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Harper Poe, Founder of Proud Mary (INTERVIEW)

Socially Responsible Textiles

— January 17, 2012 — Social Good
Below you'll find our interview with Harper Poe, the creative social entrepreneur behind Proud Mary, a socially responsible textile company.

Harper launched the social business with a friend who was equally exhausted by the 9-5 grind. After returning from a trip to South America in 2008, the two were inspired and ready to make a difference. As it describes on the company website:

“Proud Mary believes in design that solves problems. We create unique, handcrafted patterned goods that are made in a socially and ecologically responsible manner.”

We've already profiled Proud Mary. Now it's time to learn more about Harper, where the business idea came from, and her passion for Pinterest!

4 Questions with Harper Poe, founder of Proud Mary

1. How did the idea for the business model come about?
I started Proud Mary with a friend in New York in late 2007. Her and I were both disenchanted with our New York 9 to 5 jobs and started bouncing around ideas. We were lucky to be passionate about similar things -- design and development work -- so we just kept plugging away. We reached out to several organizations that work with global artisans to help connect us to our first group of weavers and we were lucky that Nest had just started working in Guatemala, so we all went there together and started work on our first collection. I think once you have a goal in focus things sort of fall into place.

2. How did you decide to join this sector?
I had no idea what a social business was when I was writing my business plan in 2007. I just knew that I wanted to combine my love of travel, design and textiles while somehow giving back and helping in a small way to tackle larger issues. Three years in and I'm so happy to be a part of this growing sector. Consumers are asking more questions about how and where their products are made. I want to be as transparent as possible about our process and always approach our relationships with artisan partners as a business relationship. In my opinion, the best way to support our developing country artisans and their families is to help them help themselves by purchasing high quality goods at a fair price.

3. How do you get your inspiration?
Travel, fashion, vintage textiles, indigenous clothing... print and pattern inspiration is everywhere!

4. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
I wear a lot of hats as a small business owner, so a week will go by where I don't do any creative work. If I need to reset back into creative mode I'll dive into design blogs and Pinterest. Getting excited about other people's work makes me pumped up to work on my own!