Walk through the door of A Beautiful Refuge (ABR) and you’ll be greeted by the sounds of ink swishing across silk screens, the whir of sewing machines, and lots of laughter. This eco-friendly screen-printing and sewing workshop, located just outside of Manila in the Philippines, is a place of joy and hope for women who have overcome excruciatingly difficult circumstances. And you can’t help being swept up in the positive vibe as the ladies in the shop tease each other or belt out Ed Sheeran’s latest hit.
A Beautiful Refuge is less than a year old, but is already making incredible progress in providing full-time, sustainable work for Filipina women who have been affected by commercial sexual exploitation; while embodying environmentally responsible principles throughout the production process. ABR believes that the best products are good for everyone involved – from the factory to the checkout line.
A Beautiful Refuge is an extension of a non-profit resource center for women and children in crisis. Pervasive poverty and high unemployment in the Philippines leave children and young women particularly vulnerable to trafficking, malnutrition, and homelessness.
For the past nine years, this non-profit has provided quality maternal care and childbirth services, educational opportunities and scholarships, emergency shelter services, and supportive housing and aftercare services for women and children in vulnerable positions. Now, through partnership with ABR, they’re able to provide sustainable employment for women who need it.
Mandy, our Co-Founder and CEO, recently spent time visiting A Beautiful Refuge and getting to know the women behind the business, as well as working with them on our collaboration: Our limited edition “I won’t sit down, shut up, or behave” tank. There are less than 30 tank tops available on our site!
Every step of the design and printing of this tank was done with love in the Philippines. Elle, the brilliant artist behind many of the cute illustrations and quotes you’ve seen on our Instagram, is based in the Philippines, and the quote printed on your tank began as ink on her paintbrush.
We chose the quote “I won’t sit down, shut up, or behave” for this collaboration because we believe that the fiery, determined attitude encapsulated by these words is exactly what is needed for the important work of minimizing sexual exploitation: women taking a stand against injustice even when we’re told we’re too loud, even if we make someone feel uncomfortable with our candor, even when we’re told to back down.
The next step after Elle’s designs are digitized and ready to go? Printing the design in the A Beautiful Refuge shop! Several of the women currently employed as sewers and seamstresses used to work within the fast-fashion garment manufacturing industry, making less than $10 a day. At A Beautiful Refuge, they make twice the salary that other social enterprises are paying, ensuring that they can save up for their future goals (sending their children to college, opening their own small business, or buying their own home) in addition to having income to live on. Due to the nature of the printing process, each tank is slightly different.
We love the way these tanks turned out, and hope that you will too! Your purchase supports sustainable employment for survivors through the printing of the shirts. In addition, $5 of each shirt will be donated to A Beautiful Refuge to support their screenprinting workshop! Shop the special edition tank top here.