Helping Women Reach New Heights
As a family-run business, giving back to our community has always been at the heart of what we stand for. Melmira was founded 25 years ago with a vision of changing the way women experience lingerie in the fitting room. We wanted women to feel empowered as well as comfortable to try on things they might not normally consider. We wanted to help them see their bodies in a whole new way, and we wanted to become a part of their lives.
Melmira was first started by our mom, Melanie Heenan, and is now run by the four of us, her daughters. One evening, we were having dinner and reflecting on the journey Melmira has been on. We talked about what we have been most proud of and what we still want to create for the future. We realized that we have an opportunity now to make a significant impact both in our local community as well as internationally. We want to give back in the biggest way that we can, and so we have created The Melmira Foundation. Our goal is to help give women working in the textiles industry more opportunities through education, entrepreneurship and community development.
Our vision for the Foundation is to offer women around the world the ability to become more involved and empowered within the textiles industry. Whether it’s building a new business or helping an existing one grow, we believe that when we invest in women, that investment can be seen across their families, their communities and their countries.
In developing the Foundation mandate, we knew that we wanted to partner with an existing organization that was already supporting women working in textiles. We researched non-profits and charities, searching for one that aligned with our values. When we learned about FEM International we knew they were a perfect fit. FEM International believes in supporting ethical fashion and textiles by helping to create better working and living conditions for women, their families, their environments and their communities. They help women reach their potential as leaders and as entrepreneurs in their communities.
FEM International has many different projects on the go, both within Canada and around the world. One of their projects has been to create the first ethical fashion incubator in Canada, catalyzing more than 50 artisan makers and designers. Another project supports indigenous artists and makers in Columbia who are preserving their cultural traditions through weaving. FEM International believes it is important to create systemic change in an industry that is highly feminized, especially since the fashion industry affects women on both the production and the consumption side.
When we learned that 75% of workers in worldwide textiles are women, we knew this was an area where we could make a difference. Most bras are made from textiles often created in developing countries where women don’t have many options in front of them. We decided that for every bra we sell at Melmira, $1.00 would go toward supporting these women. We will support two projects every year, raising funds and awareness for the causes we believe in. We want our customers to know that they are contributing to the growth and well-being of women across the world.
Over the years, the main cause we have supported has been breast cancer, since so many of our clients and their families have been impacted by it. We will continue to support breast cancer initiatives, and yet we don’t have to stop there. We want to support women and their families around the world by improving their quality of life in whatever ways we can. We believe the future of so many communities can be improved by educating, supporting and empowering women to become entrepreneurial and self-sufficient. We want to support women in textiles by helping them learn new skills, develop their talents and build businesses that sustain the kind of world we all want to inhabit.
Giving back is both our responsibility and our honour. We believe The Melmira Foundation can make a difference in the lives of women because we owe it to ourselves and to each other to help women everywhere reach even higher.
We’re incredibly grateful that we are able to support these projects and we look forward to showing you the progress throughout the year. Follow our blog and social media (Facebook, Twitter & Instagram) for all updates!
To learn more about the Wayuu project, click here.
To learn more about FEM International, click here.