By Kamala Kirk
Parker Clay, a B-Corp and Ethiopian leather goods brand on a mission to uplift at-risk women, recently launched a new fundraising campaign that will empower sustainable consumers to play a more direct role in shaping the future of fashion.
“By investing in the first B-Corp to hold a community fundraising round, you’ll enable us to scale up our hiring, expand our production, and create more impact,” says co-founder and CEO Ian Bentley, who founded the company in 2014 with his wife Brittany. “With your investment, we’ll prove that ethical and sustainable fashion can be profitable too—paving the way for other brands to follow.
Thanks to Regulation A+, our entire community can be part of this with us—accredited and non-accredited because we believe in the democratization of finance and want our customers, partners, and communities to have access to invest because it’s you who have helped us build what Parker Clay is today.”
The fundraising campaign will be open for 12 months from November 17, 2022, or raising up to $15 million. Parker Clay is one of the only brands in the world that owns the majority of its supply chain, and since it owns its factory, the company has a direct relationship with the community, impacting each step of the process. It hires at-risk women, pays living wages and benefits, and provides skills training, career advancement, and financial literacy opportunities to all of its employees.
“This public fundraising effort gives us an incredible opportunity to expand the voice and reach of Parker Clay and further our vision to create economic empowerment,” Ian says. “Dignified and ethical employment of women enables us to carry a better bag while putting the power back in the hands of those who will change the world. We believe in building a better way, and that happens through community. Simply put, our community is why we exist. As a B Corp, we also believe in transparency and raising the standards within the fashion industry, and our community support is the backbone of Parker Clay. We have also experienced tremendous growth over the past years and we see a great opportunity and demand in the market to expand our products to the world. As we look to expand our supply chain and business opportunities we wanted to invite our community to be part of this through investing and becoming a co-owner with us.”
Since the formation of Parker Clay, the company has partnered with an organization called Ellilta Women at Risk (EWAR), with a goal of restoring independence to women who have been exploited through prostitution, ultimately fighting to end prostitution in Ethiopia.
Its partnership with EWAR operates beyond the traditional charity model and extends into the skills training and job creation opportunities that are made available at its factory in Ethiopia.
Parker Clay has developed methodologies to create economic opportunity, leveraging a trade model built out of mission.
Parker Clay opened its first store in Santa Barbara in 2016. The brand now has four locations including San Luis Obispo, Denver and Playa Vista Free Market, which opened in April 2022.
Ian adds, “We believe that creating better choices for consumers does not have to be complicated. Our business model began with a commitment to empowering women in Ethiopia with living wages, benefits, and more, and we’ve shown that this model is not an act of charity – it’s just good business in a world with increasingly mindful consumers. We’ve succeeded in making a better bag, in a way that’s better for the people who make it. Now it’s time to take that model to the world. We’re building the future of fashion in Africa, and we want our community to join us at the table as co-owners.”
To contribute to the fundraiser and for more information, visit invest.parkerclay.com.