Summer Boating and 31 Bits

In the first photo-essay by SCENES Star Jennifer McQuade, the blogger shares one of her favorite cause-driven fashion and style companies, 31 Bits, in her home town of Newport Beach, California.

Summer is in full swing, and we’ve already gotten some sweet glimpses into the best season of the year here in Southern California! Ok, let’s be honest, the weather swing from season to season is hardly noticeable. But one thing’s for sure, warmer evenings coupled with late sunsets make for the perfect sunset cruise conditions.

Let’s do a quick introduction and then get back to the important stuff. I’m Jenn, my home base is SoCal, although I just spent a few years in Nashville, and can’t seem to go a month without planning a trip (even if I’m just dreaming about it!). I love laid back, simple fashion, and I’m always in process of making more ethical, sustainable fashion and beauty choices.

SCENES Star Jennifer Mcquade with a 31 Bits necklace. photography by Ryan Alexander @ryanstephena

One of my long time favorite companies is 31Bits, founded right here in Orange County by three young women who were just college students at the time (see founder, Alli, in the group photo!). They were deeply impacted by a trip to Uganda where they met women who had grown up in a war zone, yet were still using the resources they had to survive. For them, this meant making jewelry out of old posters, and the girls were fascinated by it. The 31Bits founders brought these pieces back to sell to friends, family, college classmates…whoever would listen to their story, and they quickly realized there was a market for ethical fashion, as well as an opportunity to give their new Ugandan friends a successful business.

They’ve evolved and added to their collection over the years, from the first jewelry made out of paper beads, to pieces created by popular guest designers, and now featuring bags and home goods as well. But one thing hasn’t changed – their mission to educate, train, employ and house groups of women in Uganda and Bali to support them in a sustainable future. When buying a 31Bits piece, you know you’re supporting a company with ethical sourcing, production and employment practices, and that every purchase impacts a woman’s life.

While 31Bits offers everything from large statement pieces to delicate charms, I’m a minimalist jewelry lover, so I kept it simple for our casual duffy boat ride with a gold plated Y-chain necklace, handmade in Bali and still very affordable.

31Bits’ Fringed Y-Chain necklace adds the perfect amount of sparkle to a casual maxi dress. photo by

Their woven bags are another favorite summertime staple of mine, with several different shapes and handle styles so there’s something for everyone.

The Woven Drum Bag is the perfect summer evening staple! photo by

Alli is wearing another one of my favorites, a beautiful statement piece called the Silk Frame Ring in gold.

Silk Frame Ring, offered in Gold and Silver. photo by

It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of the season, with vacations, more crowds everywhere you go and checking off those summer to-do lists. But planning an outdoor activity that’s out of your ordinary evening routine is the perfect way to slow down and enjoy these longer days while you still can!

Cruising into magic hour light with the girls! Alli’s Silk Frame Ring can be seen here. photo by Ryan Alexander @ryanstephena
Pictured from left: Myself, Alli (Co-Founder of 31Bits), Suzanna and Jess enjoying a warm summer evening on the water in Newport Harbor. Our denim, black and white outfit coordination wasn’t even planned! photo by Ryan Alexander @ryanstephena
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