EP (64) Kirsten Dickerson: Building a sustainable lifestyle brand that's supporting marginalized women around the globe

 
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Kirsten Dickerson is not only a dreamer; but she's a doer. And that's hard to come by.

Her B-Corp lifestyle company originated from a desire to offer marginalized women in developing countries a fair chance at a sustainable living in exchange for their talents. The company originally started out as a non-profit, in which Kirsten, Sophia Lin and a bunch of L.A based designers wanted to give back to women worldwide.

With a background in design and the non-profit world, Kirsten wanted to figure out how they could develop a lifestyle brand that could have a significant impact on helping women create better lives for themselves and their families, without sacrificing design and aesthetic.

It wasn't an easy task. And it took a lot of trial and error, as well as pivoting the company from a non-profit entity to a for-profit business. Kirsten knew that if they wanted to have the impact she envisioned, they would need to be a sustainable organization.

In order to be a certified b-corporation as well, you have to think about people, planet in addition to profit. As a company, Raven and Lily meets "the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose."

One of Kirsten's favourite sayings, and one that guides her business is that "when women move forward, the world moves with them" - African Proverb. And this couldn't be more true. As it stands, when you give women a fair trade wage, they tend to reinvest 90% of that money into education, healthcare, food, children, family and community.

Raven and Lily is now at the forefront of the ethical fashion movement. All the partners they choose around the globe, must live up to their standards. They not only design products; but they follow the whole process through from start to finish. Knowing exactly where all their materials and hardware come from, who made them, and how that process can impact people and the environment.

It's no simple task. But they now work with over 1500 women around the world, in places like Kenya, Guatemala, Cambodia, India and Peru - just to name a few. 

Kirsten feels like they're just getting started, even though it's inception was in 2011. They are helping to change the fashion and development landscape and there's no telling what things will look like ten years from now.

I can say, if more companies took the b-corp approach, many more people would benefit and the planet could re-heal itself.

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SOME QUESTIONS I ASKED:

  • What were you doing before started Raven and Lily?
  • How was your life different?
  • Where did the idea come from for your lifestyle brand?
  • How did you transition the company from a non-profit to a for-profit business?
  • What were those early years like for you?
  • Biggest challenges with getting your company off the ground?
  • How have you been able to grow the brand - key to success?
  • For those that don't know, what exactly is a B-Corp?
  • How do you decide what countries to work in?
  • Where do you find your partners - does it come from recommendations, research, etc? 
  • And so much more...

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN: 

  • How becoming a B Corp is the way of the future
  • Why Kirsten believes in the three P's - People, Planet and Profit
  • Where she finds her strength and resilience when times are tough
  • Why you don't have to live in a huge metropolis to build a large brand with an impact
  • Who her mentors have been over the year
  • What her big vision for Raven and Lily looks like
  • Why she hasn't chosen to expand too fast
  • And lots more...

OTHER LINKS:

CONNECT WITH RAVEN & LILY

 WEBSITE | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST

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Edited by: James Nicholson