"They don't want charity. They want jobs."
These are the words that changed the direction of Katie Schmidt's life. In 2002, while she visited artisans in India she talked with them about what they most wanted. The answer was happiness and prosperity for their children. When Katie asked the workshop owner if she could give the women money, his reply became her "aha" moment.
"No, they don't want charity. They want jobs."
When Katie returned home she knew she wanted to find a way to help. In 2013, Passion Lilie became her answer. Today, Passion Lilie empowers artisans by providing dignified opportunities for work. All products are made with eco dyes, designed in New Orleans, by Katie herself, and then handmade India.
Katie Schmidt, Passion Lilie Founder & Designer
Katie joins Love Justly to talk about the passion behind Passion Lilie, how she came up with the name, and the distinction between fair trade and charity.
Take us back to when you first started to think about the broader mission that sparked Passion Lilie. What made this calling too powerful to ignore?
The fashion industry is a very powerful and rich industry. It has the power to destroy or make flourish any economy, and with those economies are individual livelihoods that are at stake. I believe that it will take an army of ethical business and conscious shoppers to change the industry. I want to be a part of that change through fashion and helping people, two of the things I am most passionate about.
Describe how you decided on the name.
The lily flower symbolizes purity and being an ethical brand I felt that was the perfect fit. I changed the spelling of the flower slightly to Lilie and added Passion in the front, because anybody who knows me, knows that I am a very passionate person and it was my passion that has made it possible to start and grow Passion Lilie.
It's important to you that people understand that fair trade is not charity. Please explain the distinction.
Yes, fair trade is a trade-based movement. If we simply donate money, we will not be able to create a long-term benefit. Therefore, we aim is to create healthy long-term relationships with our suppliers overseas that improve their economies and the individual workers’ lives through employment opportunities.
Visit Passion Lilie to shop for discounts on ethical fashion.
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Affordable ethical fashion is hard to navigate. On the one hand, ethical fashion is going to cost more because each person behind the product is paid a fair wage. As a result, the item costs more to make, so the cost to consumers is going to be higher. This is the way fashion should be...but we're used to cheap fashion. This is where Love Justly comes in.