Notes From the Janery Studio

Ethical Shopping

  • Favorite Time Tested Zero Waste Kitchen Storage Accessories

    On the path to a zero-waste or more eco-friendly kitchen and life?  These handy and often beautiful gadgets are our family’s favorite way to reduce kitchen waste for a greener home. 

    At Janery, we’ve always been focused on making the best pet beds on the planet.  Equally important is knowing that our pet beds are ethically manufactured by people who are treated with respect. But we also want to respect our planet in the process.  

    While we aren’t yet zero-waste, we already take steps to reduce our environmental footprint, from turning large scraps into the biggest, most irresistible cat toys, and donating our smaller fabric scraps to educational institutions.  We package our tough Catnip Logs and extra long Catnip Kicker toys in biodegradable sleeves for freshness. 

    If you appreciate how we’ve created washable, durable pet beds that bounce back from the inevitable messes pets sling at them - keeping more beds out of landfills - you might appreciate our list of time-tested items for a less wasteful kitchen.  

    Zero Waste Eco Friendly Kitchen Accessories Food Storage

    1. Travel Pouches for Straws + Cutlery

    Keep reusable straws in easy reach with this purse or backpack-ready storage pouch from Beego Handmade.  It also holds a fork and spoon easily. 

    2. Stainless Steel Drinking Straws

    We’ve been enjoying reusable glass straws for over 10 years, but these American-made metal straws are more convenient on the go and a lot less nerve wracking with kids!  Find durable USA-made metal straws at Mulled Mind

    The Final Straw is the fabulous collapsible metal straw.  We recommend only purchasing from their website, as the market was quickly flooded with knock-offs that were not only copying this inventor, but sometimes injuring people.  

    3. Stasher Silicone Zip Top Bags

    Stasher bags are becoming our favorite replacement for disposable ziplock bags in the freezer, and whenever we need to store something that could leak out of the cloth snack bags above.  

    4. Food Huggers

    When you need to stash half a lemon or a bit of cucumber in the fridge, Food Huggers to the rescue! Their 4 sizes of machine-washable silicone produce “lids” are perfect for the job. 

    5. Beeswax Wrap

    We’ve been using beeswax wraps for about 3 months now, and are completely sold.  Not only is it cute and washable, it conforms to awkwardly shaped food and bowls much better than plastic wrap.  (If you’re a fan of Saran Press&Seal, this is the perfect replacement.) Good brands include BeesWrap and Meli Wraps.  

    6. Waterproof Cloth Snack Bags

    These fabric snack bags from Beego Handmade are surprisingly useful, durable, and washable.  Perfect for stashing snacks for adults and kids alike.  Lined with food-safe waterproof fabric, they’re available with three kinds of closures - snaps, velcro, or simple foldover. 

    7. Cloth Produce Bags

    Not pictured but equally important - cloth produce bags.  We’ve been using them for over 10 years and they’re still going strong! Ethically manufactured and light as a feather, these drawstring bags from EcoBags are great for far more than just produce.  

    *You’ll notice that we avoid linking to the products on Amazon.  At Janery, we prefer to order products from smaller businesses when we can, to avoid lining the pockets of massive corporations like Amazon.

    Uncommon Goods stocks most of these, and many more eco-friendly, reusable kitchen goods - and they often feature the work of artisans.

    If you love your pets and our low-waste kitchen ideas, you're probably a perfect fit for the Janery VIP club.  Our bimonthly emails promise to never be boring, and share behind the scenes peeks as well as exclusive access to our private sales. 

    Janery Favorite Zero Waste Kitchen Food Storage Accessories

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  • What Is Ethical Manufacturing and Why Should I Care?

    Find out why ethical manufacturing is good for business—and for you.

    Janery What Is Ethical Manufacturing and Why Should I Care?

    From the first day I opened Janery’s virtual doors, I was committed to creating sophisticated pet beds with an unapologetic commitment to quality. Some of this quality you can see and feel—the double-stitched seams, the deep-dyed patterns, the channel-sewn cushion, the impressive waterproof liner—and some of this quality is inherent in the ethical manufacturing, which includes the quality of life for the people who help pull it all together.

    I’ve written about how to be an ethical consumer, and I’ve shared some of my favorite ethical businesses with you. But what does “ethical manufacturing” really mean?

    Not all ethical manufacturing occurs in America, and not all American manufacturing is ethical.

    Picturing unethical manufacturing is unfortunately easy to do. We’ve all seen the pictures in the media of the sweatshops in foreign countries. It might surprise you, however, to learn that “American-made” isn’t a guarantee of ethical manufacturing, and popular stores, like Los-Angeles-based, fashion giant Forever21, have a long history of exploiting workers and state law. As recently as last fall, companies were found paying as little as $4/hour to workers who put in 11-hour days.

    Conversely, not all overseas factories are unethical. Companies like Cambodia-based Tonlé focus on improved quality of life and safety for their workforce. Per Tonlé’s website:

    “We're a zero waste, ethical fashion brand on a big mission, to reduce waste generated by larger factories and change the way business is done in the fashion industry. Our process starts with scrap waste sourced from mass clothing manufacturers. Using every last thread, we create handmade clothing and accessories signed by their Cambodian makers. Our family of employees is made up of individuals with spirit, drive and dreams. Together, we’ve built a supportive environment where everyone expresses themselves freely, learns new skills, and gains confidence in what they do. We believe style is more than what you wear – it’s what you choose to be a part of.”

    Everlane is another example. Their tagline, “Modern Basics, Radical Transparency” makes it easy to see where their priorities lay. I am so inspired by their transparency and their mission to improve the lives of the people who make the products they sell. They have factories from LA to Vietnam, spread across four continents. The best part? They encourage you to #KnowYourFactories, and in each product listing, you can click a link to see the actual factory where that product was produced.  

    On a global scale, ethical manufacturing focuses on the good health, safety, and fair compensation of the workforce. These best practices often include a commitment to minimizing waste, thorough product testing, and proper labeling. When you can source your favorite products ethically, you know you’re voting for companies that respect the time, energy, and talent that goes into each and every product. Wouldn’t this be great if it were the norm - instead of the exception?

    Yes, ethical manufacturing will always cost more than sweatshop labor, because it reflects the true value of what you are purchasing. It’s a small investment to ensure the best dog beds and the best cat beds on the market.

    Janery What Is Ethical Manufacturing and Why Should I Care?

    What does ethical manufacturing mean to us at Janery?

    When I bring in more hands to work on our luxury pet beds, I consider several factors before placing an order with a sewing factory:

    • Employees of all levels are treated with respect.
    • Employees are paid a fair, legal wage - and ideally, a living wage.
    • Employees work reasonable hours and are working at-will:  no bonded labor, no underage employment, the doors are unlocked, and they are free to leave at any time.
    • A safe work environment where repairs are made and safety equipment is available.
    • Ideally, all employees receive benefits and healthcare - though our country has a ways to go with this one.

    Because of these benchmarks, I’ve been able to form amazing partnerships with manufacturers across the country, from Michigan to North Carolina and Maine.

    I sleep better at night knowing we aren’t cutting corners—on style, on comfort, or on human rights, and you can rest easy knowing that your pup’s favorite waterproof dog bed has both chic, effortless style—and a higher purpose.

    Explore the Janery product line and feel the Janery difference.

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  • Artists You'll Love: Paper Rose Co handcrafted botanicals

    Forget flowers that wilt and chocolates that disappear seemingly overnight - this Mother’s Day, or any day, you can give your loved ones a botanical paper floral bouquet that is handcrafted to last years in Richmond, VA.

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  • Artists I Love: Juniper Briggs

    As a maker, a musician, and a lover of interior design, it’s important to me to build a collection of meaningful art and design elements for our home.  Things created by other makers and business owners; things that will inspire and energize me on a daily basis.

    I’ve been intentional about purchasing only art that I love to line the walls of our house - even though it means our house has been “in progress” for years.  You won’t find what I call “waiting room” decor in my home. But when I fall hard for the work of an artist, I want to share their work with you. In this instance, that means Juniper Briggs. 

    Holy Virgin - Juniper Briggs
    (Source Juniper Briggs)

     

    When I completed my black and white home office, I treated myself to her framed Nefertiti print.  Not only did I love the figure’s elegance, I loved the use of color and geometric lines to create something so modern yet timeless. Additionally, it honored my mom’s memory; she always told me she wanted to name me Nefertiti as a baby because I had such a long elegant neck. (Thank goodness she didn’t.)

    I found not only art but a spirit of creativity and balance in the self-taught artist as well. Like me, Juniper is local to the Washington, DC area (we’re practically neighbors!), and a hard-working mom, splitting time between small children and a studio space in her home. I’m always inspired to see her glimpses of balancing work and family time in her Instagram stories.

     


    (Source Juniper Briggs)

    Here’s how she describes her work:

    I think of my paintings as an outward reflection of the intertwined relationship between the body and the soul. I am fascinated by the juxtaposition between a calm outward stare and the wilderness of thought and emotion within. The clean confidence we present to the world versus the beautifully complex struggle we contain.”

    I don’t know about you, but I certainly identify with that struggle.

    I’m honored to have a fine art print of Juniper’s work in my home. If you like what you see here, I think you’ll love following her on Instagram or joining her newsletter for the first glimpse at her newest pieces.  But be warned - her original paintings sell out quickly!

    Juniper Briggs
    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest
    Top photo, the Janery office, by Laura Metzler.

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  • Retailer Spotlight: Gift and Gather in Occoquan, VA

    As a passionate promoter of handmade, locally made, and ethically made goods, I’m always thrilled to find a gift store offering just that.  It’s a refreshing change from the same-old mass-produced goods at every mall, and it can help you give a gift with meaning.

    But boutiques like these are not found in every town (yet)! Therefore I was thrilled when Gift + Gather opened in the small riverfront town of Occoquan, Virginia - only a stone’s throw from Interstate 95.  This Washington, DC suburb is a small, very old town bursting with local pride.

    Gift + Gather is run by the owner of Pure Palette, one of my favorite local makers of candle and body products.  When she invited Janery to join the shelves of her beautifully curated store, I was honored and immediately knew I wanted to share her new boutique with all of you.  I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know her business more via this virtual interview!

    I was happy to interview shop owner Usa recently. Here's what she had to say about Gift and Gather:

    In what year did you open your doors?

    November 2017

    What does your store do especially well? What makes you stand out among the rest?

    Our shop offers locally handmade products from the DC metro area.  The shop carries a wide range of handmade products from jewelry, handbags, body care products, pet accessories and home decor such as pottery, pillows and home fragrances as well as beverages such as hand-blended teas and syrups. I must say that our customers are excited about what they find at our shop and how we display them. As a result, everything has sold very well at our shop despite our historic Occoquan location.

    Does your store do any community work or donations that we can give you kudos for?

    Yes, we recently discovered The Good News Community Kitchen (TGNCK), a non-profit organization, established to rebuild and strengthen communities by fighting hunger one meal at a time. The office is located at 308 Poplar Alley #B, Occoquan VA 22125. You can learn more about them at www.tgnck.org.  We look forward to working with them. In the meantime, we are donating part of our profits to them.

    Image courtesy The Good News Community Kitchen

    I know you also run Pure Palette, a line of candles and body products, that are also available online. How did you transition from running Pure Palette to opening a brick and mortar shop?

    Our customers always wanted to experience our home fragrances besides shopping online or at local craft fairs. We were glad to find a great location not too far from Washington DC in historic Occoquan, Virginia. The historic town represents a true concept of our small batch handmade products. Now our customers can visit our shop throughout the year and we also offer to help our customers find gifts for any occasion such as weddings, birthdays, housewarming gifts, gifts for their clients and also corporate gifts. We also plan to hold classes such as sewing and flower arrangement in the future.

    What’s been your best selling Janery product?

    Our customers LOVE your products. Both Catnip Mats and Catnip Kickers are doing very well. There are so many pet lovers in our town.

    Janery Catnip Cuddler at Gift and Gather Occoquan VA

    What initially drew you to our products?

    I love your aesthetic and fabric selection. I always love colorful and simple geometric fabric design. Besides the design, your products have an added material that all cats love...CATNIP! We all know that it is undeniable.

    Please describe your brand in one to two sentences.

    Connecting handmade makers and local customers by offering locally handmade crafts & gift products.

    How would you describe your store's aesthetic?

    Modern, natural simplicity.

    Winter hours: 10:00 am to 6 pm  Friday to Saturday
    Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

    I hope you'll stop by and check it out if you're in the area, and while you're at it, get a delicious lunch at the Secret Garden Cafe, a Janery favorite when we make deliveries to Gift + Gather.

    Janery Gift and Gather Pure Palette Aromatherapy Products
    All images courtesy Usa Pratanasup at Gift and Gather or by Janery unless otherwise noted.

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  • How to Avoid Sweatshops & Factory-Made Products on Etsy

    Etsy is a great marketplace for handmade and unique products, but factories and made-in-China re-sellers have flooded Etsy, making it harder to find truly handmade products. Here's how to find truly handmade art and products on Etsy.

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