SANTA ROSA, CA - Starting a new decade and marking the beginning of 15 years in business, Indigenous Designs is pleased to announce that it has won the Free Range Studios 2009 YouTopia Grant. The organic, fair-trade clothing company will use the services provided by the grant to demonstrate to the fashion world and conscientious consumers that how they spend their money is like voting with dollars, benefiting impoverished communities in the developing world and the planet itself.
Free Range provided two grants in design or strategy services to those with a vision of what the world needs right now: One grant went to a non-profit and the other was awarded to Indigenous, as a socially responsible business. Indigenous beat out over 400 other company entries to finish in the top spot.
“As so many great companies in the competition had brilliant ideas, it’s a huge honor to be selected,” said Scott Leonard, CEO and co-founder of Indigenous. “We are pleased that we won this grant and can show our business model to the world as an effective, profitable way to do good things for people and the planet while producing high-quality, stylish fashions. The competition for this grant is a testament to a new kind of business leader rising to the challenge of environmental and social change. We're privileged to be trusted to take a leading role in the movement.”
Announcing the grant award, Free Range issued this statement: “Today, nearly every brand is offering ‘responsible’ products, even as many continue to pollute and plunder. It's time to set the record straight and tell the stories of the real heroes and pioneers, like Indigenous, who weave the healing of culture and the planet into everything they do.”
Indigenous’ proposal, called “One Mindful Purchase,” was selected by the public and Free Range experts as the top choice in the competition of “for-profit companies” seeking opportunities to take their businesses to the next level without abandoning the commitment to environmental sustainability and fair labor practices. Indigenous will utilize video, marketing and point-of-purchase educational materials to show fashion shoppers how its business model puts people and the planet ahead of profits, yet still produces highest quality styles that stand out in the marketplace.
Indigenous president and co-founder Matt Reynolds says it will use the grant to show how the company puts its principles into practice in every step of its production process. Since its beginning in 1994, Indigenous has committed to creating top quality fashion, using hand made artisan craftsmanship from all over the world, with minimal environmental impact , while elevating communities throughout the developing world.
“A lot of companies are trying to jump on the green bandwagon by claiming they’re eco-friendly, and maybe they’ll use recycled paper in their packaging,” Reynolds says. “That’s a good start, but that kind of ‘greenwashing’ hardly makes up for using toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process and paying their workers sweatshop wages. We want to demonstrate to our customers and other clothing companies a positive way to conduct business and build garments, from design inception, through the marketplace, and into the hands of shoppers. Every step of the path, we’re going to treat people with dignity and the planet with respect, while not compromising on quality or style in any way.”
Combining certified organic farming with fair trade labor practices ensures Indigenous’ customers that their money is helping workers in economically distressed communities in the developing world to create sustainable and profitable industry.
“We’ve always believed as a company that when people know that their mindful purchase is going to really help improve the lives of other people, they will feel better about their purchases,” Leonard says. “And that’s what we want to show them: ‘Enjoy the clothes, enjoy the style and the premium quality— and feel good about building something truly positive with your purchase and choice for People and the Planet.’”
“We never could have imagined when we started 15 years ago that we would be as successful as we’ve been in creating change,” Reynolds says, “but I believe that’s a testament to our customers as much as it is to us. In those 15 years, eco-friendly business has gone from the fringes of the economy to the mainstream, and Scott and I are proud that Indigenous has moved the needle a little bit. With this grant, we’re going to be able to give our customers more information, better understanding and more incentive to do the right thing when they’re choosing how to spend their fashion dollar.”