Who are you? & can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi, I am a woman who has worn a few hats throughout her life (don’t ask me how old I am :]) I am currently the founder of for Dignity, a wife and a mom of two delightful young ladies. I have also been involved in international development, lived as an expat in Vietnam and trained as a medical doctor.
What exactly is For Dignity?
For Dignity is a social enterprise, we support the work of stopping human trafficking through awareness, raising commercial partnership and profit donations with a number of organizations active in prevention, rescue and restoration of affected people.
We host an online store retailing high quality contemporary gifts which include sustainable/ eco friendly and fair trade products selected carefully to suit the Australian market. Our range is primarily made by the people at risk or rescued from trafficking and slavery. This not only gives them economic empowerment but also a sense of dignity, hence our name.
What inspired you to start For Dignity?
There was many steps to the beginning of starting For Dignity but one was a local café in Hanoi, Vietnam where we lived for almost 8 years. They sold great coffee and a wonderful selection of cakes and breads just like what we could get in Melbourne. But they also partnered with an organization that was rescuing people out of exploitation. They would train and employ a number of those people in support of their reintegration into a sustainable healthy life. I worked for a charity at the time and the model of a business so practically partnering with a charity really impressed me.
How did you come up with the name?
I’ve mentioned a reason in my answer above, but to add to that… we wanted a name that express our heart and attitude to all people. That each one is valuable in and of themselves, created equal to me or you and should be experiencing life as such.
You help stop human trafficking, can you tell us about that?
During the job I had in Vietnam, I managed a number of projects in the mountainous regions near the border of Vietnam and China. There I was exposed to the impact of trafficking firsthand. So on return to Melbourne, Australia I wanted to continue to contribute to life changing work in some way and began learning that human trafficking was the fastest growing global crime. It is a 150 billion dollar business, most victims are women and children and 57% of it happens in our region of Asia.
I started networking and collaborating with organization I knew from my expat time that were working at the grass roots level to combat this, either in prevention and or rescue and restoration. They, like the café business/charity in Hanoi, had a social enterprise arm that allowed them to extend their impact into retraining and integration back into society of the women by development and production of merchandise.
Is there a favorite product?
Ohh that is a hard one to answer. On a personal basis I now have a gorgeous repurposed leather crossbody bag by Joyn that I bought from our range for Christmas. It has travelled around Europe with me and still looks great, holds all those necessary things and yet is compact and comfy. As a retail outlet, the contemporary jewelry has always been our most favored line.
What is your favorite part about runningFor Dignity?
I think it is that sense that all your time and efforts are actually going towards something you value – people. (Not large corporate’s shareholder’s bank accounts.)
What is your least favorite part about running For Dignity?
At times myself motivation goes out the window, especially when there is an enormous amount of things to do. Which is counter productive when you are self-employed.
How do you spread the word about your company?
It started with family and friends and attending ethical markets and fairs. Now it is online through social media and influencers, occasional paid advertising but mainly through word of mouth and our advocacy events.
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
I’m only in my 3rd year of doing this so I feel quite inexperienced. So far persistence and patience have been valuable and finding a core group of people to advise, support and guide business decisions. I think anyone who does this type of thing is incredibly brave and if you are having a bad day, remember your “why”. (The reason you began in the first place.)
Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying?