Business Spotlight: Passion Lilie
Business or Brand Name: Passion Lilie
Twitter Handle: @passionlilie
Facebook Page: passionlilie
Could you describe your business or brand?
Passion Lilie is a fair trade & eco-friendly apparel brand with a mission to empower artisans across the world by creating dignified employment opportunities. We believe that these positive job opportunities lead to sustainable societies and a better world.
We are committed to providing fair wages and working with organizations that provide safe and healthy working conditions, low cost or free on the job training, time off for education, loans and financial advising, opportunities for health care and most importantly a positive and uplifting working environment.
We are dedicated to preserving the environment through the use of natural (plant or vegetable based) dyes and energy, waste and water reduction in the production process. Fabrics are washed by hand in the local waterways and dried in the sun and leftover scraps are used for accessories and handicrafts.
Where is the business or brand based?
Passion Lilie is based in New Orleans. All the designing, patterning, prototypes and samples are done by , the founder of Passion Lilie. Passion Lilie works with a team of dedicated artisans in India who do all the stitching of the products and printing and weaving of the fabrics.
What sets the business or brand apart?
Aside from our dedication to fair wages and sustainable fabrics, Passion Lilie’s founder is also a skilled designer, and therefore, one of her priorities is creating garments that make every woman feel strong, confident and beautiful no matter there shape, age or size. “I take a lot of time listening to our customers needs and adjusting our products based on their feedback. Just the other day, I felt so blessed when a women put on one of my dresses and said- ‘I never wear dresses, because they never look good on me, but this dress… it makes me so happy.’”- Katie Schmidt
When and who founded the business or brand?
Katie began Passion Lilie in 2013 after an eye opening visit to India. In the Summer of 2012 she visited a small group of female artisans living in a village on the outskirts of Bhopal, India who do hand embroidery work for a local workshop. The women did not have much by means of materialistic items, so when she asked a struggling single mother what she would choose if she could have anything in the world, her answer surprised Katie.
The woman very modestly answered, “Happiness and prosperity for my children”. Katie’s heart was truly touched and so she asked the workshop owner if it was appropriate to give them money. He said, “No, they don’t want charity. They want jobs.” At that moment, Katie realized that her mission in life is to provide fair trade jobs for as many individuals as she could.
What achievements is the business or brand most proud of?
Passion Lilie is very proud to state that we are a member of the Fair Trade Federation. This membership required a very long and detailed application to closely evaluate our supply chains and production process to ensure its dedication to fair wages, a safe and healthy working environment and a dedication to preserving the environment.
We are also very proud to say that thanks to the work we have provided to our artisans in Bangalore, they have been able to double their workshop size, investment in new equipment and train and hire several new young women who come from economically disadvantaged families.
Which nonprofits does the business or brand support?
Passion Lilie regularly works with 4 different small fair trade businesses in India- each consisting of about 10-20 artisans. These businesses are able to be financially prosperous and provide fair wages with amazing benefits to their workers, because of the work that Passion Lilie has given them.
Passion Lilie also donates to various non-profits from time to time when the need arises. For example, in light of the Nepal earthquake, Passion Lilie donated to Mercy Corps. We try to support like-minded non-profits as much as possible.
How do these causes relate to the business or brand?
We chose to donate to Mercy Corps in Nepal, because many of our fellow Fair Trade Federation members work with artisanal groups in Nepal who have been devastated by the earthquake. We felt that it was important to support other brands and artisans who are also dedicated to creating ethical fashion.
What cause marketing products or services does the business or brand sell?
All our products! All our dresses, skirts, pants, tops, scarves and totes bags are 100% cotton, handmade with eco dyes and fair trade!
What percentage of revenue received goes toward helping others?
Fair trade is not charity. It is a trade-based movement that focuses on creating long-term relationships based on transparency, trust and respect. We pay our artisan groups an above average wage for the products they produce, which allows them to not only receive a fair wage, but to also reinvest in their business and their communities.
What annual fundraising events do you participate in?
During October, breast cancer month, we donate 15% of our sales to breast cancer research. We also work with various sororities to do trunk shows and again 15% of sales go to their charity of choice. Some of the charities the sororities have chosen to donate to are: Make A Wish, Prevent Child Abuse and the Red Cross.
How can people get involved with your business or brand in giving back?
The best way is to simply by one of our products. The more products that Passion Lilie sells, the more sustainable jobs we can create for those who are in need of a sustainable income. You can also help us by spreading the word about fair trade fashion, following us on social media and becoming a conscious consumer. On our blog, we have outlined 6 easy steps to becoming a conscious consumer.
- Read labels:Chances are very high that if the label says, “Made in China” it was not made ethically. Before you make a purchase, read the company’s website and social media pages. Do they support fair wages, safe working conditions and environmental sustainability? If they don’t talk about their ethical practices, they probably don’t have anything to be proud of. If the products are made in the United States or fair trade then chances are very high that the producers are receiving a fair wage with safe working conditions. This handy website: Free 2 Work rates the social and environmental impact of many major brands. Be careful though some companies may have an “A” rating, but if you look closely at their scorecard, they don’t pay fair wages.
- Say no to Walmart:I know that it is very hard to live a life 100% dedicated to fair trade or made in the USA products, because there is not yet enough availability of these products, but there are certain stores that should be avoided, and Walmart is among the worst on my list.
- Buy fair trade, eco or ethical fashion:Today, there is a growing number of fashionable and affordable ethical brands. Check out this guide of social good companies.
- Buy locally made.Fair trade is wonderful, but it is also important to support your neighbor and your local community.
- Say no to fast fashion.Buy less, and invest more in well-made items. Fast fashion creates a huge amount of textile wastage, because garments are tossed out and trashed before they have lived their proper life cycle.
- Recycle:Shop at thrift stores, consignment stores and re-purpose old items when you can. It’s the age of DIY, so there is no excuse if you don’t think you are creative enough, just Google it!