Lou & Grey is known for making crazy soft knits, cozy jersey dresses, and linen jumpsuits. The feel-good clothing brand is all about women supporting women, which is why Lou & Grey is partnering with HERproject to bring education to its global supply chain community. Lou & Grey partnered with HERproject in 2014 to bring the women workers in its suppliers' factories access to health, financial, and family planning education.
“Arming women in our factories with knowledge about subjects from nutrition to maternal health is important to us not only to make a personal impact but a larger community impact— empowering women at large, which is very important to us as a brand," Jenny Lilly, Marketing Director of Lou & Grey, shares with Bustle.
Global supply chains are a major employer of women. HERproject helps low-income women working in factories by providing workplace-based interventions on health, financial inclusion, and gender equality. The organization brings together global brands and their suppliers, and helps companies commit to implementing educational programs. HERproject then comes in and organizes lessons that are held directly at the factories by peer health educators.
HERproject believes that bringing an outside expert to teach the classes won't reach as many women as hiring a peer educator that is trusted by her colleagues. The workers will trust the information coming from the educator and then share it with other women in their communities, creating a powerful ripple effect in education.
In 2018, Lou & Grey x HERproject reached 42,600 women in 35 factories across five different countries. The brand's goal is to make 100 percent of Lou & Grey clothing in factories implementing HERproject programs by 2020.
"Today, our customers and associates expect us to do more than sell clothes," David Jaffe, the CEO of Ascena Retail Group, wrote in Lou & Grey's Responsibility Report. "In addition to providing inclusive fashion— for every age and size, wherever she is, and however she wants to shop — she expects us to drive positive change for the women and girls we serve."
According to the Responsibility Report, the drive to work with only suppliers who implement HERproject programs is simple. When women working in supply chains have the confidence and ability to shape their lives through educated choices, they can bring about change not only to their lives but their community as a whole.
Since 2014, in terms of health training, there has been a 38 percent increase in breast cancer self-examinations, a 26 percent increase in women using sanitary napkins instead of pieces of factory cloth, and a 25 percent increase in women being aware HIV can be prevented.
As for financial training, there has been a 50 percent increase in women who believe they can meet their future expenses in the next two years thanks to saving, a 32 percent increase in women who track their expenses, and a 22 percent increase in women who save regularly.
As more women are able to made educated decisions that shape their lives, their communities organically strengthen and improve. One can only imagine the change once all factories provide women with this kind of training and education.