Why do you focus on women?
Statistics show that 70% of the world’s poorest are women and that they are generally given fewer opportunities than men. Statistics also show that investing in a woman can have a tremendous impact not only within her immediate family but also within her extended community. It is our hope that by providing sustainable employment opportunities and job training skills to the women in our partnerships, entire communities will be transformed. (To read more from Kirsten’s perspective, check out this blog post)
How did Raven + Lily begin?
Some people think that in order to start a company, you need tons of money or tons of connections. Raven + Lily is proof that that just isn’t the case. Determination, will power, and a good idea is what you need!
In 2008, a group of us traveled to India to visit various development projects. What struck us was the high level of craftsmanship and skill that went into each of the products that were being made. But what they were lacking was design guidance, consistency, and a market to sell their goods. This was a common dilemma amongst all the groups we visited. With our backgrounds in marketing and design, we saw an opportunity to partner with these women through combining our experience with their skills.
With no outside funding, we were able to launch our initial partnerships through volunteer parties with designer friends. We all came together and started making products from donated remnant materials to raise funds for getting the partnerships started. After a few years of operating alongside a non-profit, Raven + Lily was able to launch as a social business model in 2011.
How are you a socially responsible brand?
· Every product we design is seen from a larger prospective that not only has to be an awesome product that we would want to use or wear, but the fruition of it cannot be at the expense of the environment or people. We use recycled and repurposed goods whenever possible, and endeavor to have a clear supply chain all the way to the origin of the materials that make up our products.
· In addition to providing sustainable, fair-wage employment to our artisans, we reinvest all of our profits into the social mission of the company: employing marginalized women through design, launching new partnerships, and funding educational and healthcare needs in our partnership community.
How is Raven + Lily eco-friendly?
· We use recycled paper and soy inks for all our tags, brochures, and bags.
· Our products incorporate locally sourced, recycled materials whenever possible, such as recycled metals from bullet casings, naturally dyed and hand woven fabrics, cotton papers, and other remnant materials. See the How It's Made section for more details and photos.
· Even our showroom uses reclaimed wood/used furniture. We try to keep a low carbon foot print as a company, and as a team we personally practice eco-friendly lifestyles!
How does Raven + Lily practice fair trade?
Fair Trade is a system of exchange that honors producers, communities, consumers, and the environment. It is a model for the global economy rooted in people-to-people connections, justice, and sustainability.
· We seek transparency and accountability in all of our transactions.
· We encourage our artisans to develop independence.
· We seek to develop leaders and designers within each partner community.
· We desire all of our artisans to work in a safe and healthy atmosphere.
· We respect the environment by sourcing local and/or recycled materials whenever possible.
· We are intentional in every aspect of our purchasing and pay fair trade wages or above.
· We encourage our partnerships to help the women start savings accounts with their income.
Who creates the designs?
Our designs come from three different platforms: Our own Raven + Lily designers, professional designers that we partner with, and designers native to the partnership. Our goal one day is to have women that are fully trained in design and production so that they can operate a successful business with or without the help of Raven + Lily.
Much of your jewelry is made with recycled bullet casings- how is that done and has your jewelry been tested for lead?
And yes, it has been tested! From working with the artisans, we learned that there is actually no lead in the metal bullet casings themselves. But as a precaution we have had all the bead styles we use tested for lead content by expert labs in the US, and all of our pieces meet the correct standards.
Where did you get your name?
After contemplating the words for a company name, we knew we wanted something that would capture the beauty and dignity of the women in our partnerships. We were inspired by Luke 12, where God says that we shouldn't worry about what we will eat or drink because He cares for the ravens and we are so much more valuable than birds. He also says to look at how beautiful the lilies are yet they are here today and gone tomorrow and how much more valuable we are than flowers. We feel that the value God sees in His creation, including ravens and lilies, reminds us how much more valuable we are as women. (Check out this blog post for more details!)
How often to you visit your partnerships?
We visit new partnerships more often than established ones, but it is always at least once or twice a year. We use this time to evaluate how things are going, develop new designs, and connect our volunteers on ambassador trips. With our headquarters being in the US, we depend heavily on our in-country directors; we are in constant communication with them about everything from the well-being of the artisans to production schedules and deadlines.
How can I get involved?
There are several ways to get more involved with what’s going on at Raven + Lily. From hosting a trunk show, to volunteering at our studio, to connecting us with a design partnership, we would love your help! Check out this page for more details: http://www.ravenandlily.com/your-story
Do you have any special certifications, memberships, or awards?
Yes, we do! We are Ethical Fashion Forum Fellowship 500 Members and National Winners of the Classy Awards in 2012 for Philanthropic Business of the Year. We have also been certified "Silver" by Green America. To read more about this certification, click here.
All prices are in USD. Copyright 2013 Raven + Lily.