Some would say that fashion is their life. Others say they don’t care about what they wear. For fashion companies that address extreme poverty, finding a middle ground can make all the difference. Companies like the ones below would argue that fashion can both impassion the apathetic and give cause to the already passionate.
Raven and Lily – Empowering Women. Alleviating Poverty.
Live thoughtfully. With this as one of her life axioms, Kirsten Dickerson created her unique and ethical brand of fashion, Raven and Lily, in 2008. In 2013, Dickerson met a group of female Afghan artisans living for decades as refugees on the Pakistan border. The experience moved her to expand her business.
Since then, Raven and Lily formed 17 partnerships throughout 10 countries while employing more than 1,500 women. Dickerson provides jobs and educational opportunities as well as an ethical and sustainable product. “We are genuinely trying to think through all levels of our production practices and how people on the planet are affected,” Dickerson said.
By providing steady employment, including fair wages and education, Raven and Lily has established itself among the fashion companies that address extreme poverty on the most foundational of levels.
Accompany – Where Every Purchase has a Purpose.
If asked about its mission, Accompany will say its first priority is to help human beings. Ranked among the fashion companies that address extreme poverty head-on, the organization has an uncomplicated approach to the way it does business. Its three-tier system ensures the products have a purpose by:
- Being handmade.
- Abiding fair trade practices.
- Having philanthropy at the center.
The results of this system are exponential: cultural heritage is preserved for generations to come, self-sufficiency is rooted in a new-found education and services are provided to the community at large. In short, change happens.
Socially-conscious industries help create that change. When Jason Keehn founded the organization, his vision was to leverage a thriving industry for global communities in need. As they boldly proclaim on their website: Welcome to a New Style Culture. It’s a culture that seems to be shared by all fashion companies that address extreme poverty.
Apolis – Advocacy through Industry.
With Apolis, the name says it all—a name that means “global citizen.” When they created their company in 2004, brothers Raan and Shea Parton believed business could be the impetus for social change. They have taken that belief, along with their investment in people, and have created a model for other fashion companies that address extreme poverty.
A certified B Corporation, Apolis meets high standards with regard to social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. When asked about their brand of activism, Shea Parton stated, “[it’s] really about how you can go into an impoverished country and find a resource or product or raw material that allows you to bring it into the marketplace and to give an opportunity rather than charity.”
This mindset likely formed from a young age, according to Parton, who says “our parents knew that if we stayed in Santa Barbara, we would never know how good we had it.” With constant travel to countries like Uganda and India, the Parton brothers learned perspective early on, and they have put their perspective into action.
Bloom + Grace – Beautifully Made. Ethically Sourced. Globally Minded.
Bloom and Grace was founded in 2013, a jewelry company resulting from an inspired founder. When Dani Lachowicz found herself working in sub-Saharan Africa, she seized an opportunity she knew would change the lives of children in developing countries. Partnering with the U.N. Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign and with local artisans, proceeds from Bloom and Grace go toward life-saving vaccinations.
Just how life-saving are vaccinations in developing countries? Here are some facts:
- A child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that can be prevented by a vaccine.
- The World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Global Alliance for Vaccinations have already seen a 99 percent reduction in polio and a 78 percent reduction in measles-related deaths.
- Increasing access to vaccines can prevent 1.5 million deaths each year.
It is Bloom and Grace’s hope to empower communities and to promote entrepreneurship, while also living up to their namesake by allowing children the opportunity to bloom by the grace of socially-conscious patrons.
Krochet Kids, Intl. – Creating Jobs. Changing Lives.
Kohl Crecelius, Stewart Ramsey and Travis Hartanov founded Krochet Kids, Intl. from a shared high school hobby of crochet. Krochet Kids Intl. looks for ways to empower people to rise above poverty and provides life-changing job opportunities for women in need in Uganda and Peru.
With each purchase, consumers are invited to meet the maker of their product and are encouraged to write a note of thanks and encouragement. With this very personal approach to business and a partnership with We Are Capable, an organization with 10 years of experience fighting extreme poverty, the organization is able to stay committed to its desired areas of impact:
- Women in poverty-stricken regions
- Job opportunities
Fashion companies that address extreme poverty understand that behind every fabric is a face, and behind every accessory is an opportunity for access to those who wouldn’t otherwise have it.
– Daniel Staesser