' The MZ Blog

The MZ Blog

Shop Feature: Boxed and Burlap

Shop Feature: Boxed and Burlap

Each quarter we select one of our amazing retail partners as the winner of our ongoing photo contest. We've been enjoying beautiful captures of Boxed and Burlap all year long, with their MZ products expertly merchandised alongside other beautiful and meaningful items. We are excited for the opportunity to learn more about their business and how they utilize social media to grow their community and drive sales. 

Boxed and Burlap is a more than just a shop. It's part cafe, part retail store, and also doubles as an event center. Husband and wife team Lindsay and John have created this unique space in Delavan, Wisconsin, where they work and live with their two young daughters. 

In our modern day digital era, technology that should connect us, sadly can have the unintended effect of isolating us. The beauty of the space they have created, paired with their mastery of social media, is that they have figured out how to leverage the platform to offer opportunities for folks to connect face to face.

MZ: Can you share a bit about yourselves and the Boxed and Burlap story?

Lindsay: As a husband and wife team with multifaceted interests in the areas of parenting, entrepreneurship, art and teaching, we feel a sense of urgency to create and succeed through what some may consider to be non-traditional avenues. Like a work of art, Boxed and Burlap was a blank space, and our team of two inspired students were eager to find an accurate medium to express our feelings. Boxed and Burlap’s story was not planned, in fact there were moments in the beginning when we had to stop, disassemble, and put all of the puzzle pieces together. In deciding what Boxed and Burlap was going to be as a business, we relied on remembering who we are as individuals and as a couple. Our goal with Boxed and Burlap is to stay true to our faith, be inspired by the past, and to encourage others for a more positive future.

Boxed and Burlap is a business that enjoys visionary spaces both inside and out.  We love providing the community with bespoke handcrafted coffee, unique environments, a coffee corner curated with high quality decor and accessory pieces for sale and a seasonal garden center with plants in the spring and Christmas trees and handcrafted wreaths and garland during November and December. Our Barn and Batten House are available for rent throughout the year to host weddings, corporate events, classes and meetings. Additionally, we hold a Market on Fridays during the summer months with vendors selling homegrown produce, handmade food and handcrafted items. Lastly, Yoga Lake Geneva holds yoga classes in our Batten House seven days a week year round.

The truth is, Boxed and Burlap is a feeling, fed to the soul with coffee, creative spaces and community. We aspire for our business to be a place that feeds the human soul with peace, comfort, hope and inspiration.

MZ: How do you curate the products you carry, in consideration of your values and aesthetic?

Lindsay: Boxed and Burlap is a business that believes in the power of creativity, community and craftsmanship. As an artist myself, I have a high appreciation for handmade items and expectations for superior craftsmanship. My husband John and I enjoy the process of designing and creating spaces, objects, and art by hand. As such, we admire individuals and businesses that do the same. Through Boxed and Burlap, we hope to share the joy of creating and creativity with others.

MZ fits well into Boxed and Burlap’s brand, as the company, its products and the artisans embody the positive power of bringing creativity, community and superior craftsmanship together.

MZ: How do you utilize photography and social media to promote yourself and your products?

Lindsay: We believe strongly in promoting Boxed and Burlap through quality and consistent photography on our social media and website. We have an amazing social media manager Erin, who found us during our first year in business. Her aesthetic really matches our branding and her ability to engage our customers and promote our products and business is outstanding. We are thankful to have met Erin and being able to trust her with Boxed and Burlap’s social media is a blessing.

MZ: What tips would you offer other retail shops to find success in social media?

Lindsay: 

Finding success in social media involves maintaining a consistent and exceptional experience for followers through high quality imagery and engaging text that matches the branding of your business.

Variety in imagery and text is important in order to keep the attention of your followers while being mindful to maintain quality and branding. Additionally, John and I believe in recognizing your strengths and weaknesses. If social media is not your strength, or if it takes too much time away from your taking care of an integral part of your business, then it is important to invest in an individual who can bring your social media to its highest potential.

12 Fun Facts about Boxed and Burlap!

    1. Our coffee comes from a small roaster in Brooklyn, NY. We chose this roaster for many reasons but specifically for Boxed and Burlap to have a high quality product that cannot be found in any other midwestern coffee shop. 
    2. The outdoor garden center is seasonal, with plants available in the spring and summer, Christmas trees and handcrafted wreaths in November and December.
    3. We run a Market on Fridays 8am - 2pm in our Barn May through September with vendors selling produce and handcrafted items.

    4. We offer the Barn to be rented for weddings and corporate events. 

    5. We hosted a styled bridal show last May in the Barn.
    6. Our Batten House is booked for small events of up to 50 guests, which have included bridal showers, baby showers, small weddings and usage as a bridal sweet. 
    7. Our Batten House holds yoga classes by Yoga Lake Geneva seven days a week.
    8. Boxed and Burlap has hosted two crafted cocktail workshops this winter in the Batten House and is planning more events like this in the winter months.
    9. Almost once a month Boxed and Burlap hosts Open Mic events, with live music, coffee, wine and craft beer.
    10. The Coffee House was an existing house on the property that was completely redesigned and remodeled by John and Lindsay.
    11. The Batten House was previously the garage to the existing house and was completely redesigned and remodeled John and Lindsay.
    12. The Barn was built on the property by John and Lindsay as the property was being transformed.

Thanks to Lindsay and John for sharing their story and tips for success. 

All of our retail partners can enter to win the photo contest (prize is free shipping, plus being featured on our social media, blog, and newsletter) simply by tagging us in your photos on social media! 

Honoring Artisan Mothers

Honoring Artisan Mothers

Written by Maria Luisa Santiago. Translation and introduction by Hannah Aronowitz.

A couple months ago on a visit to Teotitlan del Valle, one of the MZ artisans Maria Luisa slipped a folded piece of notebook paper discreetly into my hand, so her mother who was preparing food on the other side of the patio would not see. 

Completely unbidden she had written, in a beautiful sloping script, what is essentially an ode to her mother Gloria. Gloria is the matriarch of the Santiago family, and can count no less than 10 children who work with MZ. I'm not quite sure where we would be without her!

Maria Luisa asked me if I would consider publishing her note on the MZ Blog, as a surprise for her mother. It's my honor to translate her words and share this message of love and legacy with you. 

For Gloria  

One of the most special bags in the MZ collection is the "Gloria." The name of this bag is in honor of my mother, Gloria, as well as all the artisan mothers who transmit their love through their weaving. 

Gloria's story is translated through each one of our weaving, of our bags, and it's the story of all the artisan mothers of past generations. We are artisan weavers thanks to them. It's what they always dreamed of, and now it's become reality. 

They gave us the most invaluable knowledge, that you cannot learn just with the eyes, or with the hands. It takes heart. This is the heritage of my mother, passed from one generation to the next. We've done it!

Now it's our commitment as artisan mothers to give future generations the best we have to offer. We are the daughters of the great generations of Zapotecs, who never disappeared because they live in each design, in the threads and colors of our weaving. 

Thanks to the great team at MZ for supporting the dream of Zapotec artisan mothers. Thanks to all the those who support this great project through buying our bags. Thanks for carrying so close to your heart my "Gloria" tote ... and from the bottom of my heart, thank you to my mother for being the inspiration. 

-----

We are currently offering 33% OFF in honor of Mother's Day! 

Learn more about Maria Luisa HERE.

Shop Maria Luisa's products HERE.

Check out the bestselling Gloria Tote HERE.

5 Years after Rana Plaza - What's Actually Changed?

5 Years after Rana Plaza - What's Actually Changed?

April 24th, 2018 marks five years after the deadly collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, which took the lives of over 1000 garment workers, and injured another 2000. This tragedy brought attention to the terrible human rights abuses and environmental degradation caused by the global fashion industry. In the wake of such a large scale disaster, social advocacy groups, brands, and consumers have called for safe working conditions, fair wages and environmental regulations. 

But even with all the noise, how much has really changed?

At the Sustainable Fashion Forum in Portland, Oregon last week, I had the opportunity to hear ethical fashion advocate Whitney Bauck of Fashionista discuss this question. 

One of the largest shifts in the past five years is increased visibility of human rights and environmental abuses within the fashion industry. Movements such as Fashion Revolution, plus ethical fashion and conscious consumerism campaigns on social media on the parts of brands and shoppers, have brought more awareness around the problems caused by fast fashion, and offered solutions to slow down the cycle of consumption.

Over half of millennial and Gen Z shoppers say that would rather buy a product that was ethically produced, which is an indication that the attempts at education have been effective. However, consumer habit statistics paint a different picture. While people SAY they care about ethical production, they might conveniently forget their morals when it comes to the cash register. 

In terms of actual policy, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh was signed on May 15th, 2013. It is a five year independent, legally binding agreement between global brands, retailers and trade unions designed to increase healthy and safe working conditions within the garment industry in Bangladesh, which is the largest producer of clothing worldwide. 

According to Whitney, while the Accord has made safety regulations more enforceable, labor rights issues still have a long way to go.  Workers are forced to work long hours for little pay, they are banned from joining unions, and reports of sexual harassment and abuse are rampant. As the vast majority of garment workers in Bangladesh, India and Cambodia are millennial women, ethical fashion is truly a feminist issue. 

In all, it seems that the Rana Plaza disaster shook up the fashion industry, increased awareness and demanded reform. However, unless consumers truly put their money where their mouth is, the demand for cheap, trendy clothes will continue to feed the monster that is the fast fashion industry. As a consumer, our individual and collective shopping choices truly do matter. How will you use your purchasing power?