QUICK FACT: Is hemp illegal to grow in the USA?

Hemp is not technically illegal to grow in the USA. It can be grown with a special permit from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Rumor has it however, that farmers are never actually given permits. So for all intents and purposes, it is illegal. Industrial hemp is in the same family as marijuana and was banned for its similar look. You can’t get high on hemp though, as the mind-altering drug THC found in marijuana is nearly absent in industrial hemp.
On August 5 of this year, Oregon passed a bill to make hemp farming legal in that state. They are the 17th state to pass some sort of pro-hemp legislation in the past 3 years. The states are also lobbying to have the DEA permit issue removed and allow state-control of hemp production. At the moment, all of our hemp fabric for clothing is imported and US farmers would like to change that.
A really interesting tidbit is that in 1619 at Jamestown Colony in Virginia it was mandatory for farmers to grow hemp because there was such a shortage. …You must grow it, you can’t grow, oh the confusion over one little plant…
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Win a Classic Bikini Panty

Cleverly hidden at the bottom of the last post is a contest to win a Classic Bikini (or other panty of your choice) if you provide us some feedback on our “What constitutes Made in America” question.  To win you need to post a comment on the PREVIOUS post (not this one).  However, we just learned that the comment function wasn’t working with the settings we had chosen.  So… just a quick note to let you all know that you can now leave comments to enter the drawing.  🙂 

Sorry about the confusion and good luck.

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Which Organic Clothes are Made in America?

This is a question we get often so I’d like to clarify the answer.  We have many lines with tags that say “Made in the USA” on them.  But legally speaking, that only means that the final garment was sewn in the USA.  There are essentially 3 steps to making a piece of clothing (organic or otherwise). 

  1. The base material (cotton, hemp, bamboo, pine tree, whatever) has to be grown somewhere. 
  2. The base material has to be soaked, spun, woven or otherwise turned into fabric for cutting or yarn for knitting/crocheting.
  3. The garment has to be sewn (or knit or crocheted).

While there are always exceptions to every rule, we have found that in the vast majority of cases #1 and #2 are done in the same region.  It’s too expensive to grow cotton in one country, send the raw material to another country to make fabric and then send the fabric to a 3rd country for cutting and sewing.  Most raw material is turned into fabric or yarn local to where it is grown.  However, it is very common to produce fabric in one country and then ship the finished fabric off to another country to have it sewn.

The tag on this adorable Overall Dress on the left states Made in the USA.  But the Hemp/Tencel blended fabric is imported.  We do our very best to track down exactly where our products are imported from.  We try to list both where an item is sewn and where it’s grown along with working conditions for both.

As we mentioned in our last Quick Fact, the USA does not grow enough organic cotton to meet our own eco-fashion needs.  Thus organic cotton is often imported.  Hemp is still illegal to grow in most of the USA (more on this in an upcoming Quick Fact), so it is almost always imported as well.

I’ve thought about putting together a separate category of just Made in America items, but I’m uncertain about where to draw the line.  If the tag says Made in the USA (i.e. sewn) but the fabric comes from China, should it be listed as Made in America?  Or does Made in America only mean sewn and grown end-to-end here somewhere in the USA?  There are still a few manufacturers who grow and sew end-to-end completely in the USA.  For example, SOS From Texas grows, spins, weaves and sews completely in the USA. 

What about America-first policies?  Bgreen, maker of our most popular panties, the Classic Bikini (shown right), sews right here in California and gets as much organic cotton as they can from US farmers.  When they’ve purchased all that is available, they look to Turkey to fill in their raw organic cotton needs and import just the raw material, which they add to their US-grown cotton and turn into organic fabric in their California warehouse.  Does this “count” as Made in America?
Please give us your feedback.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on what you consider Made in America.  What would you want to see in a category called Made in America if you were perusing for something?  To encourage participation in this topic, we’re giving away 1 pair of our Classic Bikinis (they come in 7 colors and sizes S – XL) to one person who leaves a comment about their Made in America thoughts. 

TO ENTER THIS CONTEST:  Leave a comment on THIS blog post (comments on facebook or through e-mail will not count) and we will randomly draw one name from all comments posted by 8am PT this Friday, September 18, to receive one free Classic Bikini (or any other of the $10 value panties that bgreen offers: String Bikini, Hi Cut Brief or String Thong).

Good Luck!

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Last Chance Item: Eat Organic Bikinis

We’ve been e-mailed a few times after something has gone out of stock from disappointed customers who had an item on their wishlist.  So I’ve decided to add this “Last Chance Item” post as a permanent feature to the blog when very popular items start running low.  First up are the Eat Organic Bikinis.

These adorable organic cotton hipster panties have been a popular staple at FaeriesDance.com for the last 3 years.  Unfortunately, they were manufactured through HTNaturals, who closed their apparel division this summer.  As of this morning we have decent stock left in size Medium, but only 2 Small left, both in Cherry and 2 Large left, both in Kiwi.  Once the few Smalls and Larges go, we will also have to start substituting them out of the Bikini Sampler Gift Set.  So if that’s been on your wish list for a while, now’s the time to get it.  These panties make amusing gifts for the winter holidays, Valentine’s day and wedding showers, too.

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One more hosting challenge – Almost done

Well, after 4 years with great website performance we’re finally changing hosting companies.  Our old hosting company has been bought out and our performance has been less than stellar since the transition.  Sadly, we’ve had more downtime in the last month than we’ve had in the last 2 years combined. 

The happy news is that we’re upgrading to a better host with more bandwidth.  However, as we transition to the new host, some outages are possible.  We apologize for any inconvenience and expect the whole process should be completed some time tomorrow (Thursday) late afternoon.

In the mean time, checkout our facebook page to for a chance to win this free bamboo polo shirt.

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QUICK FACT: Where does organic cotton come from?

For years Turkey has held the record for growing the largest amount of certified organic cotton.  But according to the Organic Trade Association, last year India increased its production of organically grown cotton by 292% to become the number one grower.  India alone now produces nearly half the world’s supply of organic cotton.

The USA produces a mere 2.1% of the world’s supply of organic cotton and does not produce enough to meet the country’s demand.  So a lot of organic cotton is imported by necessity.  We hope the increasing demand for chemical-free, organically grown cotton will encourage more US farmers to go organic.

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All About Dyes

There is so much confusion on what goes into dyes that I thought I’d help clarify a little. There are a large number of variations within categories of dyes, but for now we’ll stick to gross categories to get oriented. Here is my take on the overall dye process and the eco-friendliness of different dyes.

What most people hear about these days are low-impact dyes, azo-free dyes or fiber-reactive dyes. These are a category of synthetic, chemical-based dyes that are absorbed more easily into clothing than conventional dyes. Low-impact dyes are substantially better for the environment than conventional dyes because:

  • The higher absorption rate (greater than 70%) means less chemical and grey water runoff.
  • They do not include azo-dyes, a family of dye groups that can contain anything from toxic compounds such as chlorine bleach to known carcinogens such as carcinogenic aryl amines.
  • Low-impact dyes do not contain heavy metals

Still while low-impact dyes are better for the environment than conventional dyes, that doesn’t specifically mean they are good for the environment. Also, many people with multiple chemical sensitivities have reactions to low-impact dyes.

Going one small step further, some textiles are Oeko-Tek or Control Union (formerly SKAL) certified. These certifications do not focus solely on the dye, but are end-to-end process and final textile safety certifications. The dyes used in the final fabric must be at least as good as low-impact dyes and are specifically tested for skin-safety. The only problem with both of these certifications is that they are European-based and neither is widely used here in the USA. (Though Control Union is more common.) There are many legitimate, eco-friendly companies that are still using US-specific fiber certifications along with low-impact dyes. For example SOS From Texas grows cotton that meets all US Department of Agriculture Organic Standards and is certified organic by the Texas Department of Agriculture. Their final textiles would likely pass either of the above mentioned certifications, so the lack thereof for a US company is not necessarily telling in any way.

Getting away from synthetic dyes altogether, low-impact or otherwise, there is a class of natural dyes that are higher up on the eco-scale. Clay-dyes are dyes that are literally made from natural earth muds and clays. They are mixed with water and often little else. The colors are softer, but the dye stays put and they tend to work for people with chemical sensitives. Earth Creations has been offering clay-dyed clothing since 1996. Similarly, there are herbal and tea dyes which are created from plants. The range of colors is limited, but lovely and again, these dyes tend to work for chemically sensitive folks. The biggest downside of herbal dyes is the price. Faerie’s Dance has seen some lovely tea dyed pieces, but so far we’ve balked at the higher costs. We will have some herbal dyed items in 2010 to test the market desire.

Of course the overall least impact to the environment is not to dye clothing at all. So undyed is at the top of our eco-friendly list. But for those who may be tired of “natural” colored items, there is an alternative. There are several strains of cotton that are grown in colors. The colors are somewhat muted, but there is a lovely camel brown and soft green generally referred to as Colorgrown cottons. You can see the depth of color in the undyed brown sock in the center versus the traditional natural colored cotton socks on the ends. Take a look at this undyed Peasant Dress in camel brown.

In summary, the best way to get truly vibrant purples and reds is to use low-impact dyes. We all need a few fashion pieces that really make a statement. But if we fill in the closet with clay-dyed, herbal dyed, Colorgrown and undyed items, we’ll have a lighter impact on the planet and a healthier wardrobe all around.

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FaeriesDance.com is Getting an Upgrade

If you’ve been trying to get on our website, you’ll find we’ve been down since last night. Our hosting service is being upgraded and unfortunately, it’s not exactly as transparent as we’d hoped. No fear, we should be back up and running later today – with faster down loads and page viewing.

I apologize for any inconvenience this causes.

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By Adrienne / Posted in -- Uncategorized /

Is Your Credit Card Information Safe?

There is a lot of worry about credit card theft after hearing news this week of the 3 men who stole roughly 125 million credit card numbers. You may be thinking that doing business with a small company online is more risky than a big-box e-tailer like Amazon.com. Actually, at FaeriesDance.com it’s exactly the opposite!
First, let’s clarify risk. There are 2 main risks to your credit card information when shopping online. The first is that your card number is at risk during the time that it is in transit from the online store to the approving credit card bank. Transit times are generally less than 1 second total. FaeriesDance.com, like most online businesses, employees Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption. We use a 256-bit industry-standard encryption that encodes your credit card number while it is transmitted from our site to the credit card approving bank. This is the same level of transmission encryption that most financial institutions use. The thing is, it’s really not worth it for a potential credit card thief to try to time their hack for that partial second and then spend weeks or months breaking the encryption code to get a single credit card number. While it makes good sense to encrypt the data, credit card data is rarely if ever lost this way.

The second risk is that a potential credit card thief will hack into an online store’s encrypted database to gain access to the credit card information of every person that store has ever done business with! Not only is this a big gain for the thief, but the databases exist permanently, so they have plenty of time to crack the encryption. This is the primary way that credit cards are compromised – and it happens to companies of all sizes.

In my infinite wisdom 😉 I realized when creating FaeriesDance.com that we would not likely have the resources to keep up with the constant barrage of database threats. So, we simply avoided them altogether. FaeriesDance.com does not store your credit card information anywhere, any time, in any database, EVER!
OK, so this means that if you accidentally put in the wrong expiration date and get a message back from the bank to that effect, you have to retype the card number. If you shop with us a lot, you don’t have the neat-o feature that allows you to just reuse the same card as last time – you have to retype the card number. If you type the card number and then decide to purchase something else, as soon as you click off the payment page to go back to the shopping cart, you wipe out the card number and again, have to retype it.

While all of this retyping can occasionally be annoying, the fact is, that it is by far the most secure system of obtaining credit card information online. You type it in, it’s instantly sent to the credit card approving company and never written to any database where it could be hacked. Your credit card information does not exist on our website, and therefore cannot be stolen from our website.

For those of you who are still concerned about using your credit card online, the best piece of advice I can give is to always check the “no” option when asked if you want your credit card number saved for future purchases. (We don’t ask – saving your credit card number is not an option at FaeriesDance.com.) This simple tip will go a long way in securing your card information when shopping online.
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Preparing for Mt. Whitney

Aerial View of Mt. Whitney Image courtesy of the National Park Service

In addition to myself, Faerie’s Dance gets assistance from several friends who work part-time and seasonally to help process your orders quickly and efficiently. While there’s always lots to do (like more blog posts!… next up All About Dyes…), the whole gang has decided to take a quick break. We’re all heading off together for a weekend in the California Sierra Nevada mountain range to summit Mt. Whitney. At 14,494 feet (4418 meters), Whitney is the highest peak in the lower 48 states. Though, that’s only half as high as Everest’s 29,035 feet.

Here are some quick peak facts:

Highest Mountain in the World (and Asia)
Everest, Nepal-China: 29,035 feet / 8850 meters

Highest Mountain in Africa
Kilimanjaro, Tanzania: 19,340 feet / 5895 meters

Highest Mountain in AntarcticaVinson Massif: 16,066 feet / 4897 meters

Highest Mountain in AustraliaKosciusko: 7310 feet / 2228 meters

Highest Mountain in Europe
Elbrus, Russia (Caucasus): 18,510 feet / 5642 meters

Highest Mountain in Western Europe
Mont Blanc, France-Italy: 15,771 feet / 4807 meters

Highest Mountain in OceaniaPuncak Jaya, New Guinea: 16,535 feet / 5040 meters

Highest Mountain in North AmericaMcKinley (Denali), Alaska: 20,320 feet / 6194 meters

Highest Mountain in the 48 Contiguous United States
Whitney, California: 14,494 feet / 4418 meters

Highest Mountain in South America
Aconcagua, Argentina: 22,834 feet / 6960 meters
Since everyone associated with Faerie’s Dance will be off hiking, massaging our sore feet and enjoying sweeping views of central California, we won’t be able to ship Friday or Saturday. All orders placed after 2:30pm on Thursday will ship first thing Monday morning. We apologize if this causes any inconvenience to anyone. Hopefully clearing our minds and stretching our bodies will bring us back fit, excited and more efficient than ever. 🙂
Have a wonderful weekend – and don’t forget to take a quick peek outside tonight to experience the Perseid meteor shower.

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