.”

Ah….yes…. let’s talk about those cool meal bundles. I personally got the Pasta Salad bundle on my first visit, and it did not disappoint! I’m not really a cook, but I was able to understand the simple directions that were included, and it probably took me about a half-hour to prepare. I also added a pinch of my favorite See Salt before I added the sauce and veggies.

Grit Grocery, meal bundle, Houston, clean eating

Grit Grocery, meal bundle, Houston, clean eating

Grit Grocery, meal bundle, Houston, clean eating

Grit Grocery, meal bundle, Houston, clean eating

Grit Grocery, meal bundle, Houston, clean eating

Michael adds, “Meal Bundles include all the ingredients you need to make a simple, healthy, local meal. 2-3 servings per Meal Bundle. Local products are featured. We aim for classic crowd favorite recipes that take 15 minutes or less. No chef hat necessary. This is for your busy Tuesday evening dinner. Because the products are good, that’s going to make your meal taste great. Oh, and substitutions are always welcome. So when you visit the truck, talk to our Truck Merchant about the Bundles and make sure everything works for you.”

Great news, ya’ll! They plan on adding more trucks, which’ll mean more locations. “We are also developing technology solutions to make shopping the truck easier, including a “Chatbot” on the Facebook Messenger platform which will allow people to shop and pay for Meal Bundles before they leave the office, then come pick it up at the truck.”

Be sure to follow them on social media- Facebook and Instagram for further updates. Or check out their website.

Where and when to shop:

~Levy Park (3801 Eastside) on Sundays from 3pm to 8pm

~The Circuit Apartments in EaDo (2424 Capitol) Mondays and Wednesdays, from 4pm to 9pm

~Aris Market Square by Historic Market Square Houston (Downtown, 900 Preston), Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 4pm to 9pm

Grit Grocery, meal bundle, Houston, clean eating

Grit Grocery, meal bundle, Houston, clean eating

Grit Grocery, meal bundle, Houston, clean eating

Grit Grocery, meal bundle, Houston, clean eating

Grit Grocery, meal bundle, Houston, clean eating

Grit Grocery, meal bundle, Houston, clean eating

Grit Grocery, meal bundle, Houston, clean eating

Grit Grocery, meal bundle, Houston, clean eating

Grit Grocery, meal bundle, Houston, clean eating

“We’re always trying to learn more about our customers and what they want, what would help them in their daily lives when it comes to eating healthier and making local shopping easier. What kinds of Meal Bundles would you like to see? Or what kinds of products are you seeking? How can we make it easier to make weekday dinners more interesting? What kind of everyday food problems pop up–big or small–that we might be able to help solve? Grit Grocery is a flexible platform that’s always open to new ideas for how to improve food shopping,” Michael finished.

Sonoran Rosie – Natural Desert Goodness for Your Skin

Tucson-based Rosie Crocker owns an Am-AZing natural skincare brand that is derived and inspired by the beautiful Sonoran Desert. The brand also just recently launched August 2017. I was fortunate to meet with her briefly on my last trip to Tucson, and also purchased a few of her products, which I 100% love and stand behind. She harvests the ingredients straight from the desert, and creates such goodness as: Prickly Pear Lip Balm, Creosote + Rosemary Cream, Revitalizing Creosote Face Toner, and more! Creosote (or chaparral) is literally one of my favorite plants, which, as it turns out, is actually good for the skin. I love being in the desert after a good rain, as the smell the creosote lies heavily in the air. So it’s only natural that I’m borderline obsessing over a small brand that specializes in skincare that’s formulated with desert plants. Plus, since I’m temporarily back in Houston, every time I use the cream and toner, I can carry the scent of home around with me for a bit, so to speak.

Rosie grew up in a large family with limited means, which is one of the reasons why she is so passionately driven in the realm of nature and organics. “I love all things nature, animals and believe it is our duty as humans to care for nature and animals. When living my daily life, I always pause before I make a decision and ask myself, ‘How does this decision affect my spirit, body, and the world around me?’ I am constantly learning and growing spiritually and intellectually.”

She goes on to explain, “I have always been a DIY type of person. I have always been all about living an all natural, organic, sustainable life that includes food, health, beauty etc. I started learning more about desert plants just out of curiosity for the world around me. I started with learning about edible desert plants, and that naturally progressed into learning about medicinal desert plants. I had always been disappointed in a lot of all-natural beauty products because, in my opinion, a lot of them are weak acting, smelling, very few of them utilized desert plants and they always came in a lot of plastic packaging. So I started experimenting just using the resources around me. As I became happy with what I was doing, I also let the people around me try them, and they all really liked them. I started being approached to purchase my potions, and it kept growing from there. I have Tucson and Instagram to thank for how fast my business has grown in such a short time. People enjoy watching my process and learning about the Sonoran Desert through my Instagram. Tucson is very community-oriented and supportive. People in Tucson love to support local businesses, and they appreciate the desert; so they love the ingredients I am using. It has been super exciting. I am so grateful and am looking forward to the future!”

LAFS: What inspired you to create desert-themed products?

Rosie: Like I said before, I just recognized that there are so many awesome herbal desert plants that are great for skincare, and not many people are utilizing. I love the desert, and my main products include creosote (chaparral), which is a plant that is so unique to this desert region, and so great for your skin. It has such a unique scent as well, and brings up so many strong memories for us desert dwellers, that I wanted to capture that scent, and give it to people to carry with them. My passion for where I live, combined with some awesome products, made it so fun to come up with new ideas and names for all of them. It all came so fast too. It seems like the universe aligned just right, and everything fell into place. I make all my products with love and care. I feel it is important to focus on positivity, especially while creating anything. Energy transfer is real. When I put love into what I do, that is felt when people use my products. During the spring here in the Sonoran Desert, there are so many wildflowers. Everything blooms, and it is the best time to live here as a nature lover. I don’t believe in buying flowers that where grown by some giant corporation, and shipped here on ice and sold at big box grocery stores. Since I am always out in the desert, and in my neighborhood, I saw that there are so many resources for locally foraged bouquets, smudge wands and wreaths. So I started making those to order for people who have the same desert love that I have!

LAFS: What would you say your favorite product(s) are?

Rosie: It is so hard for me to pick a favorite, because each one is so unique and special. But I can tell you which ones are the most popular, sales-wise. The Desert Rain Fragrance is so dreamy and loved by so many people. It has creosote, sage and sandalwood. It is refreshing, fun, and brings you right to that moment after it rains here in the Sonoran Desert. The Prickly Pear Cactus Lip Balm is another very unique product. It contains real prickly pear fruit juice and prickly pear seed oil in it. It is unlike other lip balms and glosses because it actually moisturizes and heals your dry chapped lips, making you need it less. While other balms and glosses just sit on the top of your lips as decoration- making it so you need to use them more often. It also looks and smells so nice.

LAFS NOTE: I agree about the lip balm. I usually apply it once in the morning, and I’m good to go for the entire day.

LAFS: Do you have a favorite go-to skincare regimen?

Rosie: I don’t want to sound like a walking advertisement for my products, but the reason I made my products in the first place, was for myself to be able to use effective, all natural hair and skin care. I have struggled with oily, acne-prone skin all of my life. One main thing I realized by doing some research, was that I was over-washing my face, and that was causing more oil production; therefore causing my acne. So my daily skin care routine looks like this: ( I wear natural mineral makeup) In the evening I wash my face with Yes To Grapefruit scrub to remove all my makeup and give me a nice smooth surface. Then I spray my Revitalizing Creosote Face Toner all over my face and neck, let it dry, and then I apply evening primrose oil all over my face and neck (every other day). I alternate the evening primrose oil with my Creosote + Rosemary Cream every other day. So one day I will use the cream, and the next day, the oil. I leave the cream/ oil on over night and in the morning I splash my face with warm water ( I do not wash my face with soap in the morning). I then apply a light sunscreen, or all natural BB cream with sunscreen in it. I then apply my makeup, and it starts all over again. Ever since I have been toning, moisturizing and washing less, my face has been less oily. I barely ever have acne, and I am so happy with the way my skin looks.

LAFS: Where can we find your products?

Rosie: The best place to find my products is to go to my Etsy. I give a small discount to Tucson locals, so if you are local, I suggest looking on the Etsy site to see which products you like, and then message me via Instagram. I also sell products at Pop Cycle on 4th Ave, The Museum of Contemporary Art gift shop, Faun Salon, Studio 110, The Ninth House, and Avenue Boutique (all located in Tucson). The products vary at each shop- some carry my full line, some carry only a few different products.

Rosie offers us a last piece of advice. “Support small businesses! I do my best to source my ingredients locally because I know my dollar counts. For every $100 spent on small businesses, $45 of that goes back into that community; whereas for every $100 spent at chain (corporate) stores, only $14 goes into the community. I hope you recognize your value and understand that life is one big circle- you get what you put out. Changing the world starts with your daily decisions. We all matter.”

Sonoran Rosie Skincare, Tucson, Arizona, natural skincare

Sonoran Rosie Skincare, Tucson, Arizona, natural skincare

Sonoran Rosie Skincare, Tucson, Arizona, natural skincare

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