a peek inside: my beach bag

We’ll blame it on being a Virgo, but I have designated bags for everything and the beach is no exception. Living on the coast of Southern California, I’m a frequent beach flyer. My fair-skinned complexion is absolutely no competition for the sun’s brute strength, specifically its UVA and UVB rays, so whenever I hit the shore I make sure I’m stocked with all the necessary tools for a safe and pleasant beach day.

Two of the most important items in my tote are my facial and body sunscreens. Crucial. We rarely see cloud coverage down here but even if we do, clouds block as little as 20% of UV rays. So the bottom line is that sunscreen is critical to skin protection.

There are a few criteria that skin products must meet before they get the green light from me. Organic, sustainably made, and cruelty-free are all musts. Through my product research, I was introduced to another checkbox which applies exclusively to sunscreens: reef safe. Sunscreens that are manufactured without Oxybenzone or Octinoxate are legally classified as “reef safe” — another simple way to limit your environmental footprint.

The sunscreens pictured above are my most trusted lotions. I was using Sun Bum on my face for a few months until it began to sting my eyes whenever I got out of the ocean. Since it was doing a great job shielding the rest of my body, I figured I’d just look into a new sunscreen for my face. I narrowed the search down to Badger Sport and Coola Sport but ultimately went for Coola. It’s been about 2 weeks and I can honestly say I’m thrilled with it. No drips, no tears, and no burns. Plus, it meets all of my requirements. It’s the stuff, people.

For the face: Coola Suncare Suncare Citrus Mimosa Moisturizer Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
For the bod: Sun Bum Original Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

My water bottle and I have been in a strong committed relationship for almost 2 years. We’ve been everywhere together. Since I bought the bottle back in ’16, I can honestly say I have purchased less than 15 plastic water bottles. Aside from that, I’m able to measure my water intake and ensure that I’m staying hydrated in the hot summer sun and/or year round. It’s looking pretty dated these days, but it still keeps my water fresh and cold. I prefer the tinier mouth compared to other reusable bottles that have a wider mouth; I find that it makes drinking easier and less messy… I’m known for spilling. As for cleaning: I rinse my bottle out every day and soap every other.

SHADES Ray-Ban Round Metal
Admittedly, the time for me to invest in a solid pair of polarized sunglasses has come and gone but I’ve been slacking and still wear the American classics, Ray-Ban.  They do a decent job of protecting my eyes from the sun, but I’ve gotta step my game up and get a pair of shades that are built for high sun exposure. Will report back.

OontZ Angle 3 PLUS Portable Bluetooth Speaker
If you haven’t noticed from my monthly playlists, I’m a big music buff. Whether you’re solo or with others, speakers help liven things up. Again, there were a handful of criteria that the chosen speakers had to meet before I settled on them: sand-proof, water-resistant Bluetooth,  long battery life. Check, check, check, and check. They’re lightweight and the sound quality is spot on. Never hit the beach without them.

TOWEL Slowtide Haven Tassel Beach Towel
Towels on the beach are for both comfort and functionality. We nap on them, dry off using them and sometimes use it as a hold-all for our belongings. My current beach bud is my Slowtide beach towel. First of all, it’s beautiful. There’s way more to Slowtide than meets the eyes, though. They follow slow manufacturing processes and are transparent when it comes to their responsibilities as a company.  As someone who’s always keeping an eye out for a solid sustainable brand, this one was a home run.

Happy beaching.

Your Gal, Shaye


zero-waste journey: reusable straws

At this point, the issue surrounding plastic straws has hit the mainstream- literally and figuratively. Ditching the single-use poly-plastics and opting for reusable straws is a simple way to reduce the waste that is having an unprecedented impact on our environment, specifically our oceans. There are over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean.  Investing in these tiny suppers is not only inexpensive but also responsible. We use over 500 million (!!!) straws per day, many of which make their way to our oceans and end up in the stomachs of our marine life. Reusable straws seem like the obvious alternative.

For my introductory reusable straw, I went for glass. Being a “glass-over-everything” girl, it was a natural choice. My first glass straw was by Simply Straws, which was included in my To-Go Ware reusable utensil kit. Despite my cautious efforts whilst using it in public, it was accidentally tossed after I left it in my water glass at a local breakfast joint in my hometown.

It was an emotional day,  but I jumped right on Amazon to reorder; this time I got a set of four: two bent and two straight, a straw for every occasion. I liked ’em, but not nearly as much as my Simply Straws straw. They are wide, making them a great smoothie companion, but they’re a little uncomfortable to enjoy with any regular bev.

With luck and coordination against me, I lost another trusty straw after it took a fall and shattered. I figured it was time to rethink my purchase, considering my clumsy tendencies. Time to bring in the big guns- the mighty stainless steel competitor.

Despite my usual glass preference, I’m really digging these straws so far. Iced and/or chilled beverages taste super refreshing from the stainless steel’s cooling effect. They were inexpensive, they’re fool-proof/drop-proof, and very easy to transport. Perhaps I’m a biased pro-reusable straw gal, but compared to plastic straws, there are virtually no “cons”.

Reusable straws are one of the “first stops” on my zero-waste journey, and I haven’t looked back once. It brings major personal and public awareness to the plastic issue at hand. So far, I’ve gotten tons of positive feedback and inquiries regarding where I purchased mine. It’s the best kind of snowball effect. When it comes to saving the environment, the most powerful first step is being the change. Cutting back (and ultimately eliminating) your plastic consumption is a great start.

Your Gal, Shaye



our journey to Joshua Tree, CA

Just 140 miles east of Los Angeles, in the High Desert of California, rests Joshua Tree National Park. Nestled between the towns of Yucca Valley, Twentynine Palms, and naturally, Joshua Tree. The national park is celebrated for its explosive sunsets, sparkling starry night skies, obscurely beautiful plant life, and hipster-approved shops and eateries.

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Due to its close proximity to the always bustling LA, this desert oasis is the quintessential back-to-basics getaway; close enough, but far enough. We often forget how crucial it is to our wellbeing–and sanity– that we take a step back from our busy schedules and make time to ground ourselves. Ditching the traffic and turning in street lights for stars to guide the way is guaranteed to reduce stress levels. If you weren’t already aware, spending time in nature has proven health benefits. More specifically, the desert provides higher air quality, less light pollution (which is helpful when you’re looking for constellations), and ample sunshine. Interestingly, the dry air in the desert also means less mold and bacteria, which is beneficial when it comes to wound-healing and respiratory problems.


Last month, I was in dire need of getaway in the great outdoors. Initially, Matt and I planned to venture up the coast to Big Sur, but stormy weather deterred us from taking the trip. As desert lovers, we settled on Joshua Tree. We packed our Mitsubishi rental with our two-person tent, not enough blankets, one pillow (which I immediately regretted), and other various necessities and set off.


After about three hours in the car, we rolled through the sleepy trio of towns before we reached the park entrance. As luck had it, there were no camping sites available. This was our fault, we should have known, but thankfully we found a groovy campsite right outside of the park. During the spring and summer months, it hosts various festivals and other creative gatherings. It was sweet. For $20 a night, we secured a spot for our tent and our trusty red Mistu.

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Despite the forecasts’ call for high winds, I was hopeful it wouldn’t be the case. It was. We got our tent up and headed over to our on-the-road go-to, Walmart. I normally hate supporting big box stores like Walmart, but unfortunately, when you’re in small towns your options are limited. Matt and I stocked up on dinner for the night, salmon and veggies via firepit and pan, and drove back to our home for the night. The setting sun doesn’t wait for anyone so we started cooking right away. Matt manned the grill, and fought off the smoke like a champ, while I chopped the veggies. The end results weren’t exactly gourmet and faintly resembled that of toasted marshmallows, but we were hungry and cold, so it sufficed.

We admired the sunset, put out the fire, and retreated to the tent for the night, while the sounds of the whipping winds echoed through the valley.



We rose, we shined, and we hit Mt. Ryan for a hike. Matt and I decided we’d give the first come first served on-site campgrounds another shot, so we packed up all of our belongings before we left.

After breaking a sweat and scoring some breathtaking views, Round 2 of the campground search commenced. We were pulling out of the last site, Jumbo Rocks, with no sign of a spot, when a fine gentleman waved us down and offered up his spot, as he was pulling out. The Desert Gods were looking down and granted us the authentic J. Tree experience we were looking for.

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The winds had no mercy on us and continued to howl throughout night two. The sunrise made it worth it, though. It was truly magnificent. It was difficult to decipher whether my shivers were from the morning chill or the palette of colors that painted the sky. We finished admiring the colors until our growling stomachs demanded breakfast. The wind was stubborn and was having no part of us starting a fire to cook so we settled on a diner- Carla’s Route 62 Diner. I  was not-so-secretly thrilled.


Although I would have loved to check out more shops, Matt and I went to Joshua Tree strictly for the nature experience, and that’s what we got. We did, however, make time to peek into a few of the gems that lined the main road.

  • The Grateful Desert Herb Shoppe & EcoMartThis spot is just what you’d picture being in Joshua Tree. The apothecary had everything from aromatherapy to chocolate to small knick-knacks. I purchased some loose-leaf chai tea, dried lavender, my cherished muslin tea bag, and an awesome logo sticker.  I use the lavender for tea or sometimes I toss some into a tiny sheer bag and leave it in my purse. Smells delightful.
  • Joshua Tree Health Foods: The store of my dreams. They had everything! I splurged on a lavender and blueberry dark chocolate bar. my taste buds had a dance party.  If anything, check this place out!
  • Natural Sisters CafeMatt and I stopped here on Day 2 for a coffee break. The joe was pretty tasty, but it was their pastries that caught my eye. I was doing a ‘no sugar, no carb’ weekend, so I didn’t try any, but if I go back, I will certainly stop back in.
  • Unity Home Thrift Shop: Your typical small town thrift shop chock-full of hidden treasures. Matt scored a sweet 90s bathing suit here. I wasn’t committed to the cause so I didn’t get anything, but it’s worth a visit.
  • Carla’s Route 62 Diner: This was where we had our last supper breakfast. I ordered huevos rancheros and they were delicious. With that said, we didn’t do too much research and sort of rushed the decision-making process. When I’m traveling, I’m very deliberate when choosing where to eat.
    Bottom line: I would recommend it, but I don’t think I would go back. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, more so because there were healthier, more interesting alternatives.

My perception of what Joshua Tree was before I went was entirely skewed. I originally thought it was just one town (not three) that was adorned with dozens of hip shops. Embarrassingly, I didn’t even know it was a national park! In reality, it’s a quiet strip that oozes desert excellence and boasts a handful of awesome mom & pop shops.

Next time I go to Joshua Tree, I’d switch it up a bit. For starters, I would write up a more thorough plan. I think I’d probably kick off the trip with primitive camping. It’s such a rewarding experience that gives you a real sense of accomplishment. From pitching your own tent to cooking your own food, it helps you grasp what life is like in the wild.

I’d finish off my stay by shacking up in a rustic meets boho mod Airbnb. The one I have in mind: Casa Joshua Tree. It’s the account that introduced me to Joshua Tree and is insanely beautiful.

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When all was said and done and we hopped back in the Mitsu to head home with smiles on faces. Our adventure was a great success. It was just the medicine my body– and mind– needed to decompress. Sometimes fresh air and mountain views is all it takes. If given the opportunity, take the trip!

Your Gal, Shaye

SS: MATE the Label

In essence, this column is to inform and advise. Understanding the ‘fast-fashion model,’ which is a large sector of the fashion industry, is crucial to living a stylish life of mindfulness. Many people have fallen victim to the allure of industry and aren’t aware of the irreversible impact it’s having on our planet. Throughout all stages of textile production, the aquatic, terrestrial, and atmospheric ecosystems experience lasting environmental harm, including but certainly not limited to the emission of greenhouse gases.

As the severity of the situation persists, large companies and local brands alike are vowing to break the chain. It is their mission to do what is ethical by ensuring all operations are carried out sustainably. Nature and fashion can coexist despite the toxic relationship the two have had over the last century. We don’t have to forfeit our love of fashion, we just have to find brands that are willing to do what’s right. That’s where I come in; I’m here to offer alternatives to the otherwise disposable pieces you regularly shop for.

Discovering fresh brands that have beauty and brains is one of my guilty pleasures. There’s nothing like finding a line that has a unique aesthetic and a progressive mindset, am I right? Buckle up because with each new Sustainable Spotlight post, I will be introducing you to another awesome brand that you’ll probably fall in love with (just like I did).

Time to set sail into a sea of sustainably-made beauties.
Destination: MATE the Label, DTLA.

While perusing Instagram a few years back, I stumbled upon MATE’s feed and was mesmerized. In all honesty, I judged this book by its covered and was sold solely on their style. MATE was a mystery company to me, so I didn’t yet know that they were the whole package.  After doing a bit of research, I quickly realized they weren’t a mystery at all. In fact, they were already an established line that hailed from the west coast.

MATE the Label is the brainchild of Kayti Carr O’Connell, who I was lucky to meet earlier this fall. It began as a side hustle, which consisted of Carr selling thrifted wonders she found herself. From this, the idea for MATE was conceived and thus, the Label was born.

Dreamy graphics decorate the majority of MATE’s buttery-soft pieces. Not only could they potentially melt in your hands, they’re extremely versatile as well. By this, I mean you sleep in them or rock ‘em for a night out on the town. It is clear that MATE has mastered the groovy vibes category but they also stand for some really great causes. That’s far out.


In a 2017 interview with La Femme Creative, she said, “being made in Los Angeles is a big part of our brand. We have partnered with factories that are all within a 5-mile radius of our HQ. This means that we are able to check in on development and production on a daily basis. We are very hands-on with each step of the process and love being able to build relationships with the people that are making our product.” Apparently, the average shirt travels to 4 or 5 factories before reaching the hands of the consumer, so the fact that MATE produces and manufactures all products in what is essentially their backyard is commendable.


As mentioned, I met with Kayti a few months ago at MATE HQ. I was there for an interview, actually. Upon my arrival here in LA, I was trying to figure out which direction I wanted to take within the sustainability realm. I did know that LA is a breeding ground for environmentally conscious brands, so I racked my brain for some of my faves. Naturally, MATE came to mind. I checked out the ‘Careers’ section on their site and went for it. Email sent. The position was for a social intern, which is up my alley and a great launch pad but after being offered the position, reality hit me and reminded me that being car-less wouldn’t allow me to commit to the position.

Anyway, while there, Kayti and I discussed her vision for MATE in the future, along with a few other ideas she had brewing in the pot. She mentioned putting an even greater emphasis on being natural, in terms of fibers and dyes, with an obvious continual effort on ‘thinking green’.  A company with morals, an organic outlook, and killer taste is one I can get behind. Not to mention, their pieces are super fun to style (as seen below). MATE has it goin’ on, at a reasonable price point, nonetheless!

The next time you’re looking for not-so-basic basics and trying to minimize your environmental impact, opting for MATE is a chic option. You’ll be turning heads, guilt-free.

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The captain of this ship is out. Until next time…

Your Gal, Shaye