Brands that Donate: Urban Zen by Donna Karan

From Toms to Relay for Life, there are tons of brands and foundations that actively provide care and profits in order to make an effective cultural impact. From counteracting poverty to disease awareness, brands donate to many worthy causes and touch the hearts of many.

But donating is more than just sending off money – it’s taking action, time and positive spirits to encourage empowerment. One brand that embodies the service of donation is designer, Donna Karan.

If you haven’t heard of Karan and her brand, let us give you a little insight. Karan is a designer of the brands Donna Karan and DKNY (Donna Karan New York). Both brands focus on and encourage bold styles among women in the workforce. With irresistible layering pieces and fierce attitudes, she has produced successful clothing that has made its way into many wardrobes over the years.

In 2015, 30-years after her empire began, Karan stepped down from Chief of Design in both brands to focus on Urban Zen, a foundation that gives back to the Haitian community by promoting health advocacy, child empowerment and culture preservation in Haiti.

Urban Zen picture

After losing her husband to cancer, Karan witnessed how important therapeutic health care is to patients. This realization empowered Karan to create a powerful awareness to the need of healthcare practices. In 2007, Karan teamed up with patients, doctors, nurses, yoga instructors, Haitian artisans and alternative healthcare practitioners to create the Urban Zen foundation.

“This model of philanthropy and commerce creates enormous empowerment not only within the fashion community, but also with our clients, the consumer, by allowing their purchase power to assist others in need.” Karan said.

health care

In order to support and build Haiti, Urban Zen promotes and develops the intricate products of the Haitian artisans. The product goal is to create handcrafted and sustainable products of quality through recycled materials.

For example, a beaded necklace can be beautifully and simply developed from recycled cereal boxes. Additional recycled and natural materials used by Urban Zen include: Tobacco leaves, papier-maché, wood, horns, metal and cardboard. The products created through recycled products include: women’s clothing, home décor, beauty and accessories.

Urban Zen Collection

“The artistry and skill is breathtaking,” Karan said. “I am so inspired by what I am seeing and the people with whom I’m working with. I couldn’t be more excited.”

When it comes to proceeds, 100 percent of Urban Zen’s profits go to the foundation. Not only are funds raised, but many jobs have been created, vocational education increased and an empowered healthcare system developed.


To learn more about the foundation, please check out the Urban Zen website.

Photos Courtesy of