A couple of years ago we were introduced to an entrepreneur with a clear and compelling idea who was looking for feedback. That entrepreneur was digital marketing executive Lori Cunningham. And the brand, Loskey; a sustainable, organic, fair-trade t-shirt business now in its second year.
We loved Lori’s idea and, equally, now have stocked our wardrobes with her fabulous t-shirts. But maybe more importantly, Lori represents so much of why FromAtoSHE exists…extraordinary women creating ideas worth sharing.
So, we were excited to get some of London-based Lori’s time recently to talk about her business and the future.
The story of Loskey started more than 25 years ago when I was an idealistic, young twenty-something working in International Development in Washington, DC. I loved the purpose of my work, but after several years, I found myself confounded and frustrated by the bureaucracy and inefficiency of working with big government organisations.
Ultimately, I left development work for a career in business. But never stopped thinking about my original career, and how I might do things differently if given the chance. I built a career in digital, married and had two wonderful sons. Increasingly thinking about the world they live in led me to think about my original ambitions. I decided that the time had come to return development.
But there would be no large government organisations or NGOs this time… Instead, I would build a business that would focus on women’s economic empowerment. Because in the wise words of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
My purpose was clear, but now I needed a product, one where women could participate across the entire supply chain. It didn’t take me long to focus on t-shirts and tops. I, like so many other women I know, have been on what seems like a life-long quest for the perfect t-shirt. And, as the saying goes, ‘If you want something done right…’. Thus, Loskey was born.
I am honored to partner with Sonica Sarna. She is a supplier who represents everything that Loskey is about – women’s empowerment, and ethical and sustainable production. As an Indian woman, she is breaking the cultural norms by starting her own business in cooperation with her family’s factory.
She has a deep and personal commitment to organic fabrics, artisanal design and women’s empowerment and training through her amazing #projecthrive initiative – a sewing centre for at-risk women from the slums of New Delhi aiming to empower women with no socio-economic opportunities.
In addition, Sonica works with over 40 artisan communities that she has personally trained. Our combined ambition in working with these artisans is clear: 1) Stable and fair employment for vulnerable artisan communities living below the poverty line, especially women; 2) Education and healthcare for the artisans’ children, giving them a chance at a better future; and 3) Preservation of eco-friendly craft and community practices and prevention of urban migration and trafficking.
The future is very exciting. When I first started out, just a few years ago, very few people in fashion were talking about sustainability, or even fairtrade, and now it is a topic of mainstream conversation (as it should be!) The next step for the business is to specifically target and grow brand awareness in the US (we already ship internationally for free on orders over £50!).