Restoring lives, one elegant tee at a time.
Tens of thousands of girls in Nepal are sold into sex trafficking. We dream of the day when all girls in Nepal can grow up with dignity. Our nonprofit partner rescues over 20,000 women and children each year at the border of Nepal-India. We offer employment because we believe in the impact of a positive source of income.
Elegantees started as a New York fashion brand with intent to give profits to fight human trafficking. We weren't planning to work in Nepal until we met a freedom-fighter with a vision to eliminate trafficking in Nepal through tackling poverty. Opening a sewing center is a way to give rescued women meaningful work with a fair wage. It was the missing piece to our brand – the restoration! We leaped into it with faith, overcome challenges working in an undeveloped nation, and today we have 17 women (and counting) sewing full time. Each time we hire another, an entire family is significantly more protected from the risk of being trafficked.
Are our sewers paid fairly? We wouldn't be doing this unless they were. Each sewer earns between 2-3x minimum wage in Nepal. This is a livable wage in Nepal. They work 6 days per week (this is normal in Nepal), and they each get paid time off.
About Our Fabric Sourcing:
Many of the styles for purchase are made from conventional cotton that was sourced locally in a fabric storehouse in Kathmandu, Nepal. However, we couldn't trace the specific origin. This kept us up at night because there are too many cases of human trafficking and exploitation in fabric supply. What if the fabric we bought was traced to this? Then we found GOTS Certified Organic Cotton suppliers in India. The farmers who grow this cotton do not have to work with harmful chemicals that affect their health. They then sell it to a fabric mill in exchange for a livable and fair wage. We are proud that the organic cotton is not at all promoting exploitation, but it is ethically grown and traded! Another cool thing about GOTS fabric is the dyeing process is incredible – using things in nature to make the colors – and better for the environment. Do we sell exclusively organic cotton? No, but we are making every effort to by the year 2020.
A Note from Katie Martinez, Elegantees Founder:
I designed Elegantees because shopping was hard. I needed tops that were pretty and comfortable, and with proper coverage. Having spent my life both on a farm in Iowa, and in the Fashion District of New York City, I’ve seen two extremes in the way women dress. A common approach is to avoid fashion altogether and wear the same tee and jeans/leggings daily. The other extreme is where there is so much emphasis on fashion that it becomes an identity. Elegantees is for the woman who seeks to find a balance between fashion and life, with a tee that looks like more than a tee.
I love to see relatable women of various sizes on our site and on social media. Our aim is to break away from the unrealistic standards of beauty. I believe that ideal beauty is an expression of something that comes from the inside. This confidence trumps an attempt to seduce that is commonly found in fashion photography. For styling and poses, we encourage simplicity with confidence as we coach our models. When a woman takes care of herself, and others with kindness, she's at the height of beauty. True beauty is in being clothed in strength and dignity.