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Travel has always been a big part of my life. As a musician I’ve been fortunate to explore much of Canada, the US and Europe touring with my bands. Perhaps a little serendipitous considering that growing up my family moved constantly, and I mean constantly. We moved from one end of Canada to the other, from Victoria to St. John’s Newfoundland, down to South America and back again. It was hectic, and traveling was often stressful – unsure how I’d adapt to each new school and each new environment. In fact, I downright resented being constantly uprooted. The plus-side of growing up that way is learning how to just land and start setting up shop. Engaging with strangers comes naturally and is a very useful skill in adulthood. Being faced with endlessly new situations and cultures prepares you for big life experiences as a grown-up and serves as a solid introduction to the global economy. Above all, traveling gives a person a confidence that you just can’t get anywhere else.

So what’s it like traveling in a touring band? Well, there are many similarities to traveling with family. It’s all about making memories with people you love and care about. It’s about learning and experiencing the world while working in unison with others to accomplish a mutual goal.

When you’ve spent countless hours creating something as personal as music with other people, that camaraderie bonds you in a really special way. It’s that ‘us against the world’ feeling as you set out on the road to share your passion and leave it all on the floor every night. You experience the highs and the lows together as one single entity. Every success and failure brings you closer together.

Coming back home has its own glow. There’s nothing more beautiful than coming back to familiar territory with new outlooks and perspectives and a greater understanding of who you are and how you want to interact with the world around you.

I’ve mentioned this in other articles but mental health is very important on the road. A good musician should go into the prospect of travelling with everyone’s well-being in mind. Remember if one of you is down you all are. Keeping each other safe, sane and healthy are the priority and the second is to have a great show, you can’t do one without the other.

I’ve been making music for a long time but it wasn’t until my early 20’s that I started having the opportunity to travel with my music and explore what it meant to be a traveling entertainer. I love the open road and have really enjoyed the experiences of travelling as a vegan. Here are my top 5 tips for touring vegan and on a budget!

Here are my top five tips for touring vegan on a budget!

Invest in good travel bags. Something with lots of storage space, anti-theft pockets, and if possible water resistant

1. Pack Minimally

On the road packing light is not only ideal but necessary. Whether you’re getting around by greyhound, a little Nissan truck, or a Ford Cargo Van with trailer the less stuff you have the less stuff you have to worry about. Packing light makes it easier to carry all your stuff around with you which means less chance of it getting stolen. Additionally your back and shoulders will thank you.

The legend of the perfect pack goes a little something like this: Everything you need. Nothing you don’t. My must haves include a good water resistant backpack, a small travel sized makeup pouch, a warm thermal one-piece, lots of socks and underwear, two tops and two bottoms. Depending on the itinerary I might add a small cutting board and knife, more clothing options, a sleep pack and change of shoes. If you’re bringing more clothes definitely utilize the rolling method. By making your clothing long and narrow and then rolling it you ensure that each article is taking up the least amount of space making for the most efficient pack.

This is one of my favorite ever day starting meals that doesn’t require any cooking. Just a cutting board and a receptacle of some sort and your day is started off right!

2. Meal Plan

There’s nothing worse than being hungry especially when you’re tired or your performing nerves are getting to you. I’ve seen a shift towards more vegan options being provided by the venue or host which is really exciting. That being said - if you’re the only vegan in the vehicle, chances are the needs of the majority are going to be serviced first so having a well-balanced selection of food rations within your reach provides peace of mind. Packing and putting some thought into meal-planning is also much more cost effective than eating out the entire trip. Emergency protein powder, a few pieces of self-containing fruits and vegetables like yam, apple, grapefruit, snap peas, carrots and dark kale. Mixed nuts, seeds, dried fruits and a nut milk are also great staples, and I’ve found that a brick of smoked tofu survives being stored in a van quite well. A can or two of beans or bean soups with the pull tab tops are also awesome to have on hand. Pictured below is one of my favorite no-cook morning meals that can be made with a variety of easily transportable staple foods!

3. Stay Fresh

Touring will at some point, become a test in how long you can exist without taking a shower. That being said you can do a lot in a bathroom sink, a reusable bottle of water or a naturally occurring body of water. A small compressible, fast drying anti-bacterial Body Towel will make life much more enjoyable and make freshening up a breeze. I have carried various all-purpose soaps around but have found that in a pinch Baking Soda is the best all-around cleaning product to carry. Use it sparingly for everything from teeth to hair, body, skin exfoliate, and to wash clothes. Its environmentally safe and the cheapest thing going.

Something else to consider is making time for Stretching. Sitting in a van for extended periods of time followed by thrashing your body onstage over and over is hard on even the strongest physique. Set time aside to stretch and move your body intentionally at least twice a day. 

4. Easy Glam

Being on the road doesn’t mean you can’t still get a little extra for the stage. Recently I have been packing a shadow palette, a lip and a liner, mascara and brushes. If it fits into a travel sized makeup pouch then it’s coming. Current go-to travel pallet would be The elf Palette, it’s got a fantastic color range and slim size. The formula is amazing and of course, vegan. Invest in a good Face Oil, or mix your own. Face oils are life savers on the road. They keep the skin protected and moisturized and they double as makeup remover.  

Drink Water! Protect your skin from the inside-out against the elements such as cold outdoors, air-conditioned vehicles, and hot summer burns by making sure you drink enough water every day. Always pack a good Thermos and/or Portable Filter Bottle so you can enjoy drinking fresh water throughout the day, hot teas and more. Pro-Tip: gas stations offer a place to load up on fresh or boiling water. Being as they take up almost no space pack a variety of teas with you for some extra herbal considerations and relaxing or stimulating hydration time.

5. Party-time

No tour-related guide would be complete without acknowledging the drinking culture. If partying is how you celebrate in the moment then by all means, get it on! My go to party mix? vodka vodka vodka. A small bottle of hard liquor is easier to pack around than a six pack and a little goes a long way. Venues will usually offer soda and lemon if you ask nicely. There are often drink tickets or discounts offered by the venue for travelling bands which can be used to acquire beer – but not all beer is vegan. Here’s a great reference to learn more about vegan friendly beers.

Know your limits play within it- don’t be the guy that ruins things for everyone else because you had twelve whiskeys too many. Being stuck in a van with someone who’s hungover and grumpy or sick and overtired is no fun at all. Let’s also take a moment to consider that alcohol is a depressant and it will mess with your mind over the long run. That being said get wild and have fun!

Me with my band BRASS on the road with PUP and surprise guest Finn from the show Stranger Things

These top tips were a lot of fun to put together I hope you enjoyed them! As I write this I have been on tour with BRASS really taking in how much I love being able to travel with my best friends and sharing our music with the world.

Please comment and share your own favorite travel tips with everyone here in the comment section below!

Here are some additional travel tips submitted from a recent give-away contest on the White Rhino Bags instagram page.

 
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Hi everyone, Claire here - Owner and Head Designer at White Rhino Bags,

Something that I am extremely passionate about is the ethical treatment of our fellow Earth dwellers, and making an effort to contribute to spreading awareness for animal welfare and alternatives to animal derived products in my personal and professional life. Through the development of my cruelty free vegan leather bags and accessories brand I have been very fortunate to connect and network with like-minded people everyday, which is why what I’m about to tell you is such a huge dream come true!

I am thrilled to announce that White Rhino Bags has partnered with the World Animal Protection US on a collaboration to help raise funds and awareness for their efforts in working towards a world free from needless animal suffering. We are donating a portion of all sales from our three most popular Signature Collection items to help support our brothers and sisters who dedicate themselves to this important cause!

We have chosen three items from the White Rhino Signature Collections to represent our collaboration. 15% of all proceeds from these three items will go directly to support the organization.

The three items in the collaboration are the Midnight Signature Shoulder Bag, the Cashew Signature Shoulder Bag and the Cashew Dream Signature Backpack.

If you are unfamiliar with World Animal Protection, they are an international animal welfare nonprofit who have been operating for more than 50 years in over 50 countries. With 14 offices around the world they work together to help animals in communities, in farming, in the wild and in disasters. They influence national governments and high-profile organizations to put animals on the global agenda, encourage businesses to change animals’ lives for the better and educate the general public to help end animal suffering and exploitation. 

By purchasing any of the three vegan leather World Animal Protection collaboration items you will not only get your very own cruelty free designer bag sent to your doorstep, you will not only be helping a budding vegan business grow and add more alternatives to animal-hide products, but you will also be contributing to World Animal Protection with funding for their many programs! How awesome is that!?

The nonprofit has so many amazing programs which represent;

The animal rights issues currently present in animal farming,

Protection for domestic animals living within communities around the world,

Animals who have been affected by natural disaster,

And programs dedicated to protecting wild animals of the earth, sea & sky.

One of the programs that we are particularly excited to bring awareness to is the Wildlife. Not Entertainers program whose goal is to end the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes and to stop cruel animal attractions once and for all.

To learn more about World Animal Protection and the many ways to get involved with their animal welfare efforts please visit them here

To learn more about White Rhino Bags and our selection of cruelty free vegan leather bags and accessories visit us here

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As a child many of us were taught that Valentine’s Day is the day to show your love and appreciation for the special person or people in your life. As we grow up we start to become more and more aware of how much the retail industry leverages this holiday as a way to bump up sales which can feel a little… conflicting.

Love does not equal an expensive gift and if I may quote miss Jenny From the Block “My love don’t cost a thing”. BUT gift-giving is a very romantic gesture when done with thought and the joy in searching for that perfect item can be just as enjoyable as presenting the gift itself. We encourage you to express your love every day, and when you’d like to show your love without saying anything at all - Here are a few thoughtful gifts that can be given to your favorite cruelty free enthusiast to make them feel extra special this Valentine’s Day.

1.   Cupid's Arrow Two Tone Charm Bangle

When we think of Valentine’s, jewelry is one of the first things that comes to mind. This is an adorable accessory that will make this Valentine’s Day a special one. This Two-Tone Cupido’s Arrow has an expandable wire bangle, in Rafaelian Silver Finish, that carries your heart to its intended recipient with a message of love and care. Each cuff is crafted with a durable, flexible wire that adjusts to the perfect fit. It can be given together with any other option as an extra touch of love! The website has a number of great gift options to browse through!

2.     Afternoon Sangria - White Rhino Signature Backpack

Backpacks are a common accessory, but this one is totally an upgrade! Made with vegan leather this bag has a rich red tone that goes with everything. It is a stand-out item from the White Rhino’s Signature Line and the straps can be converted.

This bag was definitely designed with storage space in mind - it has pockets and more pockets and another pocket on top of that. The hardware has a beautiful gold finishing, and the front pocket closes with a magnetic snap. Soft to touch and super practical to clean with a damp cloth. It is a must-to-have accessory. The bag is lightweight, and with all that space it is very useful for day-to-day without being bulky.

This bag is definitely a one of a kind that is fashionable and functional – that unique gift she will love this Valentine’s day!

3.     Iris and Orchid Face Mask Set

Is your Valentine also a skincare lover? Give your special someone the perfect gift for keeping their skin feeling and looking great! The Iris and Orchid Face Mask Set, is made of all-natural products, no chemicals or preservatives have been added and is cruelty-free. An amazing gift and affordable pricing all packed into one. Iris and Orchid only uses natural ingredients that are clean and safe for long-term use. Nourishing formula paired with eco-friendly ingredients make this a gift you will both feel great about. Maybe you can enjoy a mini spa day at home together! Why not! Prices start from $20.00 for a pack of 4 face mask. If your Valentine is a skin care lover who appreciates cruelty-free cosmetics, this option will make them very happy! (not vegan)

4.     Palomino - White Rhino Signature Shoulder Bag

If your lady is a hard working 9-5’er This high-fashion and functional piece might be the one! This member of the Signature Line from White Rhino Bags is a super sophisticated light tan color, neutral but still bold. If she loves fashion and style this is a shoulder bag that can be used everyday.

It can be adjusted for single shoulder or cross shoulder wear and has well thought out compartments inside and out. The great charm is the diagonal front flap detail which has two hidden magnets inside to close effortlessly. Space and compartments for small items are on the front and inside so it can fit makeup, mobile phone, keys and much more. Very soft and luxurious to the touch of a high quality cruelty-free vegan leather. You can't go wrong with this bag. The website also offers a Gift card option if you’re ever stuck on which color or style to choose!

5. Vegan Cookbooks

Now here’s a gift that keeps on giving! Imagine dinner dates at home, cooking side by side preparing beautiful meals to enjoy together! Now that sounds romantic. Vegan.com has prepared an amazing list of vegan cookbooks that would make a very thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift and will continue to bring joy into your lives all year long. With recipes covering just about every style of cuisine including Spanish, Caribbean and Soul Food there’s something for every preference!

So there are 5 Valentine’s Gift ideas you might consider, we hope that this inspired you with a few cruelty free ideas! Remember to keep the spirit of love and appreciation with you everyday, and take every opportunity to tell the people in your life how much you value them. A long warm hug or a note by the coffee machine in the morning goes a long way! And never forget how great it feels to just share a smile.

Wishing you all the love and happiness this Valentine’s Day! May your heart always be full! xoxo


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Well here we are, new year, new goals and ambitions. New outlook on life and the things that are important to you and your family. This is the year you’re going to write that book, lose those few extra pounds, travel somewhere new or save for that next big thing. This is the year you are going to be your best ever and you are going to try something new.

What if I told you that there was something you could bring to your daily routine that would improve your state of mind, your energy, your relationship with the world around you and improve your health?

Have you ever considered going vegan? To most non-vegans the thought of giving up animal foods, products and byproducts seems like an impossible task. Change is always daunting but I’m here to tell you that change is also good!

I’m sure you’ve heard of veganism, perhaps you’ve even caught wind of Veganuary - the month long movement encouraging non-vegans to give the lifestyle and mindset a try in a safe and supportive atmosphere.

In the spirit of trying new things here are 5 easy switch-outs you can try this month to start transitioning towards a lifestyle free from animal cruelty. You may find that the way you feel after making these few small changes will inspire you to continue on towards transitioning to a go vegan lifestyle, or at the very least you may learn about something new that will become your new favorite thing or go-to (like tempeh! yummmm).

Educate Yourself!

There is an absolute abundance of information available today covering everything from why veganism is an important step towards preserving our planet to improving your health and the call for ethical treatment of animals. Read as much as you can about other people’s transitions to veganism. Watch a few of the many available movies and documentaries that are out like  Hungry for a Change, Food Inc., Vegucated and Earthlings to start to understand the motivations behind the go vegan movement.

Loose the Dairy

You may be surprised to learn how many milk, cheese and dairy alternatives are available on the market and how satisfyingly delicious they are. Check out these to start and see which ones you like most!

An extensive product catalogue including almond, soy, coconut, cashew and oat milks, a variety of coffee creamers and dairy-free yogurts

An impressive range of cheeses in block form, sliced, shredded, cheese spreads, sauces and even cheesecakes!

Best known for their frozen desserts, Tofutti makes ice-cream, ice-cream sandwiches and more in a variety of flavors as well as cream cheeses, sour cream and ricotta

Stop Investing in Animal Derived Materials

Consider what animal hide leather, animal fur, wool and other garments you have that are made from animal by product you could live without. I know it can be very difficult to purge - even if you feel like it’s the right thing to do. Items carry sentimental value and there are financial constraints. You can give items away to friends or take them to a clothing swap. You can have a little closet sale or give them to a second hand clothing store. When making new purchases be mindful about what material they are made of and rebuild your closet vegan.

Start Reading Labels

When you go shopping for your regular groceries start reading the labels. Not only is this smart practice to know exactly what it is that you’re consuming but you’ll start to notice there are many ingredients in your current diet that are in fact vegan and with that knowledge you can start building around it!

Meat Substitutes

The idea of cardboard-like flavorless meat substitutes is a thing of the past. This is in many ways the best time ever to become vegan as the market has responded to the demand for quality vegan meat substitutes. There have been major improvements since the movement first started, you will be surprised how many satisfying options are available! Try making your favorite meat dishes with a meat substitute instead.

Get inspired!

Follow others who are immersed in the lifestyle and let them inspire you everyday to keep evolving.

Mississippi Vegan - Timothy Akron on instagram shares heartwarming recipes, ingredient information and makes vegan cuisine fun and very relatable.

http://www.instagram.com/mississippivegan

http://www.mississippivegan.com/blog

The Curious Chickpea - Eva has an extensive recipe catalog that covers everything from breakfast, side dishes, desserts and entrees.

http://www.instagram.com/thecuriouschickpea
https://www.thecuriouschickpea.com/recipes/

The Vegan Society - This website is an excellent resource covering a huge range of lifestyle topics including family, school, fashion and travel. They also have other ideas for your go vegan moment.

https://www.vegansociety.com/lifestyle

From My Bowl - Caitlin focuses on an easy-to-follow and budget friendly vegan lifestyle.

Check out her website here: www.frommybowl.com and also find her on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0cxMY7jZ_kiE2bvykJffZA!

Going vegan is a very personal decision and is your own to make. It’s not about being right or wrong or being ‘perfect’, it’s about being the best human you can in harmony with both yourself and the Earth we all share. Whether you adopt veganism as a way of life is totally up to you, but we hope that by taking a few steps towards a cruelty-free lifestyle you’ve discovered some new and exciting things that you will enjoy adding into your everyday life. With anything new and different, taking the initiative to learn more about it before making a decision one way or the other is really important. We hope that this article has encouraged you to continue to learn and investigate! There’s so much to try and experience, why not start today!

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INTRODUCTION – Fashion as a family business

My journey in fashion started long long ago I was 20 years old and new to the city of Vancouver BC. I had moved there from a small, and at the time undeveloped town of Squamish to pursue acting and modelling. At the time I was a union actress and had been doing well booking commercial and lifestyle modelling gigs and had made a bit of a name for myself in the standup and sketch comedy scene. The opportunities of a bigger city were overwhelming at first but I was driven to get out there and do my best in everything I tried.

Vancouver’s bristling live music scene caught me somewhat by surprise. I hadn’t intended to get involved in the music scene but it’s abundance made in unavoidable and my guitar came back out of retirement rather unexpectedly.

It was during this intense time of discovery and opportunity that my life took another unexpected development. My mother, who nurtured all things creative urged me to consider fashion. At first I was very skeptical, what do I know about the fashion industry? I grew up in a family of many mouths and limited income which meant second hand clothing and hand me downs shared between multiple sisters. My family moved constantly and we were sheltered from the ‘ills’ of popular culture. Growing up we had very limited access to TV, magazines and other trend pumping mediums. I was never a cool kid in school. In fact because we moved so often I was always the new kid and was bullied relentlessly, forever unable to fit-in, relate or build lasting relationships with my peers.

Nevertheless my Mom believed that because of my unorthodox upbringing I had a unique perspective on style and trend that could appeal to the market. It was true that I could build, sew and create my own clothing I thought, and my Mom believed that if I put my mind to it I could take the raw goods to the next level – and she would help me.

THE GOOD TIMES

And so, my mom and I dove into the fashion industry with a family-run clothing collection which we would wholesale to the Canadian market. It was to be some of the most cherished times I had with my mother. There were many successes. We self-promoted and organized a launch party for the line which resulted in a few interested buyers and an invitation to showcase at Vancouver Fashion Week. Sales trips we took together gave us an opportunity to talk and bond in ways we’d never been able to before, and I am so grateful to have had that time with my mother working on a common goal.

With orders coming in we partnered with a local production house for my first run and with the money earned from that I purchased a few more machines and turned my living room into a full blown fashion workshop where I could manage all aspects of the business from sample to production in the comfort of my home.

Eventually we had enough regular buyers to open a small 2nd floor brick-and-mortar I dubbed “The Secret Store’ which operated as both a showroom and a production facility. I’d occasionally host parties there showcasing other artists and collection launches, I’d meet potential clients and take custom orders. It was a great period of my journey in fashion. On the weekends I’d open up for walk-in business to those who wanted to purchase samples and pieces from older collections. It was truly an amazing time.

THE BAD TIMES

On April 11th 2014 my mother passed away suddenly from what would later be diagnosed as an aortic hemorrhage. The loss struck my family with such magnitude it was as if an earthquake ripped through us and stripped our lives down to the ground. Grief is the most powerful force I have ever experienced. The loss of my mother is something that still to this day I can barely think about without falling to pieces. At the time I was so unable to process what was happening I fell into a deep deep pit of avoidance. I shut the whole world out. I buried myself in my work.

Unable to cope with anything I funneled all my energy into working, becoming a full blown workaholic. I absorbed my wholesale company and relaunched as a manufacturing and design company, hired a small staff and took on a roster of clientele. I would sew and consult all day and often all night. I developed a stabbing pain in my shoulder which would get so bad it would leave me unable to stand up and lost partial feeling in my left, dominant hand. I would later find out that an untreated childhood injury and a misshapen vertebrae in my neck had developed into a permanent condition where any prolonged use of my left arm or strain put on my neck would result in chronic nerve pain which eventually, could lead to permanent loss of feeling in my arm. I was advised that I could not operate sewing machinery anymore, play guitar or do any repetitive physical activities which could aggravate the injury further.

Despite my best to push through I had to accept that my days of sewing were simply over. I had no other option but to close the business and sell my machines. My marriage, which had been strained since the passing of my mother fell apart and my husband and I separated. The stress and the agony and the unmanaged grief had taken absolutely everything away from me. Never in my life had I faced such an immense rock bottom.

DEFIANCE AND THE END

One of many shows on the road @ Massif Festival

So now what? After spending over a decade in the garment and manufacturing industry I find myself physically unable to do the work that I’d dedicated my early adulthood to. Once again, unable to cope with the loss I would implemented my strategy of burying myself in work. A method that ultimately had been devastating to me but it was the only tool I had to work with, and it gave me something to look forward to and make time pass. This time around I dove into my music. Writing and recording with my bands and touring endlessly. My physical condition continued to be an issue throughout this – I had been warned that I should discontinue playing guitar or risk permanently losing feeling in my left hand – but I refused to lose both of my creative outlets. In my mind making music was the only thing I had left and I vowed to hang on to it even if it killed me. Short rehearsals and lots of time being flat in the back of the tour van made it possible to limp through. Considerable amounts of pain control pills, physio and long periods of dedicated ‘rest’ time enabled me to continue to perform and to continue to have something to look forward to in a time when it seemed like everything was lost and nothing mattered anymore.

It was after a month long tour of Europe that my condition sent me to the emergency room. This time was the worst I’d experienced so far. Within a 24hr period the pain had escalated to a point where I was unable to stand up. I remained bed ridden for 7 days. The nerves had become so inflamed that even the slightest movement would send shooting pain throughout my body and into my brain and I’d black out. I thought for sure this time I’d done it, this time I was going to lose mobility for good. This time it’s really over.

STARTING OVER – A Rebirth

It was while lying in bed, unable to move that I finally took a moment to really reflected. I considered where I’d been, what I’d been through and what I’d accomplished in life. I realized that losing my mother, our business, my husband and a career in manufacturing wasn’t what was ultimately hurting my health  - it was me. It was my avoidance in dealing with the grief in a healthy way that had done this to me.

I realized that I needed to stop avoiding and start doing. I needed to accept and embrace that I cannot create with my hands anymore. I needed to focus on what I do have -  a mind for business, years of invaluable experience, love, passion and goodness to bring to the world.

And that’s where I am today. Not stuck in a room of loss and failure but instead focused on using my experience and knowledge to collaborate, designing what I love (vegan leather bags) and employ the network I’d built up for so many years. I still struggle day to day with my grief, regret and chronic pain but I’ve learnt healthier ways of managing it.  

There isn’t enough that can be said for taking time for self-care, self-love and the importance of therapy (both physical and mental) to help during difficult times. I wish I had been more open to accepting help in the very beginning but I know now that dwelling on a regret isn’t the answer – instead I focus on how I can prevent making the same mistakes in the future and helping others to avoid making the same mistakes that I had to learn the hard way.

So that’s my story, my truth, my journey in fashion design. Creating, designing, writing…these are all things that have become unanimous with who I am as a person. Fashion helped me through both the greatest and the darkest times, and I’m excited to see what it will bring next.

For more on how I came up with the idea to start White Rhino Bags click here: https://whiterhinobags.com/blog/vegan-designer-the-story-of-white-rhino-cruelty-free-bags

If you or someone you know is struggling with loss please consider getting help, here are some links that may help getting you started on a journey to recovery and moving forward

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7 Cruelty Free Gifts Ideas Under $50 - You will love number 5!

Who doesn’t like gifts? Everyone does but it gets hard to buy gifts for someone who is very picky, especially if they are animal lovers and have an active stand against animal cruelty. Here are some great cruelty free gifts you can give to the animal lover friend in your life.

Our first cruelty free suggestions is:

1. FAUX FUR THROW BLANKET:

Holiday seasons are lazy seasons, people just want to be tucked in with the favorite televison show or book and have a relaxing day. What’s better than a throw blanket to add to this scene. What’s even better? A Faux Fur Throw Blanket for your animal lover friend, who can enjoy the blanket without worrying about the animals killed to make it. They are warm and they feel luxurious. Best of all its super soft and comfy.

2. LEATHER JACKET (FAUX):

Faux everything is perfect for any animal lover, and who can say no to a sexy leather jacket. Whether its brown or black, everyone loves to own one. They simply look great on everyone and go with almost any outfit. Also, they can be worn for almost all the seasons.

3. SCENTED SOY CANDLES:

Scented soy candles are the best gift all year around. They are cruelty free, no animals are harmed and they smell great. With the perfect blend of essential oils, they take away all the tension and negative vibes from the room. They also lift the mood and spirits of the people in the room. Some of the top most scents are pine, jasmine, lavender and myrrh. The best gift to give to people for different occasions.

4. ESSENTIAL OILS DIFFUSERS:

Diffusers are the best, they don't smell like air fresheners. You can choose any scent for your diffuser such as citrus, lemongrass lavender and exotic flowers. They will bring a freshness to your animal lover friend’s home that will be adored by them all the time. The perfect house gift for your friend, that’s a cruelty free gift and can be bought under $50.

Now our favorite cruelty free gift!

5. VEGAN LEATHER BAG:

No matter how many bags you have, you always want more and so does your animal lover friend. A vegan leather bag will not only make your friend happy, but also make her show off her love for animals. White Rhino Bags has a variety of accessories and vegan leather handbags from backpacks to shoulder bags. All their bags are designed in the US.

6. LUSH HAND CREAM:

Lush has been very vocal about their stand in animal testing and animal cruelty, therefore what better gift then any product of lush, the lush hand cream will help make your hands softer and will keep them well moisturized.

And last but not least...

8. VEGAN VEINS’ TOTE BAG:

They are comfortable to carry, and stylish. Your animal lover friend would love this thoughtful gift to show off their love for an animal cruelty free style. They wild also appreciate the fact that you are kind enough to think about their stand on being cruelty free and an animal lover.

We hope you enjoy our suggested gifts for the animal lover in your life. Get creative this holiday season by supporting companies that are supporting this cause and have a real commitment with the animal life. The ideas in this list are created with pure intention using non animal harming ingredients to encourage a conscious lifestyle and saving animals one day at a time.

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It looks like leather, it feels like leather, but it’s definitely not made from an animal’s skin or hide. Vegan leather is every leather aficionado’s dream come true. The same elegant looks, the same gorgeous textures, but cruelty-free and animal-friendly.

But what exactly is vegan leather?

The fashionable ‘Allie Hip Purse by White Rhino Bags is a great example of a vegan leather product that recreates the chic appearance and textured feel of alligator leather without any of the guilt. Available in Black and Red at $37.85.

History of Vegan Leather

Veganism has been around for decades, but the vegan movement recently saw an upsurge in popularity in the 2010s. It has slowly gained traction in mainstream society and correspondingly driven growth in a number of sectors as manufacturers, retailers and service providers scrambled to capture this growing market.

Vegan leather was marketing’s answer to consumers’ demand for a vegan-friendly option in the fashion industry.

Vegan Leather, Faux Leather, Pleather?

If you’re wondering what the difference is between vegan leather, faux leather and pleather (a portmanteau of plastic and leather, for the uninitiated), well, the simple answer is - for the most part, there is none.

Vegan leather, faux leather, pleather and other types of “leather” made from non-animal materials all fall under the category of artificial leather. These fabrics used to be made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride, or the stuff that’s used to make plastic pipes), but modern manufacturers increasingly use PU (polyurethane) in creating leather alternatives.

White Rhino Bags uses a combination of PU and other recycled materials to create their collection, including this gorgeous White Rhino Signature Backpack in Cashew Dream . Retails for $98.00, also available in Dark Avocado, Love Afterdark, Afternoon Sangria and Marshmellow Brulee.

The White Rhino Signature Backpack comes in a number of nature inspired colors, that is made from extremely soft, plush high quality vegan leather. These are limited edition designs. The design of the backpack has a special strap that allows you to switch from one shoulder strap to two easily.

Vegan Leather - Better for the Environment?

While the vegan movement has primarily been concerned with the animal-cruelty aspect of leather, vegan leather isn’t just catering to this niche. Set aside the ethical issues associated with raising animals and then subsequently slaughtering them for their skins to be made into bags, belts and shoes. If you care even one bit about about the environment and the world we live in, animal leather should be on your boycott list.

The tanning industry has long been known to have significant negative impacts on the environment. The rearing of animals for their skins is also places a great burden on the environment. The Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2017 report jointly published by Global Fashion Agenda and the Boston Consulting Group reveals shocking statistics that cow leather has the “overall highest environmental impact” of all the textiles evaluated. In contrast, synthetic leather only has one-third of that impact. While not a perfect choice, it is nonetheless a far better alternative in terms of lower environmental impact.

As technology advances, so do manufacturers in their production methods. Ingenuity and creativity go hand in hand to produce incredibly authentic alternatives that mimic leather in texture and appearance.

Recycled rubber, paper, and other plant-based leather alternatives are constantly entering the market - providing consumers with a variety of truly eco-friendly vegan leather options. In some cases, vegan leather is not just eco-friendly, but also wallet-friendly too, retailing at prices lower than animal-hide leather.

Get Your Vegan Leather Fix

Stylish, affordable and easier on the environment? Sign me up! If you’re dying to get your fix of vegan leather products, the good news is that such products are becoming more and more ubiquitous.

From bags to jackets, jewelry to accessories - if you can think of it, chances are someone has already made a version of it in vegan leather. Paguro Upcycle has gorgeous accessories made from recycled rubber, while Free People has a range of vegan jackets to suit any taste. If your passion is shoes, Nicora Footwear has you covered with a collection made from recycled materials and organic waste. Also, check out White Rhino Bags for a selection of cute vegan leather bags, suitable for any occasion.

Vegan Leather = Vegan Essential

The choice is clear. When it comes to jazzing up your wardrobe, vegan leather products should be your go to. With such a wide variety of manufacturers and retailers catering to consumers who are increasingly demanding animal-friendly, cruelty-free, vegan products, it’s easy to make the right choice.

You don’t have to kill anything to have a killer look. Make vegan leather your choice.

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Here is a bit of how White Rhino Bags began. A shop for designer bags that are exclusively made from cruelty-free vegan leather fabrics.

Vegan Designer & Musician Claire Carreras

So Who’s Behind White Rhino?

 Hi there! Thank you for visiting- my name is Claire Carreras. I’m a Canadian musician, vegan designer and the creator of White Rhino Bags. For as long as I can remember I have been creating. My mother was a very crafty woman. She could sew, cook, bake, garden, dance – you name it. And her mother (my grandmother) was the same way. They taught me that if there was something I wanted or needed I could make it with my own two hands. They encouraged me to believe in my creative power and to use the environment around me to inspire and provide.

The Big Shopping Fail

White Rhino Bags is the outcome of a shopping expedition gone wrong. My favorite leather backpack (cruelty-free) was starting to look worn out and it no longer fit my current style. I’d purchased new clothes for the season and it just wasn’t meshing right. Furthermore – it didn’t fit half of the junk I needed to haul around with me when I went out to shows, to band rehearsals, to school and so on. What was meant to be a quick and pleasant shopping mission turned into days of fruitless searching. As a designer, vegan and a person of ‘particular’ style preferences it became clear that finding something that represented my esthetic while also adhering to my moral values was going to be a lot harder than I had anticipated.

What A Nightmare…

This is the scene that would play over and over again like a never ending nightmare: I’d see a bag from across the store’s display tables. A bag that looked like something I could see myself carrying with me every day, a bag that would ‘say’ something about me, and could be my constant companion. My new best friend. I’d approach, filled with excitement thinking “is this it? Have I finally found The One??” But then I’d check the tag and my heart would sink when I read that it was made from animal hide. Disheartening to say the least. Furthermore - let’s be honest about something – I’m a musician; There’s no way I can afford a $300 bag from a specialty store.

So what are my options then? Settle for something inferior that I’d no doubt wear out in another month’s time? Settle for something that was vegan cruelty-free but albeit – boring as a burlap bag - and hope no one ever saw me out with it in daylight? I think not. I don’t have money to just be throwing around on material items that I don’t truly connect with.

The Big Aha Moment

So, after the joy of shopping had been thoroughly ruined for me I was left asking myself the following question: “Why isn’t there one place I can go where I can find affordable, unique bags and accessories that aren’t made from the skins of the animals I love and respect so much?”

White Rhino Bags

And that is how the dream to open a store that did just that was born. White Rhino Bags vows to keep shopping exciting and easy. A one-stop shop for designer bags and accessories that are made exclusively from cruelty-free vegan leather fabrics. To create a place where an individual with a unique sense of style can find items that aren’t run-of the mill, providing a selection of options that will stand out in a crowd and go beyond the ordinary.

I had designed bags in the past – albeit mostly for myself and for friends, and my previous experiences in garment design, wholesale and manufacturing gave me the tool box I needed to dive into my new business idea head-first. The first lesson that I learnt from my days in wholesale is that color gets the clicks, but black gets the buy. Essentially what this means is that when you’re showing a design the most colorful one gets all the oohs & ahs and will likely entice the person into making a purchase but at the end of the day they walk out with the black one.

So as a new cruelty-free vegan company, I selected mostly neutral colors with a few pops of exquisite brights like the Yasmini Bag in Royal Blue and the Allie Hip Purse in bright hot red.

You never know for certain though how it’s going to go. I had predicted that the ‘wild-card’ piece from my first collection the ‘Booya Bag’ would be slow to move because it was patterned, but it was the first item to sell out.

The New Me!

The most exciting aspect to making my dream a reality has been how much more I notice bags and accessories now. I’ve always been one to notice an interesting hem finish or an unexpected fabric choice for an otherwise boring garment, but now I see how people express themselves through what they carry stuff in. I make note of things while out on the town like which color bag that girl chose to pair her outfit with, and what size purse is that girl taking with her to work. It’s exciting what you can learn about a person just from looking at their bag. I’m always thinking about what pieces I could bring in that would compliment a wardrobe, and what I could design to add value to someone’s day to day.

That’s it in a nutshell. The online store went live Sept.15th, 2018 and it’s been an adventure everyday since! I love being a vegan designer and love all of my designs. I hope you love it too!

- Claire

Have you enjoyed reading Vegan designer | The Story of White Rhino | Cruelty-free bags? Share with friends that might be interested in cruelty-free products and learning more about vegan designers. 

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Fashionistas - your favorite season is back! As the hot summer days wind down, it’s time to put away the sundresses and beach bags, and start gearing up for Fall.

The chilly weather is the perfect time to have fun with layers, while still enjoying the occasional opportunity to show some skin on particularly warm days. Break out the jackets, sweaters and ankle boots, and welcome nature’s most colorful season!

Looking autumnal doesn’t have to break the bank. We’ve curated 5 essential must-haves for your wardrobe, all for under $50! Who said being fashionable and keeping up with trends has to be an expensive hobby?

1. Bomber Jacket, Gap Factory ($34.99)

A classic fall favorite that never looks out of place. Keeping you just warm enough while giving your outfit that casual, relaxed look, the bomber jacket is a must-have this season. The straight silhouette makes the piece an easy fit, and the ribbed cuffs add a fun yet practical element. Pair the bomber with jeans and a casual t-shirt for a classic look, or over top of a dress and sneakers for a more chic profile. Whether it’s a trip to the corner store, or a fun weekend out on the town, the bomber is a fall staple that won’t be going out of style anytime soon.

This item by Gap Factory is available in both delicious red and true black.

2. Sweater Dress in Fine Knit, ASOS Design ($45.00)

Too cold for a just a dress, but still warm enough to show some skin? Stash your sundresses; it’s time for sweater dresses to shine! If your fall look is all about being relaxed yet classy, don’t miss out on this versatile wardrobe essential. Stay warm and cozy while rocking the effortlessly put-together look with a sweater dress, the perfect halfway point between summer dresses and winter’s full blown sweater weather.

This item by ASOS Design is midi-length with a round neck and loose, but not oversized fit.

3. Pointed Toe Ankle Booties, Lulus ($43.00)

This autumn is all about the ankle booties. Wear them with leggings to create long lines that make you look taller. Wear them with a dress for a unusual but fun pairing. Wear them with a pencil skirt for a more formal look. However you choose to style them, ankle booties are fall’s flexible footwear for just about every outfit. Anyone can make ankle boots work for them, so ditch the fear that you’ll look like you have wide ankles, and go out and feel fabulous!

This item by Lulus is a vegan-leather option that’s not just cute but animal-friendly too. Available in black and white.

4. Helvita Handbag, White Rhino Bags ($44.95)

Need something to carry around your essentials, but also want to jazz up a boring outfit? Add some texture to your outfit and a little color too, with this gorgeous cruelty-free faux-leather handbag. The bull-skin texture adds a unique dimension to this elegant piece, while the tan trim complements any look. The removable shoulder strap also means this closet staple will always look on point.

This item by White Rhino Bags is made of 100% man-made materials and measures 10.63 x 7.48 x 5.12 (LxWxH).

5. Denim Trench Coat, TB Dress ($34.98)

Denim has always been a safe bet, but 2018 is the year denim took the world by storm. This fall, take it up a notch with the denim trench coat. It’s unexpected, it’s edgy, it’s this season’s must-have. A refreshing take on the usual denim jacket, and more wearable than a traditional trench, this denim trench coat is truly the best of both worlds. Pro-tip: Matching this piece with jeans or a denim skirt is definitely overkill!

This item by TB Dress comes in dark blue and mid-length, with loose fit.

Bonus - Fall Fashion Essential: Mini-Tote in Tan, White Rhino Bags ($48.95)

If you’re the kind of busy lady who doesn’t have time to switch bags everyday to match your outfit, but still wants to be up-to-date with the latest fashion trends, we’ve got a treat for you. It’s hard to think of a more versatile color than tan, or a more flexible style than the tote. That’s why our vote for fall fashion essential goes to the mini-tote in tan. Compact, chic, classy, this piece lends itself to the board room, or a bake sale, making this the ultimate accessory to complete your autumn outfits.

This item by White Rhino Bags is vegan and cruelty-free, made of 100% man-made materials, in faux-calf finish.

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