Kimberly J Widener, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of WovenWell, a ‘profit for good’ business with a heart and a social conscience, has launched what will evolve into a global mental health initiative one community at a time. After years of involvement in non-profit organizations and extensive experience in the business world, Widener has taken time to reflect on many issues surrounding ‘giving’ and ‘aid’.
Through WovenWell, Widener strives to raise awareness about mental health issues on a global scale, as she envisions a world in which mental illness loses its stigma and is recognized as a serious issue that has an impact on all of us economically, politically, and socially. Her objective for WovenWell is for the company to achieve a business model where a substantial percentage of the profits will go back to funding the programs where the initiatives are taking place. Widener believes that enabling confidence, purpose, inclusion and hope for people who suffer from mental illness can break through the stigma so often associated with these conditions and work to integrate them into society in productive ways.
WovenWell’s efforts recognize addressing mental health issues globally, and working with organizations that assist in human rights and social justice advocacy, is critical to breaking the cycle of poverty and abuse. People who suffer from mental or neurological conditions are often cast aside by their families and communities, leaving them to languish at psychiatric hospitals and shelters. They are often homeless and left with little hope and motivation. WovenWell is removing the stigma addressing these challenging issues by sponsoring programs that mobilize patients, employ local residents and show the community that these people, who were once idle, are now productive. Our first stop on this journey is the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital in Ghana. With our funding, their vegetable garden is flourishing; producing income and nutrition for the hospital as well as pride and farming skills for its patients.
Her collaboration with textile and fashion designer Tamil Robinson inspired the direction of the profit for good model using artisan fabrics. Today, the WovenWell collection is made from these fabrics from Ghana, along with a complimentary capsule denim collection, and will be cut, sewn, and finished in the United States. Every purchase makes a difference, as 20% of the sales will give back to addressing substantial mental health needs. Widener says of her collaboration with Robinson, “Tamil's knowledge of textiles, structure and trends is evident in every silhouette he executes. As a designer, he is a perfect choice for the signature denim and intricate fabrics of WovenWell. The first time I met Tamil, I knew I wanted him to be a part of the line based on his personal style. Turns out he was head to toe in his own designs, including the bag he was carrying! He is an artist, just as the artisans who make our woven fabrics are artists."
Widener has already identified a list of soon to be announced programs in other nations with similar challenges as well as here in the United States.