In the first installment of Mindful Manila’s Q&A series, Mindful Matters, we spoke about “money mindfulness” leading up to the holidays. Now that Black Friday, 12.12, and Christmas sales are upon us, let’s continue this conversation about money, spending, holiday shopping, and the like.

Joining us for this second installment is Reese Fernandez-Ruiza multi-awarded social entrepreneur whose work (and life!) we’ve followed closely since she began her work with the fashion social enterprise, Rags2Riches. What we love about Reese is that she walks the talk–and she is very intentional, purposive, and–yes, we’ll use the word mindful–about her life and work.

Since Reese has now become an icon for “eco-ethical” fashion, we’ll talk here about what that term means, whether at all “mindful shopping” is possible, and what else we can do to weave in mindfulness into other areas of our lives.

A screenshot from
A screenshot from

Mindful Manila: People have come to know you for your work in Rags2Riches, Things That Matter, and other social enterprises–and for promoting the phrase “eco-ethical” fashion and consumption.

This probably needs a lengthier conversation, but how would you summarise what it means to be “eco-ethical”?

Reese: We were one of the first ones, if not the first one to use “eco-ethical” as a term in the Philippines. We used it because it describes our values and the way we do things. Eco-Ethical just means that we consider the environment and communities in every single business decision we make. We believe that it does not make sense to operate any business without considering the larger world and community that we are all part of.

MM: At Mindful Manila, we promote mindfulness in all areas of our lives–especially in the city where mindfulness is probably a luxury. What, for you, does it mean to live mindfully?

Reese: Living mindfully means that we are intentional about how we live our lives and make sense of our moments. It means that we while we may worry about so many things (climate change, injustices, etc.), we also recognize progress and the good things around us. We take the time to breathe, take care of ourselves, talk to our tribe, talk to those outside our usual comfort zones, create for the sake of creating, do good for the sake of doing good, and continue hoping even through our worries. Living mindfully means that we are aware of our values and we try to live out these values.

MM: What tips would you offer our readers on “mindful shopping” during the holidays? (Is there really such a thing? Is that really possible?)

Reese: It is possible! But I would probably rephrase it as “mindful giving”. Shopping during the holidays probably means shopping for gifts. Instead of giving generic gifts, why don’t we give with meaning and intention? For those who are the closest to us, the gifts that matter may be experiences, presence, dates, or things that they really want and will cherish for a long time. If we do need to buy “generic” gifts, there are still ways to find gifts that are meaningful and sustainable.

MM: Biases included ( 😉 ), what are the Top 3 brands you would recommend for mindful shopping–including being mindful of one’s budget 😉 What’s great about these brands?

Reese: Of course, my top choice is R2R (Rags2Riches)! We are super intentional about creating products that are meaningful, intentionally designed, sustainable, and still accessible. We also have an intentional social enterprise marketplace called Things That Matter, where you can find a lot of brands that support communities and create gift-worthy products that keep on giving.

MM: As a consumer yourself, how have you changed your own shopping habits and routines to become a more mindful shopper?

Reese: I’m not much of a shopper and I’m not into stuff in general. I know that is quite strange because I work in fashion. haha Back when I was younger, I trained myself to not like shopping and things that I could not afford then. This self-training is still with me until today even if I can afford more things now. So intentional and mindful shopping was not so difficult for me, it became the default way I shop. To help me be more intentional though, I also made myself a checklist to review before I buy anything. I wrote about it HERE.

"Life Hack: My 5-Question Guide to Shopping With Intention" by Reese Fernandez-Ruiz
“Life Hack: My 5-Question Guide to Shopping With Intention” by Reese Fernandez-Ruiz

MM: Please feel free to share or cite any tools, books, online resources, etc. that you would like to recommend to our readers. And if there’s something cooking up at R2R and Things That Matter, please feel free to share more about those, too!

Reese: A few months ago, we launched our very own clothing line called On Repeat. Each piece in the collection is intentionally designed to be styled in different ways, dressed up, dressed down, and worn again and again. For our first capsule, our three designs can be mixed and matched to create up to 30+ outfits! We’ll be coming up with more limited edition capsules that are intentionally designed and made using indigenous fabrics and upcycled textiles. This is one of the most exciting things we are weaving for 2020!

Multi-awarded social entrepreneur, Reese Fernandez-Ruiz
Multi-awarded social entrepreneur and advocate, Reese Fernandez-Ruiz

Reese Fernandez-Ruiz is the Co-Founder and President of Inclusive Fashion Social Enterprise, R2R (Rags2Riches), and online marketplace of products with purpose, Things That Matter. She is a mom, wife, speaker, teacher, and proponent of design for sustainability and positive social change.

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