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8 Free And Frugal Fitness Tools You Can Use At Home

Some people think that you need to spend a lot on gym memberships and fancy fitness tools to get in shape. I say thee nay! Repeat after me: Fitness doesn’t have to cost a lot. In fact, it can even be free! We’ve been living on a student budget for as long as I can remember, so pricey gym memberships, with child care, exercise classes and personal trainers are not exactly in the budget right now. One can dream, can’t they? Also, time. Time is an issue. I’m all about efficiency when it comes to working out. I’ve timed it out, and for the amount of time I spend working out a gym or at an exercise class – I spend almost the same amount of time getting ready, packing bags, corralling children and traveling to and from the location. That nearly doubles the amount of time I dedicate to working out. No bueno for me… I need my relaxation time, too. Which is why I am such a fan of working out at home at night, after the kids go to bed – with all my fitness essentials to create my own mini workout space. Everybody’s different with how they choose to workout, but for me, it works well. So, here are some of my favorite, tried and true, free and frugal fitness tools I’ve used and love!

1. Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred ($6.96) and Ripped in 30 ($7.55): I’m a big fan of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts, and the 30 Day Shred was a great introduction to HIIT after I had my first baby. 30 minutes a day was totally doable and all I needed was a pair of hand weights. There are three different levels, so once a level becomes comfortable you can move up to the next level to avoid plateauing. After I mastered the 30 Day Shred, I took on Ripped in 30 which is a slightly harder version of the 30 Day Shred. This was a great HIIT video because it focused a bit more on getting toned. The horrid back pain I was first riddled with after baby #2 was completely gone within 3 – 4 months of doing these Jillian Michaels workouts – and I lost a lot of my baby weight, too – which was a great bonus. My body thanks you, Jillian Michaels! Note: You can also find the 30 Day Shred for free on the BeFit Youtube Channel should you not require doing the workouts in front of a device using a DVD player.

2. Black Mountain Products Resistance Bands ($29.99): I would love to own a large selection of hand weights one day, but cost and limited space is a factor right now. Instead, I found this awesome set of resistance bands for muscle building exercises. They’re lightweight and compact, perfect for small spaces and even to take with you when traveling if you wish! There are a ton of Youtube videos like this on resistance band workouts if you don’t know how to use them for a full body workout.

3. Valeo Neoprene 5 lbs hand weights ($21.07/pair): Although I have a set of resistance bands, I have two pairs of 3lbs and 5lbs hand weights (similar to the ones shown above) that are essential to some of my workout videos, and help me build and strengthen my muscles. And when my go-to 5 lbs weights are too light for a particular exercise, I’ve mastered holding both the 3lbs and 5 lbs weights in the same hand to equal 8lbs of weight in each hand to avoid buying the 8 lbs weights.

4. Couch to 5K ($1.99): This is a great app, especially for people like myself who don’t run – hence, the name “couch to 5k”. As advertised, it’s 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week for 9 weeks – with intervals of running and short walking breaks eventually leading up to running 5k in about 30 minutes. And of course, you can listen to your favorite tunes while running with the app. And at the cost of $1.99, it’s practically free!

5. Yoga with Adrienne on Youtube (Free): This channel is awesome. I love it so much because it has full length yoga videos in power yoga, prenatal yoga, relaxation yoga, yoga for lower back pain, beginners yoga – basically, yoga videos for everyone of all abilities and they range anywhere between 10 – 60 minutes.

6. My Fitness Pal App (Free): This app is life changing! You can track what you eat to help you meet your nutrient and calorie intake. In addition, track your workouts, your weight and inches lost. It completely revolutionized my eating habits by making me much more aware of the kinds of foods I was putting in my body, and the nutritional content of each food which in turn helped me make far better food choices. I really like to eat, so this app helps keep me on track and accountable – with the exception of vacations, eating out and eating while socializing with friends – a girl’s gotta indulge sometime, right?

7. 7-min work-out “Seven” with HIIT challenge app (Free): I LOVE this app! Why? Because (1) It’s the “best bang for your buck” in terms of working out – meaning, it’s the best full body workout that will yield the best results in the shortest amount of time. (2) I can do it while watching tv to make the time fly. (3) I can do it anywhere! You don’t need to lug around exercise DVD’s if you’re traveling – just use this app. (4) I can do it as many times as I want or have time for. I almost always do 4 rounds which equals to about 30 minutes. (5) You don’t need any fancy equipment except for a wall and a chair being that it’s mostly body weight exercises.

8. BeFiT on Youtube (Free): This channel is amazing! I love it because it has a plethora of professional HIIT, cardio, dance and yoga workout videos from fitness celebrities like Billy Blanks, Denise Austin and my personal favorite – Jillian Michaels. There are literally hundreds of videos to choose from with varying durations and videos that even target specific areas of your body. And of course, I love that you can essentially bring a workout class to the comfort and convenience of your own home – for free!

Well, there you have it. These are some of my favorite fitness tools that won’t break the bank! What are some of your favorite frugal or free fitness tools/apps/sites that you like to use?


Crystal - I too love the myfitnesspal app. Going to check out the HIIT app. But you missed a great and free one called blogilates. I’ve be doing Cassey Ho’s workouts at home for almost 7 months and have had great success. Here’s some info on it: Blogilates is a monthly calendar for free. You follow each day to do 5 videos on YouTube. You sign up for the newsletter to get the monthly password. http://www.blogilates.com/blog/2015/02/28/marchofthepopsters-2015-workout-calendar-get-pw-when-you-sign-up-for-my-newsletter/ . Here is a beginners calendar as well. http://www.blogilates.com/blog/2014/12/30/new-beginners-calendar-2-0-for-2015/ . Blogilates has an app where you have access to a community. You can also pay a $1 each month if you want to get the videos easier. You won’t have to look them up I believe. But honestly not sure since I do it the free way by looking up the videos from the calendar on YouTube and workout from my phone. I truly enjoy these workouts. It was hard for me to find something that made me love to workout and push myself. I’ve been hooked ever since. 🙂

DIY Re-Purposed Photo Display

One of the many wonderful things about my neighborhood is that on any given weekend you can drive around and find not only yard sales, but items left on the curb for free. We are collectively big on re-purposing items here. In my favorite local second hand stores you’ll find wonderful old furniture with distressed chalk paint, wood pallets turned into everything from planters to signs and all sorts of items given a beautiful second life. So when I drove by a large, empty frame with perfectly worn old teal paint, I had to grab it. The color matches my decor perfectly so I didn’t have to worry about painting it, but I did have to find a way to use it without any glass or backing. I have three kids, so there is no shortage of fun photos here and I always have a hard time just putting pics in a box or photo album. They aren’t all frame worthy so our fridge ends up covered in them! I decided to use this large frame with a couple of items I already had at home to display multiple photos that are easy to change out. This was so easy my two year old even helped!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Large frame
  • Staple gun
  • Twine
  • Picture Hanging brackets (if your frame doesn’t have them)
  • Clothespins
  • Photos


1. Lay the frame face down.

2. Stretch twine across the frame and staple down at both ends creating rows (I used 4 rows).

3. Attach the hanging brackets at the top, centered and evenly spaced.

4. Hang it on the wall.

5. Use clothespins to hang photos.

And there you have it! Low – or no – cost, super simple, and perfect for our rustic, salt water weathered home – and I can display lots of photos that can be easily changed out for new ones.


Leeann @ Join the Gossip - That’s really adorable! Such a great idea.

Lindsay Ava - This is sucha cool tutorial, love reading about new DIY ideas for the home 🙂

Weekend Inspiration

Hi friends! Hope everyone is having a relaxing weekend and enjoying all of the beautiful weather we’ve had lately. I’m excited to start my Weekend Inspiration posts again, with all of my favorite links from Pinterest and around the web this week. I’m also really excited to tell you that we’ve created a new page with links to our favorite things! In addition to our favorite blogs, artists, photographers, and places to shop, we’ll also be linking to our top destinations in California! We like to think that it will be a work in progress, with each of us adding new favorites along the way. You can check it out here. You can also keep up with our favorite things by following us on Bloglovin, a really awesome blog reader that allows you to follow all of your favorite blogs in one space. For now, I’ll leave you with this week’s top pins and inspiration.

Weekend Inspiration – March 22, 2015

What happens when you put 8 million flower petals into a volcano? The result is truly breathtaking.

The most amazing recipe for buttercream cake with rhubarb buttercream and cardamom cream.

This cool 1920s inspired wedding, complete with an amazing hanging floral installation, featured on Brooklyn Bride.

Have you heard of Rocksbox yet? You can try it out for free using promo code daisytribexoxo, which gives you unlimited access to gorgeous designer jewelry for an entire month!

10 DIY painted plant pots you can make this weekend!

Inspiring list – 14 habits of people who always stay fit.

Google Feud. It’s kind of like an addicting 90’s game show that you can play from the comfort of your own laptop.

New favorite fashion blog, Fashion Hippie Loves.

Images found on Pinterest via: The Vanilla Bean Blog (top left), Fashion Hippie Loves (top right), Poppytalk (bottom left), and Oak Furniture Blog (bottom right).

So that’s it! Check back next weekend for more news and inspiration – and follow Daisy Tribe on Pinterest to see more of our favorite things.


Lindsay Ava - Loved reading some of these! I really need to take into consideration some of the points to stay fit, and my favourite here was the volcano with petals, absolutely stunning! 🙂

Top 6 Hidden Gems – Places to Eat in Berkeley and Albany

I’m really lucky to live in a place with so many different kinds of cuisine and fabulous places to eat, almost too many to keep track of at times! Sometimes it can be really easy to miss out on some truly great places right under my nose, so I asked my friends – my eating-partners-in-crime – to share with me all their favorite hidden gem restaurants and places to eat in our close-knit neighborhood of Berkeley and Albany, California. The result? Over 50 recommendations of their favorite food joints in the area that they considered hidden gems. Now, I’m not talking about the Chez Panisse’s, Cheeseboard’s or Zachary’s of Berkeley and Albany that everyone in the Bay Area knows about. I’m talking about the smaller restaurants, the take-out places and shacks that are unassuming and don’t require a dress code. The ones that people might pass every day without really noticing and never knowing how truly amazing they are unless someone told them about it (like me – that’s what I’m here for, right?) Right. So let me share with you some of the favorites from our list of hidden gems. Some being favorites of many of my friends whom I trust their judgment in good food – and some being my personal favorites that my friends also happen to love as well.

SIMG_6160am’s Log Cabin

The clear winner of recommendations for hidden gems was Sam’s Log Cabin. I’ve passed this place a million times and honestly don’t know why I haven’t been here – yet. First, the exterior looks exactly as the name indicates – a log cabin, how fun! Second, they offer mouthwatering breakfast and lunch menu items like Cinnamon Current French Toast, which also comes in sandwich form stuffed with house made jam and Farmer’s cheese or banana, raisin and walnut – yum! They also offer the likes of corned beef hash, corn cakes, vegan hash, fried chicken sandwiches and these house-made scones that everyone seems to be raving about (blueberry lemon anyone?) Must try. Third, they have a kid and dog-friendly backyard patio and open space – which they are currently updgrading to a cement patio – to be completed within the next few months. And when I say kid-friendly backyard, I mean there is literally a grassy area where the kids can go play and get their wiggles out while you wait for your food. It’s what every kid and parent of young kids dreams of, right? Brilliant! Can’t wait to enjoy breakfast on the new patio!

945 San Pablo Ave., Albany, CA   |   510-558-0494   |   Website  |  Menu


Da NaIMG_6166ng Krungthep Thai Cuisine

Another big contender is this place. I’ve been to many other Thai places in the area, but ‘Da Nang’ is Da Bomb and our very favorite go-to place for Thai take-out. Whenever I suggest we do take-out for dinner, my husband always insist we get Thai food from Da Nang Krungthep so he can get his very favorite meal of all time – the Gang Dang (red curry pork). And boy, can they make your order spicy if you request it! I love the Thai Pumpkin Curry ($8.95), Pad Thai ($7.95) and Pra Ram ($8.95), which is vegetables and meat (chicken is always my choice meat) in a delicious peanut sauce. And of course, the Fried Banana with Coconut Ice cream is to die for! And their portions are huge! We’ve only ever ordered our food to go, but the amount of food we get for the price we pay is a steal – I always have enough food for at least 2 – 3 meals. This place is amazing – they are always so fast in preparing my food, it’s always fresh, hot and consistently delicious every single time. Everyone I’ve ever referred to this place loves it.

905 San Pablo Ave., Albany, CA   |   510-524-6837   |   Menu



Brazil Fresh Squeeze Café 

Housed inside this little fun and brightly colored shack blaring Brazilian music – and yes, it’s  literally a shack – are some of the Bay Area’s best tri-tip sandwiches – and apparently the world’s friendliest  restaurant owner, Pedro. The top two favorite Tri Tip sandwiches are the standard tri tip sandwich and the award winning Pedro’s Favorite Tri Tip Sandwich with the works, which includes cheese, olives, pineapple and jalapenos. Yelper, Caroline H. confesses “A friend recommended this place to me by saying ‘I broke my vegetarianism for the tri-tip sandwich.” Berkeley vegetarians take their oath to abstain from animal products pretty seriously, so that must be a dang good sandwich to break such an oath for. Other items on the menu include rice bowls, pulled pork carnitas with “the works”, cold sandwiches, hearty salads and their signature mango smoothie – which is free when you check-in on Yelp.

2161 University Ave., Berkeley, CA   |   510-845-8011   |   Menu



Top Dog

It’s a favorite amongst students, but often unbeknownst to others. At Top Dog, you don’t get those same sub-standard beef hot dogs that you grew up on when you went camping. Instead, they offer a variety of high quality grilled sausages like Garlic Frankfurter, Lemon Chicken, Smoked Chicken Apple, Calabrese, Spicy Chicken Mango, Kielbasa and more on a fresh French roll. And, you can add chili to your dog. Drooling yet? Thought so.

Berkeley, CA:  2534 Durant Ave. and  2160 Center St.   |   Website 


IMG_6159Hamro Aangan 

This place is amazing and I’ll let you in on a little secret – I’ve eaten at one of the top rated, upscale Indian restaurants in the Bay Area before, and I must admit, Hamro Aangan sure gives the other place a run for their money – and at almost half the price. It’s pretty impressive. I love their Chicken Tandoori Sandwich, Chicken Jalfrezi, Paneer Tikka Masala and Chicken Shahi Korma. However, my true love and go-to order is now their Chicken Tikka Masala – which is the best I’ve ever had – and onion naan with their amazing basmati rice. When I say amazing basmati rice, I mean this place seriously has the best rice I’ve ever had. The spices they use in the rice are so fragrant and flavorful I can’t possibly fathom replicating it myself, which is why it is the only take-out place I consistently order rice from as opposed to usually making my own rice at home.

 856 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA   |   (510) 524-2220   |   Website & Menu


Gordo TaqueriaIMG_6168

Home to one of the Top 10 Burritos in America, is this small Mexican restaurant that you just might miss if you’re walking by too quickly. The most popular menu items by far at Gordo Taqueria are their carnitas burritos and the chicken burritos. Also largely popular are their quesadillas, tacos or the Gordo Plate – which is essentially a plate with rice, beans, meat, salsa, and tortillas so you can assemble your own tacos yourself. And with the most expensive menu item being $6.25 – and most items averaging between $4 – $5, you really get the best bang for your buck at Gordo’s.

Albany, CA:  1423 Solono Ave   |   Berkeley, CA:  2989 College Ave  and 2404 Telegraph Ave   |   San Francisco, CA:  2252 Clement St; 6460 Geary Blvd; and 1239 9th Ave.   |   Menu


Well, these are some of our favorite hidden gems. There are so many wonderful hidden gems in our area, I wish I had time to write about all of them! Who knows? Maybe there will be a Hidden Gems: Part 2!

What are your favorite hidden gems in your area? I’d love to hear about them!


~ Carmen ~ - These sound excellent. My sister lives in Berkeley so I should suggest these next time I visit.

:] // ▲ itsCarmen.com ▲

Lindsay Ava - This sounds so good! Wish I had lots of great restaurants to choose from. Would kill for a good Thai or Mexican! Great post 🙂

Leeann @ Join the Gossip - How cute is that log cabin?! ALL of the food looks delish!

Top SF Bay Area Mom and Dad Blogs - […] about California, the more we loved what they’re doing. Bay Area locals will love posts like hidden restaurant gems in Berkeley and Albany and Sacramento Day Trips and followers can catch new posts on their active Facebook […]

Spring Denim – Lust vs. Must

I don’t know about you, but I am ready to pack away my riding boots and sweaters and welcome spring with a pair of cutoff shorts, a denim shirt, and a cute pair of leather sandals. As you can see, the two outfits below are very similar, but the price range varies drastically. I personally can pass on almost everything in the “must” section, but I wouldn’t think twice about splurging on the designer shorts since I live in my denim shorts in the summer. How about you, any splurges you would act on?


Lust:   Shirt   |   Shorts   |   Clutch   |   Hat   |   Sandals      \\      Must:   Shirt   |   Shorts   |   Clutch   |   Hat   |   Sandals


Mandy - I love denim, so this is perfect. Thanks!

Lanae Bond - Those purse does not look like they cost $39! It looks just as good as the splurge!

Tulika - Personally, I am a huge fan of the denim shirt. So, I was jumping with joy when denim became such a huge trend this season. I love how you have created similar outfits in different price ranges. We curated a list of denim products that would suit every pocket, on our site. Do check it out. http://obsessory.com/editors-pick/fdenim-edit-e104

Paleo Party Weekend With Whole Foods Market Berkeley

We recently had the opportunity to partner with Whole Foods Market Berkeley for their Paleo Party Weekend, which included a paleo cooking demo by our Healthy Living Editor Kendra, a store tour with WFM’s Healthy Eating Specialist Ruby, and a book signing with Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo. The first event started out at Whole Foods Market Berkeley on Telegraph and Ashby. Kendra did a live cooking demo featuring her famous Red Pepper Almond Sauce. If you haven’t tried her recipe yet, you need to try. it. now! The food she whipped up was so amazing and had all of us going back for seconds.

We were hosted by one of Whole Foods Healthy Eating Specialists, Ruby – and Lizzie, who you might remember from our Behind the Scenes Tour of WFM Gilman. Ruby led us on a paleo-focused healthy eating tour and had so many great suggestions for little things we could do to help improve our diets.


My sweet friend Erika of Erika Dawn Fitness came with me and also shared many ideas for eating healthy. She has an inspiring Instagram account which you can find right here. Here’s a group photo with Ruby, Kendra, Lizzie, and Erika. And one of Kendra’s biggest fans, her awesome father-in-law who made the trip to see her in action!

If you’re not familiar with the paleo lifestyle, it focuses on eating healthy foods like fruits, veggies, and meat, while avoiding processed foods and other foods that are hard for humans to digest. We got introduced to some new foods that I had never heard of, along with some quick and simple recipes for both paleo and non-paleo eating.

They also had a mini vendor fair which included companies like Local Greens, EPIC, and Nuttzo. I loved trying out all of the different items, and we got to take a swag bag home full of delicious paleo products!

Day 2 had us back at Whole Foods Market Gilman, for a book signing with Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo. She has quite a following, so the store was pretty full of fans hoping to meet her. She spoke briefly about her book, answered a few questions, and then it was time for the book signing.

If you follow the paleo diet – or even if you just like to eat clean, healthy meals – you will love the Nom Nom Paleo recipe book. It’s full of easy-to-make recipes and I loved all of the beautiful photography by Michelle and her husband. In addition to being a paleo superstar, Michelle was really funny and friendly. Here she is posing with Kendra and meeting some of her fans.

This was our first Paleo Party Weekend with Whole Foods Market, and Kendra will be hosting some other fun paleo events in the coming months. You can follow her popular Paleo Paparazzi Instagram account for more recipes, tips, and gorgeous food photos here.

3 Ways to Drink Your Lemons

It’s been said that the body knows best and in the midst of a tough cold and flu season, I’ve been craving lemons like crazy! Lemons, although acidic on their own, have an alkalizing effect on the body helping to balance your pH. Since disease and inflammation thrive in an acidic environment, maintaining alkalinity is key to health. Lemons help rid the body of toxins, assist the digestive system and are a great source of Vitamin C and Potassium. Great reasons to drink lemon juice to fight cold season and maintain health year round! Here are my three favorite ways to drink my lemons!

Warm water with lemon, apple cider vinegar, honey and cinnamon

Warm water with lemon in the morning is the BEST way to kick start your metabolism, flush toxins and start your day. Make it a real cold buster by adding 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, which is also great for alkalizing the body and reducing mucus and congestion by aiding the lymphatic system. A tsp of honey and dash of cinnamon – both powerful antioxidants – add to the flavor of this drink and combine as a powerful force to combat free radicals in the body.

Lemon and cucumber infused water

Fill a pitcher with cold water, add lemon and cucumber slices and refrigerate overnight. You’ll wake up to a refreshing water you can fill your reusable bottle with and drink all day. Cucumbers energize with B Vitamins, hydrate with electrolytes and aid digestion.

Lemon juice with cayenne pepper

I first tried this drink while doing the Nektar Juice Cleanse. I was surprised by how much I loved this one! Fill a glass with water, add the juice of 2-3 lemons and a couple dashes of cayenne. You can add a little sweetener of your choice if you like. The sour lemons and the kick of the cayenne are fantastic together. Cayenne supports the circulatory system and helps regulate blood sugar. You can have this one warm, but I love it over ice!

Give these natural health boosters a try – or comment below to share your favorite way to drink your lemons!


danielle - i tried the cayenne pepper one during a cleanse as well, i didn’t keep up with it very well though haha. definitely going to try the others!

dianie collado - Very helpful post, specially during this season!

Lakshmi in Trance

Creative Feature – Mikaela of Ruth & Ragnar

Today’s feature has been in the works for a while now, and I am so excited to finally introduce you all to Mikaela Wallinder Clifford, founder of Ruth & Ragnar – a Southern California based webstore featuring curated organic kids fashion. Today Mikaela is opening up to Daisy Tribe about her journey from humanitarian worker to socially conscious mama, to creative entrepreneur following her passions and pioneering change in the fashion world. She also shares the inspiration behind her brand, how motherhood changed her forever, and why all the nostalgic eighties moms out there will be flipping over a certain item in her shop this spring!

Tell us a little about yourself and your work.

I’m born and raised in Northern Sweden. After living in four continents around the world I came to Southern California in 2008. My husband and I were set on staying for a year only but we both fell in love with Leucadia and feel this is our home. Our daughter Milou was born in 2011 and is actually named after Leucadia (Milou Kadia).

I have a passion for photography and always loved sewing but life got so busy I forgot how much fun it is! I spent my entire working life after University in the humanitarian field and I have now found a way to incorporate my four passions: sewing, photography, human rights and my daughter into my own company by starting an ethical kidswear line. Ruth & Ragnar is made using 100% organic cotton, entirely grown, knitted and manufactured in the USA. I am using photos I’ve taken in various places around the world to create unique fabric prints that have a story. This way I am able spread awareness about issues I care deeply about while creating funky and fabulous kidswear for the coolest kid on the block!

How did you come up with the idea for Ruth & Ragnar and how has your idea developed as you’ve seen it come to life?

When my daughter was born I struggled to find chemical-free, organic kidswear. Her bed had an organic mattress and soft, organic bed sheets, yet the onesies and pajamas she spent most of her time in were made with cotton grown with highly toxic pesticides. My solution was simply to purchase organic clothing back in Sweden and have them sent here to my home in Southern California. When Milou wore this funky, colorful Swedish clothing, other parents noticed them every single day and I found myself writing notes with information on web stores where these clothes could be purchased in Europe. Eventually my husband jokingly suggested I should just start selling these clothes myself. That’s how the initial idea for selling organic Scandinavian kidswear was born.

It happened the way many entrepreneurs explain it – “If you can’t stop thinking about your idea and you find it very hard to come up with any reason not to pursue it, you’re meant to do it.” There was obviously a huge demand for organic kidswear. There was also a demand for something new and unique. I saw a gap in the market so I decided to start small and see what happened! Since 2011 when I first came up with the idea there have been more stores popping up in the US with some organic lines. It is incredibly exciting to see the change that has happened in the past three years both in kidswear and adult wear and I think Fashion Revolution Day Campaign had a lot to do with it. Firstly by encouraging more people to think about who made their clothes, and also by introducing the market to more ethical and eco-friendly brands and companies. Organic went from being alternative to mainstream. It has been amazing to see this transformation and to now be a part of it!

We understand that you’ve traveled extensively and lived abroad as a humanitarian worker. How do you feel this has affected you as a person and your vision for your brand?

I started traveling as soon as I was old enough and brave enough to and I haven’t really stopped since. Traveling and living in different countries is a privilege and a form of education I never take for granted. It has opened my eyes to various ways of living, surviving and thriving. It has made me more accepting as a person and by being open-minded – the world becomes an incredibly interesting place. I now use these travels as inspiration for a made in the USA kidswear line I’m launching later on in the spring.

Having worked in several post conflict countries in refugee camps and with refugees here in the US, it has become very clear to me that many conflicts leading to these humanitarian disasters are caused by a fight over land and natural resources. Sometimes hidden behind ethnic, religious or racial agendas – resources are often the underlying cause. Be it oil, phosphate, water or diamonds – these are natural resources that are used to create products that we purchase. My travels and previous work has therefore made me realize that my purchasing choices are extremely powerful. The more questions I ask and the more research I do before I make a purchase, the more I help ensure social justice in the world. It was therefore really important to me to only use 100% certified organic cotton in our clothing. For our own clothing line, I also found it important to manufacture in the USA as I want to be transparent and involved in the entire production process. If we as consumers have all the information through a transparent supply chain, we have the power to make an educated decision when we choose to buy from/support a company and a product. I want parents to know who made their children’s clothes and know that the people who grow the cotton are not exposed to life-threatening pesticides in the process.

I’ve also learned that I don’t need much to thrive. It’s hard to notice our own over-consumption until we get far away from it and live in a place where such luxuries aren’t available. After living in a tent in Western Sahara ten hours away from the closest convenience store I realized that all I truly need is access to drinking water, food and the clothing on my back – everything else is a want, not a need. When my grandparents grew up they had one set of nice clothing and they were to be worn on special occasions – and they were treated like the expensive, special possessions they were. Today, we often buy clothes to be worn a couple of times just to be thrown away as they are “out of fashion” or made so cheaply and poorly that they don’t last through a playdate at the playground. I therefore really wanted to make clothes that last; that can be inherited from sister to brother to grandchild. The best way to help reduce our footprint is to, as Vivienne Westwood famously stated, “Buy less. Choose well.”

Can you tell us a little about your experience with Factory 45?

Sure! In June this year I was chosen or, rather, Ruth & Ragnar was chosen as one of ten companies to join Factory 45, an accelerator program for Made in the USA. Ten companies with original ideas and a passion for sustainability worked together with sustainable fashion guru Shannon Whitehead, to create and launch their products. I came into Factory 45 feeling intimidated when I looked at the nine other companies. Among them were Designers from Parson’s School of Design in NYC, a businesswoman whose bags were sold in huge stores such as REI, a successful television host and a Wall Street Finance Director. What I quickly learned though was that we were all starting a new chapter and we were learning together. We had all decided to commit to creating something sustainably and entirely made in the USA. What Shannon Whitehead did so wonderfully (apart from running a kickass program) was selecting a group of individuals from very diverse backgrounds as we all brought something to the table and were able to help and support each other tremendously. I went from being terrified of opening my mouth during the conference video calls to being known as the girl who asks a million questions. I went from being intimidated by these creative people to making friends for life.

If you have a prototype, a design or just an idea and you’d like to make it a reality – this is the program for you. It will be hard, but it will be oh so rewarding. Having someone behind you who catches you when you fall and helps guide you to get back up again is priceless. Having someone to pick up the phone and listen when you’ve had a few too many suppliers tell you “no” in one day has been invaluable to keep me going. I couldn’t find the supply chain that lived up to my sustainability standards – I was told it didn’t exist. So I created one. Without Factory 45 I’m not sure I would have been able to have the confidence to keep pushing.

How did you come up with the name for your company, and which 3 words would you use to describe the Ruth & Ragnar brand?

Can I only pick three? When I was really young my incredible mother decided to become a nurse. She studied at college during the day and worked at the hospital at night to be able to support me and my two sisters. To make this work, my grandparents helped raise us. My grandfather Ragnar taught me how to ride a bike, how to build things from scratch, paint the house, how to swim, how to garden, compost and pick raspberries at the exact right time when they are ripe to perfection. My grandmother Ruth was born 1921 — the same year women fought for the right to vote in Sweden, and she is a true feminist at heart. She is a fighter who has instilled in me good values, everyone’s equal rights, the importance of languages, being able to help yourself and to always help people in need. When I thought of the key words for the clothing I’ll be selling (Colorful, Comfortable, Fun, Sustainable, Organic, Happy, and Handmade) I immediately thought of my grandparents as they helped make my childhood all those things. Ruth & Ragnar is my tribute to them.

Your little girl is adorable. How did becoming a mom influence your work?

I know it’s a cliché but the minute I held Milou in my arms for the first time my whole world changed. She needed me. I needed her. I wanted to spend all my time with her, give her all my passion, energy and devotion. I also want her to grow up in a world where human rights are respected and where all humans are treated equally. So I needed to find a way to spend that time with her but still continue to work towards a better world. That’s how the initial idea prompted by my husband’s suggestion to start a clothing company actually became reality. On top of offering curated organic kidswear from amazing brands, which themselves have incredible stories and products, I am creating my own brand that I will use, like I mentioned, as an avenue to spread awareness about issues I care deeply about.

We love all of the fun designs you’ve chosen to feature in your shop. What was your favorite item in your closet as a kid?

I grew up in the eighties so unfortunately I didn’t have the cool velour seventies outfits that my older sisters were dressed in. My wardrobe consisted of neon colors, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and lots of leggings. I did have this amazing reversible sweatshirt which I thought was the coolest top ever! I have been waiting for thirty years for reversible sweaters to make a comeback and I am THRILLED to announce that one of our brands, Filemon Kid, has brought them back! We will have a lovely turquoise reversible sweater with raccoon prints in our shop this spring. It is made with GOTS-certified organic cotton only and printed with non-toxic water based dyes. Come get one before all the other nostalgic eighties moms find out about them, hahaha!

What inspires you?

Everyday life! We live in such a beautiful part of the world. It’s difficult not to be inspired when you walk down to the beach and get to see a breathtaking sunset nearly every night. I have some amazing friends and family that inspire me daily. My husband has more energy than anyone I have ever met; he literately cannot sit still for a second – always doing research, coming up with new ideas, surfing, organizing or just playing with our daughter. I watch him with amazement every day. Also, San Diego is so diverse and fun to explore. I’ve spent a lot of time in City Heights which has such eclectic atmosphere with lots of African and Asian shops, restaurants and community events. El Cajon offers a unique mix of American, Hispanic and Arabic culture and while North County may be less multicultural, it sure makes up for it in coastal beauty. Since 2011 I have also gotten to spend every single day with my daughter and watched her learn, create, grow and develop. How could I not be inspired?

Do you have any advice for living a creative life?

Let go of your fears. I never saw myself as being creative, I have always been afraid of what others might think. There are “real” artists out there, “real” craft makers, what might people think of me? Once I became a parent I started caring far less about what people think of me. I guess I am just too busy living my life. Once I let go of my fears I became more creative because I allowed myself to be. Let go of your fears and do what you want to do, if you have the means to.

Where can we find more Ruth & Ragnar?

The best way to get updates and the latest news about Ruth & Ragnar is to sign up to our Newsletter on our website www.ruthandragnar.com. We are also love to share articles and updates on Facebook. For fun photos of our clothes and life with a three-year old, check out our Instagram account. Join the conversation on Funky Kidswear and sustainable fashion and any other topic under the sun with us on Twitter.

Anything else you want to add?

The Ruth & Ragnar webstore, featuring curated organic kids fashion, launched in February 2015. I wanted to make sure parents didn’t have to do the extensive and frustrating research I had to do to find sustainable clothing for their children. I have done the research for them. At Ruth & Ragnar we are offering organic exclusively. You can be 100% sure anything you order from our webstore is made entirely with 100% organic cotton, no exceptions! Happy shopping!

Wow, thank you Mikaela for sharing so much of yourself and for all the beautiful photos you provided! You are truly an inspiration. It’s been a joy to get to know you better, and I am really looking forward to watching your brand take flight later this year! I have to sign off now – I’m running over to ruthandragnar.com before the 80’s inspired reversible turquoise sweater with raccoon prints is all sold out! Ha! Take care everyone.

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