“The will is everything.”
That’s an old Italian proverb … and a line from the movie Batman Begins … and a good way of summing up yesterday’s improbable launch of the inspirational lingerie line Cherie Amie.
The Dallas-based label started by former Peace Corps volunteers chose international Human Rights Day to launch its fair-trade apparel collection, less than six weeks after a fire nearly wiped them out.
Tara Smith had just returned from Cameroon with Cherie Amie’s inventory on Nov. 7 when an early morning blaze started in the furnace of her rented house. She escaped with her dog (also named Amie) and about half of the company’s inventory. (See “Fire Cripples Fair Trade Label“)
“After my dog, I could only think of the beautiful apparel that our artisans had hand-sewn over the course of more than a month,” said Tara, 27, who arrived home only four hours before the fire broke out.
Yesterday, Cherie Amie debuted its online shop, featuring designer pieces like the Humanitarian Hottie boyshort, both men’s and women’s versions of the animal-print Benevolent Boxers (above) and, for brides, the Goodwill Garter.
Cherie Amie, which was founded by Tara and fiancé Ryan Schuett and funded by an Indiegogo campaign that raised over $15,000, is the first lingerie line dedicated to using 100% of profits to fund micro-loans for women entrepreneurs in developing countries.
And launching the label on Human Rights Day wasn’t just a coincidence, she said.
“We chose to unveil our intimate apparel and holiday discounts on a day meant to highlight the importance of universal rights, especially for women,” Tara said. “Poverty subtracts from those rights by excluding, marginalizing, and depriving women of their voices all around the world.”
This ethical brand supports women in three ways: in addition to supporting micro-loans, Cherie Amie produces its apparel in Cameroon, using local artisans who receive a fair wage. As well, a portion of the company’s income will go toward Peace Tree Africa, a non-profit agency started by Tara to finance development projects in sub-Saharan Africa. She plans to return to Cameroon in 2013 to oversee a new production order for Cherie Amie.
The label’s collection includes teddies, babydolls, panties and other items you can see in the images below. There’s also a 2013 wall calendar featuring the company’s products modeled by a group of friends and supporters called “Our Fair Ladies” (above).
“If anything, the fire that destroyed our home and office lit a much bigger fire in our hearts,” Tara said, “making us more determined than ever to empower women and relieve poverty with Cherie Amie.”
Here’s a look at some of the pieces in the first Cherie Amie collection — perfect for the fashionable do-gooder on your Christmas list.