The 26-year-old co-founder of Cherie Amie—a fair-trade intimate apparel company with operations in Cameroon and the first of its kind to contribute 100 percent of its profits to sustainable antipoverty measures for women—will say as much on Saturday when she holds a lingerie launch party at Dallas-based Swallow Lounge to celebrate her Indiegogo.com video campaign.
Her goal with the video: To raise $15,000 for her first lingerie line by Friday, August 31. "Why can't women look sexy to help other women?" she asks. "That's the question we want Indiegogo.com users to consider when they see our pitch."
Shot in a high-rise penthouse above Dallas, the video features three models posing tantalizingly in baby dolls, teddies, and panties handcrafted and sewn by artisans in Cameroon.
A brief description under the video explains why the company needs $15,000 to jumpstart a lingerie line. Those who contribute will receive rewards that range from their choice of intimate apparel to the opportunity to appear as a Fair Lady in the official marketing campaign for Cherie Amie.
Smith, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, explains why she felt the need to start a lingerie line based on fair-trade principles and the Good Returns business model.
"After spending two years in Cameroon, I couldn't stop thinking about every purchase I made or how every dime I spent could help someone in poverty, especially women," she says. "For me personally, lingerie took a backseat. I want women everywhere to buy lingerie knowing that their purchase will change the lives of other women."
If the video succeeds in raising $15,000—a feat that requires Indiegogo.com users to meet or exceed the goal by the end of August—Smith says she will ramp up production to sell intimate apparel online before the Christmas holiday season.
As a Good Returns company, Cherie Amie will funnel 100 percent of its profits to qualifying nonprofits that make interest-free micro-loans to women. According to the World Bank, nearly 100 percent of borrowers worldwide repay their micro-loans every year, assuring that Cherie Amie will regain virtually all of its profits.
The company will also contribute 10 percent of its net income to Peace Tree Africa, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit that she founded to finance sustainable development projects in partner communities across sub-Saharan Africa.
But Smith says the artisans she plans to employ under fair-trade principles reflect the most important part of the Cherie Amie business model.
"The women I met in Cameroon changed my life forever," she says. "I want to change theirs with decent wages and the market access their lingerie products deserve."
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