The Cartier Women's Initiative's 21 Finalists Are Here — & They're As Inspiring As You'd Expect

by Danielle Naer
Courtesy of Cartier

One of the largest fashion-funded competitions between female entrepreneurs has just announced its shortlist — and the candidates are as strong as you'd expect. Each year, for the past 14 years, the Cartier Women's Initiative selects 21 enterprises (in the fashion industry and beyond) with socially conscious roots, using their business models to solve problems and close white spaces in their global community. This year, Cartier's awarding more than $1 million to female entrepreneurs through the initiative, including several subsequent cash prizes for winners at the laureate and runner-up levels.

With finalists from North America, Oceania and everywhere in between, there are tons of female-led businesses to sort through — all with equally inspiring missions. Based right in New York, Stephanie Benedetto's fabric marketplace, Queen of Raw, is buying and selling unused textiles, helping the fashion industry move the needle towards "zero-waste" status by keeping fabric out of landfills. A way's away in Australia, Joanne Howarth's business, Planet Protector Packaging, is manufacturing eco-friendly insulated packaging, made from discarded sheep wool, for transporting temperature-sensitive goods.

Courtesy of Cartier Women's Initiative

The 7 laureate winners will be announced after June 1, which will secure vital funding for the well-intentioned businesses. The initiative's impact in past years has been steadily documented — since its inception in 2006, more than 7,000 jobs at over 240 companies have been created as a result, fueling economies in over 56 countries. Past laureates include brands like Le Souk (previously Source4Style), which acts as an online interface for designers and suppliers to connect on and source natural, sustainable materials for their brands.

For Cartier, this initiative is consistent with everything the brand does — the maison has long been a leader in global stewardship, through arts, the environment, and beyond. Its famous museum in Paris, the Fondation Cartier, strives to amplify voices of artists, scientists and thought leaders alike to provide the world with a broad, constantly-evolving cultural lens. Its dedication to sustainability is one and the same, serving as an active member of the Responsible Luxury Initiative (ReLI) since 2009. By promoting the next generation of female business owners, Cartier's unerring dedication to its global community continues, with no plans of slowing down any time soon.

Keep eyes on the initiative's site in the months ahead for winners.