On Wednesday evening, Minka Kelly partnered with Nashville-based retailer FashionABLE to host a dinner in honor of Equal Pay Day, which falls on April 4 this year. The date symbolizes how far into this calendar year women have to work to earn the same amount as men did the previous year. That's 94 extra days!
To kick off Equal Pay Day, FashionABLE has launched a limited-edition red pebbled leather pouch ($68) and 100 percent pima cotton shirts ($36), both inscribed with the word "femini$t" and the "s" replaced with a "$" to further emphasize the initiative. The pieces are available at livefashionable.com.
The socially minded business was co-founded by Rachel and Barrett Ward in 2010 to help create jobs for women in Ethiopia who were previously part of the sex industry. The brand first started selling hand-woven scarves and has since grown to offer leather goods and handmade jewelry.
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After traveling with the couple to Ethiopia and Kenya in 2009, Kelly realized she had to get involved with FashionABLE. During the intimate dinner, held at Gracias Madre on Melrose Avenue, the actress shared that her late mother was involved in the sex industry. (Her mom died in 2008 from colon cancer.)
"I just knew it would be my honor and my duty to be part of creating jobs for these women," said the actress after meeting a group of women in Ethiopia who had chosen to leave the sex industry for a new life. "My mom didn't have that opportunity, so it's my way of honoring my mother." According to Barrett, the company started with three female employees and has since grown to 300.
This Is Us star Mandy Moore, Jane the Virgin alum Azie Tesfai, stylists Tara Swennen, Johnny Wujek, Ade Samuel, and Wayman and Micah were among those who came out to support FashionABLE's mission on Wednesday night. The gender pay gap has been an ongoing conversation in Hollywood, with Emmy Rossum, Jennifer Lawrence and Charlize Theron weighing in on the issue.
FashionABLE has also created a section on its website that is dedicated to helping women learn about the history of fighting for equal pay and how to ask for a raise. In September, the company plans to run a full-page ad in The New York Times that shows the wages of its female garment workers to challenge the industry to be more transparent and strive for equality.