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A local designer uses underwear to give back to women in need.
In 2009 Vancouver designer Satie Shottha started designing scarves and leggings and then moved into lingerie, creating what is now the successful Kaia Lingerie line.
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Made from eco-friendly fabrics right here in Vancouver, the line of feminine but functional underwear is a fusion of modernity and age old traditions. The panties come in a gorgeous array of vibrant hues from violet and turquoise, to yellow and orange, inspired by chakra colours that are believed to incite positive energy such as strength and courage.
Satie’s designs have become popular with Canadian fashionistas and this year Bollywood stars such as Preity Zinta, Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra will be donning her wares at the 2011 International Indian Film Festival in Toronto. However, it seems that along with a passion for fashion, it’s big dreams and a strong sense of social responsibility that drives this talented businesswoman.
Something as small as underwear brightens up the lives of women in need. (Image: Kaia Lingerie)
Satie—who has dreams of setting up a factory and school in India to help young, disadvantaged women create a better life for themselves—was walking in Vancouver when she had an epiphany.
“I was walking downtown and there was a homeless woman in front of me, she dropped something and when she knelt to pick it up, I saw that she wasn’t wearing underwear. It was sad to see that.”
Immediately Satie felt compelled to help women right here in Vancouver.
“I realized we get so busy with our own lives that sometimes we don’t see what’s around us, but this really opened my eyes,” she says.
Satie made some calls and eventually was put in touch with the Carnegie Outreach Centre in Vancouver. Not wanting to simply drop off a box full of underwear, Satie asked if she could come to the centre and give out the designer panties herself. “I wanted to be part of it,” she explains, “I wanted to meet the women.”
At the centre she met hundreds of women who were going through incredibly tough times, and she gave away at least 150 pairs of panties to these women. Satie says she was always humbled by the reactions she witnessed from the women she met.
“They are so grateful, so happy. They say ‘It’s like people don’t see us.”’
For women on the street, nothing is taken for granted. (Image: Flickr / Jhayne)
While it’s an unconventional form of charity, the panties have brought dignity and happiness, if only fleeting, to women who are struggling to get from one day to the next.
In some instances, meeting Satie and experiencing her generosity took the women out of their dark world to a place where they could dream again. Satie was touched when one of the women told her, “I have a dream that one day I will make a difference too.”
For every pair of Kaia underwear sold, Satie donates one pair to disadvantaged women in India. It’s like a “buy one, get one free” promotion… but infinitely better.
When I ask Satie what her plans are for the future, she laughs and says she has big dreams, lots of them. She talks of designing children’s and men’s underwear too, but no matter what she says she will continue to give back.
“My plan is to donate for as long as I can, forever, if I can.”