THE NATURE RX: WINTER WONDERLAND EDITION

there’s nothing like a dose of sunshine, unscreened, unblocked, vitamin D absorbing (yes, morning & / or afternoon sunshine)…so healthy &…so energizing! when I saw this video I wanted to share it…cause it’s also too true, how many chronic diseases (that we’ve given all our new names too – chronic fatique, fibromyalgia too) could be prevented, treated…by some outdoor exercise, relaxation & sun exposure (which will not cause skin cancer or….aging for that matter…in moderation!).

however, I can’t help but notice how warm & green those woods in the video look. right now it’s 27 degrees in Massachusetts & one of the last things I want to do is go outside! however, research continues to show that vitamin d from sun exposure is linked to better mood & health. but my natural inclination is still to hibernate…in Norway they even have a word, “koseling”, for that winter cozying-up with plenty of blankets, tea, maybe a roaring fire.

but too much coziness can lead to less pleasant feelings like laziness, idleness & restlessness, especially after an excess of holiday cheer. if you work in an office all day, then come home in the darkness, it’s easy to become disconnected from the outside world for months at a time, spending only enough time outdoors to take the dog for a quick walk or shovel the driveway—last year, Massachusetts got a whopping 108 inches of snow, so can you blame us?

to cite a more serious scientific review of research on the health benefits of natural environments, exposure to outdoor green spaces is associated with lower levels of stress & anxiety, it helps kids with ADHD focus & even improves symptoms of depression. there are many hypotheses as to why this is, but these researchers suggest it’s partly due to “soft fascination”, or a scene that captures attention while it also soothes—as opposed to the “hard fascination” of urban life…attending to not getting run over by a reckless Uber driver or sending a regrettable email, for example.

the-nature-rx-winter-wonderland-edition-photo-1.jpg

now, there isn’t much green to be had outdoors this time of year, but if you head to a local nature reserve or wildlife sanctuary, there’s a little bit in the form of evergreens peeking through the snow. & more restoring still is the sense of quiet contemplation, the bare, somber trees against the sky, the scurry of wildlife foraging for nuts & berries, the general sense of peace & solitude that’s hard to come by on a slushy winter commute, or staring all day at a computer screen only to emerge into a world that’s already dark at 5 p.m. I take ballroom dance all year & many people swear by hot yoga in the winter, but getting outside offers a kind of restoration that you can’t find in an artificially heated & lighted gym. (of course, enjoying this frozen wonderland is tough on the complexion, so check out my winter skin care tips if you want rosy cheeks rather than winter sandpaper skin!)

so bundle up & get outside! even if your parka won’t allow for much vitamin-d exposure, just the sight of the sun glinting on the snow or the scent of pine needles will refresh your spirits—& if you happen to live somewhere warm where there’s plenty of sun & maybe even water that’s warm enough for swimming…congratulations, I’m officially jealous of your life choices  just kidding…you don’t find views like this in sunny California:

the-nature-rx-winter-wonderland-edition-photo-1.jpg

do you have a favorite way to get in your prescription for nature in the not-so-green months?

xo
—Suki

BADASS WOMEN: MONICA LEWINSKY ON CYBER-BULLYING & SHAME

here’s a fabulous TED talk @ cyber bullying & our ever-growing culture of disassociation, cowardice & schadenfreude. Monica Lewinsky’s story will make you think… & maybe make you feel connected to something real!

bullies have existed forever…I mean, wherever the humans are, you’ll find idiocy & insecurity. & where there are insecure humans, there is going to be bullying. but, try explaining that to a broken child, scared to face another day of school.

these days, victims of bullying have it even harder than we did (hard to believe, huh?). we now have unprecedented numbers of cowardly, angry, manipulative people sitting safely behind their computer screens with one goal: to harm, attack, “take down” & humiliate the objects of their obsession. we have websites that allow multiple unscreened posts from people whose sole, sick agenda is to attack without credibility & with no chance for the victims to defend themselves.

Stop-bullying-girl-650x509

so if you think bullying is only child’s play, think again…it’s a totally non-at-all-brave new age called cyber-bullying, a phenomenon specific to progress. as Ms. Lewinsky says, all this progress has made personal life “public without consent, public without context.” our culture has devolved to be totally disconnected &anonymous…cyber-bullies can gutlessly shame their victims without any personal consequences. how many of us have typed out something we’d never say face to face & regretted it later? so far, thankfully, only the most psychologically disturbed of these “trolls” actually post or encourage cyber-ranting that clearly borders on the sociopathic.

however, reality tv & celebrity scandal pop culture has certainly paved the way for people to displace their self-hatred instead of working on their issues through self-examination or therapy. we have website owners who allow their own “rules” to be broken & allow victims to be clearly abused. I believe people online should be forced to live & die by the same standards we must follow in our daily face-to-face lives. right now, the web is the wild west. there is no face, no name, no accountability, no proof, no truth…& who cares! anyone can say anything!

monica_1

back we come to Ms. Lewinsky (the young, fresh faced intern…but who remembers her that way?), who understandably retreated  from the public eye after the 1998 scandal that rocked the White House & beyond.

but did any of us think  or care about what really became of her?

in her brave TED talk, Ms. Lewinsky reveals what it was like to be at the center of the first major scandal to take place in the internet age. compelling & very much worth a view!

xo

—Suki

WHAT’S THE STORY WITH WHOLE FOODS?

last year, suki® ended its partnership with Whole Foods Market. people often don’t realize what goes into these corporate partnerships & why collaborating isn’t always the blessing it might seem for an independent company, especially those who stand by their strong ideals & values. in fact, after I broke off our partnership, Whole Foods began to claim that they kicked us out, which actually tells you a great deal about this giant, picking on a tiny company like ours. I mean, we could hardly impact their bottom line, yet they had no problem with potentially destroying a small business with their false accusations! talk about power corrupting…

so this week, to mark the one-year anniversary of this decision, which I’m still proud  hell to have made, I wanted to share the letter I sent to my independent retail partners (who are growing in numbers & as ethically strong as ever!).

no_whole_foods

dear friends:

know your beauty®, the philosophical foundation behind suki® , means accepting ourselves for who we really are, never punishing ourselves for being “less than perfect” or needing to live up to an outside definition of beauty, & acknowledging we must always take & own our power, including the power over our health & well-being.” I set my own rules for my company: we’re transparent, honest & committed to sourcing the most pure & efficacious ingredients—100% organic or fair trade when possible. we are truly independent & always have been in creating products that actually solve skin problems!

you are my independent partners & I know you share our values. you have stood by me since day one, when I started my company in my kitchen in the woods of New England. we agree that an environment of real choice & truly healthful solutions is key in this industry. we also know that as others have grown massively, their missions have altered. we have experienced too well the push of profit put ahead of ethics, as unique independent brands are homogenized to do businesses with the all-powerful corporate & publically traded brand, Whole Foods Market.

over the past 14 years, suki® skincare emerged as Whole Foods’ leading premium skincare brand & we are grateful to have reached many people through this partnership. however, we examined our business relationship & found that Whole Foods is no longer committed as they once were (when they were independent themselves) to providing ethical, effective & pure products to those who TRULY need them. sadly, it appears they have become aligned with centralized manipulative marketing practices.

whole_foods_strike

(January 2015 strike at Whole Foods Market , Brooklyn, NY)

their tactics include pressuring small businesses like us to alter our messaging, requiring their subjective approval for every decision as if we were a subsidiary of Whole Foods Markets & trying to force us to overturn our ideals, values, & even our product formulations! & this, folks, is how you kill a small business & the ideals of a small business owner, unless you are as stubborn as, well, us 🙂

Whole Foods has compromised their original mission by allowing “acceptable” synthetic stabilizers, gums, preservatives & other synthetic ingredients like non-labeled GMOs that we would never deem appropriate into their stores. & thanks to other brands in Whole Body that make efficacy claims without doing scientific studies (which we have done!), we are told to get rid of any language that informs our consumers of how our products can help them.

shockingly, Whole Foods adopted the same oppressive tactics as Wal-mart with respect to labor negotiations, purchasing practices, restricting small business autonomy & dictating communications.

wholefoods_walmart

so we have made the easy choice to let go & focus on our partnerships with you, the TRUE pioneers of the industry. I want you to know that I deeply respect every one of you for your trailblazing commitment to providing truly natural & organic solutions for your customers.

we will continue our original mission of creating strong, safe solutions for skin problems & sensitivities, & helping people achieve their best skin by treating the underlying systemic causes of their problems. we will remain strong & self-sufficient, answering to our ethics, our hearts & our ideals. when I began all this in my kitchen, I swore I would NEVER compromise my ideals for profit—for anything. & I’m happy to say I never have.

so here’s to all of our growth & continued paving the way, hopefully, for future idealists.

xo

—Suki Kramer

River-Valley-storefront

River Valley Market, one of my awesome independent retailers in Northampton, MA

PLASTICS – THEY’RE EVERYWHERE

anyone who knows me knows I have zero tolerance for the toxic synthetics in conventional skincare, & thank goodness, there is growing awareness on this issue. however, sadly, it’s all we can do to keep up with our lives, much less the marketing cr*p that is done to make us buy stuff that is, essentially, not pure at all, but “pseudo” natural & still contains garbage in it, & in the end, does nothing for us but makes us think we are doing something good for ourselves & the planet. that, I don’t think I have to tell you, pisses me off.

garbage_decompbut even with the efforts of those of us who really care to put TRULY pure products into the marketplace & those of us who go the extra mile to put them into our bodies, our efforts will be futile for the earth in the end if we continue to pollute our oceans beyond repair.

in the shocking video posted above, reporters from Mother Jones investigate a huge swirling vortex of trash, twice the size of Texas, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. members of Project Karsei, the ocean liner sent to investigate the giant floating dump, reported plastic in EVERY sample they collected—with items ranging from old toothbrushes to abandoned baseballs. in another article, Charles Moore, the ocean advocate who discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 1999, said: “trying to clean up the Pacific gyre would bankrupt any country & kill wildlife in the nets as it went.”

shouldn’t this news, that it is now almost too late to correct the environmental damage we have done to our planet, be sweeping the headlines & usurping the latest celebrity antics or even global politics? what will it matter, in a generation, who is at war with whom when we have poisoned our environment so that life itself is unsustainable? It seems like the stuff of dystopian fiction, but it’s something that our next generation will have to deal with firsthand.

stories like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch are so overwhelming that it’s easy to bury our heads in the sand & try to forget about it. after all, this huge pile of trash is out in the middle of the Pacific ocean. it doesn’t affect ME—yet.

but it will. it’s just one symptom of the “plastic culture” we have created. in a recent study, 92% of subjects had the plastic BPA in their urine. & as for the ocean? Project Karsei’s lead scientist, Dr. Andrea Neal, speculates that the high concentrations of plastic could create huge dead zones in the Pacific Ocean that wipe out every species of fish WITHIN OUR LIFETIME.

what will it take to turn this…

tires 

back into this?

biodiversity

small steps can’t undo all the damage, but they make a difference. in my company, well, I’ve made it plain how I abhor plastic & still bottle in glass or aluminum, & ONLY resort to eco-plastic when absolutely necessary. actions as simple as remembering to the obvious recycling, composting, bringing reusable shopping bags to the grocery store & not supporting brands that contribute to huge carbon footprints can truly add up on a large scale to make a cleaner, safer world for ourselves & all the marine life in this world that now totally relies on our environmental policies & practices!

what do you think? can this generation can leave our planet cleaner & greener than we found it, & where do we start? or are we on the path to doom already? will the earth just throw us out so it can heal?

xo

—Suki