Fashion Philanthropy: 5 Amazing Women Who Are Giving Back

These entrepreneurs make giving back an essential part of their companies (6 Photos)

Dawn Papandrea on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:17AM

chime in now
Karie Siciliano


a Dawn Papandrea on Apr 12, 2011 at 1:43PM

The Company
KarieAlls is a line of designer handbags that each fit a transferable bucket that allows women to quickly and easily transfer purse contents to the next KarieAll bag, and makes bags collapsible for storage and travel.

The Cause
Like most of the country's small towns, Hickory, North Carolina known for its furniture making, was very hard hit once the economy plummeted. KarieAll puts local people and companies back to work by using all locally made materials, equipment, and skilled workers to produce handbags. "I want the world to know we can do more than furniture. We have empty plants here and people who don't have jobs," says Siciliano.

She also goes a step further by buying up heavily discounted sewing equipment (leftover from faltering businesses), and putting them in the homes of women she employs.

"We hired this women whose application said 'seamstress.' When we asked what exactly did she sew, I found out she'd only been sewing zippers for 25 years before losing her job," says Siciliano. "These are exactly the kind of people we've been helping by teaching other skills."

The Inspiration
"Oprah was doing a series on innovative women. My family had just been traveling and I could only take one or two purses with me, and I thought It would be good if you had a bag that you can switch out real fast." And then it hit her – a "carry all" -- and should could even play off of her own name, Karie! "The idea kept coming back to haunt me, but there was never a reason to work this hard to start the business until I saw people around me not working."

The Takeaway
Grow your business at a pace you're comfortable with, advises Siciliano. Her company grew very big, very fast, and she essentially became a "plant manager," overseeing production of her designs. That wasn't something the full-time mom of three, and avid community volunteer wasn't ready to take on right away. Today, she's put a small team of local talent in place to help her achieve her mission.

    Loading slides...
Best of the Web
Connect with Us
Follow Our Pins

Yummy recipes, DIY projects, home decor, fashion and more curated by iVillage staffers.

Follow Our Tweets

The very dirty truth about fashion internships... DUN DUN @srslytheshow

On Instagram

Behind-the-scenes pics from iVillage.

    See All Tools