Cherie Amie Kicks Off 'Do-Good' Lingerie with Indiegogo Campaign
Ten months after designing lingerie to lift women out of poverty, Cherie Amie co-founders Ryan Schuette and Tara Smith celebrated their Indiegogo drive to raise $15,000 with a small crowd in late August.
Their 45-day crowd-funding campaign—which included a lingerie launch party, three fundraising soirees, two live-stream boudoir photography shoots, and late-night emails to friends and family—ended at 12 a.m. Pacific Standard Timewith a dramatic 48-hour rally to $15,250.
"We're so thrilled to complete our Indiegogo campaign for 'do-good' lingerie," says Smith, 27, Cherie Amie CEO and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. "Thanks to our wonderful backers, Cherie Amie will be able to create fair-trade apparel, provide jobs to women in Africa, and fund micro-loans for countless others in extreme poverty all around the world."
Ninety-four funders ultimately joined the campaign to raise startup capital for Cherie Amie. The average person gave $162, with nine contributing more than once and 23 choosing to give anonymously. Many came from across the United States, with others from as far as Australia, Canada, Germany, Niger, and Poland.
Four backers—Samantha Clark, Austin Lilley, Lin Woodson, and one anonymous donor—contributed funds in exchange for the entire lingerie line from Cherie Amie. Other funders chose perks that range from their choice of intimate apparel to a 2013 wall calendar that features The Fair Ladies, four all-volunteer models from the Dallas area.
Of their many supporters, however, Schuette and Smith consider Dallas-area boudoir photographer Carole Hayes, founder of Shot by Carole, one of the most indispensable to their cause. The first person to backCherie Amie, both online and offline, she helped recruit two of The Fair Ladies, shot and edited all photography, and arranged for shoots in high-rises across Dallas, including the penthouse that appears in Cherie Amie's iconic 37-second teaser video.
"Ryan and Tara have hearts of gold," Hayes says. "They're two of the most determined people I've ever known, and will make sure Cherie Amie changes the world, one pair of panties at a time. Beautiful lingerie combined with helping women and their families out of poverty—who can resist a concept like that? I couldn't!"
Even with volunteers like Hayes, the road to Indiegogo wasn't always straightforward for Cherie Amie. From their office in Dallas, Smith found herself sourcing apparel and coordinating quality control with seamstresses and Peace Corps Volunteers in francophone Cameroon, a logistically challenging operation that required financial investments from the founders and played out over several months.
Now—with roughly $14,000 behind her company—Smith will return to Cameroon in September to personally oversee the production of their apparel line with their first group of artisans. She will return with baby dolls, boxers, panties, and teddies in November, with plans to unveil the line on CherieAmie.com, their online store, before Black Friday.
"For Ryan and me, it all goes back to our time in Africa and the women we met there," Smith says. "After starting our own, separate nonprofits, we realized that we wanted to create an exciting opportunity for women to empower women, just with their intimate apparel purchases.
"And thanks to our 94 backers, we will," she adds.
About Cherie Amie
Cherie Amie combines sensual, high-end intimate apparel with the goals of a social enterprise uniquely dedicated to sustainable poverty relief and the empowerment of women. Started by two Africa aficionados over a bottle of wine, the company is the first fair-trade lingerie company to adopt the Good Returns business model, whereby it finances micro-loans for women with 100 percent of its end-of-year profits. Cherie Amie also funds development projects across sub-Saharan Africa by contributing to Peace Tree Africa, the 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit with which it partners to realize peace abroad. All intimate apparel sold by Cherie Amie is produced by artisans under fair conditions in Cameroon, West Africa.
The Limited Liability Company will begin to sell intimate apparel online at CherieAmie.com come November.
About Good Returns
Founded by Salah Boukadoum, co-owner of Soap Hope, the Good Returns business model invites businesses of all types and sizes to participate in a movement to realize the power of microfinance and end extreme poverty. Under the model, businesses send their end-of-year profits to qualifying micro-lending nonprofit organizations that provide women with micro-loans and financial literacy training. The profits return to businesses after spending one year in service.
About Shot by Carole
Founded by visionary Carole Hayes, Shot by Carole provides women and couples in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with artistic, sensual boudoir photography. Called the "queen of angles" by famed pin-up photographerRobert Alvarado, she uses her unique photographic eye to show women just how beautiful they are in a fun, empowering boudoir experience