Our pick for April’s Small Business Spotlight is the Nashville-based ethical fashion brand, ABLE!
A socially responsible, visionary business that creates beautiful clothing, jewelry, and leather goods- what more could we ask for?! We were already sold by their beautifully designed, buttery leather bags, stylish apparel, and well-made accessories, but experiencing their service and learning more about their sustainability efforts and values sealed the deal! Their socially conscious, “people before profit” mantra make them one of our go-to small businesses for high-quality goods. ABLE challenges the typical culture of the global fashion industry through employing and empowering women as a solution to end poverty.
Their story began in Ethiopia in 2010 when Barrett Ward, ABLE’s founder and CEO, experienced firsthand how many women were struggling with poverty and had been lured into the sex trade just to survive. These women asked for help finding jobs, so they spent time training the women to make scarves. In just 2 months, they had sold over 4,000 scarves, and they all knew that it was the start of something special!
Three years later, they added leather made in Ethiopia, and the following year, they established FashionABLE as a for-profit company. In 2015, they added jewelry made in Nashville, and the next year, they opened their flagship store in Nashville. In 2017, they rebranded to their current name, ABLE, and introduced denim, apparel, and shoes. In just a decade, ABLE has grown from selling hand-woven scarves to being a lifestyle brand that carries leather bags, clothes, shoes, and jewelry.
Throughout their 11-year history, ABLE has remained deeply devoted to their mission of creating transformative opportunities for women. Quality is at the center of all they do- from creating high quality products to providing a good quality of life for their employees. ABLE understands the power of economically empowered women in communities and their critical role in eliminating poverty around the world. While 95% of ABLE’s staff is comprised of females, women often hold the lowest-paid and least-secure jobs globally. ABLE is dedicated to ensuring that women receive the treatment and compensation they deserve. They invest in, train, and educate women so they can earn a living, break the cycle of poverty, and thrive.
ABLE’s commitment to making tangible and measurable differences in communities inspired them to develop their own evaluation system, ACCOUNTABLE. This internal system allows them to assess their manufacturing partners on safety, equality, and wages, giving them a better understanding of the impact of their supply chain on the women creating their products.
On a global scale, fashion is one of the largest industrial employers of women, yet 98% of fashion workers are not paid a livable wage. ABLE publishes their lowest wages in an effort to be transparent and to inspire other companies to do the same. They recognize the power consumers have to demand change from fashion brands and understand that transparency and accountability are the only ways to end poverty in the fashion industry. Through their transparency, ABLE has helped shape consumers’ values and expectations.
ABLE’s beautiful jewelry is all made in Nashville, and their leather goods, clothing, and shoes are made by manufacturing partners in Ethiopia, Mexico, Brazil, and India. They even have a podcast series that highlights the stories of several women who help run ABLE! Through their partnerships with local community leaders, ABLE has been able to inspire powerful economic transformation around the world.
We admire ABLE’s commitment to ethical business practices, their determined focus on the well-being of their employees, a growth mindset, and quality. Check out their story and their beautiful items and find out why we support this amazing company!
(All photos are from ABLE’s website and Instagram feed.)