That's a long way of saying, I was already a fan and excited to join the group as a green blogger, and to represent Clever Girls Collective. But as always, my opinions are my own.
Three Things Ford Gets Right
1. Ford talks to women
For one thing, Ford reached out the Clever Girls Collective network, which is predominantly women, to include 25 of our members in the Driving Green event. We sent (including me) 23 women and 2 men. Ford invited another 75 participants, most of whom were from major sites like Fast Company, Gizmodo, and the New York Times.
I give Ford huge props for including the Clever network bloggers, who have (relatively speaking) smaller, but highly engaged audiences. It speaks volumes about their understanding of how women make major purchasing decisions: We discuss it with our friends.
This inclusive attitude toward women was also noticeable at the Auto show itself. Ford set up a very nice "private" lounge area for the bloggers, where we could recharge our electronics, get lunch and cold drinks. Thoughtful. Good hosting.
They also brought in several senior executives to do interviews with us in that lounge -- everyone had a chance to speak one-on-one with them, regardless of the size of our publication or audience. Also, there were no restrictions on what we could ask.
It was dramatic to go from that environment to rest of the auto show, where few (if any!) of the women were acknowledged or engaged by other car companies. One other car company did a little online outreach, and invited several of the bloggers to their hospitality suite, which was smart. But once we got there, she was the only person we spoke with -- and she was from the PR company, not the car company itself. She was very well informed about the product, but it was a far cry from getting to ask Ford's head of sustainable design about alternative fabric choices.
Over Labor Day weekend I took a took a "working" vacation with my three partners of Clever Girls Collective to Parajo Dunes on Monterey Bay. We made it fun by bringing our families, who wouldn't let us spend the entire time online updating Facebook and Twitter.
It was a gorgeous location, and in between serious social media strategy planning, we had a great time relaxing. That mostly meant eating and drinking as often as possible.
Imagine for a moment what all of that eating and drinking means in terms of dishes. Eight adults, five kids, and ice cream cake. Bottomless bowls of pasta. A case (or a few) of wine.
The dishwasher was overwhelmed.
As anyone who's ever gone on a group vacation knows, salvation lies with disposable plates and cups. But as anyone who's ever been to San Francisco knows, there's also lot of green guilt that goes with anything disposable.
Back when I was writing for Green Daily, and posting rather often on the importance of compostable coffee cups, the company invited me to try out the line of recyclable and compostable tableware, and to be on the Bare by Solo Advisory Board.
I was delighted to accept, and they sent me a bunch of plates and cups so I could experience to the eco-friendly convenience first hand. The trip to Parajo Dunes was the perfect place to test out the different sizes and styles.
Bare by Solo plates and cups are made from recycleable and renewable resources, like corn instead of petroleum. They are microwave safe, and even better, they don't melt when they come into contact with moisture. I totally love them, especially because I hate doing dishes, but I'd had to give up my Costco paper plate habit when I crossed over to the "green side."
I'm so glad to have paper plates in my life again!
My favorites are the stylish square plates, which come in three sizes (I like to think of them as "cake", "grilled cheese with side of fries" and "steak plus two sides") and are made from renewable sugarcane. They're a nice color, and are equally perfect at a cookout or at a dressy party.
I also really liked the clear keg cups, which are made with 20% post consumer content, and are recycleable. Since that isn't super-super green, we cleverly re-used them all weekend. This was made easier by labeling the cups with our names, so no one would accidently sip a vodka on the rocks when they were expecting to taste a gin and 7 up.
My least favorite, even though they are way better from an eco-friendly perspective, are the Bare Natural compostable cups. I love that they are all happy for the earth, but I have to admit, they're very "hemp ghetto" brown. It's really hard to make a table pretty with cups the color of craft paper.
With the holidays coming up, I definitely have the "cake" size square plates on my party planning list. The clear cups are totally fun for punch, as long as you have a clearly marked RECYCLE HERE spot to make is easy for the revelers to clean up.
Thanks to Bare by Solo for including me on the Advisory Board, and for providing the Clever Girls with some respite from dishes on our vacation weekend.
Have you tried the line? Definitely share your experience and reaction in the comments below, and I'll include your feedback when I talk to the folks at Solo. Somehow, I think the "Red Cup" people are going to understand why I want those compostable cups in something besides oatmeal greige.
Thanks to American Express for sponsoring my writing today about small businesses. American Express is presenting Small Business Saturday, a way to honor the local merchants who are the backbone of the economy, this Saturday, November 27. They're offering statement credits to people who shop at small businesses, advertising for small-business owners, and donations to Girls Inc. for "Likes" of the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook. Join the celebration by clicking the "Like" button and then visiting the Facebook page to learn more about the program and read the terms and conditions that apply.
I love Best Buy as much as the next 100" flatscreen HDTV-craving person, but whenever possible I like to patronize local businesses, especially when I'm shopping for gifts. You get amazing service, and beautiful, unique items.
One of my all time favorite small businesses is Joy O Designs. She creates simple, elegant and gorgeous designs, and even better, her line Kyler by Joy O is entirely eco-friendly.
Silver hoops have always been my go-to style for earrings, and over the years I've had many favorites. A few years ago, I had a surprising urge for gold hoops. Specifically rose gold. A friend introduced me to these Joy O Grass Handmade Hammered Hoops and the rest is style history. I wear these, or the ones I subsequently ordered in silver, almost every day. You can see them in pretty much any photo of me taken in the past 4 years!
My super-fashionista sister is also a fan, so we trade Joy O gifts every birthday. Even though our styles are so different, Joy's designs, like the simple thin cuff, works for both of us. And for Cameron Diaz and a bunch of other celebs, like Anne Hathaway, who also love the whole collection!
Joy is based in SF, and I've had the pleasure of meeting her in person. She's just as lovely as her designs, and puts her heart and soul into every aspect of her business. If you're shopping for a jewelry-loving lady this weekend, I highly recommend checking out this local small business Joy O Designs and Kyler by Joy O for special and wearable pieces your girl will pick out of her jewelry box every day!
Last December a PR firm offered me a Jawbone headset. I said "Sure," and then made Chief "pick" the style, because I was positive he would want to use it to talk to me when he's driving home from work.
It arrived, and he ignored it for eleven months.
Then one night we were watching my new second-favorite show, Hawaii 5-0*, and both noticed that Intelligence Officer Cathy a.k.a. Steve McGarrett's badass brunette girlfriend, was wearing the same one.
Me: See? Cool Navy chick is wearing that headset. It's cool.
Chief silently cocks an eyebrow at me
Me: You're never going to use that headset, are you?
Chief continues to look at me sceptically
Me: Fine. I'll use it, and be Officer Cathy, and get to have hot sex on the beach with McGarrett and his awesome cargo pants.
It took me another two weeks to finally charge up the damn thing, and then use it. But now I love it! And not just because when I wear it I get to have exchanges like:
Me: Does my headset make you want to "McGarrett" me?
Chief: No, it makes you want to get "McGarretted."
Me: Tomato-tomahto, just use an Aussie accent when you call me Cathy.
Me: Oh, I have to take this call, it might be McGarret asking me to re-route a top secret satellite to help capture an escaped prisoner.
Chief: That's a waste of time. It's an island. There's nowhere for a prisoner to escape to.
In addition to Alex O'Loughlin's evocative characterization of McGarrett, we're thoroughly enjoying the new Hawaii 5-0. The characters are (surprisingly) awesome and loveable, given the sophomoric level of the scriptwriting. We even, briefly, wondered if the local high school kids were literally writing the scripts, but then decided that was a mean thing to say about the nice students.
And Alex O'Loughlin is rapidly edging out Nathan Fillion as my favorite Monday night crime solver. He can call me Cathy anytime, with or without his Aussie accent.
*Castle, starring Nathan Fillion, is my current favorite detective show on Monday nights, but Alex is of the Hugh Jackman "leggy-yet-burly Australian" mold of physical perfection. Nate? Well, lately his Man Weight Threshold has crossed into what I sincerely hope is a temporary visit to "Happy in a New Relationship Husky-ville." Let's just say Captain Tight Pants probably didn't squeeze into his Firefly uniform this Halloween.
Getting mail rocks. Real mail, meaning letters, postcards or thank you notes. The very best mail comes in pretty envelopes, and holiday cards are the prettiest of them all.
Even though I love to receive cards, for the past couple of years December has come and gone without me sending any. But this year, thanks to our new Clever Girls Collective client, Shutterfly, I'll be sending out fabulous holiday photo cards, and I'm getting them done early!
The first step in picking a holiday card design is selecting your photo. But Chief and I had so much fun this year, I had trouble deciding. Since it's so easy to "design" your card, I was able to quickly try out several different photos and designs.
I love the elegant simplicity of the Pretty Packages design, which complements a black and white photo, like this one of us at my brother's wedding:
For a more subtle photo (or at least one where the colors are a bit muted) this Winter Woods Sky design is perfect! (If you're new here, yes, I'm wearing a Star Trek uniform, and yes, that's William Shatner.)
A more bold, graphic design balances a photo with a field of bright, solid color, like this one. I like the curvy but clean lines of Retro Red Diamonds, and as a bonus, proceeds from this card also benefit the American Lung Association. (Uh, Manilow. I told you it was a big year!)
I think a photo with a bit of action -- whether it's patterns on your dress, or strangers in the background -- stands up well to a card with intricate detail, like Swirl Damask Noir.
Are you feeling inspired? Get over to Shutterfly and start designing your own card! And if you're a blogger, click here to go to Shutterfly for information on how you can get 50 free cards this holiday season, and make sure to select Clever 1000 as the referral source.
This post is part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly, a Clever Girls Collective (my company's) client. Participating bloggers are reviewing the new Shutterfly cards and sharing their faves, and have been compensated with coupon codes for 100 free cards. Clever Girls Collective endorses Blog with Integrity, blog transparency and full disclosure, as I do.