It is our pleasure to introduce DeAnne Wingate, entrepreneur, designer, philanthropist and woman changing the world! Hear her story how she is designing beautiful clothes and her passion to end human trafficking.
What prompted you to leave your job and to go to India?
Thank you Grace for giving me the opportunity to share my story!
In 2010, I left a VP internet advertising role at Univision in NYC. I loved the company, but I knew there was a bigger purpose for my life. My heart started tugging me to leave a few years before, but I just wasn’t ready to leave my career. It took heart palpitations to wake me up and realize it was finally time to “look within”…
After detoxing from NYC in Mexico for a year, I was invited to move to India and work with girls forced into the sex slave trade. My mission ended up changing and I became focused on educating children in slum communities.
What did you learn from this life changing experience?
I lived in developing countries while in college, but nothing prepared me for the extreme poverty and complete rejection of the lowest caste in India. These people and children are treated like they are sub-human. There is no record of their birth. They live in the dirt along the most populated highways yet aren’t “seen”. It takes the story of the Good Samaritan to a whole new level.
Once I began living “love in action”, I realized deep within my soul we are all one. We are meant to look out for one another – especially for those without a voice.
My greatest lesson through this incredible journey has been the power of self-love in changing the world. It is only when I am compassionate with myself, patient and kind to myself, that I can share my light with others. Self-love is what magnifies my Inner Light.
I wrote an eBook “Finding Meaning: From the Inside Out” as a guide to help navigate this road less traveled. It takes courage to leave your comfort zone and follow your heart, but I learned first-hand that we have to live true to ourselves.
Tell us about Blessed Lotus…
Before I can talk about Blessed Lotus, I have to tell you about our nonprofit. Our mission came before the “solution”.
When I returned to the States after living in India in 2012, I knew I had to do something. I decided to start a nonprofit, Rippled Purpose, to bring education to marginalized children.
Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty, which fuels human trafficking, child labor, violence towards women, and so many other horrific injustices. Education has the power to bring peace to the world, especially when it comes to educating girls.
How did this lead to Blessed Lotus?
I chaired many fundraising events in my past life. But I wanted a creative and sustainable way to fund our mission. TOMS Shoes was paving the way for social entrepreneurship so I thought, why not replicate his model, but for women’s clothes. Thus, Blessed Lotus was born in 2012. Lotus is the flower of India and my goal is to bring blessings to the country.
I initially imported tunics from India and sold them across the US in trunk shows. Women loved the mission and felt empowered – they wanted to help change the world for children. I received fantastic feedback and decided to design my own line.
Tell us how our readers can also get fired up to change the world!
The research is out – we want to make a difference with our purchases. We want companies to put the heart in business. We want to work for those companies and prefer to buy from them.
Here’s the exciting part. According to MarketLine, the global women’s apparel market is a $621 billion industry! Imagine if every company started using proceeds to make a social impact? Eventually they will have to, or go out of business. That’s a reality.
The need is great in the world – but we can join together to make a considerable impact!
What is latest with Rippled Purpose?
The impact we have made since establishing Rippled Purpose in 2012 is mind blowing! We are touching the lives of over 200 impoverished children in India with our two programs.
Our children in Bangalore had never seen toys before coming to our NEST school. They played with sticks in the dirt. They had never tasted fruit. One child even sleeps in an outhouse at night. The stories are heart breaking…but there is such good news!
This month, we are shifting from a shack to a proper school in Bangalore, complete with classrooms, desks, chairs, and a playground! Our children had been sitting on the concrete floor, cramped together in the shack. Now we can divide them up by age in the 6 classrooms! Not to mention, they have their very own playground. I wish I could see the smiles on their faces when they venture out to play for the first time.
What a joy this mission is…and now, Blessed Lotus is going to help us reach more children!
This is quite a month. Blessed Lotus is now accepting preorders for our ponchos. They will be ready to ship by July 15th. Our ponchos are “Made in the USA” and proceeds fund our mission to bring education to children around the world. What a great message to share every time you wear your poncho!
And by the way, our ponchos are for women with curves and without, even maternity!
This is quite a story. I found out last May I was pregnant with my first child…and I was 5 months pregnant already! Thankfully, I already had samples made of the ponchos because they turned out to be fantastic maternity wear!
The 100% cotton is light weight – I call it “easy breezy”. The three hand dyed ombré combinations: Blue, Berry and Green Apple are brilliant summer splashes of color.
I wear them as a dress (I purchased a white cotton slip to go with them from American Apparel), paired with pants, leggings or over your favorite bathing suit. I wore them every day last summer!
Our heart and soul is embedded in our ponchos – they empower women to change the world for children with every purchase.
Tell us about Human Trafficking…
According to Wikipedia, human trafficking is the trade of people but not necessarily the moving of them from one place to another. It includes forced labor, sex slavery, child labor, forced marriage, and organ trafficking. Poverty fuels human trafficking, but education is the answer.
• Almost half of the 30 million “modern slaves” in the world are from India. (2013 Global Slavery Index)
• 1.3 million people in India are estimated in “forced labor” or “slavery” of manual scavenging of human waste making 1 rupee ($0.02) each day or just bread for the day. (International Dalit Solidarity Network)
• More than 85 million children worldwide are subject to the worst forms of child labor, including trafficking for commercial sex exploitation and hazardous physical labor. (World Vision)
You can find out more, including how education fights human trafficking, on our site RippledPurpose.com.
How can our readers help?
Knowledge is power. I was just reading today, if you purchase flowers from Ecuador for Mother’s Day, chances are high child labor was involved. Buy products you know have been made “fairly”.
It has been difficult to make informed purchase decisions but companies are popping up to create transparency. For example, The OpenLabel Project allows consumers and organizations to attach their own labels to products based on their findings. This is only the beginning.
It is so easy to get caught up in our own worlds. But we have to keep our eyes and ears open…we have to be ready to help those who are in desperate need. Love in action – every day.