Backstage Pass

Overcoming Obstacles with New Dresses

by Katie Martinez |

The new dresses will have a special hang tag autographed by each sewer.

There have been many times that I've considered closing out all inventory, eating the loss, and going back to work in the fashion industry. However, my faith in Jesus, the support of my husband, and the dedication of our team reassures me that we're here to stay. It's also during those times I'm at the machine with a rescued woman. Her smile is activated, just from me taking the time to show her something new, that passion overpowers doubts. Yes, she is worth everything. I am reminded of our mission, and that is to restore women. 

Without question, there has been great progress since starting this in my parents' basement 4 years ago. I've been given a team of humble volunteers. Some customers have become supporters that share Elegantees with everyone they see. That's amazing! Today, we are working with women in Nepal, Iowa, New York City, and next week, we're starting in Pennsylvania too. We're even getting a store business plan for an opening in NYC next year. 

Without question, there has been great challenges. We've learned that the best way to be a help is through giving opportunity to these women, rather than money (unless that money is earned). We've watched hearts become devastated at times when we had no choice but to lay off workers in Nepal for a season. At times, mistakes were made that cost us all the potential profit for an item. One of the things keeping us from long term success is the logistics in Nepal. It's an underdeveloped nation, so even if a fair wage is the same as it is in China, it's the electricity, transportation, duties and fees, that crippled long term success.

For months we were waiting for an idea to keep Nepal employed. So, we designed some dresses for summer. The cost to produce each dress is higher than what Forever 21 retails theirs for, but we're trying to see if they will still be a successful run. So far, we sold a handful of them at our popup boutique in New York last weekend! The supporters there just loved these dresses. Aside from the mission and fair-trade sewing behind them, they loved that they are thicker than the see-through dresses out there in stores, and also they are more modest!