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#IWD: Learn how gender equality inspired our brand's foundation. 🌎💪🏼💪🏾💪🏿

Posted on March 07 2019

#IWD: Learn how gender equality inspired our brand's foundation. 🌎💪🏼💪🏾💪🏿


Women's Rights activists, such as Gloria Steinem, Judith Bruce, Jaha Dukureh and Yasmeen Hassan wears our FEARLESS Cashmere Shawl. 

Happy International Women’s Day from ROUND + SQUARE! This year, IWD’s campaign theme is #BalanceForBetter, celebrating the importance and presence of gender equality and how far the issue has come, while also pointing out that we are still a long way to achieve a gender-balanced world. 

As we talk about gender equality, we'd like to take a look back into ROUND + SQUARE’s rots and foundation, and explain how we communicate the importance of equality for women and girls around the world through sustainable fashion. After all, how can we preach for equality, when we don’t care about those manufacturing our clothes? 

Read below what our Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Henriette Ernst, has to say about her inspiration and journey to create a meaningful fashion brand, and how gender equality played such a crucial role in the process.



Founder & CCO, Henriette Ernst, wear our FEARLESS Cashmere shawl in black and white.


When I started ROUND + SQUARE, I knew I wanted to take my time to create something the right way. That’s why I developed my mantra, designed with passion and driven by values. Fashion is fun and creative, but it can also be empowering and inspiring. Meaningful fashion exists, and we are here to prove it is possible.

We embrace “playful communication” through our designs and messaging. Our Girl Power tee offers joyful messages of hope, while our cashmere shawls communicate fearlessness, freedom and the empowerment of girls around the world. We donate 10% of sales profits to Equality Now Org., which is a non-profit that works to change the laws to fight for the rights of women and girls.

I knew for many years that I wanted to start my brand and that I didn’t want to follow everyone else’s steps. Fashion is so powerful and has done fantastic work to help so many important causes, but not a lot for women specifically. Working in the industry for over 20 years I saw first-hand the abuses women faced in fashion as well – from the models to the workers and so on. 

Not to mention that the cotton used to create those “female empowering” tees harm so many women and girls, especially since conventional cotton pickers are predominantly females. According to a 2011 study in Pakistan, cotton pickers complain of dizziness, muscular pain and suffocation due to pesticides poisoning. Aside from being underpaid compared to male workers, thousands of female workers become victims of various health hazards due to the poor environmental management system, and lack of information.

I needed to make something that reflects my values and the causes I care for. So, after meeting with Yasmeen Hassan, the Global Executive Director of Equality Now, I was given the push I needed to create that lifestyle brand. Inspired by the life-changing work Equality Now does for women and girls around the world, their messages and words help to transform the designs I create into conversation-starting statement pieces.

Of course, to change our system and achieve equality, we need the law, lawyers and the lawmakers to step up. Here in America for example, the Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Senate on March 22, 1972, and IT STILL hasn’t been ratified.

If I’m going to use my expertise and platform to make a difference, I will do it right. In every step, from the moment the cotton is farmed to when we fulfill an order, we are conscious of our supply chain and the impact we are having on both the environment and the people behind it. This is why we chose our suppliers with careful consideration of their environmental and labor standards. For example, our tees are made with GOTS certified organic cotton, guaranteeing the highest ethical, social and labor standards.

When it comes to our accessories, for example, I chose to produce our bandanas and shawls in Italy with Canepa. They invented a printing process that cuts down water and toxin use by 95 percent, called SAVEtheWATER, Kitotex project, and that’s how our cashmere shawls are produced. They were the first supplier worldwide to endorse the Greenpeace Detox Protocol. We are also plastic-free, and toxic-free - from our production process until our packing.  

And you, our customers and supporters, are the most important part of this equation. We want to provide you with the best of sustainable fashion, at direct-to-consumer prices, while giving you the opportunity to support the advocacy of women and girls around the world. 

THANK YOU for being part of our fashion revolution, and promoting gender equality through meaningful, sustainable fashion. 


Henriette Ernst, Founder & Chief Creative Officer