Socially conscious lifestyle brand Raven + Lily is one of the latest additions to the DARA family. Dedicated to empowering women around the world through design, co-founders Kirsten Dickerson and Sophia Lin employ marginalized women in India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Cambodia, Pakistan, Guatemala, and the USA at fair trade wages.
We are proud to feature jewelry from the Ethiopia Collection, which transforms recycled bullet casings into beautiful earrings and bracelets, and the Kenya Collection, which helps provide sustainable income, health care, and education to indigenous women. Brand ambassador Ashley Yarborough answers some questions about Raven + Lily’s inspiring story:
Q. In what ways does Raven + Lily specifically connect with and impact the lives of artisans?
A. Raven + Lily specializes in coming alongside artisan groups who are already developing products to provide design input and market access. The partnership establishes sustainable job opportunities for these women, which impacts not only their families, but also transforms the community.
Q. What is the training process like for the artisans that Raven + Lily employs?
A. Many of the artisans obtain skills training by working with nonprofits in their community before working alongside our company.
Q. What types of challenges does Raven + Lily encounter in its effort to help marginalized women?
A. Our challenge is educating our customers and helping them understand the nature of handmade products and the women behind them. We want them to appreciate the beauty of handmade and the impact they have by purchasing our artisan made products.
Q. Preserving the art of exquisitely handmade crafts is incredibly important to the DARA mission. Can you speak to how Raven + Lily helps elevate the value and exposure of handmade products?
A. We bring modern, marketable style and input to the artisans we partner with around the world. Our partnership elevates what they are crafting and makes customers want to buy the products even more!
Q. How did Raven + Lily decide to make jewelry out of bullet casings?
A. First off, artisans are very resourceful! Melting down bullet casings into beads is something bead-makers have been doing in the marketplace for decades. When we noticed the practice, we traced the beads back to find the artisan group of bead-makers that was making them.
Q. How do Raven + Lily designs reflect the distinctive culture and beauty of the artisans who create them? How does Raven + Lily combine traditional techniques with a modern aesthetic?
A. It’s important to understand our artisans and who we are partnering with, so we put a priority on knowing them. We conduct site visits to meet the artisans and understand their culture, so we can appreciate, respect and know how to interpret their culture into our design and style.
Q. Can you speak to the importance of empowering consumers to make a positive impact through their purchasing power?
A. We are fortunate to live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. And with that privilege comes a responsibility to impact culture in a positive way. We want to educate consumers on the positive impact they have when they purchase a handmade, fair trade product. Our hope is that it will lead to intentional and thoughtful buying worldwide.
Q. Pretty Little Liars actress Shay Mitchell recently traveled to India with Raven + Lily. How did this collaboration come about?
A. Shay Mitchell learned about our brand through a friend, and while she was planning a trip of her own overseas, we asked her to join us in India. While in India, she was able to meet the artisan women and see how the products were made firsthand. She continues to be a friend of Raven + Lily and will be a part of our upcoming collection!