Cantabulous Creations: Fair Trade Accessories Made From Collected Can Tabs

Monday, September 5, 2016

Sydney based Ingrid Bass, a former teacher and Principal of a musical theatre academy for children, has taken a side step in her career to launch a sustainable fashion brand. Cantabulous Creations supports a Brazilian fair trade social enterprise that produces gorgeous accessories using recycled materials; drink can tabs to be exact.

Masha Bag

Signature pieces supporting ESCAMA Studio

Cantabulous Creations links with ESCAMA Studio, a fair-trade initiative based in California and Brazil. ESCAMA Studio works with around 60 artisans in underprivileged communities who crochet post-consumer aluminium drink can tabs into fashion statement pieces; belts, bags, guitar straps, jewellery and more.

Mack Rounded Buckle Belt

The word ESCAMA means 'fish scales' in Portuguese, and when you see what is produced by the initiative, you will see why. Crocheted cab tabs resemble the metallic scales of a fish.

Cantabulous Creations is Australia's representation of the fair trade initiative. Ingrid Bass started Cantabulous Creations after her sister-in-law gave her a can tab bag. She loved the bag so much, and so did random strangers she met, that she decided to launch her own small business to support the cause.

Recycled bags, belts and jewellery with a back story

With the launch of Cantabulous Creations, Ingrid hopes to show the people of Australia that it is possible to own beautiful accessories that have a back story. Why? Because the ESCAMA Studio recognises the efforts of each of the artists who create them.

Francisca Bag

"Cantabulous bags are unique because they are hand-made by Fair-trade artisans in Brazil, created from recycled can-tabs which are crocheted together. Each bag is really a piece of art which comes with a tag bearing the artisan’s signature. Furthermore, purchasers can access information on the artisan and even can communicate with artisan if they like via email. How cool is that?" says Ingrid, the brains behind Cantabulous Creations to Australia.

Take a look at the 'who made this' page on the ESCAMA website, and you will see exactly who made your product, and a little history behind their involvement with the enterprise.

Cantabulous Creations favourites
Ingrid explains that although it is very early to say which Cantabulous Creations product is the most popular, the 'Leda Clutch' won the 2010 Independent Designer Award and happened to be the first piece that first sold out in the range here in Australia.  Belts and jewellery are popular, too.

That said, it is the 'Greta Bag' that made Ingrid fall in love with ESCAMA products. "I am in love with the Greta bag because it is so comfortable and light to carry and moulds to my body. I also think the design and how the can-tabs fan out like fish scales is really amazing." says Ingrid.

Greta Bag

Send your thanks and collect recycled tabs

When you receive your order, you can even send a little thank you note to the artisans; your message will be translated into Portuguese before being sent on.

You will also receive a Reply Paid envelope so you can collect can tabs from drinks. Once you've collected a decent number, simply post back in the mail so they can be sent to Brazil to make more Cantabulous Creations. Let the re-cycle live on.

Pieces start from $25 for earrings or a bracelet and $30 for a credit card case up to a couple of hundred for large bags.

Sign up to Cantabulous Creations e-newsletter online, and you are in for a chance to win a Mini Clutch (Black). Simply complete the online contact form and enter the word 'Clutch' in the comments.  Sign up by 29 October 2016 to be in for a chance of winning.
Mini Clutch in Black

Lastly, since the Paralympics in Brazil goes from September 7-18, all orders will receive 10% off during this time.

Head to Cantabulous Creations online and treat yourself or your loved ones to a statement piece that gives back to the world, one can tab at a time.


Vinnies Denim Shop Displays 2016

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

To celebrate National Op Shop Week, Vinnies Victoria set a 'Denim Month' challenge. Recognising all types of donated denim fashion, Vinnies Victoria asked shoppers to share their favourite denim look on social media (for a chance to win a $50 Vinnies Gift Card), and also challenged Vinnies Stores to present their best denim displays.

The top 10 Vinnies Denim Shop Displays 2016 are now in and ready for a vote:

What a great effort! I can only imagine the fun the staff at each Vinnies store had putting together these amazing displays.

Which one is your favourite? You can place your vote by 'liking' your favourite on Vinnies Victoria's Facebook Page.


5 Tips for a Designer Home on a Beer Budget

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

With home renovation shows on practically every TV channel, plus glossy house magazines published every month, is it any wonder you want designer looks for your own home? The good news is, there are plenty of ways to kit out your home in a similar way, even when your budget is tight. Not sure how? Consider the following 5 tips to get your designer décor plans started whilst on a beer budget.

Image source:

1. Get creative

The web is packed full of DIY home ideas you can try out yourself.  Take Pinterest for example, even if you don’t consider yourself a hands-on or crafty person, you’ll find hundreds of easy ‘Pins’ linking to ways you can recreate designer looks on a budget. Take the following for example:

2. Buy secondhand furniture;

Buying secondhand furniture is super easy. Try one or more of the following to pick up some pre-loved gems:

Opportunity shops / thrift stores  

Some opportunity shops get names for themselves for being the stores that shift a lot of top notch vintage furniture. (Abbotsford Salvos in Melbourne, for example). Now, you might think recycled furniture in such stores is marked up to high, but before you turn your nose up at paying such prices, remember furniture is always going to be more expensive than clothing or bric-a-brac. You’re probably looking at a couple of hundred dollars to buy a piece of vintage furniture from an opportunity shop, but consider the savings you make when shopping for similar pieces elsewhere.

It takes patience to find the ‘ideal’ piece of furniture this way, however, the good thing about opportunity shops is the variety of stock. Don’t stop at furniture, consider op shopping for décor items such as vases, framed paintings (or ditch the painting but use the frame for another favourite piece of art), mirrors, kitchenware or crockery. Use your creativity, try mixing and matching thrifted pieces with new and you’ll get a quirky one-of-a-kind look for your home décor.

Hard rubbish

Mixing a little creativity as mentioned above, coupled with a good old rummage on the streets, hard rubbish offers an interesting mix. Sure, there’s a lot of crap, but you might be surprised to find perfectly good pieces of furniture thrown out in hard rubbish. Sometimes furniture in hard rubbish needs a bit of TLC, but with a few simple fixes or a lick of paint, you could go home with a new vintage gem for your home. Roll your sleeves up and get stuck in!

Vintage furniture warehouses

Consider vintage stores and warehouses as a step up from your thrift shop. You don’t need to scour through secondhand Ikea at vintage stores, who have already fished out the quality goods so you don’t have to. You’ll be paying more if you choose to shop this way over over op shopping, but, you’ll get a quality piece of furniture, which has already lasted the test of time. A lot of vintage furniture, mid-century Danish designs for example, are timeless pieces that you can work into contemporary homes.

Both of my own mid-century pieces seen here were purchased from a vintage warehouse

Gumtree / Craigslist 

 Although browsing recycled stores is fun, you don’t need to leave the comfort of your couch to buy secondhand if you don’t want to. Gumtree, or the American equivalent Craigslist offer free listings for those selling recycled goods. Take a look and narrow down your search to your neighbourhood, and you’ll be surprised at what you can find to add to your home.


eBay allows you to browse recycled furniture and décor in your area, all from the comfort of your own home. Where eBay differs from Gumtree or Craigslist, is the option to bid for your ideal piece in an online auction.. just make sure you don’t blow your budget if you get into a bidding war!

3. Buy direct from the supplier 

Who says you need to shop for furniture in a shop? Did you know, if you cut out the ‘middle man’ you can make huge savings on your furniture. If you shop direct from the supplier, you are looking at savings of up to 70%. That’s huge! It’s actually a more sustainable way of shopping for furniture too, because you skip unnecessary shipping from the craftsman to the importer > wholesale warehouse > showroom > retail warehouse > your home. Instead, you have your furniture pieces delivered directly from the craftsman to your home.

Jason Agustina is one such supplier offering designer furniture for less. Shop online for drool-worthy furniture for less, and have it delivered to your door.

Zola Dining Chair from Jason Agustina.
Tricia Dining Chair from Jason Agustina

 4. Small tasks, big changes 

You don’t need to spend a fortune on your decorating. Undertake a few small tasks and you can change the overall look of a room in your home in an instant.
  • Repaint your walls. With the right colour, you can completely change the look of a room. Painting your walls a neutral colour for example, will make even the smallest space appear more spacious.
  • Change your floors. Ditch that old carpet for new, or invest a little in a completely new flooring, maybe tiles, vinyl or floorboards. A change of flooring can work wonders for a room in your home.

5. Compromise

Must you choose real wooden floor boards or could you choose vinyl instead? Are Roman blinds an absolute necessity? Roller blinds can be very stylish and a much cheaper alternative. Do you really need that new designer couch you saw on the high street? You already know there are cheaper alternatives.

Working with a particular colour scheme?  Remember that doesn’t necessarily mean everything must be matchy-matchy. Work with what you’ve got, and bring in less expensive new (or secondhand) things that work into your ideal look. Be budget-savvy and don’t rush your buys. Take your time and compromise.

Kitting out your home to look the part really doesn’t have to cost a bomb. You really can get that designer look for your home on a beer budget with a little effort on your part and a little know how.


Disclaimer: this post is sponsored by Jason Agustina

Stranger Things Fan Club

Thursday, July 28, 2016

If there's a Stranger Things Fan Club, I'm in. For those that don't know what I'm talking about, stop reading this blog post, switch on Netflix and watch the entire Stranger Things series now.. then come back here and see what I've found!

c/o imdb

Those that know me well, will confirm I don't watch a lot of TV.  It's not that I don't want to, it's just that I prefer movies, and rarely find a TV series that holds my attention. The last TV series I enjoyed was (still is) The Big Bang Theory, other than that, I'll go back as far as Sex and The City (yes, I know!)

Some folk speak of Stranger Things being reminiscent of 80s classics such as Stand By Me, ET, mixed with the X-Files, Poltergeist, and Steven King movies. Well that sparked an interest! Stranger Things is exactly that, and more. The American supernatural science fiction horror TV series is set in 1980s Indiana. A boy mysteriously goes missing, and his Mother (played by Winona Ryder no less) and his brother, do everything they can to find him.. but things get very strange indeed.

Binge watching the entire series of Stranger Things is completely understandable!  Not only does the series bring back great things we love about the 80s; Dungeons and Dragons, walkie talkies, bandanas, rotary telephones, puffer vests and hanging out with your mates on BMX bikes, but this TV series is addictive, in a good way, because of the plot and great cast.

There's no point talking about the plot, because that spoils it for those that haven't seen it yet (if you haven't, why are you reading this far? Turn off your computer and turn ON your TV!). But, because Stranger Things is quite rightly on its way to reaching cult status, I thought I'd turn to Etsy and see if there are any creative Stranger Things goodies to be found .. yes there is, here's what I found:

By littletinyghost

By The MilitariaShop

Sticker set by dreamlikefilm

by woeandshucks

Also a special mention for this amazing artwork by Matt Ferguson:

by Matt Ferguson

That's just the start.

Have you watched the series yet?  Will you join me in the Stranger Things Fan Club?


Six golden rules for Jeans for Genes Day

Monday, July 25, 2016

On Friday 5 August, Aussies will unite in a sea of denim to show their support for the Children’s Medical Research Institute on Jeans for Genes Day. The much loved national day raises funds which go directly to research aimed at curing childhood genetic diseases, which currently affect 1 in every 20 Aussie kids.

With so many types of jeans to choose from, Claire Fabb from Style by Yellow Button provides her six golden rules below to help you don your denim in style. 

Claire Fabb from Style by Yellow Button
1. Mum Jeans. These are so popular right now. They’re such a laid back look and can be really comfortable. If you’re going for a mum jean be sure to choose a pair with a high waist and avoid wearing a long layered top. Instead wear a tight top tucked in or something that sits at the waist.

2. Flares. This look is back and it’s the easiest way to look taller or slimmer. Simply wear flares with a heel or boot to add elevation.

3. Cropped. I’m loving the French inspired crop jean at the moment - it’s very Jane Birkin from back in the day! The important thing for this look is that less is more. If you’re donning this look wear it with a small pump or basic ballet slipper.  Cropped jeans should be a staple coming into summer.

4. Frayed Hem. These jeans are another gorgeous look, especially if it’s going to be a sunny afternoon as they look best when showing a bit of bare skin. Wear with a simple sandal and have your ankle showing for understated cool elegance. The perfect tran-seasonal look.

5. Jean & Sneaker Combo. The sporty look is fashion forward. This looks best with a cropped jean as you want to avoid the Jerry Seinfeld look. Wearing with a simple white sneaker is a good look however feel free to play around as there are some cool sneakers around at the moment. Why not try a bold gold or even a pattern?!

6. Don’t forget to donate. While we might get caught up in the style of it all, it’s important to remember the reason you’re sporting your denim on Aug 5. Donating is easy. All you have to do is text the word ‘jeans’ to 1997 6484. A $5 donation will go directly to the charity and will automatically get added to your phone bill. Simple!

Little Blue Towels Project

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Now here's an amazing project you must get behind if you're Australian based. Little Blue Towels is an initiative prompted by Dr David Hays, an anesthetist in Melbourne who noticed the unfortunate waste of little blue towels used before surgery.

Usually, these little blue towels are discarded after just one single use. Now, thanks to the Little Blue Towels project, towels in rural and metropolitan Victorian hospitals are rescued from landfill, expertly laundered and packaged by Laundry Mates; an enterprise owned and operated by people with disabilities living in or near Echuca, Victoria.

Packed up at Laundry Mates

It gets even better...

You can buy a Little Blue Towel and support a worthy cause. 100% of proceeds of the sale of these recycled cotton towels go to the OTIS Foundation; a charity that provides a network of retreat accommodation at no cost to those living with the challenges of breast cancer.

Little Blue Towels are:

* 100% Lint Free
* Super Absorbant
* Great For Fishing & Camping
* Awesome In The Shed or Garage
* All Purpose Around The Home
* Seriously Good On Hard Chrome

Right now, the Little Blue Towels project has 10 rural and 20 metropolitan hospitals on board. Buy your Little Blue Towel HERE.

Want to know more? Head to Little Blue Towels online HERE and follow the news on Facebook.


Second Hand: The Story Behind the Items You Buy

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Being aware of environmental issues means we all know that there’s a lot we could do to make sure we waste as little as possible, and recycle whenever we can. In today's consumer-driven society, the best way to save your own budget, help the environment and satisfy your shopping cravings is to buy second-hand. Usually, recycled wares are perfectly good items, which the original owner simply didn’t want anymore and, instead of ending up at a landfill, they were given a chance to live out the full extent of their useful lives in the hands of a new owner.

Lower Your Expenses 
One of the advantages of buying second hand is saving money. Beside the thrill of a treasure hunt (‘cause you never know what you’re going to find), in these stores you can buy numerous items for a much lower price. This will allow you to satisfy your fashion appetites, and to be practical and efficient when buying for your kids. Little ones grow out of their tiny clothes so fast, so if you don’t have an older kid in your family or a friend with a child you can inherit kids` clothes from, don’t hesitate to buy them second-hand.

What You See is What You Get
If you have an issue with buying used things, think about it like letting the pig out of the poke. The fact that the item had already been used for some time reveals its quality and potential flaws. You’ll see how a garment holds up after it’s been washed numerous times, or how nice looking furniture can stand the test of time. This way you can be sure that you are purchasing quality, well-made pieces, which otherwise you may not be able to afford.

It’s Not Only Good for Your Budget - It’s Good for the Planet, Too
Used products are usually discarded and eventually end up at a landfill, which is becoming a very big problem. It’s not only a waste of useful materials; buying new products also generates waste from the packaging materials such as plastic bags, tags, etc.

Buying used stuff will save unnecessary energy consumption and reduce pollution created in the process of production, manufacture and transportation of new items. Think about the fuel needed for the transportation of new clothes that come from thousands of miles away, compared with the amount used in the gathering and distribution of used items.

Labour Exploitation
If you read the labels on branded products, you’ll (usually) see that they were made in developing nations.  People who work in factories in developing countries often work in inhuman and unfair conditions - a fact that most of the western customers aren’t aware of, or chose not to know.  By avoiding these clothes, you can exclude yourself from that chain of modern-age slavery. Even if you buy a second hand wardrobe from the same manufacturer, at least you won’t generate the need for new items.

Ethical and Eco Fashion
An alternative to common fashion trends are clothes made from organic and sustainable materials, following the rules of traditional skills of rural communities. These kind of manufactures, stand up against labor exploitation, environmental pollution and all of the other things which make high fashion so successful. Their way of production and collaboration is the so-called Fair trade fashion, in which all sides make a united team in order to produce ethical and eco-friendly fashion collections.

Naturally, buying second hand means you’ll have to make some compromises. Maybe you won’t find the exact t-shirt you were looking for, or the piece of furniture you just bought is slightly damaged. On the other hand, except their positive social and environmental impact, second hand items usually have a unique character which makes them much more interesting than current, mass produced items.

Author BIO:

Sophia Smith is Australian based fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogger. She enjoys spotting emerging trends and have a great passion for living well. Sophia writes mostly in fashion related topics, mainly through blogs and articles. She is regular contributor at High Style Life.

Find Sophia on: Twitter and Google +

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