Empowering Women Through Design

Ethical fashion brand Raven + Lily joins the Business Call to Action with a pledge to improve women’s lives through ethical and eco-friendly fashion.
Jan 19, 2017 8:05 AM ET
Press Release

Austin, Texas, January 19, 2017 /3BL Media/ – US-based social enterprise Raven + Lily has joined the Business Call to Action (BctA) with a commitment to provide market access and sustainable livelihoods to over 2,000 women from impoverished communities.

Launched in 2008, the BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than US$8 per day in purchasing power as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors. It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

While women’s labour contributes a sizable share of the global economy, and studies have shown that much of the income women earn goes to benefit their families. Yet women’s work is rarely recognized or rewarded on par with men’s: in many countries, women are exploited for below-living wages in factories, and human trafficking of women as sex workers is all too common. With low wages comes a lack of decision-making power, dignity and confidence.

Social entrepreneur Kirsten Dickerson recognized the critical role of women in breaking the cycle of poverty. The mission of the ethical fashion company she founded, Raven + Lily is to benefit impoverished people and the planet, as well as to turn a profit and ensure sustainability. The company’s inclusive business model empowers women in countries across the world through their involvement in the design and production of unique, eco-friendly clothes and accessories. By partnering with artisan groups, Raven + Lily is able to reach women in remote areas, and tap into their traditional design knowledge and expertise.

To date, the company has partnered with 19 of these groups, representing 1,500 women globally. For the women artisans it works with, Raven + Lily provides unprecedented market access and design input as well as fair wages – empowering women artisans to take control of their lives as they support their families.

“We are thrilled to be giving a range of women’s artisan groups access to the global fashion market, said Kirsten Dickerson CEO of Raven + Lily. “Partnering with these groups enables us to procure unique, colorful products from many cultures while giving the women who create them a chance to improve their families’ lives.”

The organizations the company partners with are helping to transform the lives of human trafficking victims, formerly homeless and other vulnerable women by providing them with dignified work and decent pay. One organization in Peru is helping indigenous women to preserve their traditional way of life through the production of handicrafts. As a result of their partnerships with Raven + Lily, artisans’ incomes average 20 percent above local living wages. With this income, they are accessing better housing and health care, their families are eating more nutritious foods and their children are attending school for longer.

“Raven + Lily is creating unique fashions based on traditional designs while building sustainable livelihoods for the vulnerable women in its value chain”, said Paula Peleaz, Programme Manager of the Business Call to Action. “Empowering women through fair and dignified work impacts entire households, communities and beyond. It is a huge step towards sustainability.”

As part of its BCtA commitment, by 2018, Raven + Lily is working to ensure that its fabric supply chain is 100 percent eco-friendly and fair trade. As Raven + Lily scales up around the world, its team aims to integrate an additional 500 women into its value chain by 2020.  

For further information:

Business Call to Action: Minja Nieminen at minja.nieminen@undp.org

Raven + Lily: Cameron Crake at cameron@ravenandlily.com

Membership in the Business Call to Action does not constitute a partnership with its funding and programme partners, UNDP or any UN agency.

About the Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched at the United Nations in 2008, the Business Call to Action (BCtA) aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact. BCtA is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)UK Department for International DevelopmentUS Agency for International Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme — which hosts the secretariat. For more information, please visit www.businesscalltoaction.org or on Twitter at @BCtAInitiative.

About Raven + Lily: Ethical fashion brand Raven + Lily sells women's apparel, jewelry, and accessories produced by the women’s artisan groups in its stores in the USA and through the company’s e-commerce platform. The company’s mission is built around artisan partnerships with women’s groups in countries around the world in an effort to alleviate poverty and provide women with dignified, sustainable work opportunities; the company’s 19 partnerships in ten countries employ 1,500 women. A member of the Fair Trade Federation and the Ethical Fashion Forum, Raven + Lily was given the Sustainable Brand Leader for Jewelry Award. A certified B Corporation, it has been named the ‘Best in the World’ for Community Impact. Find out more by visiting www.ravenandlily.com.