At our November lunch, Colleen Clines, co-founder and CEO of Anchal Project, shared how the organization addresses the exploitation of women around the world by using design thinking to create employment opportunities, products and services that support economic empowerment.
Design thinking is a method for practical, creative problem-solving that starts with an end goal, unlike the scientific method, which begins by thoroughly defining the parameters of a problem to create a solution.
Clines discussed how the Anchal Project has created successful outcomes for a large number of disparate groups — training women in India to sew as they leave the sex trade, then helping them navigate the global fashion market and sell accessories in retail stores. She also offered insight into how design can become the tool for sustainable solutions to gender inequality, social injustice and environmental degradation.
Clines combines her passion as a social entrepreneur and impact designer in her work with Anchal. A Louisville native, she earned a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Kentucky, and a master’s in landscape architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design. During her time in graduate school, she initiated the founding of Anchal with three classmates after a trip to India.
Five years later, Anchal has offered more than 150 commercial sex workers alternative careers in textile design. Their products have been sold in Urban Outfitters nationwide and featured in Harper’s Bazaar. In 2013, Clines was named one of Public Interest Design's Top Global 100 designers. In collaboration with her sister, Maggie Clines, the Anchal Project was named a 2014 winner of Louisville’s LOTS of Possibility Competition for its newest project, dyeScape – a network of gardens in West Louisville that will support careers for women in natural dye production. Colleen also was honored in Louisville Business First’s 2016 40 Under 40 feature.