You may have heard of our partner for this line, Elegantees. If not, let us tell you a bit more about them! Meet the Founder and “Pattern Master”, Katie Martinez!
The origin of her company came to her while she was still a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She was introduced to the concept of human trafficking in a class there and her heart broke for this pandemic that was an often misunderstood and mislabeled tragedy. She knew immediately she wanted to use her design talents to help create change for those impacted by this international issue that needed to be acknowledged.
(A Nepalese woman and her child line up with others to receive a daily stipend of food from the Nepalese army at a camp in Kathmandu. Photograph: Roberto Schmidt)
Katie moved back home to Iowa to live with her parents to save money in order to start her fashion label where proceeds would go towards fighting human trafficking. The "elegant tee" was created in New York to merge her garment industry experience with entrepreneurship so the benefits could fund rescue missions for trafficked victims.
Almost a year and a half later, Katie met Ramesh and Eric, men who shared her commitment and passions for providing solutions to human trafficking. They also shared with her their visions of opening a sewing facility that would provide jobs and skills for rescued victims in Nepal to help offset the poverty that often serves as the catalyst for trafficked victims in the first place. Katie was so inspired by their commitment to providing economic opportunities that she knew she had to also change the trajectory of her company and start producing her collections overseas, specifically in Nepal.
(This video features change-makers Eric and Ramesh and explains the reasoning and origin of the sewing center in Nepal)
Katie is no stranger to the time, persistence, peaks and valleys of creating a social enterprise that is sustainable. From being on the verge of closing her doors to being the sole partner for the renowned Dressember dress, Katie has remained firm in her mission to support women who have been rescued from human trafficking in Nepal. Her heart for these women can be described as loyal, loving and fierce. I know just in the way she talks about them and vice versa that there is a bond and a trust there that is rare and lovely. This relationship in and of itself is one of the most beautiful things to witness as we partner with Elegantees and the sewing center, officially known as Kingdom Hope Garments (KHG).
(some of the Artisans from KHG outside the facility in Nepal)
We love being able to provide more work for the men and women of KHG to ensure that they continue receiving life giving skills and opportunities. From on-site counseling, a sense of community and consistent work for a source of income, there are both tangible and intangible benefits of being a part of the sewing center. We’re grateful for the chance to be a part of helping create systemic change in a country like Nepal. Join us by purchasing from this collection and bringing dignified work into places that need it most.