Interview with Flynn Coleman: Human Rights Activist and Founder + CEO of Malena
We really aren't exaggerating when we say that Flynn Coleman does it all. This amazing woman is an international human rights attorney, an educator, an author, a public speaker, a social entrepreneur and innovator, an ethical fashion designer, a teacher, a social justice activist, a former competitive athlete, and a founder and CEO. Flynn is also the founding fellow at the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship at NYU School of Law. And did we mention that she's she's fluent in 5 languages? WOW.
Following that introduction, we are thrilled to welcome Flynn Coleman to TROVVEN's Troupe. Read on for our Q&A with Flynn, as she lends some beautiful insight into the importance of fostering conversation, investing in dreams, and reinvigorating every now and then with a breath of fresh air!
After reading, be sure to check out Malena - and enter promo code "TROVVETRAVEL" to take 15% off of anything in the store.
Q: Tell us about Malena and your incredible journey as a human rights attorney, entrepreneur, and innovator.
I'm an international human rights attorney, an educator, an author, a public speaker, a former competitive athlete, a social entrepreneur and innovator, a lifelong adventurer, wanderer, and global citizen, the founding Grunin fellow at New York University School of Law, and a founder and CEO. I have a background in innovation and design for social impact, artificial intelligence and the future of humanity and technology, economic development, behavioral economics, international trade, war crimes, political reconciliation, humanitarian law, social enterprise, and improving access to justice through innovation. I’m passionate about storytelling and creative approaches to enhancing access to justice and opportunity for all humans, and I love writing, speaking, and teaching on these topics.
One of my great passions is to have conversations with people around the world. I love to learn from them, laugh with them, share a meal with them — and I believe we all have a voice that matters and we all have a story to tell. And my conversations with people around the world have taught me that we can have a positive impact on people and their communities by supporting their economic agency, so that they can make their own choices about their lives and futures. And investing in people, their dreams, and their creative and entrepreneurial endeavors became the foundation for Malena.
At Malena, each item in our global marketplace tells the story of the people and process behind the product, and how it uplifts communities worldwide. We partner groups of people who have come together, often overcoming enormous odds, and who create gorgeous designs and empower their artisans economically. We support these groups and individuals through growing their commercial enterprises, giving them a global market for their goods, and sharing their skills, their craft, and their stories with the world. Ultimately, economic empowerment and human rights are about the capacity to make decisions about our own lives, including having access and opportunities for things like a fair, sustainable income and a raised standard of living, which are crucial for diminishing inequality and poverty, and increasing dignity. It’s about people being able to make their own choices about how they live their lives, using their hard work and creativity in ways that bring them security, self-expression, and joy, on their own terms.
We all have a story to tell, we are all equally and intrinsically valuable, and we all deserve to have our basic rights protected. Everyone should be able to live with dignity and joy, and we all have a voice that deserves to be heard.
Q: Is there a Malena must-have for the girl on the go? What else is in your weekender right now?
A: Our exclusive and original Malena scarves and shawls are perfect for every season and are so versatile, whether it’s laying one out for a picnic, wrapping yourself up for a flight, throwing it over your shoulders with a maxi dress, or wearing it around your neck for breezy days and evenings (I wear them everywhere!). And you can learn about the amazing people we partner with to make them as well. And our weekenders are perfect for a weekend escape of course! Pair one of these beauties with a handmade Malena luggage tag and you are ready for any adventure.
In my weekender right now...I always have my sunnies, my favorite music ready to go, a journal and pen, a necklace my mom made for me, a book or two (or three, or four), and my trusty headphones (that also support the fight to end HIV/AIDS).
Q: We love the concept behind Fog and Sage, your retreat for professional women to restore and revive. What are your favorite ways to rejuvenate?
A: To rejuvenate...I love to walk, hike, and trek through places near and far, to practice and teach yoga, and to dance (whether it's a class or a daily impromptu dance party). Discovering new places, having conversations with friends and strangers, trying local cafes, wandering through libraries, bookstores, and baking are all ways to reset, restore, and revive for me. I am also a student of Japanese bookbinding and I love to paint and to restore old furniture. I’ve played soccer my whole life, and I love to explore museums, vistas, beaches, mountaintops, and magical spots that feed my soul whenever possible, wherever I go. And there is simply nothing like the sacred coziness of being home as well. I religiously take warm baths with essential oils and Epsom salts, accented with my favorite candles, music, and a glass of wine or a cup of tea.
Q: We hear you have serious wanderlust. Have you explored any getaway spots outside NYC? What are your top destinations?
A: Yes! I’ve spent time in the Berkshires and at Kripalu, Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, and at tiny, gorgeous Bed & Breakfast spots in the Hudson Valley all along the Hudson River. There is so much beauty to explore right outside of NYC at any time of year.
Q: Your platform empowers women, what do you think are the necessities for the ultimate girls trip?
A: The only must-haves are a sense of adventure, people that you love, amazing music, and lots of laughter. A willingness to get lost helps, and so does a beautiful location to have wine and s’mores around a campfire or a place by the beach to relax, read, and frolic in the sun.
Q: Just for fun - are there any spots you’re loving in NYC right now? We’re always on the hunt for a new hangout!
A: Always! Maman, who I collaborate with and create storytelling workshops for, just opened another beautiful location in Tribeca, in true French style, that speaks to where my heart lives (Paris). Kayaking in the Hudson in the summer is such fun, and the newly re-opened Rose Room at the New York Public Library is a timeless treasure.