In Episode 28 of the Disruptors for Good podcast, I speak with Colleen and Maggie Clines, the Co-founder and Creative Director of Anchal. Anchal is an innovative nonprofit creating sustainable jobs for women through fashion and empowering them to a life beyond the sex trade.
With backgrounds in design, sisters Colleen and Maggie Clines lead Anchal by placing design at the center of the brands everyday practice. It all started in a design studio. Colleen Clines was taking a graduate seminar at the Rhode Island School of Design that took her on a trip to India in 2009, a trip that changed the trajectory of her life forever. While in India, Colleen was introduced to the exploitive world of the commercial sex trade and the extreme lack of opportunity for women in the community. It was in this moment she was inspired to design more than beautiful landscapes, she was determined to create positive social and environmental change using design.
“We felt compelled to take the project beyond the classroom with the conviction that our design training, in collaboration with local leadership, could address seemingly intractable social and environmental systems. The women we met became our sisters, sisters we had to fight for.” – Colleen Clines, Co-Founder & CEO
While Colleen was scheming ways to collaborate with the amazing women she’d met in India, her sister Maggie was in college working on socially conscious architecture projects — discovering creative ways to repurpose a retired uranium facility. Maggie and Colleen would trade stories on their design experiences and wonder how they could unite their passions.
After returning home, Colleen and her classmates raised $400 by selling handmade notebooks and notecards. They used the funds to purchase a sewing machine, sewing instruction, materials and a stipend for the first collective of artisans.
In 2010, Anchal officially became a 501(c)3 non-profit and we expanded the project by partnering with Vatsalya, an NGO in Ajmer, India. In 2012, Maggie joined her sister to co-lead Anchal and stitch by stitch, a global sisterhood started to grow.
“We both had linear projections for our careers. Then I saw that we could have more impact than I ever anticipated as a young woman. So I jumped onboard and we decided to make a go of it as Anchal Project!” – Maggie Clines, Vice President & Creative Director.
Today, Anchal has trained and employed over 500 women and is an internationally recognized brand known for award-winning designs and handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces that empower exploited women living in India and Kentucky.
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