How to Style a Chambray Blouse:
Consciously and locally sourced, Handmade in India by marginalized, at-risk women, Corporation B Certified
3/4 Sleeve Chambray Blouse || Closet Swapped
Refurbish your faves by trading with friends and save clothes from ending up in land-fills
Sequins Detail Skirt || Zara
Not ethically sourced
Creme Wedges || Marshalls
It has been quite an adventure here in Ecuador thus far! I am teaching photography still and am learning that I really need to practice my Spanish more. Aside from that, when I go to do the workshops, I am also trying to learn a few phrases in Qeechua in hopes that I can use them when I go to Peru. So far I have 4 phrases down. Lol. Progress...
I was excited to take today's photos on the top level of the home where I am staying. It is such a panoramic view, and I hope these photos help you feel like you are here too! Being somewhere beautiful and wearing awesome fashion that empowers marginalized women on the other side of the world is such a cultural "wow!" I am glad that I can still have the opportunity to con tinue my investigations of ethical fashion even in Ecuador! I am very excited for today's interview with Raven & Lily (who are now a B Certified Corporation)! Not only are their products gorgeous and high quality, with local sourcing, and fair trade wages, but they support marginalized women who are making positive changes in their communities you can see their stories here! ;)
Without further adieu I introduce...
Cameron Crake, Director of Operations at Raven + Lily
Fashion for empowerment... I love it! Tell me how RAVEN and LILY is tangibly making a long term impact.
Our mission is to work holistically with each artisan group in order to help them develop in every aspect. We realize that providing the opportunity for work is the first step in empowering women to educate their children and to have access to things like health care and savings accounts. We see the impacts of our work not only impacting the women we help employ but their communities and future generations. This is why establishing partnerships with a long term intention is so important to us; we want to be able to make a big impact with the groups we work with so we want to be able to grow and support them over time.
How many women are you currently employing?
We currently help employ over 1,000women in 6 different countries around the world.
Why the name "Raven and Lily"? Is there a founding story?
The name is from one of our founder’s favorite quotes from the Bible. The verse talks about God caring for the ravens in the air and the flowers in the field- if those things are cared for and valuable, how much more valuable are these women that we work with. We want them to know that they are beautiful and valuable!
Tell me about your founder CEO!
Kirsten Dickerson is the Founder/CEO of Raven + Lily. There is so much to say about our outgoing & compassionate CEO. Before starting Raven + Lily, Kirsten’s career was divided by her passions for social justice and fashion. She spent 15 years doing both styling work in the film industry and working alongside global non-profits. Creating this brand has allowed her to unify her passions and capitalize her experience in both the humanitarian and fashion worlds. Motivated by a belief that each person is valuable and uniquely created, Kirsten is dedicated to empowering women to discover their full potential.
Tell me about the startup phase of Raven and Lily? Would you say you are still there?
I feel like we’re really starting to pick up speed now! I was the first hire at Raven + Lily, so it has been fun to see it grow. When I came on, it was just myself, Kirsten, and a designer working with two artisan groups. Now we have a team of eight with interns galore and we’re working with 14 different artisan groups! We are gaining momentum, but still getting over the hump of the start-up phase; really wanting to take things to a whole new level in the next couple years!
How is it as a fashion company in the growing social enterprise space?
It is exciting to see so much movement in our space! New brands are emerging left and right that have some kind of ethical focus. Fashion can be particularly challenging though, because it will take a little more consumer education to get people to overcome their comfort with fast fashion.
Where are you based? Has this helped your business grow and network?
We are based in Austin, Texas - where we have a design studio & storefront. I do believe that it's helped out business grow - Austin is an amazing community that is filled with people who are conscious about ethical fashion and lifestyle!
Can my readers purchase RAVEN and LILY in boutiques across the nation?
Yes, Raven + Lily has an online store @ www.ravenandlily.com and we can also be found throughout several boutiques in the United States, Canada, and several international locations.
Where is your fabric sourced from?
Our fabric is sourced locally in each country. For example, in Cambodia we use recycled fabrics that have been discarded from the garment factories in Phnom Penh.
Where do you see RAVEN and LILY in 5 years? 10 years?
Employing more women and making more beautiful things! We want to be the go-to brand for ethical fashion in the US. I see us expanding our line to employ even more artisans and offer more products, as well as expand our channels of distribution – more retail partners, more storefronts, and a stronger international presence.
Do you see education as a "women's issue"?
I think that the fact that fewer women are being educated in the world is an issue. Economies are underutilizing their workforces and holding their countries back by not educating women and letting them give a stronger contribution to society. This is something that we hope to help shift by focusing on providing employment opportunities specifically for women in these developing countries.
Aside from purchasing your beautifully crafted product, what message does RAVEN and LILY want to translate to their customers?
Empowerment doesn't just happen through our business abroad. It reaches within our community and to each woman who wears out products. We want our customers to look good and feel good doing it. We want the women who buy our products know that they can make a difference with their purchasing power.
How do you define beauty?
One of our goals at R+L is to have products that reflect the beauty and culture of the women. Beauty can be portrayed in many facets- in languages, faces, conversations, relationships, art… I think beauty is the outward expression of something miraculous.
Blessings from Ecuador,