While we are passionate about manufacturing high-quality, delicious teas, White Lion is also dedicated to sustainable social change via our Pride Mission initiative, which all White Lion products help support. Pride Mission’s backstory is an interesting tale that spans continents and generations.
A Feminist Epiphany
“I wasn’t particularly feminist. It wasn’t a flattering thing for women of my generation to be,” Kathryn Petty, founder of White Lion Tea and Pride Mission, explained.
When she had told her daughters this, they burst out laughing. “Mom, you’re the ultimate feminist,” they said, “you just didn’t have the luxury of being all pissed off about it!”
In what she describes as a slow-motion epiphany, Kathryn now realizes that her daughters were right. She’s been mentoring and advocating for women most of her life. “I mean, is that Susan Sarandon I see in the mirror?” she joked.
This slow-motion epiphany eventually resulted in Pride Mission, White Lion’s social responsibility initiative. Pride Mission is now the heart and soul of the company. From providing scholarships for girls in Kenya to hiring adults with disabilities to work in our manufacturing facility, Pride Mission seeks to give opportunities to groups who are often marginalized by society.
But there is a bit more to the story than just surprise feminism.
Pride Mission's Beginning
After building up the business, Kathryn started looking for ways to give back. But she didn’t want to throw money at just anything—it had to be something that she and the company were truly vested in.
Having lost her mother to breast cancer, and a survivor herself, Kathryn considered helping with breast cancer research and support groups, but ultimately decided to move in a different direction. Then, in 2012, she had the opportunity to travel to Kenya with a consortium of women from Phoenix. While there, the group leader for the trip provided great insight on what it’s like growing up as a female in a developing country, and Kathryn started getting an idea.
In many villages in developing countries, the tribes will pool their resources to send the boys to school, leaving the girls with few options for their futures. The girls who do get to attend school end up missing around 25% of classes due to not having access to feminine hygiene products. Not having access to these products doesn’t just interrupt a girl’s education—it often leads to early marriage and early pregnancy, forever severing her opportunity for growth. This continues the cycle.
Mwalimu Girls High School near Meru, Kenya, where Pride Mission provides scholarships to several girls.
“I had the benefit of growing up in a middle-class neighborhood, attending a good public school, and putting myself through college and attaining degrees that gave me security,” Kathryn explained, and she wanted to provide that same opportunity for other girls. “Nobody can ever take your education away, it’s invaluable. Once you see outside a small and narrow world, no one can ever put you back inside a box again.”
And so, Kathryn contacted a school near a village where she bought raw material and started sponsoring some of the girls. $500 per year for each girl covers tuition, room, board, and supplies at the Mwalimu Girl’s High School in Meru, Kenya.
Selfie time at Mwalimu!
Joining the Pride
While this may not change the world, Kathryn says, it will change a handful of lives forever. In fact, the World Bank says investing in educating girls yields a higher rate of return than any other investment in the developing world. Uneducated women are more prone to poverty in the developing world, as they don’t have the same work opportunities men do. But getting an education? That can be a game-changer.
Kathryn with Dida Hasibo, a first-year student and Pride Mission scholar. She would like to be an accountant.
Kathryn has spent her whole life advocating for anyone who didn’t have a level playing field, and Pride Mission has allowed her to champion economic empowerment for the disenfranchised on an even larger scale. Eventually, she would like Pride Mission to extend to all parts of the country. Whether it’s a local business deciding to hire disabled veterans or more financial support for girls’ education, she sees Pride Mission as a grassroots movement for sustainable social change and invites everyone to be part of it.
Desk graffiti at Mwalimu Girls High School. Some things are just universal!