Fashion is about more than the latest trends – it’s about expression.  Some women throughout the world are deprived of their right to express themselves freely and are susceptible to horrors like trafficking and rape simply because they weren’t born with a Zara and a Starbucks in their back yard.  Did you know that 100 million girls are expected to enter forced marriages in the next decade?  Women living in 3rd world countries have nowhere near as many opportunities as the ones we take for granted every day.  We’re not trying to preach anything here, that’s just the reality, and we’re ecstatic that we’ve had the opportunity to chat with two amazing women who are working hard to make a change.  By purchasing R+L products, consumers are part of breaking the cycle of poverty and transforming the lives of women and families.

Designers Kirsten Dickerson and Sophia Lin don’t just share a close friendship, but a passion for fashion and ethical design, and Raven + Lily was created as a platform to utilize those passions to alleviate poverty among women.  Check out our interview with them here:

How do you go about selecting the organizations that you work with?

During a trip to India with a group of designers from LA, we met a group of women who were beingtrained in design and artisan skills. We realized that we could connect these women with designpartnerships for them to use their skills to the fullest. We were able to connect with our artisans groups through personal contacts I’ve made while traveling.

One of the groups we work with in Africa we initiallymet because of our relationship with the nonprofit Tirzah International. It’s certainly been a challenge tofind the local artisan groups, but it’s always worth the legwork in the end. Through our creative designpartnerships, we are able to employ these women, which creates opportunities for them to supportthemselves and their families. The end result is more opportunity for health, safety, education, successand happiness.

 Have you personally met these women? What’s the mosttouching story you’ve come across in your work?
Yes! Meeting the women face to face is something we do before we begin any partnership, and I believeit is so key to building relationships with them. We love being able to share the stories of the women inour artisan groups and the way that it connects the customers to the women who made their products.

One of the stories that will always stick with me is that of Amleset, because it gives me so much hope.When she and her husband found out that they were HIV positive, they moved to Entoto Mountain in hopes of finding healing. But all they found was poverty. Amleset began begging and says of herexperience, “Begging is like being dead.” Once she started working with our jewelry program, her lifechanged. She was able to help provide for her family, and just this past year they were able to move off ofthe mountain where HIV is so prevalent, and assimilate back into life in the city. Amleset’s story is one oftrue transformation that is so inspiring to me.

Besides online, where else can we buy Raven + Lily?

Our products can be found in about 50 different boutiques around the country. We are currently compilinga list that we can put up on our website. If there is a store in your area that you would love to see carryingRaven + Lily, tell us about them!

 Are there any volunteer/intern  opportunities with Raven + Lily?

Every season we bring on a new team of interns, and right now we have a few great ones from the University of Texas and Baylor University. The typical openings we offer are for PR/Marketing and Designinternships that take place at our headquarters in Austin, TX.  Since we are a small team, interns andvolunteers play a huge role in helping Raven + Lily get things done. Anyone who wants to come by our Austin studio would be welcome!

Written by Jacqueline Chambers

Jacqueline Chambers

Jacqueline Chambers is the founder of TGIFguide. She uses her innate skills as a natural “connector” to serve businesses, brands and individuals in the LA area and beyond.