Rwanda-made fashion collection launched in US [New Times, The (Rwanda)]
(New Times, The (Rwanda) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A FASHION collection produced by local Rwandan artisans through the brand Kate Spade & Company has hit the American market.
Rwandan women under the Masoro-based cooperative society at work.
Dubbed "On Purpose", the collection was unveiled last week.
The hand-crafted collection is the work of 150 artisan women under their cooperative society in Masoro, in Gasabo District, Rwanda. The collection includes handmade scarves, bracelets and bags, among other products.
Kate Spade & Company is an American-based fashion brand famous for their handbags and accessories. The goal of the project is to create economic stability for the Masoro women and their families, as well as the community that they live in.
A scarf, one of the products made by Rwandan women.
"We believe that empowering women is the key to the growth and economic stability of the village of Masoro," explained Deborah Lloyd, the chief creative officer of Kate Spade & Company. "We are proud to share their gorgeous work with our customers around the world."
As part of the initiative, Kate Spade & Company trained the artisans to produce their products. They also trained the women in financial literacy and personal health, in order to help them evolve their existing cooperative into a licensed business.
The company also offers the artisans a fair salary and working conditions compliant with global standards. Workers get benefits such as vacation time, maternity leave, health care and national social security benefits.
"We introduced this business model to give these talented artisans the ability to incorporate into our supply chain as a manufacturing partner," said Craig Leavitt, the chief executive officer for Kate Spade & Company.
"It's not charity," he added. "It is creating jobs for talented women making beautiful products and offering them a way to participate in the global marketplace."
The pieces created as part of the new collection will be sold through all facets of the Kate Spade brand, including Kate Spade, Kate Spade Saturday, and Jack Spade. Prices of the products range from US $12 to $98 (Rwf 8,100 to Rwf 66,700).
This isn't the first time the brand has been involved with Rwandan artisans. In 2011, the company released a handbag line created by women in Rwanda in partnership with Women for Women International, an organisation that provides job-training for women in developing nations.
As a result of their work with women in the country, Kate Spade released a collection last spring which included pieces inspired by Rwandan clothing and patterns.
Once the company has helped the artisans of Masoro develop a sustainable business, they will move on to help another community become economically stable.
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