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After spending several years in social services, Nicole has finally followed her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. In addition to her work for The Hudsucker, Nicole is also a staff writer for Womanista. An avid comic book fan, BBQ aficionado, professional makeup artist and first-time mom, Nicole can be found exploring Kansas City rich history when she's not blogging about suburban life at Suburban Flamingo.

A Little Luxury, A Little Good: Preserve

Actress Blake Lively launched a website last week: Preserve is a lifestyle site in the tradition of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop. It is billed as a site that is part e-commerce, part web magazine, and part charity with the idea of looking at what is interesting and amazing about the United States through stories, artisan goods from around the country, and a charity project designed to provide food, blankets, and shelter to needy American children through a partnership with Covenant House, a charity that helps homeless and trafficked children. The site is done in black and sepia, looking both contemporary and vintage at the same time and doesn’t have a lot of content just yet, though there is a long letter from Blake Lively explaining the site that is nicely written but hard to read. The e-commerce site has an interesting if not limited array of pricey goods with stark, dark photographs. Everything seems overly worded and too polite. The internet has reacted by having very few nice things to say about the site, lumping it into the category of out-of-touch celebrity wealth and excess because, after all, isn’t $95 a bit much for a wooden crate? It sort of overshadows the magazine portion of the website.


Image Credit: Preserve

It’s easy to hate on celebrity lifestyle projects. It’s a special type of jealousy to look at something the rich and famous have done and the things they promote and find fault in it. Sometimes that fault is valid (Kathie Lee Gifford and sweatshops, for example.) However hating on something just because it has pricey goods and lofty ideals isn’t right and isn’t fair, especially when what Preserve does is honestly no different than what a lot of folks do in everyday life. Who doesn’t recommend a handful of favorite specialty items that they are evangelists for? Many people even collect interesting regional items when they travel, finding connection with something neat and local that they can take back with them and incorporate in their real lives (I personally have a particular chocolate bar that I feel that way about!) What Preserve does and has a chance to do well is share some of those interesting finds with the public in one place while doing some measure of good. Child homelessness is a massive problem in the United States with some estimates stating that there are 1.6 million children in the country who are experiencing homelessness. Covenant House operates houses in twenty-two cities, serving over 50,000 children in 2013 with more than just shelter. Covenant House also provides food, education, job preparation (including professional clothing for interviews,) and advocacy both for the children and within governmental agencies to help promote change.

Yes, $95 is a bit much for a wooden crate, but $7 for curry ketchup that I haven’t ever found anything quite like at any of my local haunts and 5% of my purchase is going to help kids? Sure, the amount of money on each purchase comes up to spare change. It’s also the same amount of “savings” I get when I use my Target card and buying a little luxury that gives something to help homeless kids is certainly better than me saving up to buy yet another latte. Even if it’s a little self-serving it makes me feel better about the world and I’m supporting a small business a bit in the process to boot. On some level that’s what Preserve is about: promoting small businesses, doing a bit of good, and connecting everyone through the warmth of getting something for giving a little. It will be interesting to see where Preserve goes and it’s too early to pass judgment. Sometimes good things start slow, after all.

Visit Preserve at their website, and follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. For more information about Preserve’s charity partner, please visit Covenant House.

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