Archive for the ‘eco-fashion’ Category

A Love Letter to Fair Trade

Posted on: February 14th, 2017 by Lucia No Comments

Dear Fair Trade –

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you! Thank you for bringing attention to the people around the world, who without you, often work in exploitative and unsafe conditions.

Thank you for pointing out the true costs of goods in global supply chains and helping us realize that when it goes to cheap mass produced consumer goods, somewhere, someone is paying a price (and it’s typically the workers, not to mention our planet).

fair trade hearts

We couldn’t fit all of our love for fair trade onto these hearts, so we wrote a letter. . .

Thank you for being a social justice movement and an alternative business model. We don’t believe that capitalism can ever be “woke”, but we love your focus on trade serving the people of this planet. We don’t believe that you can have a more just and fair society or world without you.

You are for everyone! It’s one of the things we love most about you. You empower women. You respect cultural diversity. You help sustain traditional art forms of cultures from around the globe. You help the western world realize the impact of consumerism, and give all people a way to vote with their dollars.

You are even great for kids. You have absolutely zero tolerance for child labor and because you offer fair wages and empower women, families can afford to send their kids to school. Through fair trade employment, artisans and farmers around the world are breaking the cycle of poverty and giving their kids a better life.

thistle farms

Local children celebrating at Damnok Toek

Thank you for standing up for gender equality and saying no to discrimination! Women and men work equally within fair trade organizations and are not discriminated against based on gender, age, religion or other personal orientation.

You respect and love our planet and understand that it’s the only one we’ve got. Fair trade producers maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources and buy local whenever possible. They use production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption and reduce, reuse, reclaim, and recycle materials wherever possible.

Your products are truly amazing! Purchasing fair trade means a high quality and hand crafted item that is often desired on aesthetics alone. There are so many amazing fair trade brands with truly top notch design standards. As more and more fair trade brands find a successful path into the global marketplace our fair trade choices get better and better.

tie dye clutch

Through Feb 20th, you can still save 30% off our Fall Collection with code: fairtradelove

And lastly, thank you for being a sustainable way to provide economic opportunity and hope for marginalized people in some of the poorest communities worldwide. Not only does fair trade employment provide for the basic material needs of day-to-day life for workers in these communities, fair trade jobs create respect, confidence and leadership within these communities. We are so proud to be a fair trade brand and so grateful to experience the positive impact that fair trade has on the lives of our artisan partners in Cambodia. Fair trade, you are the definition of win-win and you forever have our hearts!

The Malia Team

The Night We Carried A Cause Together

Posted on: December 15th, 2016 by Leilani Angel No Comments

There is something magical that happens when you surround yourself with people that share a similar passion as yourself. We had the privilege of collaborating with the San Diego Style Bloggers for a private trunk show event at Bar Basic in Downtown San Diego and by the end of the night we bonded with our new fellow fair trade fashionistas and sustainable sisters.

fair trade club meeting Blogger babes Laura Neuzeth, Alessandra Gonzalez and Paulina Mo

Trunk show attendees included local taste makers within the fashion industry including bloggers, journalists, stylists, and designers. The coming together of prominent influencers such as Paulina Mo of Lil’ Bits of Chic and bilingual blogger sensation, Alessandra Gonzalez made for a spectacular evening filled with much needed conversation about the importance of ethical fashion and how we can collectively come together to carry a cause.

fair trade club meeting

Local designer, Jessica Cornejo, from Ziur Designs

The guests were able to shop from all of our eco-friendly collections including our hand crafted recycled feed bags and recycled cement bags. Brand Director, Lucia Ruth, was thrilled to conduct a brief presentation about our brand mission and how we can combat Human Trafficking through ethical fashion and business practices.

fair trade club meeting

Guests striking a pose with their new bags

Event attendees learned about our Fair Trade artisan partnerships in Cambodia and how Fair Trade employment opportunities provide a strong quality of life for our artisans and their families. By purchasing a Malia Designs handbag, you are indeed, carrying a cause, that supports proper treatment of artisan workers and lowering our collective carbon footprint on the environment.

fair trade club meeting

Guests learning about the brand mission from Lucia Ruth & Leilani Angel

This inspirational evening included fun photo booth action, cocktails, and tasty brick oven pizza. As the evening came to a close, it was clear that this event was much more than a fashionable night out, it was a call to action designed to spark curiosity about how fashion can be a force for good for both people and the planet.

fair trade club meeting

Cy Chen, Lilia, Tiffany Williams, Reca A’Shauntae, Leilani Angel, Alessandra Gonzalez, Laura Neuzeth & Paulina Mo

*All photos courtesy of Melisa Soriano

Fundraising with California’s First Fair Trade Elementary School

Posted on: May 9th, 2016 by Lucia No Comments

We just wrapped up a fun and successful fundraising collaboration with St. Martin of Tours Academy in La Mesa, California. St. Martin’s is actually the first elementary school in California to receive the fair trade designation and they are fully committed to furthering fair trade as part of their curriculum. As part of the designation St. Martin’s uses fair trade products whenever possible and will exclusively use fair trade brands for all future fundraising efforts. The goal of this fundraiser was to raise money for students to attend sixth grade camp.

fair trade club meeting

Parents and students attend a planning meeting with Brand Director, Lucia Ruth

We were really thrilled to be chosen by St. Martin’s for their first fair trade accessory catalog fundraiser. It was so fun working with the parents and children to choose products that would be a good fit for families at the school and to share with them how purchasing fair trade positively impacts our Cambodian artisans and their families and helps forward our social mission to fight human trafficking. Once the products were decided upon, we created a custom catalog for St. Martin’s that featured the curated collection and also provided details about the our social mission and fair trade business practices.

fair trade elementary school

St. Martin parents and children help select products

While we have worked with many groups in the past for fundraising this was the first time that we have done a traditional catalog sale. It felt so great to provide a quality handmade product for the St. Martin fundraising efforts that provided an ethical and unique alternative to selling wrapping paper, magazines or other typical fundraiser-type products. We felt energized by the enthusiasm that the families showed for Malia Designs, and it was extremely satisfying to work with the next generation of fair trade advocates. Who knows? Some of them may start their own fair trade brands one day!

malia designs fundraiser

Principal, Toni Dimuzio modeling her new Malia Designs bag alongside an array of products sold during the fundraiser

If you are interested in partnering with Malia Designs for your fundraising efforts, please email If you would like to learn more about how to become a fair trade school or how to incorporate fair trade into your school’s curriculum, please visit

Sourcing and Shopping

Posted on: June 8th, 2015 by Lucia No Comments

We love working with recycled and repurposed materials. The fact that our products are also eco-friendly goes right along with our fair trade values—being good for people and good for the planet is a double win in our book. One of the coolest things about our cotton canvas screen printed line is that the fabrics we use are often leftover remnants from the garment factories which are so prominent in Cambodia.

partial rolls of printed fabrics line the walls of a market stall

Partial rolls of fabrics line the walls of a market stall

Local markets sell the leftover fabric remnants and rolls. There are several market stalls selling these leftovers and they are all a bit different in what they offer. Some also sell suit fabric and part of their profits are derived from tailoring custom made suits for foreign business travelers.

Reviewing fabric swatches and comparing them to our desired color palette.

Reviewing fabric swatches and comparing them to our desired color palette.

We begin our fabric quest with an idea of the colors that we hope to find at the market. We use paint chips to pick these colors since they offer such a large variety and they are easy to bring along. However, often what we initially had in mind is not available. Although, something great usually is, flexibility is key in this business.

Brightly printed fabrics line the window—next door is a bicycle repair business

Brightly printed fabrics line the window—next door is a bicycle repair business

We rely on our friend and partner, Thanan, to not only help with our color selection, but to also help us to negotiate pricing and to determine if there is more of a specific color available. Thanan leads our partner group that produces our cotton screen print line. Her dream of providing dignified work to disabled populations in Cambodia began with a small micro-loan, and now she employees more than 50 home-based artisans to create our popular designs.

Lucia posing (and sweating)  among the multicolored fabric rolls.

Lucia posing (and sweating) among the multicolored fabric rolls

Once we have landed on the color selections from the available fabrics we will cut swatches so we can create test prints with our new designs. Many times our final selections we be vastly different than what we were initially looking for, and most of the time we will be more satisfied. Kinda like life, many of the best parts are total surprises!