Girl power! Local lifestyle brand empowering young women all over the world

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Friday, January 8, 2021
Local lifestyle brand empowers young women all over the world
Young woman overcomes obstacles and sets out to find solutions that would support women in business and girls in need.

DOWNEY, Calif. (KABC) -- How do you lift up the lives of young women all over the world? One local lifestyle brand is empowering young women, one item at a time. It started with one social media post, and Kristine Rodriguez and her "GRL Collective" was off to the races!

"That went viral and it catapulted our business in literally 24 hours," said Rodriguez.

It's a story of trauma to triumph for Rodriguez. She's all smiles today but just three years ago, she was struggling with her mental health after having to publicly testify against an abuser. She decided giving back was the best way to get her life back on track.

"I decided to volunteer with a girls and women's empowerment program in India," said Rodriguez.

MORE: New app connects underprivileged students with recruiters at HBCU

In 1976, 35% of degrees earned by Black students came from HBCUs, but in 2018, that number had dropped to 13%, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

She spent more than a month in India, raising the money for her trip by creating and selling jewelry. Rodriguez says the experience was transformative and set her on a journey to find a solution that would support women in business and girls in need.

"When I was there, the girls just changed my life," said Rodriguez. "I wanted to figure out how to be able to give back to them and send money back to India regardless of where I was."

"GRL Collective" is Kristine's solution. And when some social media posts were shared by several famous people with big followings, her idea took off.

"The Latinx community has been very, very supportive," said Rodriguez. "They send me emails, DM, all of the above to just let me know how much they feel seen; how much our designs have impacted them."

Twenty percent of the lifestyle brand's profits go to the Sambhali Trust, a girl's education nonprofit in India; and portions of other products help fund other organizations.

"That's just a thread that runs through our entire business and something that is very important to us and will always be important to us," said Rodriguez.

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