Empowering Women Through Professional Fashion.
About this project
“Clothes aren’t going to change the world. The women who wear them will.” ― Anne Klein
ethreeone. (e31. for short) is a social venture that empowers women through professional fashion. We provide professional women with a convenient and innovative fashion solution through our made-to-measure emPower Suits. In addition, we provide our clients the opportunity to make a positive social impact simply by purchasing from our brand through our e31. Promise.
The concept of e31. stemmed from a personal problem that founder of e31., Brina Martens, experienced as a young female business student. Brina found it incredibly difficult to shop for affordable professional clothing, while not compromising on trendiness and proper fit. Brina realized that despite coming in more shapes and sizes, there are fewer options for women to purchase made-to-measure clothing than there are for men. As such, proper fit is something that women constantly have to settle on when it comes to current off-the-rack solutions.
Having talked to both aspiring and professional women, Brina realized that she was not the only one to face this problem and in fact a business like e31. was in high demand. Through several conversations, the idea of e31. became more refined which ultimately led to e31.’s current innovative and convenient professional fashion solution. Now with the business idea of e31., Brina wrestled back and forth in her final year of her degree in deciding to pursue a conventional, corporate career path versus taking the path of most resistance: entrepreneurship. However, in learning about the inhumane treatment of vulnerable women in developing countries and the tremendous opportunity that businesses have to provide systemic solutions for social injustices, Brina finally found her “why” to pursue e31.
In early 2016, Brina embarked on her first business trip to her mother country of China, in hope of finding the right supplier for e31. During this trip, Brina was able to go back to her birth city of Changshu and visit her orphanage. Not only was this an incredible moment, it also happened to be on Brina’s 20 year adoption anniversary. Brina discovered that Changshu is known as the “garment town in China” – affirming her destiny to launch a clothing line. It was at the intersection of commerce, community and compassion, where e31. was born.
It is e31.’s belief that women should never have to settle when purchasing their professional wardrobe items. In addition, proper-fitting professional attire should be affordable for all females, no matter what stage they are at in their professional journey.
The emPower Suit.
e31.’s first product launch consists of a 3-piece or 2-piece, made-to-measure suit set, known as our ‘emPower Suits’. Our emPower Suits are currently offered in a polyester blend or wool blend and are available in five versatile colors of: black, burgundy, dark grey, light grey and navy blue depending on fabric choice. Our designs are custom tailored to our client’s personal measurements and the option for personalized embroidery is available on the inner pocket of the blazer. This special touch adds to our clients understanding that their emPower Suit was made specifically for them and no one else.
About the Design.
Co-designed by Bonita Bai and Brina Martens, the goal of this first design was to achieve a classic yet bold look.
e31. will be naming each emPower Suit design after a women that they believe embodies what e31. stands for: integrity, resilience, excellence, ambition and empowerment. These individuals have inspired other women within their communities, including the e31. core team.
e31. is so excited to name its very first design: The Immaculate emPower Suit, named after Immaculate Nattembo.
Immaculate grew up orphaned, abused, HIV+ as well as a teenage single mom in Uganda. At the age of 22, Immaculate was the youngest vulnerable women to join the Living Hope program. Three years later, Immaculate now lives empowered and is working towards her goal of pursuing a medical degree. During Brina’s trip to Uganda, Immaculate’s heart breaking, but more importantly, inspiring story of redemption impacted Brina tremendously as the two are close in age. We believe Immaculate personifies the the essence of what e31. stands for and continues to motivate Brina in her work with e31., knowing there are other “Immaculate’s” out there.
As mentioned, e31. is a social venture in that we are a for-profit business that aims to achieve a sustainable, social objective. For us, that social objective is the empowerment of vulnerable women and children, both locally and around the world. This is where our e31. Promise comes in.
We empower women in North America by dressing them in layers of confidence to: look the part, feel the part, so that they can confidently be the part.
e31. provides a second form of empowerment through our e31. Promise: for every suit that is sold, our clients get to donate $31 from their emPower Suit proceeds, to one of our ePartners of their choice. This creates a channel for our clients to help empower vulnerable women and children in Canada and other countries around the world through the simple and necessary act of purchasing professional attire.
At e31., we believe that if already-established not-for-profits/charities were to be poured into through partnerships such as this, an impact with greater reach and higher quality can be achieved. This is why we have chosen to operate as a for-profit company – it allows us to focus our efforts on the business side and allow our ePartners to focus on the social impact work that they are designed to deliver.
Not only will our clients feel excited about their new e31. emPower Suit, they will also feel good knowing that their purchase has made a positive social impact.
How Will Funds Be Used?
Backing our project funds the first round of production of The Immaculate emPower Suit. In order to keep our retail prices affordable for you, we will be using the funds to buy greater quantities of raw materials (rolls of fabric, buttons, labels) and packaging, which will ultimately lower the cost of goods sold per suit. Any extra funds will go towards more fabric sourcing, fabric testing and higher duty taxes than expected. Any extra funds after that will go towards the product development of our second design of the emPower Suit! (:
In addition to launching our very first design: The Immaculate emPower Suit, your pledge helps sustain income for our tailors who make our suits by hand.
“If there ever comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never known.” ― Matthew Arnold
Risks and challenges
Achieving Perfect Fit.
As amazing as made-to-measure clothing is, it is also a very difficult model which is why most fashion brands continue to use predetermined sizes for their garments. In addition, we as women come in multiple shapes and sizes that include more curves! (: This makes achieving perfect fit, on the first try, very difficult and is also why most current made-to-measure suit companies strictly do men’s.
Having said this, e31. is not afraid to take on this challenge as we believe that women deserve to be offered this solution and again, should not have to settle when it comes to fit. In addition, we have put together a thorough measuring guide that should result in perfect fit (if measured accordingly to instructions) as we have worked closely with our very experienced tailors who have seen where the measuring process has gone wrong in the past.
Our alteration policy is that if your suit does not fit according to the measurements that you gave us, we will pay for your alterations up to $50 CAD at your local tailor. In order to be reimbursed for your alterations, you must submit a photo of your receipt and tell us how many cm’s your garments were off by.
We tell our clients that the turn around time is 2-3 weeks and we have done several test orders that have been delivered on time. However, we have quickly learned that not all things happen according to our timing, especially when dealing with a global supply chain. As we cannot predict the exact number of orders that will come in at any given point (despite strategically timing the awards and therefore, orders), we will still do our best to ensure all orders are on time. Having said all this, please bare with us if they don’t! I promise you we are doing our best and we will ensure that you are being updated with the progress of your order! (