After graduating from college, Virginia Dooley volunteered as a counselor for refugees in Uganda. While there, she befriended a Rwandan seamstress who taught her some powerful lessons about both the common economic hardships and the creative potential of marginalized women. Inspired by their discussions, Dooley teamed up in 2004 with friend Nicole Jones to found Rising Tide Fair Trade, a line of weekenders, carryalls, pillows, and totes made from artisanal Indian textiles. Not only does the company provide its workers with consistent, fair wages, just working conditions, and educational opportunities for their children, but it’s also helping permanently redress regional gender inequality. “It’s a fact that women with business training have increased standing in their communities,” says Dooley. “This is something that will have an impact for generations.”
This summer, Rising Tide Fair Trade will release its first collection of home goods and clothing.