Angela Lindvall is more than your average front woman for DKNY's first sustainable perfume project. Tall, freckly, and gorgeous, sure (like most supermodels!), she's also a serious environmentalist with a passion for women's causes. "I'm not an all-or-nothing radical environmentalist — I believe in small steps that lead to big changes," she explains.
She couldn't have been more pleased with PureDKNY, a perfume backed by ambitiously responsible choices on all fronts: It's served up in 100 percent recyclable glass bottles and compostable boxes, and the signature ingredient is sustainably farmed Ugandan vanilla. ("Already, this has helped drive up the price of the crop, so the farmers are earning more," enthuses Lindvall.) What's more, DKNY has partnered with humanitarian group CARE to implement the Village Savings & Loan Association (VSLA), microfinance programs that teach the vanilla farmers (60 percent of whom are women) to borrow money and manage their businesses.
Eager to see the project come to life, Lindvall traveled to Africa this January. Meeting the farmers firsthand was a moving experience for the supermodel. "Immaculate has a spectacular farm. And with the income she now earns from vanilla, she grows other crops, like bananas and coffee; employs a large staff; and supports her family — she has nine kids!" Lindvall says. "It was eye-opening to see how empowered the women had become. Once they were able to bring incomes to their households, they gained independence — a voice. It transformed their lives dramatically."
Also life-changing for the farmers: smelling the finished perfume for the first time when Lindvall arrived with samples. "They were so proud to know that their vanilla was inside; they truly cherished it!"
Her next stop: Togo, home to locally farmed verbena-basil, the featured crop in the second PureDKNY perfume, due out later this year.