Sources and Photos: Many thanks to Tito’s Handmade Vodka
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These days, how and where we spend our hard-earned coin matters more than ever. Like anything else, our go-to pour provides both a chance to indulge and an opportunity to generate social, economic and/or environmental impact.

Medal of Honor recipient Ty M. Carter opened my eyes to Tito’s during an interview a few years back. The American hero is a fellow dog lover who also takes his love of country, service and vodka seriously. Like Ty, I don’t believe in overthinking it – just being informed and rising above the well.

Not only is Tito’s reliable and irresistible to many a vodka-lover, its extraordinary commitment to supporting animals, people and the planet has inspired a legion of fans and followers who may not even drink the stuff. Now no other vodka will do.

Photo: Co-Woofer Tita; Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Tito’s is proud to be America’s Original Craft Vodka. In 1995, Bert “Tito” Beveridge obtained the first legal permit to distill in Texas and created Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Under his direction, the brand batch-distills its smooth-as-silk corn-based vodka using old-fashioned pot stills, and the vodka is naturally gluten-free. A perfectionist with a vision, Tito wouldn’t rest until he found his formula. 

In the early days when Tito started making vodka at the Mockingbird Distillery, his best “furriend” and the brand’s first co-woofer, DogJo, stood by his side day and night to keep him company. As Tito pursued his liquid dreams, DogJo played wingman and confidant.

New to the vodka business, Tito struggled to make ends meet, yet he donated cases to nonprofits in need, welcoming the opportunity for folks to taste his new vodka. “If you like it, tell 20 of your closest friends,” he said… and they did. The word got out – not just about the vodka, but also about Tito’s philanthropic business practices. The phone started to ring more often, and Tito’s fell into the “charity event” business.

Photo: Dog Store Tasting; Tito’s Handmade Vodka

As the company grew, Tito empowered each and every member of the team, regardless of their role, to support the causes they were passionate about in their local communities. Every time a team member reached out to extend a hand, to make a difference, to say, “Thank you for inviting us to help the cause,” they signed off with, “Love, Tito’s.” This salutation became a mantra, which turned into a movement. Through Love, Tito’s, the team has supported thousands of causes – lending a hand to rebuild communities after devastation, spreading joy to those who need a little more, and protecting the environment we all share.

Photo: Co-Woofers for charity; Tito’s Handmade Vodka

These days, Tito’s is also the Vodka for Dog People, with a pet-friendly workplace policy at their headquarters in Austin and awards for being one of the most “pet-friendly” places to work in the United States. Tito’s first trusty pup, DogJo, may have passed on, but the canine heart of the operation beats stronger than ever. Taki is the new resident Tito’s distillery dog, trotting, sniffing and snacking in DogJo’s paw prints, while other beloved “co-woofers” snooze adorably under employees’ desks and in cozy spots around the property.

Tito’s Vodka for Dog Program and social advocacy group Dogs at Work recently partnered to present Dogs at Work, an information center that educates business owners on the value of bringing dogs to work and provides real resources to encourage the practice. Visit

Photo: Distillery Dog Willie; Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Canine appreciation doesn’t stop there. Tito’s “Co-Woofer of the Month” series includes exclusive interviews with adorable pups “on the job,” while other programs celebrate “Adventure Canines” and more.

The Tito’s team is also committed to protecting and rescuing animals that have wandered into the distillery in search of food and water. The company has worked with numerous nonprofits, such as Austin Humane Society, Wings of Rescue, Basseterre Animal Rescue Centre (BARC) St. Kitts, and others to help eliminate animal homelessness in Austin and surrounding communities.

The goal at Tito’s is simple: to turn spirits into love and goodness. Essentially, Tito’s has evolved into a philanthropy-driven company that sells vodka on the side.

DO try this at home – The Grackle

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Photos: ECO CANNABIS; Tev Lee Photography
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Dispensary or delivery? THC vs CBD? Varying laws by state? How about flower or edible, extract, pre-roll and beyond. WTF?!

I’ll admit it: I’ve inhaled. I’ll also be the first to confess that I still don’t know the first thing about cannabis. As a Silicon Valley native, proud American and passionate global citizen, I find my lack of ability to contribute to the conversation unacceptable, regardless of whether or not I choose to partake. Thankfully, ECO Cannabis, the producer of some of the Bay Area’s most exceptional, sustainably grown cannabis, has opened its doors in Oakland, California.

Photo: ECO Cannibis

Understanding that traditional cannabis dispensaries can be confusing and intimidating, ECO Cannabis was created to “break the mold” of the cannabis-buying experience. As welcoming and innovative as the East Bay itself, ECO makes it a joy to learn about all things cannabis—from how it can be incorporated into your wellness routine, to current regulations.

Photo: Tev Lee Photography

Here’s the lowdown on ECO Cannibis’ new dispensary:

The dispensary itself is more stylish and cosmopolitan than dark and sketchy.

Located in hip and happening Uptown Oakland, the spa-like dispensary is intended to provide a seamless, inspiring and captivating customer experience. From the second one walks into ECO, the space exudes the feeling of a high-end retail store, with everything thoughtfully and intentionally designed to provide and an open and modern shopping experience.

It begins with an ID check (driver’s license or passport) to ensure each customer is of legal age (21 and over), followed by a warm welcome and simple iPad check-in. While dispensaries aren’t required to record your name for every purchase, they are obliged to enforce the state’s maximum purchase-per-day limits (one ounce per customer).

Next it’s time to customize. The store assigns each customer an “Experience Guide,” a personal shopper who attends to your every need, taking time to educate and make recommendations. This one-on-one interaction ensures that every client gets exactly what he or she came in for, whether it be a sleep-aid, pain and inflammation relief, or just something to promote relaxation at the end of a tough day.

Photo: ECO Cannibis

Cash still rules, but the shopping experience is elevated with state-of-the-art technology and a solid rewards program with perks.

For those also catching up, cannabis is the scientific name for the hemp plant. There are many different kinds of cannabis. The leaves and flowers of each kind produce varying mind-altering and medicinal effects when smoked or consumed. Perhaps the most talked-about strains of the hemp plant are cannabis sativa and cannabis indica.

ECO is proud of its premium cannabis flower, grown in 100% organic soil and already highly regarded around the Bay Area. In addition, the selection of premium concentrates, edibles, pre-rolls, and topicals are sourced from local growers and producers who are both passionate about their products and share their values of quality, community and sustainability. ECO Cannabis works with the finest brands in the industry, including Défoncé Chocolatier, Mary’s Medicinals, Kiva Confections, Northern Emeralds, OM Edibles, juna world, Kikoko, Loudpack, Puffco, and more. 

In addition to ECO’s own premium flower, customers will find a wide variety of other products, including a carefully curated selection of extracts, tinctures, topicals, and edibles that meet the high standards of the ECO Cannabis team. There’s also a super selection of unusual lifestyle products including Infusion devices and cannabis-centric cookbooks.

ECO Cannabis team members place the customer’s order through the iPad while shopping. Once ready to purchase, customers head to the counter, where their order is packaged and ready.

Photo: Tev Lee Photography

It’s sexy, sustainable and the perfect way to lift the local community up.    

ECO’s impact extends well beyond its doors; the company is committed to supporting the community through its employment practices, neighborhood beautification programs and charitable giving.

As an eco-friendly brand, the goal is to respect the environment and employ green business practices to conserve resources and avoid environmental pollution. The vertically integrated company operates its own cultivation facilities that use 100% organic soil. 

As “ECO” stands for “Equity Cannabis of Oakland,” ECO Cannabis prides itself on nurturing the local community; 100% of ECO Cannabis employees are Oakland residents, and 50% were previously incarcerated.  These hiring standards are in line with the City of Oakland’s groundbreaking Equity Permit Program, which minimizes barriers to cannabis licensing for Oakland residents who have been the most victimized by the war on drugs.

By Corry Cook

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Photos Courtesy of Lingua Franca
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It’s time to ditch mass production and mindless consumerism to support a sexy, subversive brand aimed at socially conscious innovation.

Looking for soft, sassy and made in the USA? Based in NYC, Lingua Franca (LF) produces sexy and sustainable luxury cashmere sweaters. Not only is the brand synonymous with bold and beautiful, it is driven by a steadfast commitment to fair trade, ethical labor practices and the highest environmental standards. Tack on its thought-provoking, hand-embroidered phrases on that plush cashmere, and Lingua Franca has established itself as a force-for-good to be reckoned with.

Lingua Franca “everyday i’m hustlin” sweater and stationary. Photo: Lingua Franca

For Founder Rachelle Hruska MacPherson, LF was born stitch by stich – literally. In an effort to create balance and burn through a modern girl’s stress, she turned to embroidery and a timeless craft she learned as a child from her grandmother Rita in Nebraska. Picking up an old cashmere sweater, she got her groove on, expertly moving a needle and thread while spontaneously riffing on hip-hop lyrics. The result? Luxurious cashmere that screams empowering blasts of intelligent, fearless poetry to boost every man, woman and child, including “Give A Damn,” “I Believe Her,” and “Outlaw,” to name a few epic favorites. Not to mention soft and stunning travel sets that include blanket, socks, embroidered eye mask and embroidered travel bag with zip closure. All made from 100% cashmere. Hand embroidered by women in NYC.

Lingua Franca’s mission statement is not only to start meaningful conversations, but also to work towards creating positive and impactful change. Under Hrusha MacPherson’s direction, Lingua Franca is passionately using its platform in order to give back in tangible ways while inspiring change – a portion of LF proceeds support badass activists and organizations working for a better world. Over the two years since its inception, Lingua Franca has partnered with and given back to over 227 charities, including the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Semper Fi Foundation and She Should Run.

Rachelle in her “Power to the Peaceful” sweater with sons Dashiell and Maxwell.
Photo: Lingua Franca

Of course, a natural extension of this commitment has included partnering with organizations and charities that share the same brand values and mission. Its wildly successful collab with dynamic accessory brand MZ Wallace is no exception. Sales from the She Should Run bag campaign raised more than $100,000 for the nonprofit and its efforts to generate opportunities for women leaders driven to run for public office.

It’s no wonder the brand’s quality and creativity are striking a chord, especially in today’s highly charged political environment. Luminaries such as Meryl Streep, Joan Didion, Tim McGraw, Reese Witherspoon, and Huma Abedin, among others, have embraced LF’s positive and socially engaged voice.

For the team at Lingua Franca, the year ahead will be focused on dreaming up new ways to amplify its nonprofit partners’ work and expand the limits of what is possible while unearthing the “Outlaw” in each of us. Example? In honor of International Women’s Day 2019, Lingua Franca treated more than a dozen remarkably inspiring women from across the country to a well-earned weekend off in New York City. Receiving over 500 submissions in which friends and family nominated an extraordinary woman in their lives, a final group of 13 was selected – each one a valuable thread holding her community together. 

Lingua Franca travel sets. Photo: Lingua Franca

What does the future hold for Lingua Franca? Rachelle shares on her site, “I hope we will grow into a super compelling company that continues to engage in our world. I hope we add to the world, not take from it. I hope to stay on my toes and continue to be humbled and inspired by the people I meet along the way. I hope we are able to see the humor in things and find the joy. And, I hope to call out and celebrate the absurd. I’m excited!”   

After all, a well-behaved woman rarely makes history..

Produced by: Corry Cook

Sources and Photos: Many thanks to Rachelle Hruska MacPherson and everyone at Lingua Franca  

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The Heat is On



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For those who dream of a winter wonderland, Finnish Lapland is as close as it gets to the real thing. Untouched and pristine nature is at the core of Finnish life. It also makes for the ultimate “Do Not Disturb” location.

Hidden away more than 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is an enchanting, otherworldly destination. From hunting for aurora, to exploring the pristine artic wilderness, to dozing off under the Northern Lights in a glass igloo, there are plenty of romantic arctic adventures in store.

For a truly unique date night at Kakslauttanen, nothing beats a private couples’ smoke sauna (Savusauna) experience. This quintessential Finnish endeavor combines the soft warmth of the sauna, cool refreshing beverage and – for the bold – the exhilarating cold plunge. Best described as invigorating and adrenaline inducing with potential health benefits, it’s also downright sexy.

What begins with expert service and instruction, soon feels as though you’re the only two people on earth. Whereas modern wood-heated sauna stoves have a chimney to let out the smoke, but not so with the Finnish smoke sauna; instead, the smoke of the fire is trapped inside as it would have been millennia ago, along with the heat of the stove that is no longer lost up the chimney. The smoke is allowed out through the door immediately prior to the sauna-goers’ entrance, and the sauna then relies on its stored-up heat. Breathing in deeply while watching the fire crackle and glow, the body begins to soften with sweat and the heat releases all tension and boundaries.

Forget colored lights, aromatic fragrances and relaxing music: real Finnish saunas are dimly lit, and there’s no music or smells except for fresh birch and natural tar. Made from soaked birch twigs, the sauna whisks are used to gently whip yourself or one another, stimulating circulation and filling the air with their aroma. Whether or not you’re into this sort of thing at home, “whipping” your partner in the sauna is not only an accepted practice, it’s encouraged. It may sound bizarre but it’s a lot of playful fun and really good for your skin – you’ll feel the smoothness afterwards.

Time is not an issue. Neither is running around naked – indoors and out. At your leisure, time is spent alternating between the smoke sauna itself, the cold outdoors, and the warm cabin complete with a full fridge, shower, warm towels, hot showers and a roaring fire. With virtually no one around and no other building in sight, you can easily move between spaces, bodies steaming, and sans clothing.

The Finns’ laid-back manner and tendency to give you your own space ensures you are guaranteed privacy. Should your private butler catch sight of the “real” you (the national standard is to sauna in the nude), never fear – the Finns have seen their fair share of naked human bodies and it’s not a “thing” to be naked with perfect strangers in sauna.  It’s only natural, and every body is welcomed and accepted without judgement.

Photo: Harri Tarvainen; Visit Finland

Of course, you and your partner will be sweating heavily in the sauna, so it’s important to take breaks and drink plenty of fluids. Water is probably best, but fortunately, according to the locals, beer and cider are actually preferred during sauna. Stepping out into the brilliant cold night air, the snow sparkles bright white and the sky is lit up with the brightest stars you’ve ever seen; the truly fortunate may also see Aurora rippling above in dazzling shades of blue and green. This far north, the brilliant Northern Lights can appear on a crystal-clear night sky like magic nearly 200 nights a year.

They don’t call it “liquid courage” for nothing. Kaklauttanen’s private smoke sauna experience for two also involves dropping the towel and either diving into the snow together or plunging your bodies into a natural pool cut through the ice. The secret to dipping into icy water lies in plenty of fearless, alcohol-induced insanity, and you’ll be rewarded by a kind of euphoric feeling that surges through your body once you get out. As soon as you’re back on dry land your circulation kicks in and your body starts to warm up.

According to the experts at Visit Finland, sauna and Finland are inseparable. If you want to understand the country and its people, getting familiar with sauna is a good starting point. Whether an electric sauna in a modern business environment or an old-fashioned wood-burning sauna by a lakeside cottage, sauna is an essential part of daily life. So too is respect for nature and wildlife as well as people and their age-old customs. Just remember that for the Finnish, sauna has nothing to do with sex.

For everybody else? Just take it outside.

Produced By Corry Cook
Sources: Visit Finland; Kakslauttanen Artic Resort
Photos: Photographer Valtteri Hirvonen; Photographer Ruka Kuusamo; Visit Finland; Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort; Harri Tarvainen

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