Buy A Scarf & Give A Girl An Education

Dear Friends-
Shopping is fun. And shopping with meaning and purpose is better! As you know, Glamorous Giving is a key tenet of the Elaine Turner brand. So I was thrilled when one of my team members brought Bloom & Give to the table as a potential partner. Headquartered in Dallas, the company was started by friends Madhu Rajendran and Partha Raghunathan to sell beautiful textiles while also educating Indian girls. Learn more about theses two and their company in the Q & A below, then visit our Houston boutiques on November 18 to see their beautiful scarves in person.
XOXO, Elaine


ET: What was your inspiration and how did you get started?

BG: We are in love with the beauty and simplicity of handmade goods. Every one of our products is crafted by local artisans in India, who use rich techniques of weaving, dyeing and sewing that have been passed down through hundreds of generations. We pair modern design with traditional artistry to create beautiful products for everyday life. We got started in Rajasthan, India — on a trip to help a friend source block printed textiles in Jaipur. We instantly fell in love with the craft!

ET: Tell us briefly about your model of giving and how it involves partners, the community, volunteers and instills leadership in the girls.

BG: During the same trip to Rajasthan, we also couldn’t help notice the gender disparity and inequity in the villages where these artisans lived — hard to see as dads of confident young girls in Dallas (between us, we have three daughters). Ironically, for the same reason that traditional craft continues to thrive in these areas, so has traditional thinking about the role of women. Education happens to be the only effective way for a girl to escape the endless cycle of childhood marriage, pre-teen pregnancy and abuse, as we witnessed in many villages with intervention programs. And when a girl goes to school, she earns more money, has healthier children, and reinvests more in her family. An education changes her life, and the lives of generations to come.
dsf_2463bgOur grassroots program is run by an amazing organization called Educate Girls. Educate Girls works in 4,500 villages of India, covering 8,000 schools in areas where 40% of girls leave school before completing fifth grade. Their award-winning model includes local volunteers who visit out-of-school girls at home and help them re-enroll. These volunteers also serve as mentors and tutors, helping girls improve academically and stay in school — they have enrolled over 100,000 out-of-school girls to date.
Perhaps the most innovative element of the model is the election of girls’ councils in every school. This council gives girls a voice, a leadership position in the school and training in “life skills.” These girls also act as role models for the younger girls and gives them conviction to voice their desires to stay in school.

ET: Tell us about your textiles, special features and the current collection of scarves?

BG: We work only with natural fabrics — our current collection is a rich (and deliciously soft) mix of hand-spun cashmere (Pashmina), silk and cotton in fall color-ways with gorgeous accents — eyelash fringes, tassels, metallic embroidery, etc. Some of our favorite textiles in the collection:

Khadi cotton — Possibly the most natural form of cotton in the world, “Khadi” is hand-spun using a traditional spinning wheel, and then hand-woven in a loom, producing a fabric with a rich texture. Made famous by Gandhi over 50 years ago as a symbol of self-employment and sustainability for artisans in rural India, its zero ecological footprint makes this fabric even more relevant today.
bloomgivesummerproduct-507Pashmina wool — Weavers in Himalayan Kashmir have been making Pashmina (fine cashmere) shawls and accessories for centuries. Pashmina threads are so fine that they have to be individually hand-spun in a traditional loom. Kashmiri pashmina, which accounts for less than 0.1% of all cashmere products globally, is the softest form of cashmere you will touch.

ET: Tell us about a little about yourselves.

BG: We have been close friends for 20 years. We’ve traveled together, worked together in multiple industries and shared many adventures in India, where we were both born. Through Bloom & Give, we want to showcase the incredible artistry and potential of handmade products. Each day, we watch our own daughters develop confidence, learn new skills and become self-reliant by going to school. They validate our deep-rooted belief that education is a fundamental right for every girl — no matter where in the world she lives. We are a couple of dads trying to make a difference!

ET: How else is Bloom & Give helping in India?


BG: This year we have also started identifying and funding initiatives that fund a school or group of girls in need. One, the Mangala School, serves 15 tribal villages in the southern state of Karnataka. Due to its location in a heavily forested region, the school faces a big problem of attrition – of students, and teachers as well. The school has been adopted by The Vanam Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes socially just and ecologically sustainable development. Vanam helps fund infrastructure projects, student retention efforts and helps with teacher staffing.

Another initiative, Doosra Dashak (“Second Decade”), provides a second chance of education to rural area adolescents who are out of school. Through our partnership, we will provide full funding to a community center in Samrathpura village in Rajasthan for one year. This center will provide basic education and training in health, gender sensitivity, religious harmony and personal cleanliness to the nearly 100 out-of-school adolescents in the village, to help them take charge of their lives with dignity.

We hope to do more of these as our business scales.  Because ultimately, Bloom & Give’s goal is to use business to create massive social impact.

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Honor Friendship. It’s good for you.


Today, everyday really, I’m grateful for my friends. If you are like me, when you get together with your girlfriends there’s probably a lot of laughing, listening, talking, analyzing. (OK, there might be some wine involved, too 😉 ) Opinions are expressed, judgments suspended, advice dispensed and sometimes tears are shed. I always feel better after being with my friends. They enrich our lives with a special kind of love and support that’s a bit different from the familial variety.

Science backs up the benefit of friendship. It is quite possibly as important to physical health as not smoking. A meta review of 148 studies on friendships concluded that, “The influence of social relationships on risk for mortality is comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality.” In other words, a lack of social relationships increases your risk of death as much as smoking and alcohol consumption and is more deadly than risk factors like lack of physical inactivity and obesity. Wow. That is huge. Another study found that friendships and family support decreased symptoms of depression in adolescents.

img_4605So what is it about friends? It’s the social network and support. Many studies acknowledge that friends provide stress relief and laughter is a good example of that. Laughter releases feel-good endorphins, and decreases the stress hormone cortisol. Listening and honesty are a part of the equation as well. I know you’ve listened and helped a friend through a hard time. Or maybe you are the one getting something off your chest. I like to think the crucial points are hearing each other out, getting a valued, trusted opinion and just going deep, connecting and talking through an issue. Here’s the bottom line – friends are there for each other, friends support each other, friends lift each other up, no matter what.

I also believe the word friendship can represent the idea of supporting those who need it most. So in celebration of and in thanksgiving for friendships of all types, my guru friend Elizabeth Irvine and I have collaborated on a special bracelet that we named the Mitra bracelet. Mitra means friendship in Sanskrit. I believe we are all here to help one another and Elizabeth and I wanted to create an object that symbolizes supportive, loving energy.

Helen Keller said, “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” In that spirit, join me in celebrating friendship and giving back to Best Buddies. As a gesture of gratitude, 15% of each bracelet purchase will go to this amazing organization to help those with developmental disabilities form meaningful relationships. Moreover, as their mission states, Best Buddies is dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Whether we are supporting a close friend in need or a vulnerable child that we might not even know, our hope is that by wearing this bracelet you will be inspired to offer your truest self to others through love, acceptance and support.

mitraInspired by friendship bracelets of our youth, this glammed up version offers a rope-like chain in gold or silver paired with labradorite beads with Elizabeth’s signature mandala charm and my iconic bamboo rings. I hope you will join Elizabeth and me on November 16, 6-8 pm at my BLVD Place boutique for a special Girlfriends Night Out. Elizabeth has promised to lead us in a short guided meditation (sure to get the good juju flowing) and offer some tips to alleviate stress throughout the upcoming holiday season. Bring your besties for wine, light bites, beauty stations and shopping with meaning and purpose.

See you there!!


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The Walk of Gratitude

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude. -A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Dear Friends —

Last year, post feast. Food coma hasn’t hit yet. 😉

Welcome to November and yep, you guessed it, this month’s theme is focused on Gratitude and Giving, because one can’t really happen without the other. I believe in order to experience gratitude you must be able to step outside of yourself and give fully to others. There is nothing more liberating than stepping in someone else’s shoes and offering your heart, mind, time, resources or whatever it may be to someone in need. As St. Francis of Assisi stated, “For it is in the giving that we receive.”

It’s ironic because at this time of year when we are all talking the talk about gratitude and giving, so many of us are not walking the walk. Encumbered by the daily grind of stress, busyness, f*d up elections and 24 hour news feeds, we become easily detached and even apathetic to what’s happening around us. I think it’s called survival. And no kidding, we all find ourselves there from time to time. I know I do.

However, there are those rare moments that bring us back to the truth. The truth of who we are. The truth of our essence. Those glimpses can come to us in a variety of ways — some arrive in moments of bliss and harmony or even in a moments of extreme mindfulness, but sometimes they arrive in those dreaded, stop-you-in-your-tracks, once in a lifetime moments that you think will never happen to you. Unfortunately, I recently experienced one of those moments. (I will be discussing this in more depth later when I am able, but right now I’m still processing the loss.)

One thing I can communicate to you now is that in times of tragedy you often see the highest level of human nature shine through:

People come together in service to one another.

People bring their hearts cracked wide open.

People show up ready to give completely and unconditionally of the one thing
that we all are and always will be — LOVE.

I have pondered over this past two weeks — what if we always behaved in this way? What if we didn’t need tragedy or even death to take us there? What kind of world would we live in?

As we embark on November and prepare our tables for the feast, step back and ask yourself — How can I be here now? How can I truly cherish what’s important in my life? How can I be of service to those in need? How can I be my highest self? How can I shine my brightest light? If we can focus our thoughts on these higher truths, I think we can feel a sense of peace that has long been gone. And don’t we all want that?

On the blog we will be discussing Gratitude and Giving in all sorts of ways. I am thrilled to announce two partnerships this month that illustrate this idea.

bloom-giveMy Houston and Dallas boutiques will be hosting trunk shows with the organization Bloom & Give featuring beautiful scarves handmaid in India. Bloom & Give supports education programs for girls in India and is committed to breaking societal barriers that prevent girls from going to school. I love that every purchase of scarves helps send a girl to school. You gotta’ love the girl power here.

And my amazing friend and guru Elizabeth Irvine and I have collaborated on a stunning bracelet in which proceeds benefit Best Buddies, the organization that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. mitra

So not only do we express gratitude by giving but in other ways as well. Many people keep daily gratitude journals. In this tough time, journaling and gratitude practice has helped me process the situation and emotions. And a gratitude ritual can be as easy as pausing to make a mental note of thanks as good things happen. There are innumerable benefits to gratitude practice. And three of the most profound are that it helps us take nothing for granted, focuses our attention on the now, and will help you to find moments of grace in tough times, to which I can surely attest.

Gratitude has an amazing way of shifting brain thought in the right direction. It has been studied at length. In fact, researchers Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami found that study participants who wrote daily about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. They also exercised more and had fewer visits to the doctor than those who wrote about negative topics. And socially, gratitude practice helped spread a little goodwill, as daily gratitude practitioners were more likely to report helping someone with a personal problem or offering emotional support to another. (Source and gratitude study findings can be found here.)

My practice of gratitude has allowed me to see divine moments of love and grace during a time of deep sorrow. Imagine the reward in better times! Throughout our daily interactions and engagements this month, let’s slow down, open our hearts to others and shine our brightest light during this season of gratitude.

XOXO, Elaine

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, I’d be thrilled if you’d share it. And don’t forget to follow and subscribe to Join the Collective!