Thank you for visiting our boutique! I’d just love to sit down and grab a cup of coffee together. But for now, I’ll share how much you mean to us. Sex trafficking affects millions of women, especially girls and young women, each year, and our aim is to help restore women. We can't do this without your purchases and support. Each “elegant tee” is designed with heart to reinforce freedom in the women who make them, and instill confidence in the women who wear them.
This journey of entrepreneurship hasn't been a smooth ride. Through many setbacks, we've always seen hope persevere. At times money has been scarce because we've used our hearts over our heads. Just when we think it could cost us the business, a donation check shows up or we get an awesome press feature and the sales makes up for it! There’s been times we felt like our efforts are not helpful. Then we receive a special hug from the women we work with and are reminded that the opportunity is indeed special to them. This is part of their restoration and it fuels our motivation again. The vision is to grow Elegantees to offer more products and to hire more women.
Our long term goal is in opening a store in New York City!
- The store will increase demand which will increase jobs in Nepal. We’ll also carry jewelry items from brands that are also hiring survivors. Overall, purchasing with purpose will be a fashionable experience.
- Staff the store with local survivors and give them a respectful interview process, kind training, and enough pay to provide for basic needs for part-timers while they pursue education, or an above-market wage for full-timers who seek independence.
- Grow the business to donate the profits to find and restore more women trapped in sex trafficking through Restore NYC and The Nepali Rescue Project. We hope to open more stores with a similar business model across the country.
It started with the elegant tee-shirt and a dream to change fashion through modesty and meaningful manufacturing. When she was 23 years old, Katie started Elegantees with just a few years of experience working in the fashion industry coordinating production for major retailers. With about 10K saved up and connections to local New York City factories, the first collection was released in September 2010. She started her own business to give her the freedom to decide on the purpose of the profits. The goal was to give Elegantees net profits to organizations fighting sex trafficking. Shortly after the online boutique was opened, Katie learned that a business can takes years before a profit is made. She didn’t want to wait that long to make an impact in the lives of women rescued from trafficking.
Katie teamed up with the Nepali Rescue Project which rescues 20,000 lives each year. In 2011, they took steps to secure a few sewers in a safe house near Kathmandu Nepal, make samples, and coordinate logistics. By 2012, Katie pulled away from the factories in New York City, and was happy to give more sewing work to Nepal. This took Elegantees into a more challenging position financially because the product cost jumped a lot, but it meant the world to give these women meaningful employment and hope!
In 2013, a desire to help survivors locally in the United States grew. Katie also connected with Restore NYC’s after-care program to host sewing classes and offer sewing jobs. It was amazing to get to know the ladies, but without constant supervision and structure, it wasn’t successful in providing a long term employment solution. Sewing operations are now exclusively in Nepal.
Long Term Goals
To see every sex trafficking victim in New York City and in Nepal receive a safe housing option and an employment opportunity. We dream of opening a store in New York City because we love it so much and there are many teenage women that are in “the life” that need mentors and a job to enable them. We believe a retail store will successfully provide a long term employment solution for survivors.