Empowering Women Through Design
Raven + Lily is an ethical fashion and lifestyle brand dedicated to empowering marginalized women around the world. All of their products are designed in Austin, Texas and hand crafted by over 1,500 fairly paid artisans in Pakistan, India, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Kenya, and Peru.
As a B Corporation and members of the Fair Trade Federation, Raven + Lily is dedicated to breaking cycles of poverty and uplifting communities around the world by offering access to employment, education and health care. They focus primarily on providing steady income for women, who reinvest 90% of their income back into their families and the community.
minimal + modern designs
Raven + Lily is dedicated to modern designs that reflect the beauty and culture of the women who create their products. Their clothing collections feature classic and easy-to-wear staple pieces for all seasons, and their artisan-made textiles, home goods and furnishings add elegance to the intentional home.
The brand also consciously chooses their materials, down to the last button - they seek recycled or repurposed materials in order to reduce their impact upon the environment.
Behind The Scenes With The Founder
We recently spoke to the founder of Raven + Lily, Kirsten Dickerson, about the impact of empowering women, the brand's dedication to design, and where they hoping to take the company next.
Who are your collections designed with in mind?
When we design our collections, we start with the women in our artisan partnership in mind.
We have a deep understanding of our partners’ specific skills and what types of sustainable materials we can work with to utilize those skills in modern, unique ways. My main goal is success for the artisan women in both the implementation of our designs as well as in creating designs that are scalable and provide sustainable work.
Our collections are modern and minimal with a focus on reflecting the beauty and unique culture of the women in our partnerships. We have a modern take on traditional skills and techniques, and that benefits both our end customers and our amazing artisan partners!
Why women? Can you tell us the inspiration to focus your impact on at-risk women globally?
Our focus on women has never and will never be compromised; it is the very heartbeat of Raven + Lily. Since college, I have felt called to be an advocate for women. I have seen firsthand how women globally can overcome great odds and circumstances when given empowerment opportunities through education, access to meaningful work, and micro loans. Statistically, when you invest in a woman through these things, she will use that opportunity to reinvest in her family and community. I am inspired daily by the strength and resilience of the women in our partnerships. I love sharing their stories so that our customers can also be inspired by the amazing women involved in all our production.
Our focus on women has never and will never be compromised; it is the very heartbeat of Raven + Lily.
- Kirsten Dickerson
How did your work in nonprofit leadership inspire you to start a social impact lifestyle brand?
For over 20 years I have been involved in global humanitarian work, through volunteering with Mother (Saint) Teresa in Calcutta, directing a child sponsorship program in India, mentoring young women in the former Soviet Union, advocating for homeless women and refugees in the US, and co-leading outreach in Africa for HIV+ children and their mothers. Those experiences transformed the way I see the world, process my faith, and understand how to use the gifts and opportunities I've been given.
After seeing many nonprofits start initiatives to train women in design skills, the idea for Raven + Lily was born. My goal was to develop high quality designs, work with artisans to produce the designs, and then bring the artisan made products to the Western market. With my background in humanitarian work as well as art direction and styling for film, I was able to launch Raven + Lily as a volunteer/non-profit effort with the help of several designer friends in LA in 2008. After much research, I believed that a for-profit model with an uncompromised mission would be the most sustainable way to alleviate poverty among women.
We transitioned Raven + Lily into a social business in 2011 based in Austin, Texas. Today we are members for the FTF (Fair Trade Federation) as well as a registered and certified B Corporation. We believe in having deep accountability to confirm that our ethical stance is legitimate and our efforts to alleviate poverty among women are effective.
What is on the horizon for Raven & Lily?
With our Fall ‘18 Collection, we’re launching fresh and modern new branding! We also have several home decor collaborations launching this fall with some like-minded brands I love, and we will continue to explore different cultures for inspiration and new partnerships.
In really big news, I'm starting to scout locations for future storefronts in key cities! I'm always thinking about what's next and have to try not to get ahead of myself or my team. I have big dreams and I'm not afraid to take leaps of faith to see them achieved.
Can you share your favorite piece from the new summer collection?
I love the new vegetable tanned leather Traveler Collection. The backpack and overnight tote are truly gorgeous and functional. I also love the statement fringe necklace and shibori caftan dress. I wear these pieces all the time.