For the past year or more I have been interested in finding a way to merge my passion for design, and my hopes of making a difference in the world. What I did not know, however, was the growing trend of ‘social business’ and how relevant it is to what I want to do with my future. These past few weeks of working with Raven + Lily have opened my eyes to this exciting new ethical form of business that is bettering the lives of everyone involved. The way the Raven + Lily operates is by partnerships with groups of women who are otherwise impoverished, and giving them a hope and future. This model of business is so great because people are given the opportunity to make money themselves, learn a skill, and completely support themselves. I have also been able to learn about other groups that are working with the same business model and I am hoping to learn as much as possible for when I begin my own career in this field.
Over the past few weeks I have been working on several different task. The biggest project that I began almost as soon as I arrived was designing a new product line for Raven + Lily. I created a clothing line that includes one dress, two skirts, a t-shirt, and a tank. These pieces will each have an area on them that they are screen printed. A majority of my time was creating an inspiration page for this collection, creating an inspiration page for the photo shoot for this collection, and creating spec sheets for this collection. Because designing is what I love, this has been my favorite part of the internship thus far.
One immediate change I have had is the way I view my purchases of clothing and many other goods. Ethical and free trade goods are becoming easier and easier to find, and I’m hoping to begin only buying these products. I have also learned more of the horrors of shopping at companies that sell their goods for really cheap prices. The reason they can sell for such cheap prices is because of the unfair wages being paid to workers as well as the unethical conditions that the goods are made in. My hope is that one day all production of goods will be fair and ethical. This will only come about, however, when the public sees the importance of supporting companies that are doing good.
While I’ve known for a while that I wanted to use my major as a form of social justice, working here at Raven + Lily has helped me to begin shaping my own ideas for a company. I think that after this summer I will be ready to start my own research of how I will want to begin a career in this field. Ideally, I would love to start a clothing line that employs women and gives them a new start. Because clothing is more difficult, I would need to begin with something more simple, such as decorative pillows. Some of the questions I have been asking myself are would I want to employ women in the US, or in other countries? How will I come up with a start up cost? How many women will I be able to employ and will it be full or part time? Where will I begin selling products? There are so many more questions and things I need to know that come along with starting a company but my time here at Raven + Lily has provided me with such an incredible start.