We are thrilled to officially launch our limited edition apparel collection made with love by an amazing group of refugee women right here in Austin, Texas! This is our first USA-made Apparel Collection crafted from surplus fabrics from design houses in Los Angeles. This special collection not only employs refugee women, but its also sustainable and eco-friendly.
Austin is one of the cities that welcomes refugees from all over the world, but often these women and families find it difficult to start a new life in such a foreign land. We’ve partnered with Open Arms who is dedicated to meeting the needs of such refugee women through living wage employment. The Open Arms studio is just a short drive from the Raven + Lily studio. We are so proud of these women and all their hard work on our exclusive collection!
(photo c/o Open Arms)
To give a deeper glimpse into our partnership with Open Arms, I interviewed co-founder Leslie Beasley.
1. Why did you start Open Arms? We started Open Arms to provide empowered through living wage employment to refugee women survivors who have been resettled in the United States. Refugees have had most, if not all, of their human rights stripped away. Many of our team have lived in a refugee camp for over 18 years! Once they arrive in the US, it is extremely difficult to break out of poverty with the lack of skills and language barriers. We wanted to stand alongside these strong, courageous women and provide an opportunity for them to take care of their children and begin to tell a new story.
2. Why did you want to partner with Raven + Lily? We wanted to partner with Raven+Lily because Raven+Lily and Open Arms share the same vision. It is a perfect match!
3. What has been a highlight of your experience with the women you employ? There have been many highlights. One great moment was when one of our team members came bursting through the door of the workspace, dancing and swinging a set keys to her new home! Odile came from the Congo where she and her family and community were on the run from rebel forces for one year! Can you imagine, running through the jungle, fearing for your life, for one solid year?! Now she has a safe place to call home again. She was able to qualify for a loan with her steady paycheck from Open Arms. That was a great moment!!
4. Can you tell me a little about one of the women who was involved in making the Raven + Lily designs. One of the women who was involved in making the Raven+Lily designs is Flora. Flora is the most hard working woman you will ever meet. We are all inspired by her every day. Flora is from South Sudan, she is a widow and mother to seven children. Flora never learned to read or write so it made it even more difficult to learn to read and write English. One day, a woman called Open Arms and told me that she was from a faith community that helped Flora and her children with clothes and other necessities. She asked me about Open Arms and proceeded to tell me that at Christmas time, she approached Flora as she had done in previous years. She asked about sizes of her children for clothes. She said Flora reached her hand out, looked her straight in the eye, gave her a big smile and said “no thank you, this year…I buy for my children.” That’s what empowerment through employment looks like in action! Thank you Raven+Lily for giving Flora the opportunity to work.
5. What are your hopes for the future with Open Arms? Our hopes for the future is that hundreds of women are empowered through their employment with Open Arms….that they are inspiring their communities, showing what’s possible, raising their children in safe neighborhoods and able to give them a life of dignity. We want to continue to build partnerships with socially conscious brands like Raven+Lily and manufacture their apparel and accessories for them. The Raven+Lily products, powered by Open Arms are a beautiful example of a stylish, high quality product that is packed with purpose!
The fabrics are high-end designer jersey remnants, so the collection is extra soft and comfy. We focused on creating a few fun tops as well as some timeless pieces to incorporate in your everyday wardrobe. This collection pairs beautifully with the rest of our Fall apparel designs from Cambodia, Pakistan, and India as well as the jewelry from India and Ethiopia. What’s not to love? Living wage, sustainable, and beautiful….I think its time for you to shop!
||Click HERE to shop our Made in the USA collection||