We love ethical design with powerful impact. FashionABLE is a social enterprise in Ethiopia whose sustainable business practice helps afford long-term solutions from poverty and violence for vulnerable women. FashionABLE focuses on providing training, employment, and opportunity for at-risk women and their families. Below is our interview with founder Jordan and the stories behind what makes FashionABLE such an amazing business model. Check out the great photos!
Can you tell us a little more about FahionABLE's sustainable business model?
Jordan: We are committed to long-term solutions to fighting poverty, and our main focus is creating opportunities for vulnerable women. That means that your purchase of a scarf creates jobs, so that the women are not dependent upon charity, but instead are a vital part of a developing economy.
So our strategy is two-fold. We work with women to help them start small business cooperatives, and we partner with and require manufacturers to also employ women with fair wages & fair hiring practices.
How many artisans do you employ?
Right now, we currently employee 25 women. As we continue to increase sales, we are able to hire more & more women!
How do you reach out to the community of women affected by the sex trade?
“Women At Risk” is an organization we have partnered with to rehabilitate former sex workers. This work requires not only getting these women off the streets, but also providing them counseling and helping them find alternate means of income – this is why we created fashionABLE. Our ultimate goal is to help these women become healthy and productive members of society.
What inspires the design of FashionABLE scarves?
The first scarf style the we produced, the Bezuayhu, was inspired by traditional Ethiopian scarves that the women wear daily there. I recently took a trip to Ethiopia where I was able to go to the markets, and see more materials, colors, and designs that are made locally in the capitol city of Addis Ababa.
Are there any specific artisans whose story has had a huge impact on you?
While I was in Ethiopia in January, I got to spend time with all of the women that we work with. One woman in particular, Genet, was such a fireball & I loved being with her. Genet ran away from home at a young age, was raped multiple times, and became pregnant. She went into the sex trade to keep up her family, but ended up having her daughter taken away from her. Genet now works with us at fashionABLE, and says she is ABLE to embrace her role as a mother now. I was able to spend time with her & her daughter while I was there... It's amazing to see how far she's come because she has people around her to encourage her, counsel her, & love on her. (You can read more of her story HERE).
Finally, what kinds of improvements do you see in the lives of your artisans and their families?
Each of our scarf styles are named after one of the women that we work with, and there is a hangtag on each scarf with a message saying what they are ABLE to do because of your purchase. The women write things like I am ABLE to: love others well, feel pride in my work, provide for my family, and feel confident. What stood out most to me during my time in Ethiopia was that the women have restored dignity. They are taught skills which make them a vital part of the economy in Ethiopia, but most importantly, they have a new sense of confidence and peace in their lives.
Thank you, Jordan, for sharing these women's amazing stories! We're so excited to have you on board here at Lydali. Shop FashionABLE's awesome woven scarves on Lydali.