Maria and Anthony Russo are an inspiring couple. The former a writer and the latter a tech junkie, they have come together to promote women empowerment worldwide. They first started with The Culture-ist three years ago; an e-mag focused on travel, culture and social good. More recently, they have started their own socially conscious lifestyle brand for the traveler, yogi and change maker called Humanity Unified.
Humanity Unified: The Story Of An Ethical Fashion Brand
They traveled to Rwanda last November with the idea of developing a non-profit organisation. Seeing firsthand how the effects of genocide have threatened women livelihoods in the country, the couple felt the urge to support local organizations in developing countries which empower disadvantaged women through entrepreneurship, education and food security programs.
With the idea of supporting a mission, and inspiring people to purchase goods that also contribute to educating and inspiring others, they launched Humanity Unified.
To raise money for the projects they care about, they thought of what would be a fun concept: fashion. Themselves huge supporters of ethical fashion, they aimed to create a brand that would ensure that the clothing they design and sell is both planet and people friendly.
Finding Inspiration While Traveling
Maria and Anthony started traveling about 12 years ago. What was always striking during their trips was the incredible needs which existed in developing countries. Says Maria:
Basic fundamental human rights such as food, water, safety, gender equality, education and healthcare was not available to so many of the people we met along the way.
The more they traveled and covered all the issues they witnessed on their online media platform, the more they realized that they had to work more proactively. Maria adds:
We needed to get our readers involved in directly supporting projects that would help build up communities in the developing world by first investing in woman through education, entrepreneurship and food security programs.
Working Towards An Ethical Business Model
Their very first collection was Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) certified. This is a globally recognized, independent third party certifying body which promotes ethical, humane and lawful conditions and practices in all manufacturing facilities.
Companies which get accepted into the organization all go through extensive application processes in which every aspects of production from manufacturing facilities to working environments are inspected.
Their second collection was as ethical as the first. They sourced all their tees from Threads for Thought with the promise that all clothing was ethically and sustainably made. In fact, Threads for Thought are among the best producers of conscious clothing.
As far as their business model goes, they are a hybrid social enterprise and donate 100% of net profits to the organization they partner with. In most cases, Humanity Unified will donate to projects in developing countries through HU International so that the funds can be safely transferred as a grant through the nonprofit and standard checks and balances can be implemented.
Benefits for Local Communities
The couple collaborates with a Rwandan organization which has impressive education, entrepreneurship and food security programs for women living in extreme poverty. As the organization is planning to expand its programs soon to reach an impoverished community on the outskirts of the capital city, Kigali, Maria and Anthony are hoping to be able to fund the upcoming projects through Humanity Unified.
It has now been less than a year since the brand’s launch; however, the couple is already planning an expansion to Syria, Congo and India in the course of the second year.
Inspiring Communities Of Change Makers Worldwide
The brand’s tagline which is even printed on their bestselling shirt is: #DBAC: Defy the Norm, Be Fearless, Ache with Wanderlust, Change the World. Says Maria:
We want to inspire a global community of fearless changemakers that are willing to fight for the rights and freedoms of others around the world that need support, kindness and love to help break the chains of poverty” reveals Maria with great enthusiasm.
Where To Find The Collection?
Whether online, or at local markets, Humanity Unified has many beautiful products for the socially minded to purchase!
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Bananagrams Travel Game [Trip Fun]
How One Small Business Shares The Stories Of Artisans Through Handicrafts [Blog Inspiration]
Better Than Fiction: True Travel Tales From Great Fiction Writers by Don George [Must Reads]
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