An integration of life changing designs and ethical fashion by Raven + Lily.
RYB: What is the story behind Raven + Lily?
Raven + Lily: Founder Kirsten Dickerson's background is in nonprofit work, as well as art direction and styling for film. These interests and passions came together when she started seeing several of the grassroot nonprofits she worked with in Africa and India starting to train women in design skills in 2007. These nonprofits knew the value of women and the key to breaking cycles of poverty was through the empowerment and education of women/girls. However, they weren't designers, nor did they have a market for the goods the women were being trained to make. Thus, the idea of Raven + Lily was born and five of Kirsten's designer friends in Los Angeles agreed to volunteer for a few years to partner with the women. We started with just jewelry and gifts representing 2 partnerships (one in India and one in Ethiopia). We have really come a long way from some of our initial design ideas. We’ve better defined our look and branding as time has gone by and we’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work.
RYB: What is the vision behind Raven + Lily?
Raven + Lily: Our vision is to empower women through sustainable, fair trade employment.
RYB: What is sustainability to Raven + Lily?
Raven + Lily: We think of sustainability in terms of both people and the planet - eco-friendly materials and processes, and sustainable, fair trade employment for the women.
RYB: How many artists do you currently employee, and from which countries are they from?
Raven + Lily: Over 1500 artisan women from 10 countries - Pakistan, USA, Cambodia, India, Kenya, Guatemala, Haiti, Malaysia, Ethiopia, and Peru.
RYB: We see your artists are all women...
Raven + Lily: We believe that every woman is beautiful and valuable, and we see that when women earn income, they invest in their families and communities, and the entire community benefits.
RYB: When someone purchases a product from Raven + Lily what can they be assured of?
Raven + Lily: That is is modern, handmade, fair trade and eco-friendly.
RYB: Who are the designers behind the pieces?
Raven + Lily: The designs are a collaboration between our CEO (who is also our creative director) and our in-house design manager. We also with guest designers as well from time to time.
RYB: Do the artists ever design their own pieces?
Raven + Lily: No, the design is done in our studio, but we design to their unique skills and utilize local, eco-friendly materials in their community that compliment their skills. Many of the women use traditional techniques that have been passed down for generations, and we want to encourage them to continue passing those skills on to their children.
RYB: What are unique about the design at Raven + Lily?
Raven + Lily: Each season we start with a color story and theme that leads to developing a cohesive collection throughout all our design partnerships. For example, we have seasonal graphics that are used on our recycled cotton paper in India, our up-cycled jersey apparel in Cambodia, as well as our batik prints from Malaysia. We always start with a neutral palette and then add subtle pops of color through a few of our partnerships (such as embroidery from Pakistan or beaded jewelry from the Maasai in Kenya). The colors, theme and graphic patterns help us create a cohesive collection that is rich in textures and materials used. Even though each group represents a different part of our collection, there is an overall connection and story being told through both the incredible stories of the women, as well as the designs we are presenting for that season
RYB: What is the current impact of Raven + Lily on the women employed?
Raven + Lily: We help employ 1,500 marginalized women at fair-trade wages to give them access to a safe job, sustainable income, health care, education and a real chance to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families.
RYB: 3 words to describe the products/design at Raven + Lily?
Raven + Lily: Modern, fair trade, handmade