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Dec 19, 2012 >> Gift Guide: Lara Miller


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Local designer Lara Miller’s ecologically sensitive line is a girl’s best friend. Sophisticated, playful and you’ll feel good about yourself being something local and earth-friendly. We’ve fallen in love with her Milo infinity scarf.

We asked Lara for a Gift Guide that would be as conscious as her eponymous line. She shares sustainable, ethically produced, recycled, local (or fair trade if not!), vintage items below that are as covetable as her own goods. She also waxes about the causes behind each item—a great story to go along with a perfect gift.

A. HANDMADE RULER CUFF BY JACQ
I’m always looking for a measuring tape or a ruler … My good friend and fellow designer Miriam Cecilia Carlson wears a small bangle that looks like a measuring tape that I’ve always loved. How neat to wear something that’s not only gorgeous, but also functional and recycled!? Jacqueline has a few different ruler cuffs in her shop, but this one, from an original vintage Lufkin fold out ruler, is my favorite. It is aluminum with a brass bracket on one end where the ruler used to be riveted together. The numbers and marking lines are shallowly engraved into the metal and the black coloring is beautifully intact.

Jacqueline von Tesmar designs original clothing and jewelry in her Brooklyn studio for the brand ‘JacQ’. Invigorated by the hands-on craft, both sewing and metalwork is explored through simple, clean designs using high quality materials.

B. TRUBLOOMS CHICAGO LIMITED EDITION PERFUME
TruBlooms Chicago is a beautiful locally grown women’s eau de parfum, sold for a short time this holiday season in limited quantities. To create the fragrance, TruBlooms collaborated with a number of partners including Windy City Harvest, Growing Power, and the Chicago Park District. These partners allowed them to work with farmers and gardens across the city to grow roses, lilies, lavender, and violets over the summer to create the fragrance. The indigenous-sourced scent is subtle, bright, and floral—I would love it even without knowing that it was created and grown here.

C. MAR Y SOL NAVY MULTI-COLOR CLUTCH
Mar Y Sol is a socially responsible accessories brand that collaborates with artists in New York and artisans in Madagascar. The sale of their products enables families to gain economic independence and promotes environmental conservation. I love that 2PennyBlue sells Mar Y Sol. 2PennyBlue designs a line of jackets and blazers in Chicago and sells corresponding accessories with a similar ethos. Their garments are made in the USA and for every jacket purchased, 2PennyBlue donates a school uniform to a girl in need in Africa.

D. VINTAGE PAINT BY NUMBERS FROM EBAY
I’m a sucker for vintage paint by numbers. There’s something beautiful and funny in the kitschyness of them. While some pile on a bit too much seventies swank for me, many of them, especially the landscapes, are really quite pretty. I’ve been keeping my eye on a few of these on ebay.

E. TUNISIAN STEW POT FROM LE SOUK CERAMIQUE AT GREENHEART
How better to survive Chicago’s winter than with stew—or hot chocolate!? Both of which I’ll be making in this beautiful pot! Our tiny kitchen doesn’t have much storage, but with a color and shape so beautiful, we’ll be proud to keep it on our stovetop.

This fair trade stew pot was made by artisans in Tunisia through Le Souk Ceramique. Le Souk Ceramique pays above industry-average wages and pays into the national health care and social security system. Their employees are not segregated by gender and they have roughly 50/50 ratio of male to female employees.

F. FEW SPIRITS BARREL NAMING PROGRAM
Just North of Chicago, in Evanston, a town that is known to some as the home of prohibition, tucked in an alley off of Chicago Ave. near the Main Street Stop for both the Purple Line and the Metra lies a world of barrels and small batch distilled spirits. Identified by their stunning bottles and complex flavors, FEW Spirits have quickly become a favorite around the world. For those special enough to be in the know, FEW has created a barrel naming program, where FEW will name either a barrel of Bourbon, Rye, or Aged Gin in the gift receivers namesake. Each bottle filled from their barrel will travel the world with a label hand written with the giftees name. A barrel will fill up to 35 bottles and can be sent to bars, restaurants, and retailers throughout the US and beyond—you never know where the named bottle may travel! CALL 847.920.8628 for details.

G. JADETRIBE NICOLE WEEKENDER BAG
Kaight NYC is a wonderful Brooklyn-based store that specializes in well-curated sustainable clothing and accessories. This handwoven weekender bag is the ultimate carry-all. The pattern is beautiful and is handwoven from organic cotton and natural dyes by a village of women in Laos. All raw materials used to create the natural dyes are grown in their village. Each textile takes three days for the women to weave.  100% cotton with ultrasuede lining and leather detailing. Perfection!

H. HIPP x RGB NUDE COLOR SYSTEM
RGB is quite possibly the perfect nail polish. Modern colors and a gorgeous minimalist bottle is just where it begins. RGB’s formula removes harmful carcinogens often found in nail color and all RGB products are cruelty free and made in the USA. Their colors are all stunning, but lately I’m especially smitten by RGB’s award winning collaboration with Green Celebrity Nail Stylist Jenna Hipp aptly named HIPPxRGB.  Frustrated by “nude” often referring to one shade, and usually a light to medium one, Jenna and Gina created a system of nudes for everyone, allowing one to customize color and coverage.  As a result, a new concept of nude nails was born. The gift set gives you the option for nude nails but lets you play, mixing and matching colors outside of your skintone for a neutral but fun approach to nail art.

Find more fun on Lara Miller at LaraMiller.net.