Isabel Garretón: Founder, Itsatwist – San Pedro, CA
For more than 20 years, Isabel Garretón has used her passion for fashion to help underprivileged women support their families. In doing so, she supplies them with “a dignified work opportunity.” After facing challenges balancing work and motherhood, she realized how hard it must be for women without all the advantages she had to do the same.
She started her own fashion company and hired women from her native Chile who were skilled at sewing and embroidery but had trouble finding jobs. Women in Chile have been underrepresented in the workforce, with most household responsibilities still considered as their duty. Garreton designs dresses, coats, dolls, scarves and more. All of the proceeds from her newest venture, Itsatwist, go back to the women who help create them. Over the past two decades, her team has grown from 21 women to more than 100. Her products have been featured in Vogue, Town & Country Weddings and Parenting magazines.
IG: There are always women in search of an opportunity. Our goal is to provide each person with a constant flow of work so they can rest assured that they will have a steady income. By allowing mothers to earn a living to care for their children, we give families a chance for happier, healthier lives.
LPB: Where did you acquire capital to start?
IG: Initially, funding was a challenge and I faced a lot of rejection. I finally got a local small bank to listen to my cause, and they provided a loan. The money allowed the company to grow, and we kept our business at that bank for more than 19 years until it was acquired by a larger, impersonal institution. I started searching again until I found Union Bank, which offered the support I needed.
LPB: What’s been your proudest moment?
IG: When Michelle Bachelet, the President of Chile, came to visit President Obama. She brought the Obama girls two of our dresses! Well aware of the social impact the company has made, President Bachelet also invited our workers to visit her at the Government Palace. Another one of my proudest moments was just a couple of weeks ago, on the day before Thanksgiving. I received an email from the company that said, "We know that in your country, this holiday is when people say thank you. So we wanted to join by saying ‘thank you’ to you.” No words can express where my heart was taken by this message.