The most beautiful thing about gifting is the thoughtfulness behind it. Purchasing beautiful flowers or new jewelry can be a simple decision. At Conscious Magazine, it can be the conscious decision to buy a product that makes a difference to one life or many lives. For Melody Joy Murray and Jennifer Moran, (who also happen to be mothers), it was the conscious decision to pursue a path that would change many lives and their own lives forever.

In honor of Mother’s Day, Conscious wanted to take the wonderful opportunity to chat with the founders of these two amazing social giving brands JOYN and GREENOLA STYLE  that empower the lives of many families in India, Bolivia and Kenya.

Melody Joy Murray, founder of JOYN and mother of Levi and Micah:

Conscious: What inspires you the most as a designer? And as a mother?
MJM: I’m inspired constantly.  As a designer, living in India is such an inspiration because there is life and color and craziness all around you, all the time.  I love to create new things and figure out how to piece fashion together in a way that will not only appeal to the customer, but will meet the needs of my artisans and inspire them to become better at what they do.  I am inspired by all of my people here who have overcome such difficult circumstances and are now finding hope and opportunity.  Stepping out of poverty, distraction, despair and into a life that is good takes strength.  People here inspire me.  I’ve never had to overcome such obstacles.  As a mom, I’m inspired by my own parents and how they raised me with such excellence.  They instilled values in me that I do my best to uphold today- values that have made me strong and given me the tools in life to live a good life and succeed.

Conscious: Do you have a specific piece or collection that reminds you of each of your children?
MJM: Whenever I block with any orange shade, I think of Levi.  He LOVES orange.  Micah is my technical craftsman.  Even at 9 years old, he spends hours block printing and determining placement of each block on the fabric.  When I’m doing my more difficult designs and determining placement of design, I always wish I had a mind life my 9 year old.

Conscious: What are your picks or the JOYN team’s top JOYN picks for Mother’s Day gifting?MJM: My absolute favorite pick for this season and the bag that I’ll be giving my own mother is our new Indigo Blue Suede bag.

Conscious: What does conscious style and/or conscious fashion mean to you?
MJM: Caring about the person who made what you wear, what you carry, what you purchase.  Realizing that our purchasing decisions affect other people, not just ourselves.  Begin exposed to the realities of the developing world and doing something about it – doing something to make this world more just, even if it’s just buying a bag that has a story behind it.  It’s worth it.

Conscious: What is a “day in the life” like living in India working on the brand?
MJM: It’s absolute craziness, from start to finish.  In India, you have to have a very high level of adaptability and flexibility, because you never know what you are going to get.  After dropping my kids at their school, I have a crazy 40 minute commute down the mountain to JOYN.  I spend my days in the office designing, working out production issues, spending time with my people, speaking of my vision and my values for JOYN, eating an amazing home-cooked meal for lunch with the entire team, dealing with the crazy legal aspects of running a business in India, selling and marketing our incredible products.  I then head back up the mountain to pick up my kids from school around 3:30 and I’m a mom, 100%, the most important job I have, other than being a wife.

Conscious: What is the most rewarding part of your journey since you and your husband started JOYN?
MJM: The people and seeing them happy, full, and restored.  My children thriving in this environment and understanding the realities of the world, wanting to do something about injustice and loving people that are different than them.

Conscious:  Do you have any recommendations of other community focused, pay it forward brands?
MJM: Village Artisans in Saharanpor, INDIA – next state over from me and Himalayan Tapestries in our same town –

JOYN #fashioningbetterlives
JOYN is a company that produces handwoven, handmade cotton textiles in the form of accessories and home goods. Each product has been handmade by JOYN artisans. The cotton is hand-spun, the fabric is block printed using ancient wooden blocks, and everything is stitched by women who have overcome or are overcoming great obstacles in life. With the support of western markets and consumers, JOYN provides deeper purpose, hope, and JOY in the lives of working artisans living in India. To find out more about why HGC loves JOYN, check out the recent blog post by clicking here.

Products range from $8-$84 USD and up. To shop the latest Indigo collection please visit JOYN.

Jennifer Moran, Founder of Greenola Style and mother of Prince:

Conscious: What inspires you the most as a the creative director/founder of GS? And as a mother?
JM: I am incredibly inspired by the places I have traveled to, and the people I’ve met. Just as GREENOLA STYLE’s designs are inspired by the stories of the artisans who create them… it’s the stories I’ve been blessed to hear, and the relationships I’ve grown with many beautiful people met traveling the world that inspires both my personal growth and the energy I put into GREENOLA STYLE. Many of the women we work with are single mothers, or equal contributors to their family’s financial success. This connection of balancing motherhood and financial responsibility I have with our artisans has driven much of my motivation during challenging moments, and the many great moments. My son Prince inspires me to not only follow my dreams and lead by example, but his energy and excitement around adventure and trying new things pushes me to challenge my own “comfortable” and take risks.

Conscious: Do you have a specific piece or collection that reminds you of each of your son? JM: It’s funny… I am actually connected to pretty much all our pieces! Designing our products take lots of time, a great amount of communication back and forth with our artisans, and in country time working directly with the artisan. Behind each of our designs, a year or more of time and effort is behind it, making it perfect. Our Kenyan brass line is a newer line that is very much inspired by my son. My husband was born and raised in Ghana, and has opened my eyes to such wonderful cultural traditions and the aesthetics of his birth country. After the birth of my son, it felt important for me to learn more about Africa as a whole, sharing these experiences with my son. Though we have yet to have the opportunity to work in Ghana, we met an amazing group of artisans from Nairobi Kenya and continue to learn and grow with them.

Conscious: What are your picks or the Greenola Style team’s top GREENOLA STYLE picks for Mother’s Day gifting?
JM: My all time go-to necklace is our MATISSE NECKLACE. It is a stunning necklace, with little to no effort. Especially great for newer moms, or moms with young children (those mornings can be rough and the last thing we think of is how we look). I literally throw this on with a t-shirt, and with a dress on date nights. The other design that I am loving right now are our Block Printed Square Scarves from our newest partnership in India. Here in Chicago the weather is trying (key word!) to change to Spring. I throw this on with a jean jacket, and it’s amazing how simple and cute it looks.

Conscious: What does conscious style and/or conscious fashion mean to you?
JM: I feel it is an incredibly exciting time for GOOD business, especially in the fashion market. Just as the organic food movement took off, now consumers are not only recognizing and questioning what they put IN their bodies, they want to know what they are putting ON their bodies. Conscious Fashion as a term can still be ambiguous, however new conversations and movements are making their way mainstream. Consumers are now asking questions to brands, and discovering for themselves what they are willing to compromise for fashion whether it be the material of a garment (organic, recycled, vintage, etc.) or the production process of said garment (fair trade, artisan made, local, Made in the USA, etc). As a conscious consumer myself, I will admit it is incredibly hard to consume 100% thoughtfully, especially when talking about fashion articles. However, each day more brands enter the market and recognize the need for transparency in their messaging, stories behind their products and production processes. I look forward to the day my son will have the equal choice of choosing fashion made consciously vs. fast-fashion/industrialized fashion goods.

Conscious: What is a “day in the life” like living as the founder/creative director working on the brand?
JM: It’s very tiring! I wake up too early by my son who has crawled into my bed for cuddles. We then struggle to get ready, brush teeth, eat breakfast, not play with all our toys, and get ourselves out the door. We then begin our walk to the bus, holding hands and talking about what the day has in store for us. Take the bus to his school and say our goodbyes (this usually consists of many hugs and kisses), and then I jump on the train to GREENOLA STYLE’s office in Wrigleyville arriving at around 8:30 – 9am. At the office, our team will have weekly design meetings, sales meetings, and skype calls with our artisan coordinators, etc. We are a small office, with no walls, such much of our efforts are collaborative and all conversations tend to pull everyone in. Often a team member is out of office either traveling overseas to meet with our artisans, out of town for a tradeshow to sell our lines, or at an event sharing our story, so all hands are on deck filling in as needed. At about 5pm I make the decision to either run to my son’s school (to get my exercise in and clear my mind) or take the train. At 5:30pm, I try my hardest to shut of “GREENOLA STYLE mind” and give my full attention to my son, Prince as we make our way home sharing with each other how our day went. By 9pm… I am dreaming of my bed… so glamorous.. right?

Conscious: What is the most rewarding part of your journey starting this wonderful social giving brand?
JM: Each day is rewarding. With that said, when I talk to college students I am always sure to share the challenges of social entrepreneurship or entrepreneurship in general. From the outside looking in, it can appear quite glamourous. The rewards I receive often arrive after many challenges, time, persistence, and hard work. It has always been incredibly important for me to continue to travel and work directly with our artisans. Being across the world, sometimes that connection can feel a little distant. It’s in these meetings that I am reminded of why I am doing this, and in their successes (buying a car, sending a child to school, contributing to their family, growing their community, etc.) that I feel rewarded.

Conscious: Do you have any recommendations of other community focused, pay it forward brands?
JM: Right now, I am crushing hard on Nisolo Shoes out of Nashville, TN. I own three pairs of their artisan made shoes from Peru. Love their designs, and LOVE their mission. As mentioned before, it’s an incredibly exciting time for GOOD businesses. I’m always looking for cool, stylish, new brands with great missions to support. I’ve actually started a personal instagram page @GOODlife_4aPRINCE where I will share my conscious finds, whether they be for the home, body, fashion, child, etc. along with my musings as a working mother. Here I’ve began to follow brands that I adore, cataloging my finds.

Greenola Style  #changeyourlookchangealife

Greenola Style is an edgy, design-driven, fashion ethically made in Bolivia and Kenya. By partnering with, and empowering women in marginalized communities, GREENOLA seeks to create a greater sense of awareness and sense of community by standing in solidarity with women around the world. The Greenola Style team believes that all women have the power to create, nurture, and transform. Each GREENOLA product is a hand-made expression of this philosophy, allowing women worldwide to connect and create a better world. As a member of the Fair Trade Federation, the GREENOLA line adheres to the Fair Trade criteria and Fair Trade principles and practices as outlined by the FTF. Check out more info on Greenola Style on the blog here.

Products range from $10-60 USD and up. To shop the latest Spring 2014 collection please visit GREENOLA STYLE.

Many thanks to both of these inspiring ladies for sharing their tips on gifting, passion for GOOD products and for being such trailblazing female entrepreneurs. For more info on each brand and to stock up on Mother’s Day gifts, please visit their websites at: and

At Conscious, we are inspired by remarkable people and organizations, and so we set out to tell stories that highlight human interests, global initiatives, innovation, community development, and social impact. You can read more stories like this when you subscribe.