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Innerwear designer and business entrepreneur Mary Green received the Vision Award at the annual Retinitis Pigmentosa International Society’s presentation at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.
This story first appeared in the July 28, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Previous recipients of the award, presented to Green by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), include Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D., N.Y.), Steven Spielberg, Katie Couric, Josie Foster, Martin Scorsese and Ted Turner.
Actors Danny Glover, Martin Landau, Stacy Keach and Malcolm McDowell were among the guests at the event.
Green, who started her business 30 years ago by importing slippers and socks from Afghanistan with an initial investment of $5,000, now oversees a specialty innerwear business for men and women that generates an estimated wholesale annual volume of $25 million. She was cited for her commitment to “raising the status of women,” Pelosi said.
“By honoring her you are saluting, along with her design skills, her commitment to creating better lives for people living in the shadows of poverty and deprivation throughout the Third World,” Pelosi said. “Mary’s signature is adapting and uniting the unique artistic skills of masters in various countries and for fostering business opportunities for entrepreneurs in those lands.”
Green is the first apparel industry executive to receive the award.
“Decades ago, I took my avocation and made it my vocation and made caring humanitarianism part of the mission statement of my company,” Green said. “We have found that we can use the incentive of our commerce to help achieve dignity and security for people who work on our products and with our company. Ninety percent of our employees in this country are refugees, or are here under political asylum from their own lands. Our faith in each other is what creates a meaningful world. And it is a wonder to me that in doing this subtle work, the people at Retinitis Pigmentosa International have said to us, ‘We see what you are doing.’”