How To Create True Connection While Traveling

This post is a guest post written by Katy Schlegel, the Founder and CEO of Mariposa Skies, a social enterprise that supports fashion artisans from all over the world. Katy loves storytelling and sharing the stories of the amazing artisans she has met during her travels from around the world. Katy's company not only supports local artisans from places like Bali and Morocco, but she also donates a percentage of proceeds to non-profit organizations she believes in. Check her out on Instagram here!

One of the life lessons I continually learn while traveling is it is all about the connection. Since this is what I take with me each time I travel, I wanted to share with you the five ways I have found to create true connection while traveling.

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1. Learn the language

The first is to learn the language. Now you don’t need to be fluent, but phrases, especially greetings as well as thank you are so important. When you take time to learn the language, it's a sign of respect that will take you a long way. It shows you are willing to go outside of yourself, for a taste of who they are. When I first lived in Buenos Aires, I had a difficult time feeling welcome. I believe the main reason I finally was welcomed was because I learned the language. When I started to speak like a local it threw people for a loop. I obviously looked like a foreigner, with my blond hair and blue eyes, but I endeared myself to locals by using their own language.

2. Volunteer

The second way I connect to people while traveling requires seeking volunteer opportunities through platforms such as WorkAway or WWOOF. Volunteering gives you an opportunity to connect with locals as well as travelers, while working alongside of them. My experience took me to a small finca (farm) in San Rafael, Argentina. While I was there I worked with people from all over the world and what brought us together was this beautiful experience. Every moment on the finca was accompanied with an unreal feeling. There I was in the middle of Argentina on this farm, looking at the sky that seemed to be more vast than the one I knew back home. I felt so small but incredibly triumphant. My clothes were filthy, my skin was dirty, and I smelled of the earth; but I had never been so happy! And the reason was not from the work that I had done, though very proud of it I was, but I was happy because of the people I had met and what each of them taught me.

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3. support local artisans

The third way in which I seek out connection is by purchasing local fashion and art made by local artisans. For me, in particular, learning about the fashion of the culture opens so many doors to learning. It not only is a great way to bring home one of a kind pieces, but by connecting to the makers- the artisans- you also have a story to tell. It gives what you wear more meaning. Often times, local artisans incorporate their own sense of culture into the piece of fashion or art. I have this amazing pair of boots from a local designer in Ubud, Bali. Her name is Ketut Lastri. I always receive compliments on them and when people ask me where I got them- I get to tell her story of how she is one of the only woman business owners in Ubud, Bali. That the fabric she uses in her designs is a traditional Balinese pattern. You see, I have the opportunity to give her a voice and connect her story through the fashion I buy while traveling and then wear back home.

4. embrace Customs & Culture

The fourth way is by observing and partaking in the customs of the culture. When I was in Brazil I had an opportunity to learn Samba. If you have ever seen Samba, you know it’s not easy to pick up. I do dance, but my hips do not move that way naturally! I knew by observing how it plays a huge part in Brazilian culture. I saw first hand how it connects the entire country when it comes to Carnaval. When I signed up for lessons, little did I know that my dance instructor would be willing to open up and share even more of Brazil with me. Through this experience, I was able to see the true and beautiful culture that is the Carioca’s (people from Rio de Janeiro) spirit: one filled with love and acceptance.

5. Pay it forward

The fifth and final way is the simple act of paying it forward. When you are shown an act of kindness from a stranger while traveling, pass it along to the next. I learned this after my wallet was stolen in Buenos Aires. It was my first week there and the events that played out could have gone terribly wrong. I had only pennies left, but the kindness of a stranger at the train ticket office let me have a ticket for just that. To make matters worse, I didn’t know the area very well so I missed my stop. I had to rely, yet again, on the kindness of a grandmother who bought me a ticket and told me what stop to get off on. I will never forget the people who helped me. Since that time, I go out of my way to help people when I travel. It is a way of showing my gratitude to those who helped me during difficult times.

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If you haven’t figured it out by now, for me, connection is the most important lesson one can learn while traveling. Without it, a country is just another place, a person is just another face, and a thing is just that, a thing. When all is said and done, those connections you experienced while traveling create the stories of your life. After all, that is what brings us together as human beings, the ability to connect to one another.

Conscious Holiday Gift Guide

During the holidays, when we typically purchase gifts for our loved ones, it’s the perfect time to practice conscious consumerism and purchase products that have a purpose! Now more than ever there are some amazing products on the market that are high-quality, beautiful, and also ethically made. I’ve put together a list of my favorite eco-friendly, ethically-made items that would make amazing holiday gifts! Enjoy!


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ABLE Abera Crossbody Tote Bag | $178

 

The Abera Crossbody Tote Bag is beautiful, practical, and supports small business development in Ethiopia! It’s made from the softest leather, handcrafted by women who have overcome. This bag can be used for books or your laptop, for a carry-on, or as an overnight bag. The pink color makes it perfect all year round.

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Yellow 108  Dylan Fedora | $108

 

The Yellow 108 Dylan Fedora is a classic. It comes in more than 5 different colors, and I would love to have one of each! This bone color is one of my favorites-- it goes well with any hair color, and you can use it all year round! This is a perfect accessory to spruce up your capsule wardrobe! Check out this hat and all their others below.


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Ara Collective Indigo Chimas Pillow | $115

This indigo pillow is hand-woven by artisans in Guatemala using a traditional loom. Sales from the pillows help provide education and health care for the children of the artisan cooperative that makes them. I love Ara Collective because they build relationships with the artisans and create a partnership based on respect, collaboration, and mutual learning.


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Sseko Half Moon Necklace | $49.99

 

This necklace adds a little extra something to any outfit. Especially if you’re a minimalist and like clean lines and monocromatic color wardrobes, this necklace is the perfect touch you need. It's handcrafted by women in Uganda who are saving up to go to university! Giving this necklace as a gift this holiday season 100% embodies giving gifts that give back! 

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Rose & Fitzgerald Triple Band Cuff | $165

Crafted by a team of metal smiths in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, this triple band cuff is sleek and unique! It’s finished off with 18kt gold plating.  I love Rose & Fitzgerald because of the company’s story. The founders traveled to Uganda to live and work, and while there, they were inspired to create a beautiful collection of handcrafted, heirloom goods.

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The Giving Keys Dainty Key Necklace | from $45

 

 

Have you heard of the Giving Keys yet? They are an amazing company that employs individuals who are transitioning out of homelessness in Los Angeles to create these beautiful key necklaces. Each key is hand-stamped with an inspiring word on it. Some of my favorites are “Courage”, “Dream”, and “Believe”. You can also customize your key!


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Sseko Moon Clutch | $29.99

The Sseko Medium Moon Clutch in gold and black is made from beautiful leather in Ethiopia. I had the opportunity to visit one of Sseko's workshops in Uganda over the summer, and the women were so inspiring! The Half Moon Clutch is perfect to use as a pouch for travel essentials, as a make-up bag, or as a clutch for a night out! It has so many uses!


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Sotela Shift Dress | $110

 

This is the perfect must-have dress for any wardrobe. Shift dresses are known to be super flattering, and this one is no different. It’s comfortable, can be worn with or without leggings, and would be a great addition to your closet especially in the month of December to celebrate Dressember, an organization that helps raise money to end the slavery of women who have been trafficked worldwide.

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Matter Pants | $119

These Easy Dhoti + Rana pants are stylish, flattering, and easy to wear. They are made using 100% medium weight cotton. They are hand-dyed and also hand-loomed in India. I love Matter so much not only because of their unique prints, but also because even though their clothing can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion, it is still so comfortable—they are such a versatile brand! What’s even more amazing about this company is that they are all about collaboration with the artisans who make their garments.


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Bryr Clogs | from $256

 

Made-to-order and handcrafted in their San Francisco workshop, these shoes are one of my new favorites! The company believes in slow fashion and creating quality products that last. All leather is sourced from US-based tanneries that use the best and most eco-friendly manufacturing processes. Bryr is an all-women team, and they put love into each and every shoe that’s made in their workshop!


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Beauty Counter Lengthening Mascara | $29

 

When I made the switch from conventional beauty products to clean beauty products, I wasn’t very impressed with a lot of the mascaras on the market. When I found Beauty Counter’s lengthening mascara, I was so relieved! It instantly adds length without clumping, is smudge-proof, and is super easy to remove! This brand doesn’t use any chemicals or synthetic ingredients, and their products actually perform! 

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Beauty Counter Charcoal Bar Soap | $24

 

This Beauty Counter product is naturally made in the US. It’s made with antioxidant-rich, organic green tea and hydrating organic coconut oil! The activated charcoal in it helps pull out all impurities without drying your skin out. You’ll notice your skin changing just after a few days! You can use this soap on both your face and body. Did I mention that it's made from all natural ingredients?

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Beauty Counter Rose Water Mist | $35

 

For those who love adventure, the Rosewater Mist is the perfect travel essential! You can use a spritz of it to set your makeup on for the day, or use it liberally whenever your skin needs a quick pick-me-up! It adds so much freshness to your face after a long day, and the scent of roses is lovely. I love to bring it with me in my carry-on during flights or roadtrips to freshen up before I arrive at my final destination!


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Citizen & Darling Freedom Fighter Tee | $40

This is one of my favorite t-shirts! Not only because freedom is one of my top values, but because it’s made by Citizen & Darling, one of the coolest new clothing companies that donate part of the proceeds to help stop sex trafficking. They donate 10% of proceeds from this shirt to the A21 Campaign, who has the mission of abolishing slavery around the world!


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Kurandza African Fabric Cards | $15 for a 3-Pack

 

These cards are made from recycled paper and have beautiful African wax-print cotton fabric from Mozambique sewn onto them. The colors of the fabric vary, and many patterns have gold glitter accents! Kurandza, a non-profit social enterprise that empowers women to become leaders in their communities, makes them to help grow their mission and empower women and girls in Mozambique! They are the perfect, meaningful cards for the holiday season!

Raven & Lily Handmade Journal | from $9

 

All of Raven & Lily’s journals are beautiful! They are handcrafted with love in India using recycled materials! The women who make these journals find a way to recycle old military tents, denim jeans, newspapers, and cotton remnants to make them into something beautiful. There are a few different patterns of tribal prints and I love them all! They also have leather and mudcloth journals to choose from. Take your pick!


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Nisolo Dari Boot | $248

These are Nisolo’s first high-heeled boot! They are made through a partnership with an ethical factory in Mexico. They come in a wheat color or black. I love how these boots can be worn day or night because of their comfort and elegance! Some of my other favorite Nisolo shoes are the Mariella Mules and the Ecuador Huarache Sandals! The reason I love Nisolo so much is because they create beautiful, intentionally designed pieces that are ethically made. They pride themselves on paying fair wages to their artisan producers, while also providing healthcare and a healthy working environment.


Are you a fan of another brand that has ethically-made gifts that give back? I love finding out about other amazing brands, so let me know in the comments below!

A Small Idea Can Lead to a Big Impact with Alexandra Nash of Yuhme

This post is a guest post by Alexandra Nash, the founder and CEO of Yuhme, a social enterprise on a mission to provide clean water to those who need it. Yuhme makes eco-friendly, reusable water bottles from sugarcane. The purchase of each bottle provides 6 months of clean water to someone in the Central African Republic via Water For Good.

Yuhme Eco-Friendly Reusable Water Bottle - Global Dream Collective

For me it started with a dream. Dreams the bunny that is— a stuffed animal I bought for our then unborn daughter, Harlow. A figure to remind myself that I needed to focus time and energy on finding my true purpose. Little did I know then that the name “Yuhme” I came up with a year later for our social enterprise, actually meant "dream" in Japanese. A sure sign to me that I was on the right path.

When I was asked to write this blog post my initial thought was that it was going to be a breeze, but I soon came to realize that putting this two-year journey on paper was harder than I initially thought. Below are the takeaways that I have learned during this incredible journey so far.

Yuhme Founder Alex Nash - Global Dream Collective

ALLOW YOURSELF TIME.

I truly believe that the most progress happens when we allow ourselves to be in a state where we can just be. To search, to dig, to read, to meditate without any real goal other than searching for that spark and purpose. Sometimes we have an itch that we want something to be different, but we don’t allow for the process of finding out what that is. Instead we plod along with our day to day lives and think that maybe it isn’t for us. But please believe that real things happen when you least expect it, and stop with the TV watching and the social media scrolling and I promise you that there is enough time to make it happen.

 

KEEP IT SIMPLE.

The greatest missions were created on a small idea that gained momentum because of the passion behind it.  The beauty with a social enterprise is that even if you only sell one product, you have already helped at least one person. So yes, aim for the stars but plan to land in your backyard. By that I mean don’t get stuck in the thought that you are in search of this great big idea, for the smallest, most subtle idea could be the beginning of your own social enterprise.

 

JUST FOCUS ON THE NEXT STEP.

Once that little (or big) idea has entered your mind-- that same idea that makes you nervous and excited at the same time-- nurture it. Show it respect by taking things one step at a time. Focus on the next step, and then the next and the next. Before you know it all those steps add up and you are doing things you never thought you would or maybe could do.

 

Yuhme Reusable Eco-Friendly Water Bottles - Global Dream Collective

DARE TO REACH OUT TO THOSE WHO INSPIRE YOU.

Following your passion to your big social entrepreneurial idea might sometimes be a lonely road. The people you usually spend time with might not go through the same transformation that you do. Change is a scary thing for people that have not chosen it, especially for people close to you. Instead find your new tribe—the people that do what you want to do, that share your interest, or run bomb businesses. Don’t let the name scare you whether it is Blake, Sophia, or Michelle; Just send that email! The worst-case scenario is a zero response. But I promise you that this road will give you a lot more yeses than noes.

 

JUST START!

So, there it is! Just one thing left: where do you start? The intelligent answer: it doesn’t matter. Most ideas never see the light of day because people feel they aren’t ready. They’re not ready enough to start, not prepared enough to start, don’t have enough money to start… Let me finish off by saying if you do dare to start, regardless of those perceived challenges, you are amongst the 1% that actually act on their ideas. That in itself is motivation enough to get going. Good luck and can’t wait to see what you create!



What dream, no matter how big or small it may seem, can you get started on reaching right now?

We're Hiring!

GLOBAL DREAM COLLECTIVE is Hiring An Amazing Virtual Assistant!

The Role: We’re looking for a passionate and enthusiastic Virtual Assistant who will provide administrative and logistical support to Global Dream Collective’s Founder, Elisabetta. This person will be able to successfully work alongside Elisabetta and her international clients and team, as well as be strongly self-motivated and able to get work done without close supervision. If this sounds like you and you have a desire to make a positive impact in the world, and are easy and fun to work with, then we’re looking for you!

Our dream VA will have a love for making a difference, is a self-starter with a high attention to detail, is an excellent communicator, and enjoys connecting with people both online and in person. This is a part-time position.

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Responsibilities:

  • Edit, upload, and send newsletters via MailChimp
  • Edit, upload, and publish blog posts via Squarespace
  • Assist with event planning, correspondence, and logistics
  • Create templates, spreadsheets, reports, and presentations
  • Social media engagement
  • Research
  • Create graphics using Canva
  • Set up email auto-responder sequence
  • Create, update and organize systems
  • Schedule appointments and travel
  • Assist with customer service
  • Update and maintain website pages
  • Participate in Quarterly Planning and provide accountability
  • Pitch partnerships
  • Additional tasks and projects as needed
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Preferred Skills:

  • Organized and detail-oriented
  • Experience in writing and editing for landing pages, email marketing and social media
  • Experience with the following: MailChimp, Squarespace, Canva, Trello/Asana/Dubsado, Calendly
  • Fast learner and a self-starter
  • Ability to balance working independently and being part of a team
  • Flexible because Elisabetta travels and is always on different time zones
  • Knowledgeable about copy that converts to leads and sales
  • Great communicator (oral and written)
  • Interested in making a positive impact on the world!
  • Experience working in developing countries or for a social good/conscious company is a plus!
  • Already has a strong community of purpose-driven women is a plus!
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About Global Dream Collective:

The Global Dream Collective is an online community and resource for women change-makers who are looking to start or grow their own conscious companies, social enterprises, non-profits, and purpose-driven passion projects! It includes a blog that covers topics such as travel and living a freedom-based lifestyle, social impact, clean beauty, ethical fashion, and slow living!

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About Elisabetta:

Elisabetta is a social entrepreneur who started Kurandza after serving in the Peace Corps in Mozambique for three years. When she’s not at her home-base in the SF Bay Area, she is living the location-independent life traveling the world. She’s an INFJ/ENFJ. She loves chocolate, green juice, and 2pac! Her favorite things to do in her free-time are yoga, exploring nature, and learning new languages.  Elisabetta is also the founder of Kurandza, a social enterprise non-profit that uses education and entrepreneurship to empower women and girls in Mozambique to become leaders in their communities.

To Apply:

Please send an email with "VA Application" to hello@globaldreamcollective.com by Monday, November 13th, 2017 with the following:

  1. Attached copy of your resume or your LinkedIn profile.
  2. Links to your Instagram and website.
  3. Responses to the questions below:

Why do you want to work with the Global Dream Collective?

What are your favorite common VA tasks/activities that really light you up?

Who are your top 3 favorite influencers?

Are you a perfectionist? Explain.

Which countries have you been to?

What is your availability for working with the Global Dream Collective?

What are your rates?

Tell me 3 fun facts about you!

Deadline: Monday, November 13th, 2017

Mother's Day Guide of Gifts that Empower Mothers Around the World!

Mother's Day is the one day of the year that's dedicated to celebrating and honoring the person who brought you into the world. It's a day to spend time with your Mother, or whoever has had that mother role in your life.

In the West, we have the tradition of giving gifts to our mothers on Mother's Day. This year, what if we chose gifts that our mothers love, while also empowering the mothers around the globe who made these beautiful gifts?

I've gathered my 6 favorite Mother's Day gifts that are handmade by mothers around the world!

1. FashionABLE

FashionABLE empowers women through business development and entrepreneurship. They started out working in Ethiopia and have since expanded to provide opportunities for vulnerable women in the United States as well! They believe that the best way to empower women to rise out of poverty is through enterprise.

My favorite FashionABLE products are their saddlebags! The one below is called the Tirhas Saddlebag and is sold for $148. They also have a mini saddlebag. Buy one for your mom here!

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2. Local + Lejos

Local + Lejos is a home decor company that aims to bridge communities near and far, which is demonstrated through their name! They create modern pieces that traditional retail stores cannot offer at attainable prices. Local + Lejos works directly with the artisans and cuts out the middlemen, which allows them to maintain affordable prices. They empower artisans, many of whom are women and mamas, to grow businesses, preserve cultural traditions, and create sustainable futures for their families. Local + Lejos works in several developing nations including Rwanda, Cambodia, Guatemala, Mexico, Uganda, and India.

My pick for the perfect Mother's Day gift is one of their beautiful basket bowls like the one pictured below! The basket below was made by artisans in Rwanda. Buy one here!

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3. Kurandza 

Kurandza has a special place in my heart! It's the non-profit social enterprise that I started with the community where I worked and lived in Mozambique for 3 years! Our mission is to use entrepreneurship and education to empower women to become leaders in their communities. Kurandza means "to love" in the local Changana language of the village where we work in Southern Mozambique. We make earrings, bangle bracelets, cards, and bags!

My Mother's Day pick would be the "Hina" tote bag. It's perfect to use for a yoga bag, or to carry your computer and notebook to work! Buy one here! *They're normally $38, but now until Mother's Day, use "FORMOM" code at checkout for 30% off!

 

4. Hands Producing Hope

Hands Producing Hope is a non-profit social enterprise that provides the economic, educational, and spiritual resources necessary to empower remote communities to rise above poverty. They are an amazing organization that works with artisans in both Costa Rica and Rwanda. I personally know their founder, Rebecca, who has been instrumental in creating this wonderful organization. They sell jewelry, baskets, and accessories.

My favorite pick for mom is the Naia necklace. It's $24 and made by artisans in Costa Rica. Get one here!

 

5. Parker Clay

The founders of Parker Clay, Ian and Brittany, have an incredible story. While adopting their daughter in Ethiopia, they saw first-hand what life was like for volunerable women who were orphaned as children-- many turned to prostitution or were sold into human trafficking. Ian and Brittany wanted to do something about it, so they decided to start a business that would empower these women to earn an income through craftsmanship and entrepreneurship.

All of their products are beautiful! If you have an adventurous mama who loves to travel, my pick is the Backpack for $175. Get one here!

 

6. Tribe Alive

Tribe Alive is an ethical fashion company that partners with female artisans in Guatemala, Haiti, India, Honduras, and Fort Worth, Texas. They employ impoverished women at fair-trade wages, and provide safe work environments. They have a passion for design and quality products that also help provide dependable income to women across the globe. I've had the honor of meeting Tribe Alive's founder, Carly, and her heart is really behind everything they do as a company.

There are so many great picks, and my favorites are their stud earrings! They range from single studs for $12 to $25 for a pair. Buy them here!

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Your purchase matters! Choose a gift for mom that also provides jobs to mothers worldwide!

Know of another brand that empowers women around the world? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Travel Diary // Lima, Peru

Last month I headed to Peru to celebrate my friend, Sarah’s birthday! It was my second time in this beautiful country-- I had traveled to Peru with Sarah about 10 years before, and I was so excited to head back and spend time with her and her lovely Peruvian family!

 Hanging out in Miraflores near the Parque del Amor! Photo: @lifebelowclouds

Hanging out in Miraflores near the Parque del Amor! Photo: @lifebelowclouds

Lima is a beautiful city with so many different neighborhoods. For most of my trip, I stayed in the trendy Miraflores neighborhood. For part of my trip I stayed with my friend’s family in the non-touristy, Brera. I also got to visit La Victoria, Surquillo, El Centro, Barranca, and Pueblo Libre.

 One of the 7 Wonders of the World: Machu Picchu. Photo: @lifebelowclouds

One of the 7 Wonders of the World: Machu Picchu. Photo: @lifebelowclouds

WHERE TO STAY

Hotel de Autor is an amazing gem of a hotel nestled in the beautiful Miraflores neighborhood. There are actually two hotels, Autor i and Autor ii. I had the pleasure of staying at Autor ii, located along the boardwalk!

 Outside of the Hotel de Autor ii in Miraflores. Photo: @lifebelowclouds

Outside of the Hotel de Autor ii in Miraflores. Photo: @lifebelowclouds

There are 5 rooms in the hotel, each with their own private bathroom (with amazing shower pressure, international outlets, and a hairdryer). The rooms have wifi, TVs, and air conditioning, which comes in handy with the warm and humid climate in Peru.

The staff is super friendly and attentive. They have an option for breakfast, but even though I didn’t opt for that, they made me hot tea and oatmeal one day as I was waiting for my friends to come pick me up for lunch! How sweet is that?

The area is safe and it’s only a short walk from Parque del Amor and Parque Kennedy, an area with cute cafes, restaurants, and bars. If you don’t want to walk, there are lots of Ubers that can take you around the area! I wouldn’t suggest cabs unless you’re with the locals.

I would definitely recommend staying at this chic hotel next time you’re in Peru. Check out some of the photos of the interior below!

WHERE TO EXPLORE

•  Punta Hermosa beach – This beach isn’t touristy yet—although it might be the new Tulum or Costa Rica in a few years! You can get lunch nearby at an authentic restaurant, and there is even a new organic-food lunch spot! The waves are nice and there is an island off the coast that you can explore.

•  Museo Larco – Surrounded by flowers and potted succulents, this was the most beautiful museum I’ve seen! I loved the vibe, and also learned a lot about the history of the different indigenous tribes of Peru. They have a gorgeous restaurant in the museum as well, that I’m saving for my next visit!

•  Parque del Amor –  This was the cutest park! It’s located on the edge of Miraflores, looking over the ocean! The park is full of colorful statues and mosaics with writings about love.

•  Alianza vs. Universitario – Soccer is big in Peru! We were going to go to a game, but it didn’t end up working out- darn! Next time for sure! Universitario or “La U” is the more bougie team, and Alianza is the team for the “barrio”—it’s the same in Recife, there always seems to be teams for each socioeconomic group.

•  Ica –  Ica is known for a few things! Paracas is the “Galapagos” of Peru, with manatees, turtles, birds, and dolphins! Further south is Huacachina, which is an oasis where you can go sandboarding and ride ATVs! 

•  Machu Picchu –  On my first trip to Peru, I traveled to Cusco and visited the incredible Machu Picchu! It’s one of the 7 wonders of the world, and truly is a magnificent site to see. I would recommend taking the time to visit and even sign up for a tour.

•  El Centro – In the city center, there are lots of cool sites to see. Of course there is the Catedral, the catacombs museum, and the government buildings, but what’s even more fun to see is the chocolate museum (ChocoMuseo) and Pisco Sour museum! They are right next door to each other!

 Outside of the Museo Larco. Photo: @lifebelowclouds

Outside of the Museo Larco. Photo: @lifebelowclouds

 What's next? Photo @lifebelowclouds

What's next? Photo @lifebelowclouds

WHEN YOU'RE HUNGRY

My favorite thing to do when I'm in a new country is to try the cuisine! Our first stop when we got off the plane was to head to my friend’s home to eat some homemade chicken noodle soup—they make the best soup!

Peru may be known for their cuey (guinea pig) and ceviche, but my favorite meals there were the guisos (stewed meat served over rice), their milanesas (breaded chicken), and their lomo saltado (beef).

Like churros? They had the most delicious churros in Lima! With dulce de leche, vanilla, or chocolate filling! I couldn't decide which one I liked best!

 Mmmmm... churros! Photo: @lifebelowclouds

Mmmmm... churros! Photo: @lifebelowclouds

I met my friend, Andrea, who is working with artisans in Peru, at the cutest bakery/coffee shop! It was called “El Pan de La Chola” and you NEED to go here if you’re in Lima. They have delicious green juices, and yummy sandwiches on fresh baked bread. They also have wifi :) Always a win for me!

 Bread for days!!

Bread for days!!

This sandwich place called La Lucha Sungucheria was awesome. When you’re craving a good sandwich and fries (and fresh juice if you like), go to this place! It’s a chain now so there are lots of them around Lima.

Lima is also known for its Chinese food called “chifa”—I ordered the chicken fried rice called “chaufa” and loved it! It seemed like the best chinese places were in the Surquillo neighborhood fyi!

 

THINGS TO BRING

Like most places I've been visiting lately, I was super happy that I brought sunscreen with a high SPF. My faves are the Juice Beauty or Bare Republic by Coola all natural sunscreens. You will also be so happy to bring a hat or two.

What else? Bring your bathing suit, some sundresses, rompers, flip flops, and comfortable walking shoes for exploring the city! I loved wearing my chambray button down-- it was perfect for layering and still light and airy on a hot day.

If you end up going to Machu Picchu, bring some hiking boots (If you plan on climbing Wayna Picchu). It's also helpful to bring layers if you go to Cusco or Lake Titicaca because of the high elevation and thus, the colder weather. 

As for on the plane, bring some essential oils, and a journal to maintain self care when away. Bring a refillable water bottle (I love my BKR one) so that you can stay hydrated while exploring!

 The sunset, friends, and love in Miraflores. Photo: @lifebelowclouds

The sunset, friends, and love in Miraflores. Photo: @lifebelowclouds

What are you most excited about when visiting Peru?

Which Crowdfunding Platform Should You Use?

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Crowdfunding is one of the most popular ways to raise initial funds when starting a non-profit, social enterprise, or even if you want to raise money for a cause! I’ve personally used crowdfunding three different times, and I’m a big fan! There are so many different platforms to choose from, though, and it can be overwhelming trying to choose the right one for you. Today on the blog I’m comparing some of my top crowdfunding platform choices!

 

1.    Generosity by Indiegogo

Who is this good for? Anyone who wants to raise funds for themself, a cause, or a non-profit. Although started by Indiegogo, it's different in that it's not focused on creative or entrepreneurial pursuits. So ethical fashion companies and creative-based projects wouldn't be a good fit for Generosity. One good thing about this platform is that it has access to a big community of people who are looking to give back to a cause!

Funding model: "Flexible" model meaning that all the money that you raise goes towards your cause even if you don't reach your final goal.

Fees: Generosity doesn't take a fee, but the credit card processor does take a 3% + $0.30 fee on all funds raised.

 

2.    CrowdRise

Who's this good for? CrowdRise is perfect for people who want to raise money for a cause! They have access to a huge community of people who are serious about raising money for important causes around the world. There are also opportunities to get featured on their blog and to participate in social impact challenges to gain more visibility. If you have a compelling story, this one could be perfect for you!

Funding model: Also uses the "flexible" model.

Fees: CrowdRise has two options: 5% fee including the credit card processing fee, or $50/month plus a 3% fee including the credit card processing fee. The second option is perfect for people who are looking to create monthly recurring donations. CrowdRise has one of the lowest fees in the industry.

 

3.    Kickstarter

Who's this good for? Kickstarter is only for creative projects. If your project is an artisan cooperative, ethical fashion company, documentary, or photography, art, or fashion-related project, then Kickstarter may be perfect for you. Kickstarter campaigns are most successful when you have a physical product such as jewelry or an art print that you can use as rewards for pledges. 

Funding model: "Fixed" model meaning that they take the all or nothing approach. You need to raise 100% of the goal amount or else you won't get anything. This can be helpful because it incentivizes donors (and campaign organizers) to rally for the cause in order to meet the time-bound goal. But it also has a huge downside if you don't reach your goal. 

Fees: Kickstarter takes a 5% fee and the payment processing company, Stripe, takes another 3-5% fee.

 

4.    GoFundMe

Who is this good for? This platform is known for raising money for individual causes such as for funding a trip abroad, funding medical or educational expenses, etc. The people who search GoFundMe campaigns to help support are looking for causes like raising money for a humanitarian crisis or to help someone in need. I would suggest using this only for a short-term project and if you have a large network that's already tapped into the GoFundMe platform.

Funding model: Reaching your goal is not required, you keep the amount of money you make ("flexible" funding).

Fees: They take a 5% fee and then the payment processor takes 2.9% +$0.30 fee for each donation received.

 

5.    YouCaring

Who is this good for? Charities or causes like a volunteer trip, medical expenses, or humanitarian relief. They coined the term “compassionate crowdfunding” because of the causes they support. Because YouCaring is one of the newer and smaller platforms, there is more of a chance that your campaign could be featured if you reach out to them via e-mail and submit your campaign to them.

Funding model: YouCaring uses a flexible funding option. You can also update the campaign goal and extend the deadline during the campaign.

Fees: 0% fee from YouCaring, 2.9% + $0.30 per donation fee from the credit card processer. This is one of the lowest fees in the industry!

 

6.    Tilt

Who is this good for? Tilt is for all types of industries, and is perfect for someone who is putting together a lean, mean, campaign without the bells and whistles of having rewards and a ton of photos or content. If you're trying to get a quick and simple campaign up, this would be one of my top choices. Because Tilt is a smaller platform, you have more of a chance to be featured on their website or to be tweeted by them!

Funding model: Tilt is unique in that there is a "tilt" goal and a campaign goal. For instance, you could set the campaign goal to $10,000 and the tilt goal to $1,000. Once the campaign reaches the tilt goal and "tilts" then you can keep all the money you raise even if it doesn't reach the $10,000 goal. If it doesn't reach the tilt goal, however, then you don't get to keep any of the funds. The tilt goal is meant to create a sense of urgency with donors, but Tilt also wants you to be able to keep your funds. Some people like to have campaigns "tilt" at $1, so that you can keep all funds after you raise your first dollar!

Fees: Tilt doesn't take a fee. The credit card processing fee of 3% is added onto the donation amount that donors contribute to the campaign.

 

7.    IFundWomen

Who is this good for? Women who have amazing projects they’re working on! The platform suggests providing rewards to increase pledges—something like a t-shirt, jewelry, or your services. So this would be great for female-run ethical fashion companies or artisan cooperatives.

Funding model: You can choose between a fixed funding model or flexible funding where you keep the amount even if you don’t reach your goal.

Fees: : iFundWomen takes a 5% fee, but they reinvest 20% of all the fees into live campaigns! How cool is that? There is also a credit card processing fee.

 

8.    StartSomeGood

Who is this good for? Changemakers! The platform was creating by changemakers for changemakers. It's perfect for non-profits, social enterprises, and purpose-driven bsuinesses. They are the world's leading platform for social impact projects, and have expertise in this area. Because they are more specialized, they are a smaller platform and can therefore spend more time giving expert advice to the people they help.

Funding model: All or nothing approach.

Fees: 5% plus a credit card processing fee from Stripe.

 

thinking of starting a crowdfunding campaign? Which platform seems like the best fit for you? let me know in the comments below!

 

Do you want to fund your own social impact project and need help launching a crowdfunding campaign? I create customized programs to help change-makers create and launch successful crowdfunding campaigns! Contact me here if you need extra support and want to work together!

Should You Start a Non-Profit or a Social Enterprise?

When getting ready to start a socially-minded project, the question always comes up if it should be a non-profit, social enterprise, or some sort of hybrid. The women I work with ask me this all the time, so I thought I’d dedicate a blog post to shed some light on the topic!

Let's clear up some misconceptions

First, I want to mention that a "non-profit" usually refers to a 501(c)3 tax-exempt charitable organization, and a "social enterprise" often refers to a for-profit business entity with a social mission. However, a social enterprise can also be a non-profit especially if there is some type of product or service offered. 

Non-profits are often thought of as running ineffectively and that they are not business-minded. From personal experience, I was very against starting a non-profit in the beginning because I had worked with several NGOs, non-profits, and government organizations, and I had experienced inefficiency and bureaucracy first hand. But then I realized that my non-profit could be different-- that it could be run like a business so that we can make the most social impact possible.

Do non-profit founders earn a salary?

Non-profit staff and founders typically earn a salary, but all of the “profits” need to be reinvested into the mission of the organization and cannot be used to boost salaries. For-profit social enterprises have more freedom to use their best judgement on how to use their profits. They can put it towards their salary, back into the growth of the organization, or towards social programs. Several social enterprises that I know have a set salary similarly to a non-profit, and if they make extra profit one year, that money is reinvested into their social programs as well, but the difference is that they have the freedom to choose to do this, and a non-profit needs to follow strict rules.

Many people think that non-profits give all proceeds back to the community, and that non-profit founders don’t earn a salary. However, non-profits have operations expenses just like businesses, and these expenses are often funded by proceeds. There are several non-profit and social enterprise founders that have the ability to run their organizations as a side project, and they don't take out a salary. Others take a salary, and some non-profit founders even fundraise specifically for the salary so that individual donations go straight to the cause (like Charity: Water).

Sustainable change depends on you, not on your business model

Whether you run a non-profit or a social enterprise, it's your responsibility to make sure that you are making a sustainable and lasting impact. When I was in the Peace Corps, one of the first things we learned was to "Do No Harm" meaning that we are there to help, not to make things worse, so we needed to be very careful about the programs we created. As change-makers and development workers, we need to be culturally sensitive and make sure to talk with the community about their needs and what type of project would be beneficial to them. Often times foreigners come into a developing country and create programs without involving the local community. Even though we may have the best of intentions, without involving the community, we can add to the dependency of developing countries by staying on an aid model (of course, during humanitarian crises, aid is necessary, but long-term aid isn’t and it usually debilitates a country and causes much more harm than good). More on this topic for another day!

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Consider funding sources

A big difference between non-profits and social enterprises are the funding sources. Do you sell a product or service, and is that product or service responsible for the majority of your revenue? If so, you would most likely want to create a social enterprise structure and incorporate or form an LLC. Examples of these could be ethical fashion companies, heart-centered coaching businesses, eco-friendly beauty brands, yoga teacher businesses, etc.

On the other hand, if you do sell a product or service, but it isn’t your main funding source, and you rely on donations and/or grant funding, then you would want to become a non-profit—and specifically a non-profit with 501©3 tax-exempt status. Being incorporated as a non-profit without 501(c)3 statues means that your organization has a social mission and although you can still receive donations, these donations will be counted towards income and you will need to pay income tax on them (and your donors will not receive a tax deduction for their generous donations). Some donors don’t mind and want to help and donate anyways, but several donors will only donate if they can receive the tax deduction.

If you work with artisans, are product sales your main source of funding?

If you are an organization that works to empower artisans, you may wonder how to know if you will be earning the majority of your revenue through product sales or through donations/grant funding. It has a lot to do with you, the founder, and what lights you up. Do you enjoy fashion design, photography, marketing, quality control, sales, and collaborating with bloggers? Or do you prefer to share your story through one-on-one meetings, at events, or through writing grant proposals? This is so important to explore! Many times founders think that they like something, when they really don’t, and that’s one of the main causes of burnout and ineffectiveness... it could even cause your organization to fail. So take some time to explore what you enjoy and what you’re most effective at, and keep doing more of that! 

When you start you will probably be wearing most of the hats in your business until you start outsourcing, delegating, and hiring a team. So until then, take time to figure out what you're passionate about doing!

What are the advantages of attaining 501(c)3 Status?

501©3 non-profits have several advantages that other organizations do not. That being said, they do have to file more paperwork, and the initial set up can take more time. They also need to set up a Board of Directors and schedule meetings with them at least a few times each year. But if you can get passed those initial hurdles, the advantages are many, including:

  • Not having to pay income tax, which allows even more money to support your cause
  • Giving your donors an extra incentive by allowing them to get a tax write-off
  • Receiving discounts on services such as PayPal, Quickbooks, Google AdWords, etc!
  • Ability to work with corporate sponsors who only work with 501©3 organizations
  • Having more credibility—the 501©3 application takes time, effort, and needs to be approved by the government. Because of this, the general public knows that a minimum, if not great, amount of credibility is required.

If you're a for-profit social enterprise, how can you demonstrate your social impact to your supporters?

So say you’re a social enterprise LLC. Is there any way to show your supporters that you’re credible and really do make a difference in the world?

Yes! There are a couple ways. If you are an ethical fashion company or produce a sustainable food product that works with artisans or farmers in the developing world, you could become fair trade certified. This means that you follow the 10 principles of fair trade and that you have gone through the lengthy process of becoming a member of the Fair Trade Organization and/or the Fair Trade Federation.

You could also become a certified B Corporation. B Corps are for-profit businesses that undergo auditing by the B Lab non-profit and have met rigorous standards of environmental and social ethics while also demonstrating accountability, high performance, and transparency. 

Whether you choose to start a for-profit social enterprise, a non-profit, or a hybrid, in the end, it all comes down to YOU in terms of social impact. If you take the time to be intentional about the social impact of your organization, you will indeed make a difference in the world.

I hope that this post was informative and helped you navigate the process of becoming a non-profit or social enterprise! I'll share more on the topic in future posts!

I would love to hear from you! Was this post helpful? If it was, please share it with those who may benefit from reading it! Please comment below and let me know which part was the most helpful, and if you have any other questions!

To get notified when I post other articles like this one, and to get updates about the Global Dream Collective, sign up for my e-mail list below!

Peace and love,

Elisabetta

 

 

Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is based on my personal experiences with non-profits and social enterprises and is not meant to be taken as legal advice. 

Travel Diary // Recife, Brazil

Brazil is one of those special places where you can feel the distinct culture the minute you step off the plane. The climate is warm, the beach is everywhere, and the people are friendly, open, and fun!

A few weeks ago I hopped on a plane and headed to Brazil. I had always wanted to visit Brazil, but didn't have plans to do so until my friend, Barbara, who I had met studying abroad in Milan, Italy, invited me to stay with her and her family and attend her wedding!

I couldn't say no to this invitation, so I booked my flight and made plans to be off of work for a couple weeks!

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First of all, Recife is gorgeous. It's a large city right on the water. It gets it's name from the word "arrecifes" which means "reefs" in Portuguese. There are large reefs surrounding the beaches. They keep the water nice and clear, and also make snorkeling a blast-- so many different colored fishes!

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Where to Explore

  • Boa Viagem beach - This is the beach that surrounds the city of Recife. I came to sit out for a whole day here. There are vendors passing by with tropical juices, seafood, and local delicacies. All you have to do is relax under your umbrella and watch the waves!
  • Museu de Frevo, Museu de Luis Gonzaga (Forrò), and the Museo do Recife/Forte das Cinco Pontas - Incredible museums dedicated to the art, dance, culture, and history of Pernambuco and in particular, Recife. The Frevo museum was my favorite-- It was so interactive, and I even got to take a Frevo dance class!
  • Marco Zero - This point is located in Recife Antigo ("the old city center) and it's the center of Recife. The distances to all the cities in the world are measured from this spot!
  • Ilha do Retiro soccer stadium - Soccer is huge in Brazil, and always a good time! I saw the team, Sport, play, but from what I heard about the teams, I think I would become a Santa Cruz fan-- they're the rebellious underdogs of the three teams from Recife :)
  • Porta das Galinhas beaches- This beach is surrounded my an amazing reef with the coolest snorkeling! 
  • Maracaibe beach- This beach is near Porta das Galinhas, but quieter, less touristy, and so peaceful! Make sure to eat some crab here.
  • Olinda - The old town of Olinda is a fun site to see. It has a beautiful view of Recife, and the houses are all different bright colors. I ate some Tapioca and Açaí sorvete here!
  • Beauty Bar Recife - My friends own this blow out and make-up bar, and we all went there before the wedding to get ready. They did a half french fishtail braid in my hair and I loved it! If you want a fun makeover that's truly Brasileira, check them out here!

When You're Hungry

My favorite thing to do when I'm in a new country is to try the cuisine! I was picked up at the airport by my friend and greeted with Guaraná soda and coxinhas. I don't typically drink soda, but I tried this fruity drink and I loved the idea of using tropical fruits to make local sodas. The coxinha was amazing: it's a fried dumpling with shredded chicken, cheese, and potato. Yummy! 

Her family prepared different amazing food for us to eat everyday: feijoada (a bean stew with meat and veggies), couve salad (the leaves of the cauliflour- they grow best in warm climates like Mozambique and Brazil), bolo de rolo (a cake made with guava puree)... We ate a ton of seafood, including clams that we "fished" out of the Bay ourselves, fresh fruits and caipi-frutas drinks, and meat (especially the last night when we went to a churrascaria!). Another one of my Brazilian friends, named Gabi, owns her own chocolate shop, too, called Dona Maroca. Their Brownie Bar is AMAZING. She gave me some to bring home, and I ate them the first day back-- oh well for trying to save the chocolate for a rainy day!

Things to Bring

Be sure to bring sunscreen with a high SPF. My faves are the Juice Beauty or Bare Republic by Coola all natural sunscreens. You will also be so happy to bring a hat or two.

What else? Bring your bathing suit, some sundresses, rompers, flip flops, and colorful flowy tops. I didn't end up wearing too much of my black, monocromatic wardrobe, but rather borrowed colorful items from my Brazilian friends!

I also brought my yoga mat, essential oils, and a journal to maintain my self care when away. Oh! And bring a refillable water bottle (I love my BKR one) so that you can stay hydrated while exploring!

Até logo! <3