Fashion. Adventure. Philanthropy.
My roots are in “cool hunting”—finding inspiration anywhere and everywhere to curate, merchandise, and design. Since 2000, I’ve held various roles at multibillion-dollar consumer-driven corporations, including Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters, distilling market trends and innovative finds into unique designs for women and girls.
Travel is the bedrock of my inspiration for both my life and work. I’ve visited 100 countries over the past 12 years, immersing myself in foreign cultures and discovering so many amazing local communities.
Many of these communities that have given me so much inspiration and joy are remote and disenfranchised. They struggle to meet basic needs from food to shelter and education. That made me wonder if I could do something to help.
In 2008, I took a life-changing sabbatical to Rwanda to document the stories of genocide survivors and to work with children in a local orphanage. There was always a constant need for fundraising.
To meet those needs, I found myself reaching out to contacts across the globe to organize donation drives and T-shirt sales through my newly formed organization, Create for a Cause. The premise connected creatives with causes to form philanthropic collaborations that utilized their skills and talents for social good. The response was overwhelming, and the outpouring of support was tremendous. I knew I needed to harness this power of love and empathy for the greater good. Thousands of dollars were raised. However, through this experience, I realized that charity is not sustainable, nor empowering, and that is when my interest in merging design with international development began.
The Supply Change
In 2012, I left corporate fashion permanently and transformed Create for a Cause into The Supply Change, which connects globally recognized brands with artisan groups to bring socially conscious fashion to the mainstream consumer. We source ethical manufacturers, increase market access and distribution, and support social enterprises.
Love Is Project
One day in 2014, I found myself on a plane to Moscow with a LOVE bracelet on my arm. I’d worked with UBUNTU’s Maasai Mums project, which provides sustainable employment to Kenyan women, to develop the bracelet using traditional beading techniques.
My seatmates, two girls who hailed from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, struck up a conversation with me about what love means. I recorded their answers on my phone, uploaded a photo to Instagram, and watched the comments come pouring in.
Since then, I’ve been traveling the globe to create an ethical supply chain of LOVE. We work with female artisans around the world to create beautiful bracelets inspired by their respective cultures and aesthetics, and provide sustainable employment opportunities in the process.
Want to work together? I’d love to connect! You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, or email.
— Chrissie Lam