Every year since 2006, Cartier hosts The Cartier’s Women’s Initiative, an international business competition designed to support social impact-driven businesses led and owned by women entrepreneurs. Meet one of the North American finalists, Stephanie Benadetto, a New Yorker that has created a new market place for unused fabric to help reduce water waste. Meet Stephanie Benedetto: the Queen of Raw.
—By Luisa Tarantino
Stephanie Benadetto created Queen of Raw, a marketplace that buys and sells unused textiles, keeping them out of landfills and making the world a less wasteful place. She seeks to address the problem of textile production being the second biggest polluter in the world, with one T-shirt taking 700 gallons of water to produce. As knowledge of sustainability becomes more mainstream, Queen of Raw tackles the culpability of the fashion industry: the fashion industry as a whole accounts for more than five percent of global carbon emissions, second only to oil and gas.
For Benedetto, this initiative is not just for herself, but for future generations. Sustainability ties into a better future, and it is imperative that we start considering how to save said future. “I’m doing this for my four-year old son and my new baby. I want them to have clean water to drink, clothes that aren’t toxic to wear, and a planet to live on,” Benedetto posits.
One can say that Benedetto is following in the tradition of her family. Her great grandfather, an Austrian immigrant, started a New York City textile business back in the 1890s, where he would find wasted garments and repurpose them by hand with minimal waste and toxins to resell to local customers. Indeed, Benedetto has modelled Queen of Raw on her grandfather’s business, having inherited the concern for sustainability from her family – one which she is now passing on to us. Her brother’s death further inspired her, instilling into her the knowledge that one shouldn’t take life for granted. “I am going to take full advantage of my time here to make the world a better place,” she says.
Her project is still in the developmental stage, but you can visit the Queen of Raw marketplace here.
Cartier recently announced the 21 finalists, selected among 1200 applicants from 162 countries, for the Cartier Women’s Initiative 2020, and the 7 laureates will be announced in early June 2020. This year, there are 3 incredible finalists from North America doing remarkable work in their respective fields.
The goal of the Women’s Initiative is to help these women reach their full potential, not only by shining light on their remarkable achievements, but also by providing them with the financial, social, and human capital needed to support and grow their businesses. The competition is open to business from any country that are run and owned by women in any sector that aims to have a strong sustainable social and environmental impact (as defined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals). Since its foundation in 2006, the Cartier Women’s Initiative has accompanied 240 promising women entrepreneurs hailing from 56 different countries, and awarded over $3 million in support to their businesses.
For Cyrille Vigneron, the President and CEO of Cartier International, the Women’s Initiative fully represents Cartier’s value as a brand. “At Cartier, we believe it is crucial to support young businesses and start-ups through to a more stable period. And this is what we intend to keep doing, fully aware that these women are making a concrete and durable impact, therefore paving the way for a better future.”