DALLAS, Dec. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Can some lingerie be just too hot? Ask Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Tara Smith, and she'll tell you yes, with a laugh.
The 27-year-old co-founder of Cherie Amie, a fair-trade intimate apparel company and the first of its kind to fund micro-loans with 100 percent of its profits, takes in good stride what others would probably consider tragic.
Smith returned from a six-week production trip to Cameroon with her entire apparel line in November—only to wake to the sound of smoke detectors and a furnace fire in her Texas house just four hours later.
She rescued her dog before rushing back into the house to recover roughly half of the intimate apparel for which she and co-founder Ryan Schuette had raised $15,250 with an Indiegogo campaign in August. The event made headlines and put the brakes on a highly anticipated Black Friday launch.
"After my dog, I could only think of the beautiful apparel that our artisans had hand-sewn over the course of more than a month," she says.
The two unveiled their online shop, CherieAmie.com, on Monday, more than a month after the fire and on Human Rights Day, which the United Nations uses to recognize rights conventions every year.
"We chose to unveil our intimate apparel and holiday discounts on a day meant to highlight the importance of universal rights, especially for women," Smith says. "Poverty subtracts from those rights by excluding, marginalizing, and depriving women of their voices all around the world."
The Returned Peace Corps Volunteer says that the team chose to benefit women with proceeds from intimate apparel because of the overwhelming number in poverty. According to UNIFEM, women make up nearly two-thirds of the world's poor and earned 17 percent less than men in 2008, with the financial crisis likely responsible for plunging some 22 million into unemployment globally.
"Women can help us change this reality for other women just by making purchases with Cherie Amie and looking sexy in our apparel," she adds.
According to its website, Cherie Amie fights poverty with a three-tiered business model. The company produces its original apparel in Cameroon, where it employs a team of artisans with fair wages in a safe and secure environment.
Under the Good Returns model, the company uses 100 percent of its profits to finance small loans for women entrepreneurs. It goes one step further by donating 10 percent of its net income to Peace Tree Africa, the nonprofit that Smith founded to finance development projects across sub-Saharan Africa.
The new retail store offers baby dolls, boxers, boy short panties, garters, and teddies, for starters, with more to come once Smith is able to return to Cameroon and work with artisans next year.
"We're so proud to showcase the work and talent of our artisans in Cameroon," Smith says. "If anything, the fire that destroyed our home and office lit a brighter one in our hearts, making us more determined than ever to empower women and relieve poverty with Cherie Amie."
About Cherie Amie
Cherie Amie combines sensual, high-end intimate apparel with the goals of a social enterprise uniquely dedicated to sustainable poverty relief and the empowerment of women. With start-up funding from an Indiegogo campaign, the company is the first fair-trade lingerie company to adopt the Good Returns business model, whereby it finances micro-loans for women with 100 percent of its end-of-year profits. Cherie Amie also funds development projects across sub-Saharan Africa by contributing to Peace Tree Africa, the 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit with which it partners to realize peace abroad. All intimate apparel sold by Cherie Amie is produced by artisans under fair conditions in Cameroon, West Africa.
About Good Returns
Founded by Salah Boukadoum, co-owner of Soap Hope, the Good Returns business model invites businesses of all types and sizes to participate in a movement to realize the power of microfinance and end extreme poverty. Under the model, businesses send their end-of-year profits to qualifying micro-lending nonprofit organizations that provide women with micro-loans and financial literacy training. The profits return to businesses after spending one year in service.
Media Contact: Ryan Schuette, Cherie Amie, 9403903729, email@example.com
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SOURCE Cherie Amie