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The designer was recognized by B the Change Media and honored at the Best for the World Awards Ceremony.
After the birth of her baby, Isabel Garretón, owner and designer of her namesake company, did not start out solely to create a line of childrenswear. She wanted to make a difference in the world—specifically, in the lives of women in her native Chile. Many of them were talented artisans and experts at hand-smocking (the process of embroidering gathered fabric, shown in the image below) who, despite their embroidery and dressmaking skills, could not make a decent living or care for their children. At the outset, the designer, who had relocated to San Pedro, Calif., worked with 21 underprivileged women in her home country, encouraged them to work from home while caring for their children and paid them fair wages.
Now, 30 years later, she continues to hire skilled artisans from Chile which has enabled these women to put roofs over their heads and educate their children. Last week, B the Change Media, a non-profit in Kansas, which advocates for businesses to be the force of good, recognized Garretón for her positive community impact. She was also honored at the first-annual Best for the World Celebration & Awards Ceremony at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas Business School in Berkeley, Calif.
“The most important part of the award is the clear evidence that social enterprise is today an initiative that finds value in many more places than when we started, 30 years ago,” says Garretón. “It’s motivating so many young entrepreneurs and financial institutions and investors are redefining themselves in order to support this business model.” Garretón goes on to say that receiving such an award isn’t the primary reward, however. “Like many people, making a positive difference, contributing to what is good in the world we live in has been a great motivator and has provided the energy to persevere when things are far from easy,” she says. “Helping to break the cycle of poverty for many women and their families has been as satisfying as it has been humbling.”