MAGAZINE February 19th, 2021

MADE FOR A WOMAN Interview

 

The story of Made for a Woman, when and how did it come about?

Made For A Woman was founded in 2019. However, its story began much earlier. I, Eileen, am half Italian and half Indian, but I grew up in Madagascar, one of the most beautiful countries but one of the poorest. From a young age, I was exposed to the reality of poverty in my country through my mother's foundation, with whom I spent a lot of time in hospitals and orphanages. In 2012 I founded an association with two friends, Fitiavana (which means love in Malagasy), thanks to which we have been able to help more than 15,000 children. At the same time, in the countryside of the capital of Antananarivo in Madagascar, I began to collaborate with five women who lived in a beautiful village and had just lost their jobs due to a political coup. Together we started making uniforms, blankets, and more for the children and the elderly. This activity slowly turned into a project full of activities and thanks to which many gifts were distributed. But I wanted to do something more. In 2019 after my studies in Rome, Milan, Mumbai, and Paris dedicated to business, fashion, and corporate social responsibility, I decided to return to Madagascar and resume the project of my dreams. In 2019, I founded Made For A Woman. It is a project dedicated to empowering and improving the quality of life of women in Madagascar.

What is the DNA of this project? 

Our social entrepreneurship project aims to improve the lives of the vulnerable Malagasy women who create our beautiful products by giving them a voice through the art of weaving, empowering them, and providing them with opportunities to support their families. At the same time, we seek to educate our customers to recognize the work of the creators of Made For A Woman's unique pieces, bringing the artisans themselves to the forefront of our communication strategy. As an ethical fashion brand, we strive to create a world where customers understand how their purchases can impact people's lives "behind the scenes." That's why each product has a tag and a QR code.

Where and how are the brand's bags and accessories made, what materials do you prefer?

At Made For A Woman, we protect the environment by using sustainable and eco-friendly materials, such as our raphia, and second-hand fabrics, ethical horn pieces, and metal details made in Italy. Raphael is an organic fiber derived from a palm tree. We harvest it in a national park in Madagascar with our Amfori BSCI and GOTS-certified suppliers. We then dye it with AZO-free pigments and natural pigments to minimize the risk of allergic reactions, toxins, and heavy metal use and contamination. That allows us to protect workers, the environment, and end customers. Our products are fully compostable and biodegrade in about 10-13 years, compared to synthetic fibers, which can take up to 200 years to decompose; to offset our carbon footprint, we plant over 1 million trees each year with our raphia supplier. Because everything we create is handmade, production can take up to 3 weeks for the most complex pieces - our creations are anything but fast fashion. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, right after the oil industry. For this reason, we consider it our responsibility to work towards the creation of a fully sustainable production cycle. Our ultimate goal is to create fashionable luxury items with zero negative impact on the environment and the people involved in the products' handcrafting.

How do you provide help and assistance to the women involved in the project?

At M4W, our ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life for women in Madagascar. Therefore, we work directly with vulnerable women from rural villages, prisons and re-education centers. All M4W women are provided with free services such as language classes, family planning classes, dance classes, free medical care, and free food. We also have a children's area in our workshop for the children of women workers and to whom we also provide savings accounts. We also employ social workers and psychologists who work directly with employees. All our employees receive a 5% living wage and intend to increase this amount as soon as possible. We have recently started a collaboration with the Minister of Population of Madagascar, thanks to which we hold in our workshop training courses for victims of domestic abuse to give them independence and prepare them for "a new beginning."

What are you presenting during this edition of White?

I decided to show you our Spring Summer 2021. This collection's spirit focuses on Madagascar's strong and dominant colors, from the turquoise blue of the oceans to the beige of the pristine sand. Also, we decided to include 100% recycled raphia pieces in this collection. The raphia that was usually thrown away was upcycled into one-of-a-kind headbands, bags, and kimonos.

 

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