Thursday 17 December 2015

Raven And Lily: Mindfully Empowering Refugees

Photo: courtesy Raven And Lily
The life of a refugee is one spent in limbo. Chased from your home, living in a camp or in severely reduced circumstances in a shelter, with little or no way to make a living. It's in our nature to want to help, but charity is not what refugees need. The first thing they would ask for is some kind of normality. A chance to contribute. A chance to work.
Photo: courtesy Raven And Lily
Raven And Lily are an ethical apparel company that base their whole approach around a desire to let. refugee communities regain a little pride. They are partnered with groups of displaced artisans scattered through nine countries. Their latest initiative, the Pakistani Collection, highlights the works of Afghan tribeswomen, all of whom are paid fairly for their skilful work. Raven And Lily founder Kirsten Dickerson explains the thinking behind the handmade clothes of the new line.

For our Pakistan collection, our Afghan artisans utilize their incredible embroidery skills, and it also gives them a chance to ensure their children have a good education and can break out of the refugee camp poverty cycle. We also want younger women to value what their mothers and grandmothers have done, while getting an education, so that their cultural and artisan skills do not disappear.

We’re partnered with 272 women across eight refugee camps. There’s three different skill sets within those camps, because the women represent various tribal groups from Afghanistan. Each tribal group has different embroidery techniques that represent the region they originally came from. With every design that we create with them, we actually think through designs that would use each one of their embroidery techniques so that we can employ as many of the women as possible, since they’re spread out among all the refugee camps.

It's a complex dance, involving a lot of communication and organisational nous to pull off. But the key to Raven And Lily's success is thoughtfulness. From the source material through to the design, every piece is carefully considered, with a clear focus on the ethical implications of every decision. This holistic approach helps Raven And Lily to stand out from the crowd. But we shouldn't forget that the clothes are also beautiful, highlighting the skills of these dedicated artisans.

Our View: Raven And Lily are a great example of how to work within an ethical framework while still producing items of great quality and beauty. All power to them.


You can find out more and buy items from The Pakistan Collection here.


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