How Three Young Entrepreneurs Rebelled Against The Fashion Industry To Empower Other Women

"One of the most exciting things is just the fact that we get to change someone's life."

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Clairity is a series introducing readers to new fashion and beauty products from brands our host, Claire Peltier, believes in. These products not only help readers look and feel good, but have a positive impact on the world, the environment, and hopefully the user's self-image, too.

During their travels in Southeast Asia, three young women — Danute Rasimaviciute, Sandra Pangonyte, and Akvile Meskauskaite — discovered some alarming truths about the fashion industry they couldn't ignore. 

As 20-somethings, they were often buying from fast fashion brands that don't provide garment workers fair living wages. Not wanting to support such unethical industry practices, they decided to launch their own collection of sustainable knitwear called The Knotty Ones, which employs stay-at-home moms in Lithuania. 

I met Rasimaviciute, a former A Plus employee, a few years ago and couldn't help but notice her effortlessly cool style. To learn more about her brand, I visited her New York City apartment this month to chat about what it takes to launch a business, and why it's so important to be a socially conscious consumers. 

Rasimaviciute told me she and the other co-founders had the opportunity to speak with garment workers in Asia prior to launching their own business. "Around 85 percent of garment workers worldwide are women, and fast fashion companies tend to go to those companies that have very poor legislation systems that allows [them] to exploit garment workers," she explained.

But The Knotty Ones is different — Rasimaviciute, Pangonyte, and Meskauskaite, all originally from Lithuania, hoped to empower women at home by offering them jobs in areas where those opportunities are lacking. The knitters hand-sew all of their sweaters, from their gorgeous Tommy Cardigans to their Heartbreaker Sweaters and more. Plus, they use sustainable fabrics from sustainable suppliers, which is better for the environment, and ensures the garments will have a much longer lifespan than something from a fast fashion brand. 

The Heartbreaker Sweater, for example, is made from 65 percent wool and 35 percent alpaca. "Please note that all items are knitted by hand by our kick-ass knitters and therefore each item is unique," it says on The Knotty Ones website.

"One of the most exciting things is just the fact that we get to change someone's life," Rasimaviciute told me. "We're really trying to challenge the fashion industry in general — we want to make sustainable clothes cool. Second of all, we want to challenge businesses as well. There are so few businesses started by women and we are three young women that actually started their own business, and we employ other women, and we make clothes for women, so it's really women supporting other women. And that's extremely empowering." 

With that being said, you'll not only look cool wearing The Knotty Ones, but you'll feel cool about helping others, too.

"We always try to look young and cool, highlighting the fact that we're the girls breaking any rules and challenging the industry. And it's OK to challenge the industry. It's OK to break those rules." 

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