Re-Invention has a slogan: “Gorgeous goods for good, as one-of-a-kind as you are!”
The slogan goes along with the personality of founder Kellie Guthrie; simple and complex at the same time. Meeting Guthrie is to step into a place reserved for those who believe you can solve problems like poverty from the inside.
Guthrie lives somewhere between the grim reality she faces with the women she helps and that place where a solution abounds. She used the word “eradicate” right from the start.
“Re-Invention’s mission is to eradicate poverty,” Guthrie said. “What I’ve discovered in my life is that poverty isn’t really a financial issue; it’s a spiritual issue. It’s something that is deep inside somebody. Re-Invention is making the commitment to help those in poverty, whether it’s cyclical or generational. We approach the problem from the inside. We empower these women to change things, and not just to accept things.”
Re-Invention’s headquarters is in an old firehouse minutes away from Montgomery’s north side, full of fabric rolls and gorgeous pieces of material donated to the center. Guthrie and a dedicated group of women sew and produce products for sale on their website and in markets in the city. These include handbags, pillowcases, ottomans and travel bags.
“The ladies that work here are from Montgomery, usually from the north side,” she said. “The way it’s set up over there, there are so many dead ends. Most of these people have never left a 5-mile radius of their home. This is where our social business helps. It’s founded on the traditional business model, but it’s mission based and it solves a problem. All net profits are reinvested back into the business.”
Guthrie grew up poor, and when she was able to climb out of poverty she made herself a promise to help those who are stuck in the vicious cycle.
“Why am I helping women? Because I believe women in poverty situations are definitely second-class citizens and looked down upon,” Guthrie said. “… I have been through a lot in my life, and I have experienced many of the things these women have.”
Re-Invention’s “gorgeous goods for good” is tackling poverty from the inside, but its most gorgeous and enduring products are not made of fabric.
For more, visit www.re-invention.org/.
Alabama Bright Lights captures the stories, through words, pictures and video, of some of our state’s brightest lights who are working to make Alabama an even better place to live, work and play. Award-winning journalist Karim Shamsi-Basha tells their inspiring stories. Email him comments, as well as suggestions on people to profile, at email@example.com.
Republished with permission of Alabama NewsCenter.