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Raven + Lily: A charity-driven brand with a local face

Raven + Lily – TRIBEZA

Charity-driven brand gets a local face with new Manor Road storefront.

Raven + Lily - TRIBEZA Raven + Lily - TRIBEZA Raven + Lily - TRIBEZA

The work of 800 international women showcased in a humble space on Manor Road. Such is the brick-and-mortar face of Raven + Lily, the Austin-based, socially conscious lifestyle brand founded by Kirsten Dickerson and Sophia Lin, which opens its first storefront on Manor Road on April 2.

The company, Dickerson explains, was born out of a desire to combine her passions for both style and ethical design. Started in 2008, Raven + Lily takes a fashion-forward approach to artisan-made products, highlighting and directly benefiting particular regions or women’s groups through one-of-a-kind apparel, jewelry, and accessories collections.

Dickerson, who is the brand’s CEO, has spent 20 years in international humanitarian work, but she also has experience as an art director and stylist (often for the music videos and films made by her husband, local filmmaker Brandon Dickerson). Raven + Lily, she explains, perfectly combines the two worlds. From the start, Dickerson has been intentional about contextualizing the company’s role, straddling both the trend-driven retail world and the growing genre of socially driven lifestyle brands. “People want to wear Raven + Lily and buy our product not even knowing the ethical value behind it,” she says. “Though everything is truly story-driven design, it has to be competitive and fashion-forward to be sustainable.”

Part of a growing group of businesses opening or relocating east to Manor Road this year, Raven + Lily will neighbor Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop and Jesse Griffiths’s anticipated Dai Due restaurant. Inside, the shop will stock its own brand as well as homewares and accessories from like-minded companies.

The design of the shop was conceived by Austin architects Matt Garcia and Bart Whatley, with an eye toward creating a storefront to “showcase our commitment to being an ethical brand,” Dickerson says. All the furniture pieces and fixtures are handmade by U.S. and international artisans, and many of the design details were undertaken by local artists and designers, from Joe Swec’s hand-painted exterior sign to Dave Massman’s walnut, metal, and brass studio tables to Ramona Press’s screen-printed shopping bags and wrapping paper. They also partnered with the Royal Design Studio to create hand-painted murals based on Raven + Lily stencils, which “help raise funds for skills training of women in Ethiopia,” Dickerson says.

And with plans to hugely expand the company this year—the goal is to double the number of artisans the company employs by the end of 2014—a physical store is just the latest incarnation of this local face with with global intentions.

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