Ethical Business Spotlight: Janey Appleseed

I'm excited to introduce you to Janey Appleseed today, a girls' clothing line that promotes fair employment, literacy, and health care for mamas and their Children in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

I wanted to show you just how cute these dresses are... but since I don't have any adorable kids of my own (yet ; )), I borrowed one of my sister-in-laws' for this photo shoot. My sweet niece Eisley helped pick out which dress she liked best from the online store, choose accessories (she made her earrings herself), and hammed it up posing for the camera. 

We made sure to look at the photo of the artisan on the tag of the dress before we snipped it off, and talked about where the dress came from and why it was special. 

The dress was a huge hit- Eisley loves it and her mom and I do, too! I'm a big fan of dresses that are sweet and a little old-fashioned and make little girls look like... well, little girls, amid a sea of size 2T pants that say "diva" on the butt and tiny padded bras (amiright?).

Janey Appleseed dresses are innocent, whimsical, AND impactful. I asked Janey Appleseed's owner, Jean Bathke, to share a little bit about herself and the company. 

"I live on California’s spectacular Monterey Bay, and have been running Janey Appleseed for about a year and a half. Janey Appleseed is really a culmination of 20 years of background; my education, work experience, and interests have all concurrently had an orbit around Women’s issues, Human Rights, social justice, along with design and textiles. My mother and grandmother both were fine tailors, and my mom has a lengthy background in garment construction and flat pattern design. Thanks to her great eye for good style and my grandmother’s easy elegance, I grew up surrounded by interesting textiles, and ongoing conversation of clothing and design. Seemingly unrelated, the ‘arts and design’ side of things dovetail beautifully with the ‘rights and justice’ side of things. 

Janey Appleseed’s mission is to create darling handmade dresses for girls, steeped in style with a great sense of fun, and produce them by hand in alignment with our core values: we love people, we care about Human Rights and social justice, and we know for sure that gender equality and education are the foundation for our collective future. This is our steadfast commitment. With these values in mind, we are deeply proud to partner directly with artisans in the DRC. We do so in the genuine spirit of contributing to and benefitting their livelihoods. 

Our partnership with Non-Profit Mamafrica is a perfect fit in this regard. We share an unwavering commitment to the advancement of women and children, and a rational understanding that when women are healthy and strong, skilled and economically independent, the entire community echoes with direct benefit. 

All of our textiles are hand picked with great deliberation, and sourced locally in DRC. Textiles can tell a story about the place where they come from, and about the people who use them.  In this spirit, our prints are dynamic, optimistic, and bright! We love strong geometrics and motifs that interesting, fun, and smart. One note about fabrics and commerce: due to regional instability, fabric selections are typically inconsistent and may be here today, gone tomorrow, which is also a part of the story of Congo. The inconsistency is also very dynamic, however! Again, the textiles are a vehicle for telling a story; we think this makes each dress even more ultra-precious and unique. Each dress is truly one of a kind, very special indeed.

In terms of impact, it’s been very, very fun to observe buyers’ reactions to the dresses, as well as artisans’ enjoyment of creating the goods! People have just been consistently delighted by the dresses, which of course delights me in turn! Each dress is different and one of a kind, so there is a wonderfully playful endeavor involved in finding just the right dress. People sort and search through the hangers with “oohs” and “ahhs” before zeroing in on their dress, it’s the best kind of  treasure hunt. Its also been deeply heartening to observe peoples’ interest in the artisans, and the earnest desire to use their purchasing power in a very good way. Its my absolute pleasure."

For all of my Minnesota girls, Janey Appleseed will be in Minneapolis for Art-A-Whirl May 15-17 (in the Northrup King Building with host Karin Jacobson Design)! Until then, you can shop online, follow Janey Appleseed on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter