Dear Diary 11/07

Let’s just rip the band aid off right here- on November 7th, 2015 my Dad died unexpectedly while I was traveling in Vietnam. I can still feel that same exact pain I felt that day receiving the worst phone call of my life. If you’re reading this, and you’ve lost someone- you know that pain. Let’s just say for the lack of better words… fucking hurt, and it still hurts.

I had the idea to design a backpack two months before he died. But how to start was always the question. For two months I drew different designs, wrote a one page on the mission of ACE, and just kept crossing it all out because who am I kidding? I don’t have any money to do this.

When he died die, I received a small beneficiary. I had 12k to my name and this idea just waiting for me to say YES to. I thought, if i’m going to use his death money to make my dreams come true- it had to be in honor of his life.

His name is Daniel Joseph Magee. Cue The Daniel. Growing up he’d always rock pink shirts and my classmates would totally make fun of me. I didn’t care. He was so cool in my eyes. He raised me on rock and roll music. He knew everything about history. He’d always drive me around to school, my art class, or to hang out with friends. Being in the car with my Dad was always the best. He’d let me pick three CD’s to play in his collection. I remember at 11 years old, I was REALLY into Linkin Park.

I had so much anxiety using that money to build my dream come true company. 12k was all I had left of him. Every time I spent money on fabrics or product development, or web design my heart was sinking as 12k turned into 10k and 10k turned into 8k, and 8k turned into 4k, and now zero.

I swear, there has to be an afterlife somewhere because i’ve experienced moments where i’d feel so far from him but he’d show up in his own little way just to say hi. There was this one time where I was feeling so behind on ACE and I was so angry stomping around East Village like a cartoon character, swearing under my mouth. I said, “Dad, can’t you just fucking show me i’m doing something right?”

I opened the door to a bar seconds after that thought and look onto the tv screen. There he is. Detroit Rock City. Playing on tv. That was his favorite movie. Kiss was our favorite band. I was so shocked. I couldn’t move. But it was the first time since he passed where I felt everything was going to be okay, no matter what.

He always shows up when I need him. In Spain I had such a horrible day and went for a walk on my own. Someone passed by me wearing a KISS t-shirt. Or, when my sister went to Iceland to see the Northern Lights and on our last night there, while we were close to giving up…we decided to talk to our Dad and say “I believe in magic” three times before opening the door of our cabin to go outside. I swear, that moment is when I felt the universe is, indeed, fucking magic. We opened the door and look up at the sky and the green lights start dancing for us and we are just sobbing at how crazy this is. How beautiful this is. How our Dad is here with us, telling us he has always been with us.

The other day I texted my sister how much I missed our Dad, and she sends me a photo of the cross streets she just walked passed. Mallorca and Beach street. Mallorca was, in his words, “The most beautiful place he’s ever been to.” She told me he still says hi, too.

Now that i’m launched on Kickstarter, my backpack and my story out there for the world to see, using that 12k to make ACE happen doesn’t hurt anymore. I did it. I fucking DID it. I named my first backpack after him, and people are going to be wearing this backpack on all of their adventures. I can’t wait to see where you take The Daniel. All I know is, I designed this backpack to empower women to believe their wildest dreams come true. That there is magic everywhere we go.

ACE helped me get through the grief and heal my broken heart. It also gave me a backpack that works for me. A woman. It gave me new friends (hi Vanessa, Kendall, Shannon, Nicole, and Emily!) and adventures to new cities. I cannot wait to bring you all the magic this backpack has brought to me.

***Dear Diary is my little way of creating an honest, brave, vulnerable way to vent and share what’s in my heart with you. It’s more for me than you – but I do hope it helps you feel less alone in whatever it is that you’re going through in this beautiful, messed up world.


Valeria Hinojosa is nothing less than amazing. She has a heart pure of gold, a fierceness to her soul, and a determination to set the world straight.

The world can be too much sometimes. It is so hard to have hope when every day there is a new tragedy to mourn for: mass shootings, nazis, hurricanes on hurricanes, rape culture, bombings, wildfires…the list goes on.

But it’s knowing people like Valeria, the founder of Water Thru Skin, that it is impossible to not have hope. Her blog has empowered me to speak up against injustice, take action in living more consciously, and most importantly – practice self-love every day.

Valeria shares her own personal story in taking risks, living authentically, and finding the light in the darkness of the world.

Tell me about who you are and your transition from your previous career to starting Water Thru Skin?

I used to be a Private Banker doing the frustrating and monotonous 9-5. In between that 5-year career, I decided to start a blog where I could put my emotions and thoughts in writing and connect with like-minded individuals. That’s how WaterThruSkin came to life.

Slowly, and with lots of dedication and love, my blog grew a personality of its own and I took the step of risking it all to pursue this new “career” fully.

I left the banking world 2.5 years ago and have been dedicating myself fully to blogging and the new company I founded, WTS Connect. An agency that represents worldwide influencers that are using their social media channels to change the world for the better.

When was your “A-HA” moment?

The day I got promoted to the position (and salary) of my dreams. I realized that accepting that role meant staying in banking for another 3-5 years. I resigned that same day and made WTS my life, work, and passion.

We all share fear when deciding to go after our dreams. What fears did/do you have? How do you overcome those fears?

I feared losing my financial stability, which was exactly what happened a few months after I quit my job. I lost my home, my credit cards, my car, and all the fancy perks that came with being a Private Banker. That was a rock-bottom moment in my story that, thankfully, reshaped the way I view life completely. Once there, sleeping on my mom’s couch and living of a suitcase, I realized that the only place left to go was… everywhere!

Possibilities are endless when you choose to start from scratch and recreate yourself.

That same positive attitude was what pushed me towards, and attracted, all the opportunities that have been opening for me, my blog, and the agency I founded.

How do you define success?

Simple. Waking up with a smile and doing what you love every single day of your life. With all of its ups and downs. They are part of life too!

What has been your greatest challenge as an eco-activist and starting Water Thru Skin?

People’s perceptions and the movement itself. It wasn’t that big, or “in trend”, three years ago when I started WTS. Nobody believed in what I had to say or the life I had chosen to pursue, yet something in me told me this was the only way humans should live life. I kept going despite of it all.

How do you start your day with intention? Any morning rituals?

By being present. From the second I wake up. I make myself a hot cup of organic and fairtrade matcha or coffee, and sip it mindfully. Enjoying every single sip. I then practice my breathing techniques and mediate with crystals, or roll out my yoga mat and stretch for a few minutes. After that I get ready for meetings and conference calls with fresh energy and a positive mindset.

Sometimes when work is doing what you love, boundaries can become blurry. How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?

Yoga, a healthy vegan diet, me-time, loved ones and friends. I make sure I include them in every day of my week.

Have you achieved all your dreams? if not, what dreams do you have for yourself?

Two dreams I’m currently working on are publishing my book, and finishing a big project related to WTS Connect.

However, I don’t think there is such thing as achieving all dreams in life. As I accomplish a dream, I continue to dream bigger and push further.

How about with Water Thru Skin?

When I think of WTS, I immediately connect it to myself. It carries my story, my personal growth, my struggles and my dreams. I feel I’ve managed to create a great brand and can only hope to grow it further and keep inspiring readers.

Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, or affirmation you live by?

Be raw, be you and risk it all when it comes to pursuing your dreams.

If you could say one thing to a woman who has a dream but is afraid to take the jump, what would it be?

There will never be a “right time” or moment to pursue your dreams. For some reason, we all wait for the stars to align or for a door to magically open for us. It doesn’t work that way. You have to go out there, step outside of your comfort zone, and transform those dreams into reality. That’s the only way. That’s the key.  

Want to live a more conscious/impactful lifestyle? Check out Valeria’s blog Water Thru Skin for some inspiration on how to get started. You can also find her on Instagram here.

The Price Behind The Price Tag

Making the cross over to conscious consumerism does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of self-educating with tons of books, documentaries, and articles that are filled with absolutely horrifying truths. These truths will unapologetically slap you in the face with the harsh reality of your spending habits. That $10 H&M shirt is the equivalent of inhumane work practices such as child slavery, animal testing, and global pollution.

Let me throw some of those horrifying truths at you.

Where do you think your clothes are made? It definitely was not in an airy, light-filled warehouse where employees are getting a fully stocked organic kitchen, fair wage, and health coverage. It was made in a place like Rana Plaza, a garment factory that collapsed in Bangladesh in April 2013, killing 1,129 people and injuring 2,500.

The majority of workers in the global fashion industry rarely earn more than two US dollars per day, with many having to work absurdly long hours and struggle daily to meet their basic needs such as food and shelter. But who exactly is making your clothes? The vast majority of garment workers – approximately 80% – are women. According to the International Labour Organisation, an estimated 168 million children are engaged in child labor.

Take a guess on the carbon footprint of that t-shirt you’re wearing. It requires about 2,700 liters of water to produce the cotton needed to make one single t-shirt. 10 percent of the world’s textiles are produced in China, and we all know the smog there ain’t no joke. That’s just China. We’ve still got Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam to factor in.

And let’s not forget the waste fast fashion is responsible for.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the U.S. generates an average of 25 billion pounds of textiles per year. That is about 82 pounds per U.S. resident.

Of that 82 pounds, 85% (70lbs) goes to our landfills. That adds up to 21 BILLION POUNDS of textile waste per YEAR! Only a depressing 15% of this waste are recycled or reused.  

This is the real price behind the price tag.

“But ethical fashion is so unrealistic,” you might say. “ People shop at H&M because it is the only affordable option! Why would I spend more money when I can buy clothes for less there?”

These are compelling arguments. Capitalism makes it close to impossible for a consumer to find affordable AND ethical products. But if you dig a little deeper than the price tag, you’ll come to realize that fast fashion is a trick. It’s manipulative, controlling, and compulsive. This is what fast fashion is telling you:

  • “That polyester black leather jacket is so 5 minutes ago, but don’t worry- we’ve got affordable jean jackets that are so hot right now! Buy it NOW before the jean jacket trend ends! You’ve only got one hour to rock it before the next trend comes out! 
  • “Oh em gee girl, that $20 shirt is made out of really shitty polyester fabric, but have no fear! It’s only supposed to last a few months. Who cares if it breaks when you’re keeping up with trends?!”
  • “Ew, you’re going to go out in that dress with the same shoes, again? You need like three different shoes to keep that dress looking fresh.”
  • “You haven’t bought a new handbag to match your new watch? It’s only $10. I don’t get it. We’ve made it SO easy for you.”

This all might sound harsh, but that is what the industry wants.

Fast fashion treats you like a child, waving shiny things at you: it wants you to stay ignorant with those flashy price tags.

The less you think about your purchase, the more you spend on impulse.

You may not notice at first, but making a gradual change to conscious consumerism- that is to be more mindful of what you buy- will have you in control of the market and YOUR finances. Is that $10 t-shirt really worth it?

Being woke is HARD. But ethical fashion CAN BE affordable, and chic! Here’s how:

THRIFTING (The obvious)

Recycled fashion at its best. Shopping second hand is the ultimate way to being truly sustainable if you cannot afford to invest upfront. You are closing the humongous waste gap when you are buying second hand. It’s a win for your bank account AND a win for the planet.

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY (Cheap ain’t always cheap)

Tired of buying clothes that fall apart after a few months? Instead of buying the same cheap basic black shirt from Forever 21, make the investment in a basic, sustainable, ethically made black shirt that you will only have to buy ONCE. The splurge is worth it, especially for your basics. In the end, you will not only be saving money, you will be saving the lives of exploited women and children making the cheap clothes you used to buy from H&M.

GET WITH THE ESSENTIALS (Less is more baby!)

Once you have your high quality, ethically made wardrobe you have everything you need. Focus on “need.”

Fast fashion is built on trends. Elizabeth L. Cline, author of Over-Dressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, reports:

The fast-fashion concept was pioneered by Spain’s Zara, which delivers new lines twice a week in its stores. H&M and Forever 21 both get daily shipments of new styles.”

Slow fashion, however, while still creating trendy pieces, is timeless.

Do you need five different pairs of shoes? No. Do you need eight different color dresses? The answer is still no.

Yes, sustainable fashion brands are expensive up front- but in the long run, you will be saving money, time, and well, I don’t know, the earth and human beings in impoverished countries. The quality of your clothes represents the quality of the person. You are what you wear, my friends.

All we can really strive for is a collective effort towards progress being made in the fashion industry. The change is in the progress. We have got to start somewhere, so let us start today. Be more mindful of your purchases, know who made your clothes, and consume less. You owe it not only to the world but to yourself.

minimalist backpacking zambia

Become A Master Minimalist: 5 Tips

This post was originally published on Eco Warrior Princess.

The moment I realized I had too much stuff was when I went on my first backpacking trip to Africa. I had to decide what to take and what to leave behind. Looking through my closet I discovered I hadn’t worn 75% of my clothes and thought, “Why do I have so much shit?!”

The worst part of it all was that 75% of my closet was worth about $3,000. I spent $3,000 on things I didn’t even end up using.

Backpacking in Africa completely woke me up. The families I spent time with had very little, but they didn’t seek for more. They were content. Happy. They had everything they needed. I wanted to live like that.

When I came back from my travels, I returned to my daunting closet and removed everything I had in it. The only items I put back into my closet were the ones in my backpack. I knew as a traveler minimalism was important to me, but now I wanted to live a simpler, more enriched lifestyle.

Adopting minimalism to my daily life meant realizing all the stuff I currently had did not define me as a human being. It did not reflect what brings me joy or who I am. I wanted to live a lifestyle that is representative of what matters to me. None of this stuff mattered.

I did not need the excess amount of clothes because what was important to me was forming real human connections.

So I asked myself, “If I had less and appreciated what I had more, does that mean I can experience and appreciate my life and relationships more?” The answer was yes.

Becoming a master minimalist isn’t about having less things. It’s about appreciating what you already have.

Here are a few things that helped me during my minimalist journey.

Identify your essentials.

Write what you absolutely need to use every single day. Be as descriptive as possible. For example, instead of writing “clothes” write out “shirt, jeans, socks”. List it all down: your keys, wallet, phone, toothbrush…these are your essentials. The more detailed you are, the easier it will be for you to decide what to let go.

Minimalist backpacking tips

Here is the backpacking list that inspired my minimalist lifestyle:

Four-Month Travel Checklist

  1. 2 pairs of pants
  2. 1 long sleeve shirt
  3. 1 t-shirt
  4. 2 tank top
  5. 1 bra
  6. 1 rain jacket
  7. 5 pairs of underwear
  8. 1 swimsuit
  9. Scarf
  10. Sseko sandals
  11. Slip Ons
  12. Nikes
  13. Toothbrush
  14. Toothpaste
  15. Razor
  16. Hair Brush
  17. Hair ties
  18. Prescriptions: Cipro, Probiotic, Imodium
  19. Towel
  20. Sunscreen
  21. Bug Spray
  22. Hat
  23. Laptop
  24. Headlamp
  25. Camera
  26. Chargers/adapters
  27. Passport and Visas
  28. Kindle
  29. Shampoo/Body Wash
  30. Notebook

Ask yourself what adds value to your life versus what is collecting dust.

This is the hardest part: being honest with yourself. As I was going through my belongings it was really easy for me to decide what stayed and what had to go. I realized I cycle through an essential core group of clothing (and things) that I always came back to. Those were the keepers.

If it was “collecting dust” (things I hadn’t worn in a long time, or couldn’t remember why I had it), they had to go. The process can get tricky with items that hold sentimental, emotional value.

For example, I adore my record collection. While I don’t need to have all these records, I still use them consistently. However, I don’t need the clothes that I didn’t wear in my closet hanging around. I don’t need them because I don’t use them.

If you are having trouble with this process I suggest checking out Courtney Carver’s Project 333, a minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for three months!

Get rid of the fluff.

Begin separating what goes in the donate box vs the sell box. You absolutely should not throw things away as that would be a waste!

If you’re having trouble figuring out what to donate or sell, call your local thrift stores, or even ask any friends/family if they need anything that you may have. Clutter can create such a negative space. You’ll feel refreshed letting go of things and find  peace in your own home.

Consume less.

We are told by the media that we need to buy new clothes to stay up with the trends. What makes it so easy is that it’s not expensive thanks to companies like H&M and Forever21.

When you achieve Step 2 on the list, however, consuming less comes second nature. When you decide to buy, buy what you need. Buy things that are of higher quality, sustainable, and ethically made. Part of consuming less is consuming consciously.

Minimize your waste.

Going zero waste helped me become a minimalist. I had to think about everything I used and make sure it would never end up in a landfill.

Living zero waste meant everything had to serve a purpose. Instead of buying plastic disposable razors, I bought a safety razor. Instead of plastic water bottles, I bought myself a Klean Kanteen. My inspiration? Check out Trash Is For Tossers. By minimizing your waste, you’re already minimizing your consumption of things you don’t need.

Are you ready to become a minimalist?

minimalist backpacking zambia

What is important for you to understand is that you cannot turn into a minimalist overnight. Take your journey toward minimalism one step at a time, and as you develop a conscious understanding of what is truly important to you, you’ll become a better, happier, and more fulfilled individual, surrounded by what you truly value in your life.