3rd birthday: Day 2 of 3

Yesterday I talked about why investing in a woman is a good good thing.  If you haven’t watch our video we launched yesterday, please watch it before you read on for context. Today I want to catch you up on where we have been, and where we are going.  To say the least, in celebrating our 3rd birthday, there is so much to be thankful for and to reflect on.  We started fashionABLE by working with women who were formerly in the commercial sex trade.  I met Mulu, Bezuahyu, and Meselu in the summer of 2010, and they said that they would love to learn how to weave scarves for a job.  We gave them the training, and launched fashionABLE October 25, 2010.  Before we knew it, we had sold 4123 scarves by the end of the year, and had something that people were obviously identifying with.  Cute scarves definitely sell well, and they did, but I believe the greatest part of our explosive success was a story of “overcoming” that I think connected with the deepest part of our customer’s souls…  we all want to have that experience. As our demand grew beyond what our girls were able to produce, 6 months in to our work I talked about the continuing development of our strategy on this post.  I said that while I was disappointed that we were not able to train women quickly enough to meet demand, the bottom line of our mission is to fight poverty in Africa by creating sustainable opportunity, so I was and continue to be thankful for the challenge of exceeding sales expectations.  As opposed to options like outsourcing to China, we chose to use other Ethiopian sources, including both women and men, to meet the demand. While we are sourcing from these partners, it gives the business on the ground the freedom to continue to train more and more women.. Why women?  Go to yesterday’s post to see some facts and strategy as to the power of investing in women. So, since the beginning, the core business of working with vulnerable women has grown from 3 to 30 women who do everything from weaving, to dyeing thread, to sales and management.  With fashionABLE’s leather launch, we partnered with a manufacturer whose workforce is made up of 40 women out of 70 total employees. With this new partnership, fashionABLE aims to strengthen companies who have fair wage and hiring practices for women.  I love this strategy – it’s a ground up approach that doesn’t wait for legislation to make choices for women, but instead uses economic leverage to create equality. The next group we have been working with to develop product is in Kenya – it’s a group of 100+ HIV+ women who need work.  It’s hard, and complicated.  Sourcing good thread within that region is difficult.  If any of you know or have ideas on sourcing, I’m all ears.  We hope to launch with them soon. So that is and continues to be the fashionABLE mission.  Please let me know if you have any questions by commenting below, and we’ll answer.  I’ll wrap with this…

The fashionABLE mission is to create sustainable business for Africans so they aren't dependent upon charity, but instead earn the dignity of a job. We offer opportunity to everyone, with a primary focus on empowering women. When we invest in a woman, statistics demonstrate that she will have a life-changing impact on her family and community... and herself.

Through your purchase, you are ABLE to provide opportunity, and a woman is ABLE to have a new choice.

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