fashionABLE is giving back
by Holly Cara Price , The Fresh 20 Social Media Manager
As we move into the New Year and consider small changes to enrich our lives, one of the things we’d like to do more of is give back in as many ways as possible. Here at The Fresh 20, we are delighted to tell you more about fashionABLE, a wonderful crafts organization whose mission is to create sustainable business for African women so they are empowered by having the dignity that making a living provides. Per their website: When we invest in a woman, statistics demonstrate that she will have a life-changing impact on her family and community… and herself. The women artisans who are based in Ethiopia make beautiful, colorful scarves that we can purchase and know beyond a doubt we are really making a difference. Each gorgeous 100% cotton scarf comes with the personal story of the woman who handmade it on a loom. Purchase one of these scarves and help a woman rebuild her life – what a wonderful concept!
Barrett Ward and his wife Rachel were living and working in Ethiopia several years ago when they met a group called Women at Risk, who work with women exploited in the sex industry. After seeing their effectiveness and the dignity restored in these women, they learned that one of the biggest challenges to keeping these women off the streets is gainful employment. For this purpose, fashionABLE was conceived, giving the women an opportunity to be employed creating beautiful scarves and also leather goods that are now sold all over the world.
“We actually moved to Ethiopia because Rachel worked in adoption, and I was in relief and development work,” Barrett told us. “We chose weaving because women earn a great wage in that industry, as it is a very defensible skill – and weaving has been around since the Queen of Sheba’s time, as Ethiopian lore has it. For fashionABLE, it is important to choose products that the country already has great tradition and skill in developing. That’s why we are also doing leather products out of Ethiopia.” He added that the company has plans to create more products in other countries in the near future.
With the income generated from the sales of scarves and leather items that they sell, fashionABLE also funds the training of more women in order to employ as many as sales demand allows. At the same time, fashionABLE’s mission continues to be creating sustainable business for more women in Africa. “The solutions to poverty do not lie in developing a business model that gives 10 percent of its profits to charity,” said Barrett. “The solutions are in developing businesses that do trade with Africa, tying them in to the worldwide economy and giving them manufacturing opportunities. But don’t get me wrong – charity is still critical. There are people in the world that are in desperate need of a piece of bread, or medical assistance…But that is not the sole solution to ending poverty. It also has to do with economics.”
Part of our charitable work is providing shoes, uniforms, and school fees for children in need. But when relief is the end game, we create dependents. Instead, relief should support an economic development strategy,” Barrett continued. “I think if we knew how little it took to have an impact on those in need, we’d be excited to do it a lot more! For fashionABLE, our commitment is to be serious about the solutions to poverty, and we believe that means giving opportunity to women. If you watch our video about investing in a woman, you’ll see the impact that a woman has on her community, her family, and herself when she is given a job. So for us, it’s as simple as when you purchase a fashionABLE product, you are part of giving an opportunity to someone who sure would like one. For us, it is a privilege to be a part of this work.”
Learn more about fashionABLE’s work here:
Sign up on the fashionABLE home page for updates on their work
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