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Why We Produce with Artisans (and not Factories)

Posted by Kirsten Dickerson on

One of the distinguishing traits of Raven + Lily apparel and accessories is that the items are handmade. We don't work with factories and we don't mass produce in the typical "fast fashion" way. We also don't make crafty items. We make gorgeous, modern designs that reflect the beauty and culture of the women in our partnerships. I can say this because the credit goes to my design team and the women in our partnerships. They are all rockstars in the most epic way.

Empowering Women in India Empowering Women in Pakistan

There are so many reasons why we value what is handmade. Oh so many. I'll just list a few specifics for you to chew on...

Employing women to use their artisan skills to make our exclusive collections means that we are:

Providing sustainable income opportunities for at-risk women through fair trade practices

  • Long term partnerships that employ women to use her artisan skills
  • Access to healthcare, education for her children, and a caring environment promotes dignity

Preserving traditional culture and craftsmanship

  • Demonstrates the beauty of the culture
  • Unique designs - becoming increasingly rare in the fast fashion world
  • Skills are passed on through generations and seen as relevant and valuable by youth (rather than outdated)

Empowering Women in Ethiopia Empowering Women in India

Committing to high quality products

  • Every design is made by skilled artisans and often takes many hours (or even weeks) to create
  • Our products are meant to last so they are sustainable and fashionable for many years

Practicing Accountability

  • We know the hands that make each item
  • We are involved in the sourcing of the materials
  • We know the management/people that run the operations as they are our partners
  • We know there is no outsourcing
  • We visit frequently, do yearly impact reports, have regional production coordinators, and hire outside auditors to monitor our production practices
  • We are a certified and registered Benefit Corporation (B Corp) and do an extensive audit every 2 years through B labs
  • We are in this business to see women break cycles of poverty and develop long term partnerships to see women empowered. If this isn't happening ,we aren't interested in continuing....and I'm not joking one bit

Empowering Women in Malaysia Empowering Women in India

And something I want to mention in response to a frequently asked question...

How can you grow and meet market demand if everything is handmade?

Just because our designs are hand crafted, doesn't mean we can't produce large quantities. Several of our artisans partnerships are very scalable and can fulfill orders in the thousands on a monthly basis. As we grow, they continue to grow, train, and hire more women to product our designs. That is part of our mission. Other partnerships produce designs that are more labor intensive and thus much more expensive (like hand woven or hand embroidered apparel), so we adjust accordingly and offer these exclusive collections only on our website and storefront until there are enough women involved to produce at higher quantities.

Empowering Women in Kenya

The world will be a big bore if we continue to all wear mass produced designs. I'm reminded of this every time I travel and see the incredible indigenous clothing of women from around the world. Instead of factory produced trendy clothing, let's wear story driven design that represent gorgeous women, and their incredible craftsmanship.

That's something we can be proud to own, proud to wear, and proud to share.

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