Seven Bar Foundation founder Renata Mutis Black talks to Kat Slowe about the launch of Lingerie London, this month, and reveals why she is determined to alleviate poverty among women in the third world.
“Both of my parents died when I was a child,” reveals Seven Bar Foundation founder and philanthropist Renata Mutis Black. “I was adopted by my aunt and my uncle and brought to the States at one years old. When I went back to Colombia at 15, I realised that 60 percent of the population lived in poverty and realised that that could have easily been me.”
In the ensuing years, Mutis Black has worked hard to achieve her dream of helping those who were left behind. She has studied microfinance at the Grameen Bank under Muhammad Yunus and worked for two years in India, where she started her own women’s empowerment program of 800 women.
In 2001, Mutis Black founded the Seven Bar Foundation, an organisation that is committed to empowering women in the third world. Her goal is to raise one million dollars in micro finance by 2015. The method by which she hopes to achieve this is… lingerie.
“After seeing how much attention the Victoria Secret show garnered,” Mutis Black reveals, “I wondered why there wasn’t a higher end show and, if it existed, why wouldn’t a show of that calibre be more about redirecting the energy to the women who emit its power?
“We believe in paradigm shifts. We see lingerie as more than seductive and see it as a tool for empowerment. We believe in women taking their power and attention, and redirecting it to the empowerment of women… With these realisations, the circumstances of my life have led me to want to empower women on a g-string rather than a shoe-string.”
The first two lingerie shows took place in Los Angeles and New York. Mutis Black’s five year plan includes taking the catwalk event to Europe and Asia, before ending up in South America for the world cup.
“Coming to Europe, we wanted to highlight a cross between the best of lace and latex. and felt it was the best idea to go to where this cross would be most celebrated – the hometown of Agent Provocateur and Atsuko Kudo,” she says. “Being that I am Colombian, it was very important for our message of empowering women to be in South America for the World Cup – Lingerie Rio 2014.”
In an attempt to include people who might not be able to take part in the organisation’s luxury marketing campaigns or shows, last year Mutis Black launched a new ‘iconic’ product – a low-rise thong, called ‘Empowered By You,’ featuring the tagline ‘Whatever Empowers You, Empowers Women Everywhere.’
“It is an everyday perfect panty,” says Mutis Black. “So, if our followers and fans cannot buy a piece of luxury lingerie to support us, they can buy a £18 panty in stores and online, developed by the Ralph Lauren design team. Twenty percent of the profits goes back to Seven Bar Foundation. You will see us launch Empowered By You at Lingerie London and we are very excited about that.”
Previous shows have seen attendees and hosts such as Eva Longoria, Sofia Vergara, Deepak Chopra, Veronica Webb, Crystal Renn, Michelle Rodriguez, Elsa Benetiz, Eve Savil, Russell Simmons and Lucas Haas. Mutis Black is currently finalising the final guest list for 2012, which she claims is likely to be the ‘best show yet’. “I would be surprised if we don’t get your panties in a tangle,” she says with a cheeky smile.
Mutis Black hopes to raise £150,000 through the London event, via table sales, auction and sponsorship of the show. And, she already has a variety of different ideas in place for how the money should be spent.
“We will look for innovative ways to maximize the funds,” she says. There are some online websites that will get an audience to match the funds. Depending on the amount raised, we will sit with our Microfinance Advisory Board and decide where we can have the biggest impact by extending the reach and impact of existing organisations.
“We will definitely be supporting a UK microfinance organisation – called Fredrick’s Foundation – as we believe it is essential to give back to the territory that raised the funds. This is a must.”