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. As the heart and soul of our company, we’re excited to introduce you to Pride Mission’s origins and what we stand for.
A Feminist Epiphany
White Lion may be woman-owned, but it never occurred to our founder, Kathryn Petty, that she may be helping shatter glass ceilings. “I wasn’t particularly feminist. It wasn’t a flattering thing for women of my generation to be,” she explains.
But 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 mad about it!”
In what she describes as a slow-motion epiphany, Kathryn now realizes that her daughters were absolutely right; she’s been mentoring and advocating for women most of her life. This realization eventually resulted in Pride Mission, our social responsibility initiative and part of why we do what we do. From providing scholarships for girls in Kenya to hiring adults with disabilities to work in White Lion’s manufacturing facility, Pride Mission seeks to give opportunities to groups who are often marginalized by society.
The Beginning of Pride Mission
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.
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 had an idea.
In many villages across the African continent, the tribes will pool their resources to send the boys to school, leaving the village girls with few options for their futures. The girls who do get to attend miss around 25% of their classes due to the inaccessibility of 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 of poverty.
“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 explains, 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 started sponsoring a handful of girls at a school near a tea estate she bought raw materials from. $500 per year for each girl covers tuition, room, board, and supplies at the Mwalimu Girl’s High School in Meru, Kenya.
While much of Pride Mission currently centers around sponsoring girls’ education at the Mwalimu school, we also implement our mission stateside by hiring adults with disabilities to work in our manufacturing facility through a local training program — because everyone deserves the opportunity to use their potential.
Joining the Pride
Pride Mission 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 developing nations since they don’t have the same work opportunities men do. But getting an education? That can be a game-changer.
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 hiring 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. And when you make a purchase from White Lion, you’re joining our Pride. Thank you!