A conversation with Livelihood founder Ashley Biden can’t help but turn to politics. Her former vice president father Joe provided the design inspiration for her contribution to the “Snoopy & Belle” exhibition that bows at Brookfield Place tonight.
After what she described as a sellout run with Gilt, Biden plans to roll out a holiday collection with retailers and online through her getinvolvedinyourhood.com. A relaunch for her site is planned for next month. Striving for economic equality, Biden said, “We focus a lot in this country on discussions of race which is very important to understand but I think we need to be united around socioeconomics and the inequities.”
As for whether Joe Biden will run for president in 2020, his daughter, who still works full-time in Philadelphia, said, “I hope so. He’s busier truly than ever. Right now his focus is on the [Biden] Foundation and Cancer Moonshot, as well as getting other Democrats elected. He’s not there. He’s taking it day by day after the loss of my dear beloved brother [Beau who died in 2015]…He’ll make a decision when that time comes,” she said. “It’s a little ways away. A lot can happen in four years and we know this as a family. If he is in good health, knock on wood, and seeing what the landscape is at the time, yeah, I think he is considering it.”
As for the media’s coverage of her brother Beau’s widow getting romantically involved with her other brother, Biden said, “We are a very strong, united family. Until people go through the grief of losing somebody like my brother who was an incredible backbone for my family…He was truly my best friend, my brother’s best friend, my sister-in-law’s husband. Out of tragedy, people often unite in pain. There’s a lot more than meets the eye. The press can say what they want and they will. But we don’t pay much mind to it. It truly has not affected us at all. We are strong and united as a family and we will get through whatever life throws at us.”
Regarding her domestically made collection, Livelihood is produced in six states. Securing affordable resources is challenging considering a hoodie can be made in $8 in China compared to upwards of $40 in the U.S. She passed up a collaboration with a major New York-based conglomerate which offered overseas manufacturing. One of the explanations she was given for not producing here was because “nobody in the U.S. is going to make $35,000 a year to work in manufacturing.” While that might not be feasible in New York City, in Wilmington, Del., it is, she said. “Minimum wage in our state is actually criminal, it is $8.25. That is $17,160 before taxes. Nobody can live off of that,” Biden said. “Whether it’s sewing or quality assurance, there are real jobs that can pay a living wage. We need to be truly bringing manufacturing back and talking about sustainability. As we know, fashion is a huge pollutant of the environment.”
Bringing jobs back and expanding American manufacturing are a recurring conversation topic with her father. As for how often they speak about a presidential bid, she said, “Not often because I think we know in a year or two, God willing, we’ll probably speak about it more. Listen, I am in full support. I am so ready for sensible, just good responsible policy that takes an equity for the American people who are from all over. We are a country from immigrants.
“I do believe if he is in good health…He is more vivacious and has more energy in his 70s than I do in my 30s. The man is sort of supercharged. So I think, if we get to that [decision] point, yeah, I think he will do it,” Biden said. “But a lot can happen in three years. You just don’t know. Life happens. God willing we’re healthy and strong and we go for it. You just never know.”
While the former vice president has not made a decision, if his daughter could make a decision for him she would say absolutely. “But I only tell him four years — I’m like, ‘Listen, this is the deal. If you do it, four years and then we’re out.’”