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Olivia Wilde on Conscious Commerce, Her New Bag Collab and the Importance of a Summer Scarf

Yesterday, we joined actress Olivia Wilde and P.S. I Made This' Erica Domesek for an outdoor crafting session to fête the former's very charitable new collaboration: a utilitarian carryall for Alternative Apparel. All proceeds from the bag, which can be worn either messenger-style or as a backpack, benefit The Academy for Peace and Justice, a school in Haiti that Olivia's volunteered at for several years running.

In addition to being a busy actress, Olivia's co-founder of Campaign Happiness, an initiative dedicated to rebuilding Haiti in the wake of 2010's devastating earthquake. To hear her tell it, "We struggle to raise money for this organization all the time. It's hard in this economy to raise dollars, so we wanted to find a way to mix commerce with consciousness."

In this case, teaming up with Alternative Apparel was a no-brainer. "They jumped on board immediately and we made this awesome bag that's unisex and totally open to interpretation. That's why we wanted this event to be all about doing it yourself—designing it, making it whatever it means to you," Olivia told me, minutes before she headed to the crafting table to add safety pins and studs to hers.

As for the look of the "Message Bag"—an olive-colored canvas rucksack trimmed with pebbled leather—it was inspired by the one Olivia herself carries during her regular trips to Port-au-Prince. And while the actress' vintage original might have been used to store "everything from bug spray to malaria pills," Alternative Apparel's iteration would be perfect for toting around city essentials. In Olivia's case, that means Lucas' Pawpaw ointment and a handy scarf. "I'm a big scarf person," she explained. Even during sweltering Manhattan summers, I asked? "Yeah—a scarf makes a good New York City sweat rag!" she laughed.

The daughter of two esteemed journalists as well as a bona fide style-setter, Olivia insists one needn't sacrifice their interest in shopping for the sake of seeming committed to a cause. "Your dollar is your vote," she told me. "If you can buy the things you love—I mean, maybe they're 'fashion items,' but if you know those dollars are going toward a progressive cause, for me, that's the perfect storm. If people just considered how they're already spending their money and tried to redirect that towards companies that assist these kinds of organizations, we could make a big difference."

Snag your very own Message Bag for $138 at Alternativeapparel.com.

Photo courtesy of Alternative Apparel.

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