Pop-up aims to improve women's lives
Every product at Raven + Lily, a new pop-up shop in Fredericksburg, has a story.
Starting out as a non-profit organization in Los Angeles, Raven + Lily eventually evolved into a store with fair trade in mind.
The fair trade-based store opened its doors in Austin as a wholesale firm in 2011 and has since opened a store in SoHo, New York and, just recently, in Fredericksburg.
“I got connected with these organizations that I worked with during my mission work,” owner and founder Kirsten Dickerson said. “The trend started to grow to helping women grow and give them skills and job access, loans.”
She began partnering with 75 women in two countries, and now has expanded to working with 1,500 women in five countries.
Products with a story
Every product Dickerson sells has a story.
The name Raven + Lily comes from the story from the Bible of the Sermon on the Mount.
“It talks about not worrying about what you eat, drink and wear, but to consider the ravens and because God will take care of you, to consider the lilies and if he takes care of the lilies, he will take care of you,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson said westerners struggle with what we eat, drink, and wear because we compare ourselves, but the women who make their products are worried about it for survival.
Raven + Lily wants to put the focus on the value of women on both the women who purchase the product as well as the women making them.
The store sells jewelry, purses, clothes and home goods.
“Since we have so many partnerships, each one of these products has a story,” she said. “We sell candles from women living on skid row, we sell soap products made in India, jewelry from East Africa.”
Many of her products are hand-made, recycled or hand-knit.
“If you are wearing something with a story, you are reminded of that story all day but you also get the chance to share that story with others,” Dickerson said.
Not having much of a business background, Dickerson was paired through a mentorship program with members of the business industry.
With the help of Kendra Scott and the owner of Deep Eddy Vodka and Sweet Tea, she was able to take off her non-profit hat and step into the business world.
“I had to figure out how to grow and scale this brand all while employing at-risk women,” she said.
Profit through growth
Combining her skills, Dickerson was able to learn how to be profitable through the impact she has on her employees and her customers.
Her goal now is to prove that it is possible to lead with high-quality products that are produced by women in other countries.
Across the country, people are shopping less at malls and more online and in stand alone stores, according to Dickerson.
She said the community of Fredericksburg has been ideal because it gives people the chance to visit her store, but then see her other products online.
“The retail store is in danger and these companies are having to re-think their strategies to fit the millennial generation,” she said. “People want to discover something and for us, it gives our customers a chance to touch and feel and ultimately share the stories of our products.”
For now, Dickerson plans to stay at her current location for the next year or so and then will look into expanding to full brick-and-mortar.