Undies with Dignity
"Underwear, panties, knickers, drawers, intimates, lingerie... whatever you call them (I call them undies), they’re probably the most important part of your wardrobe. Even though you've probably been taking them for granted.
Fortunately for most of us, we don't have to think about it. We just slip on a new pair every morning - depending on our mood - and conquer the day. However, for many women - even in this country - who deal with domestic violence, homelessness, or crisis, a pair of new undies can't be at the top of the priority list.
That's why MADI Apparel has stepped up the “buy-one-give-one” game… drastically. You buy a pair of their gorgeous and comfortable - made-in-the-US undies, a woman in a domestic violence shelter, homeless shelter, or rape crisis center receives a brand new pair. The purchase can include any of their intimates, like sleep tops and shorts, robes, and beautiful lace bralettes. Your simple purchase of an everyday necessity helps give a woman in need something that is rarely, if ever, donated.
“Folks donate used clothing and household goods to shelters, but underwear is the only item that can't be donated used, so it's rarely ever donated but much needed,” explains creator and CEO of MADI Apparel, Hayley Besheer. “My path and my passion became clear.”
Inspired by TOMS shoes and their mission, Hayley set her own mission to empower women. MADI Apparel, which stands for Make a Difference Intimate Apparel, uses women-owned cut and sew teams. The undies and garments are eco-friendly and made out of viscose from bamboo. The high-end fabric is self wicking, anti-microbial, and quick drying. This is perfect because it can be hand washed and dried overnight, which is important when you can’t just pull another pair of undies from the drawer.
They aren't just a do-good mission brand ladies - these things are heaven! I am so in love with the sleep top and shorts, and the robe. The fabric is soft, easy to live in, and makes me feel pretty. I didn't want to take it off, making it the perfect outfit for a lazy Sunday. It also held up well to a wash and tumble! SO much so that brand CEO said:
“On the flip side, we lose out on some repeat business because the underwear last so long.”
If you're like me, I choose whatever I'm wearing underneath my outfit just as carefully as I choose my outfit of the day. The mood has to match or else it doesn't feel right. That's why Hayley didn’t want to give women just one style or one bland color of undies to choose from. In fact, she often hosts “shopping parties” at the locations the underwear is donated to, where women can choose the size, style, and color they prefer. She wanted to make them feel empowered, confident, and secure.
“After all, underwear is a woman’s most intimate article of clothing. No one else may know what she’s wearing, but she knows. So, it’s really important she feels confidence from that very first layer.”
Hayley doesn’t simply ship out a box of undies to the organizations, she does everything she can to personally hand deliver the goods. MADI doesn’t just focus on at-risk women in America, but women across the globe. Through trips sponsored by generous donors, Hayley and the MADI team were able to hand-deliver donated MADI undies in Cuba, Ecuador, and Haiti.
“We're hoping to get to Africa next as we've received many requests from multiple organizations over the last few years. Every time we add a new boutique carrying the brand, we donate to their local shelter for women.”
And MADI Apparel isn't just satisfied with donating undies. Through the non-profit arm of MADI Apparel, MADI Donations, Hayley branched out to create the social enterprise MADI Makes. The goal? To teach at-risk people important skills to get and keep a job, to help them build a better life, to break the cycle of homelessness and unemployment, and to help women become more self-sufficient.
“We hope to help train women, empower them, and provide them with the skills they need for employment and long-term financial success. No more treating just the symptoms with a band-aid, we hope to close the loop and treat the cause.”
Look out for the tiny, yet chic, Mobile MADI Apparel Boutique. The newly launched vintage Canned Ham Camper lets the company take their mission on the road. They have MADI Mobile pop-ups scheduled for the summer and fall. So west coast, be on the lookout!
In October, MADI Donations and MADI Makes will bring their 'Runway to Impact' gala fundraiser back. This year, the gala will feature a special VIP reception, silent auction, runway show, live performances, a graffiti artist, and much more. Stay tuned to their Instagram for more details!
“The women have told me time and time again, ‘It’s not just underwear, it’s dignity.’”