Made For A Woman’s inclusive project: a discussion with Eileen Akbaraly

Fashion, Interview, Top Stories

Made For A Woman’s inclusive project: a discussion with Eileen Akbaraly


Dedicating yourself to women and their care is at the heart of Made For A Woman’s inclusive project. Where did the idea come from?

I always knew, ever since I was very young, that eventually I would find a way to combine my interest in fashion with my desire to improve the quality of life of marginalized people, especially women, in Madagascar – one of the poorest countries in the world, despite having a wealth of resources, biodiversity, and potential. Growing up in Madagascar was an incredibly eye-opening experience, as were my first work experiences in the textile and fashion sectors, which showed me the need for more equitable, responsible and sustainable change in the industry.

Therefore, from the very beginning, Made For A Woman was conceived and structured as a social entrepreneurship project that could truly and effectively give back to the local communities, creating transformative change through an innovative and scalable business model. The reason behind our focus on women empowerment is linked to the fundamental role that women play in our society: studies show that they reinvest almost everything they make in their communities, effectively turning into agents of change – supporting a woman means supporting, in turn, her family, her community, and the development of her country as a whole. 

The processing of Raphia is part of the Malagasy artisan tradition. Does sustainability today also mean systematizing past cultures and innovative protocols?

Learning from traditional practices and techniques is fundamental; at the same time, however, we invest heavily in research and development in order to become more efficient and systematize our own practices and protocols. 

We aim at striking a balance between tradition and innovation, preserving the historical legacy of weaving raphia – a fundamental part of the Malagasy culture and daily life – and turning it into exciting, contemporary, and chic artisanal couture for an international audience. 

Tell us about a typical day in your atelier in Antananarivo. How did the idea of an area dedicated to children come about?

Our atelier welcomes over 350 artisans, mostly women from marginalized backgrounds, such as single mothers, survivors of gender-based violence, sex workers, former prisoners, people with disabilities, and more. We strive to create a complete “ecosystem” that can provide each and every one of them with everything they need to thrive: from health care to social services, mental health support, literacy and education, formation courses, financial literacy, zero discrimination policies, fair living wages, everything comes together to create a safe space where each individual can feel empowered and supported as they work towards a better future for themselves and for the whole fashion industry. 

The childcare area was a natural extension of our approach: not only does it allow women to work even though they have young children, knowing that they are safe and well taken care of, but it also allows children to grow up in a safe environment where their needs are prioritized and respected, where they can learn, play, and be carefully tended to by our specialized personnel.

You ,Georgette, Hary, Henriette and the others. How did your women’s group come together? What unites you?

When I started Made For A Woman in 2019, I worked with a dozen women – each with her own history, aspirations, objectives and dreams. I have learned a lot from their experiences, resilience and strength, and as our project grew, I had the privilege of watching them discover their potential, achieve their goals and become the best version of themselves. 

Our team now includes over 350 people: I still know each of them by name, I know their families, their stories, their dreams, their struggles…We have a real connection, and that’s the thing I’m proudest of. 

Even though we come from different backgrounds, we have more things in common that you might think – after all, we are all human, and we all want the same things in life: to be listened to, to be able to express ourselves, to be safe, to be happy, and to be part of something greater than ourselves. 

How would you describe your sustainability protocol?

Our impact strategy plays a fundamental role in our business model, and follows the principles included in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the International Labor Organization’s best practices, as well as the World Fair Trade Organization’s guiding principles, which allowed us to become WFTO-verified in 2022. 

Our strategy revolves around five main axes, each equally important: governance, social impact, community impact, economic impact, and environmental impact. Each of these elements combines to provide a unique and powerful framework that allows us to maximize our impact and effectiveness. 

Does the recent collaboration with Chloè open up a new way of interacting between large fashion houses and new, global realities like yours?

We are especially proud of our second capsule collection in collaboration with Chloé, which is a B-Corp organization and a true trailblazer for responsible fashion at the highest level. 

At the same time, we have been very pleased to note an increase in the number of large fashion houses who are now willing to focus and invest on innovative projects like Made For A Woman, recognizing the intrinsic value, potential and importance of our integrated, sustainable approach. 

We are excited by what this means for the future, not only for Made For A Woman, but for the global fashion industry, who finds itself at a crossroads – we believe that choosing transparency and authenticity is the only way forward to weave a more responsible, inclusive and equitable future for fashion.



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