Reese Fernandez’s work with Rags2Riches, the ethical fashion label she helped found, has not gone unnoticed. In April, the 25-year-old entrepreneur was tapped by the Rolex Awards for Enterprise to become one of its five 2010 Young Laureates, innovators between the ages of 18 and 30 who are doing world-changing work in the fields of philanthropy, the environment, social justice, cultural preservation, and public health.

“I don’t want to just create livelihoods and income,” Fernandez says. “I want to create sustainable, eco-ethical products. It can be a win-win for everybody.”

With her $50,000 prize money in hand, Fernandez will be establishing the Ecolife Laboratory, a research, development, and community center where Rags2Riches will work experts to design new, sustainable, and most important, marketable products that local artisans can create. “The center will also be a resource for health and business education,” Fernandez tells Ecouterre.

+ Reese Fernandez on Rolex Young Laureates

+ Rags2Riches