Michelle and I are very please to introduce our newest sponsor, Hip Mountain Mama... "Mama" being the lovely and inspiring Suzy Hawbaker. According to their site, Hip Mountain Mama is... "a family owned company focusing on natural, green, reusable, and eco-friendly products." They have "everything from classic wooden toys, playsilks, organic cotton toys, and natural art supplies for kids to handmade jewelry, reusable cloth napkins, and knitting bags for mamas." But that is just the tip of the iceberg! They have baby carriers and hemp clothing, yoga essentials and cloth hypgeine supplies, toys and children's shoes, reuseable shopping bags and stainless steel water bottles; so many things for the environmentally concious consumer.
But that's not all. Through Hip Mountain Mama Blog, Suzy continues to share with us a bit about the family, a bit about the shop, and a bit about their family's journey to embrace a more susstainable life style. Then, as a means of encouraging others to join their quest, Suzy and her husband started, One Small Change, a blog dedicated to supporting others commited to reducing their carbon footprint through one small change at a time.
If you've never been to Hip Mountain Mama you're in for a treat. So, do yourself a favor, grab a few quiet moments, read our interview with Suzy Hawbaker, spend some time exploring Hip Mountain Mama and then, head over to Hip Mountain Mama Blog and One Small Change, to get to know Suzy a little better, see how their family is making a difference and become acquainted with their incredible shop!
Then be watching our blog... anxiously... over the next couple of weeks for the Giveaway we have planned :) But for the time being... here's Suzy!
Kimara: It only takes a moment at your site to realize that you are environmentally conscious. Did this commitment evolve over time or did you have a cathartic experience that propelled you in that direction?
Suzy: It definitely evolved over time. I remember one of my college professors in 1999 talking about how he wanted to live a sustainable lifestyle. At that point I didn’t really understand what that meant. But, I believe this was my starting off point to really becoming aware of living more environmentally conscious. I had already been eating a lot of organic foods and using a lot of natural products, but I started realizing how much more to it there really was. After I had my kids I started making more and more changes and am still, today, making changes to lessen my carbon footprint. It is an ever evolving experience!
Kimara: Your shop has such a wide variety of products and suppliers. What process do you go through when deciding which companies to work with?
Suzy: When we first opened our shop most of our products came from companies that we were already familiar with. Either we used the products personally or we knew of friends who used the products. From there we have added many more products, including many that are made by stay at home moms. When looking for new products we consider the materials used to create the products, where it is made, what the working conditions are like, and the safety of the product.
Kimara: It seems like everyone today uses words like natural, organic, green, etc. What advice can you give consumers for choosing products that are Earth and health friendly? What should we be looking for?
Suzy: The word natural is tricky. Anyone can claim that their product is “natural” even though it may be made with harmful materials. If you see this word, make sure to do a bit of research…read labels, see where it is made, and if you have questions, just ask. The word organic is a bit different. To be called organic, a product must have been used with organic material or ingredients and it will have an official organic seal on the product. My only advice is to just make sure you know what you are buying…if you are buying shampoo that claims to be green or natural don’t take this as true…read the labels and know what the ingredients are!
Kimara: Besides your online shop you have your own blog and you started One Small Change. Tell us a little more about One Small Change, what you hope to accomplish and how others can get involved.
Suzy: One Small Change was born in January 2010 and we basically just asked anyone who was interested to join us in making one eco friendly change each month leading up to Earth Day. My husband and I were just talking one night and thought it would just be something that we would do as a family and would ask a few friends if they wanted to join us. We started the blog and asked others to take the challenge with us. We quickly heard from over 300 people and have a steady 100 who are still participating. The participants are blogging about their progress in the hopes that others will see their blog and join along. We really thought it would be a small group of about 30, so we're thrilled when it caught on. We hope to show people that “going green” can be easy if you take it one small step at a time. We have created the little motivation that some people need to either start bringing their own bags to the grocery store or switching to cloth napkins. Some people are making tiny changes and others are making much larger changes, but the point is that people are making changes and this is very good for keeping our earth safe and beautiful. If you would like to join us or want to find out more about it, please visit our One Small Change Website
Kimara: Because Wee Folk Art focuses on “wee ones”, can you tell us what you tend to look for in your children’s toys and craft supplies?
Suzy: We carry toys that are made with natural material such as organic cotton, silk, and wood. The art supplies are made with such material as beeswax, wood, or wool. I have 2 young daughters and it is very important to make sure they are safe. It is impossible to protect them from everything harmful in the world, so if I can protect them at home, then I am doing my job. Kids put things in their mouths and it is very important to make sure they play with toys made with these natural materials. We try to provide the safest toys in our shop while offering them at affordable prices.
Kimara: Okay… I’m going to put you on the spot. Because you have such an array of products, and because our readers have such a diverse background, it would be difficult to ask you for a list of 5 products everyone should own. Instead, I’ll ask you this, what are the last 5 items you acquired for your family and why?
1. Our newest product that my family uses is the To Go Ware Tiffin and Utensils. These are wonderful reusable items that will help people to create less waste when eating on the go. We recently did a blog post about it here.
2. For my 3 year old’s birthday we got the kids a Wooden Play Stand. The kids have loved this so much…it turns into their play kitchen, shop, restaurant, school, and so many more things. I love that it is made out of wood in Colorado…and of course that the kids have so much fun with it!
3. My personal favorite is the Offhand Designs Bags. These are gorgeous handmade bags (made in California). They are knitting bags, but a lot of people use them as every day bags, travel bags or baby bags. They are unique and really beautiful!
4. I’ve got to talk about the Baby Legs. We just got a large batch of organic cotton Baby Legs in and my kids just love them. Each season they get a new pair and they wear them just about every day from late Winter until late Autumn. They really come in handy and are just so adorable!
5. My Christmas present this year from my husband was a set of Jennifer Joy’s Hemp Cloth Napkins. We love cloth napkins in our household and adding a few handmade napkins with a really cute design on them was a lot of fun. They make my dinner parties just a bit more special!
Kimara: And finally, describe your perfect “family day”.
Suzy: The perfect family day is definitely time spent outdoors. We usually take one day on the weekend to not work and just do something fun. My most favorite family activities are either camping with friends or going to music festivals. In the winter playing in the snow or going for a winter hike are my top favorites.