Passion Lilie

Passion Lilie: Ethical Fashion

New Orleans, United StatesBangalore, India
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Passion Lilie provides an affordable and high quality alternative to fast fashion. Our goal is to take a niche product, fair trade and artisanal made clothing, and through our designs take it mainstream in order to gain awareness for ethical fashion and conscious consumerism.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if fair trade clothing was as accessible as shopping at Walmart in the United States?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The average retail price for clothing has significantly dropped in price since about the 1980s when US based companies began outsourcing their manufacturing, continually shifting production to the countries with the cheapest labor rates. This has changed the consumers buying habits; consumers are now accustom to buying more products at a cheaper price. Outsourcing has also lead to exploitation of workers, and extremely unsafe working conditions.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Passion Lilie, while attaining a high level of quality and ethics, prices their products at a mid-range price point that is affordable for the average income earner in the United States. We combine our price with educational marketing about the importance of buying less and investing in companies that support fair wages and a safe working condition.


Owner, Katie Schmidt, awarded New Orleans Magazine People to Watch of 2014
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Passion Lilie sells our products to both socially minded and general fashion boutiques. One particular boutique liked our product simply for the design and the fact that it fit within their price range. They placed an order. Immediately after they placed the order, we provided them with inspiring stories including pictures, blog posts, postcards and posters about fair trade. The boutique used this information to marketing our products in their store, which helped to introduce a brand new idea- ethical fashion- to their customers. Our products sold well, which means we can continue to provide fair trade jobs, the stores profits and the consumer participates in conscious consumerism.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Currently, our product has been sold in over 50 different stores across the United States and Canada. About half of these stores are not ethically minded boutiques, which helps us move towards our directions of making fair trade fashion more accessible. Passion Lilie is also the only fair trade apparel line in Louisiana. We actively sell our products at events and festival in Louisiana. Before encountering Passion Lilie, most of our customers in Louisiana did not know about fair trade. In our third year of attending events in New Orleans, we now have a large customer base that supports fair trade and ethical fashion. In addition, we have provided full time employment with health and education benefits and a positive working environment for approximately 20 different artisans across India.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

As Passion Lilie moves forward it is our goal to partner with and educate as many small boutiques in small towns throughout the United States and Canada about fair trade fashion in order to make fair trade fashion available and mainstream in every part of the United States and Canada.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We have an extensive marketing and sales plan to sell our products through three main platforms: online, art markets and through retail boutiques.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Some other fair trade clothing lines are Raven + Lily, Mata Traders and Avatar. However, in comparison to quality and design, Passion Lilie's price points are slightly lower than our competitor's. We are also based in state with minimal fair trade awareness, which allows us to have an even greater impact in sharing the fair trade story.

Founding Story

In 2012, I visited a small group of female artisans living in a village on the outskirts of Bhopal, India who do hand embroidery work for a local workshop. The women did not have much by means of materialistic items, so when I asked a struggling single mother what she would choose if she could have anything in the world, her answer surprised me. The woman very modestly answered, “Happiness and prosperity for my children”. My heart was truly touched and so I asked the workshop owner if it was appropriate to give her money. He said, “No, they don’t want charity. They want jobs.” At that moment, I realized that I needed to start a clothing line to provide as many fair trade jobs as possible.


Katie Schmidt- Owner and Designer- A global traveler, philanthropists and experienced designer. Katie holds a B.A. in Drama from the University of California, Irvine, and M.S. in Luxury and Fashion Management from SKEMA Business School in Sophia Antipolis, France. She has extensive experience working as a costume designer as well as working in the fair trade industry. Whitney Soenksen - Marketing and Sales Manager- Whitney specializes in developing information, communications, and project/customer management systems. Her expertise lies in strategic communications, partner relations, information systems design, and project management. Whitney holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Iowa and a M.S. in Leadership from Northeastern University.
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]

Manufacturing, Consumption.

Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]


Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]

Brands, Consumers, Factory Workers, Retailers - Department Store, Retailers - Specialty Store, Women, Youth.

● Intervention Focus: What are you trying to achieve / influence? [check all that apply]

Accountability, Conscious Consumerism, Environmentally Sustainable Practices, Anti-forced Labor or Anti-Human Trafficking, Physical Working Conditions, Transparency.

Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.

Advocacy, Enforcement, Standards.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Consumers Aren't Motivated to Care: Neither Compelling Reasons Nor Easy Means to Change Consumption Habits, Sustainability is Not Yet in the DNA: Fast Fashion’s Current Model Disincentivizes Value-Driven Economies.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Unite More than Voice: Tap into Community Capital and Collective Resources, Transform the Chain into a Web: Link Unlikely Sectors that Open New Pathways to Sustainability.

Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?


If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?

● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?
Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?

Yes, through individual mentorship with interns at Tulane University.

● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?

We have collaborated with the Fair Trade Federation, Green Business Network, Tulane University, French Quarter Business Associa