My favorite part about working for Raven + Lily recently has been “meeting the team.” Well, maybe I shouldn’t say meeting because I have not actually shaken the hands of any of the lovely women who hand make the beautiful jewelry, journals and soaps we sell, but the longer I have been a part of Raven + Lily, the more the artisans occupy my thoughts. It is hard to sit in a cozy office in East Austin typing away on my laptop and not think about the women who Raven + Lily employs and provides healthcare and holistic education for worlds away in Northern India and Ethiopia. Today, our President Lori MacNeill brings it all closer to home as she has returned from a successful trip to Burundi and Ethiopia visiting our design partnerships there.
The artisans cannot be included in the training programs without their dedication. These women work hard for their income, but it is not a handout, this is truly empowerment. Sometimes, I find myself thinking that the work I do is not tangibly helping the women who I have grown to love thousands of miles away since I am not there on the ground threading beads or designing molds. But I am so grateful to be working towards my passion of empowering women in any way I can, just like the women we employ are so grateful to be working at their passions.
Yesterday, Dalychia (the other R + L intern) and Lauren (Director of PR) attended a Social Entrepreneurship Panel Discussion at the Young Nonprofit Network of Austin. It was super informative and encouraging to hear of some things that Raven + Lily is totally on the right track with and some things we can improve on to be a better social enterprise and eventually serve our mission even more. One nugget of wisdom I learned was; the difference between a social enterprise and a corporation with a corporate social responsibility is if you took the social impact part away from the business would the business still survive? In R + L’s case, we wouldn’t just fail to survive as a business; we wouldn’t want to survive as a business if we were only selling well made jewelry. Our purpose is more long term and impactful than only providing jewelry for fashion savvy consumers and that is something I can always be on board with.