International businesswoman to address Champlain College graduates
April Cornell, co-owner of Cornell Trading in Williston, Vt., will address Champlain College graduates at this year’s Commencement ceremony on May 8. April’s name graces the storefronts of more than 80 clothing and home furnishing boutiques in America, while more than 30 of her stores in Canada bear the name “La Cache.”
April and her husband Chris Cornell started their international business in Montreal. With a shared passion for travel, they headed east and made their first foray into buying while roaming the bazaars in Afghanistan. When the couple opened their first boutique in Montreal in 1975, the nomadic clothing they saw on their travels were among their best selling items.
April fell in love with the beauty and ancient craftsmanship of the East. India, in particular, had a powerful draw and soon became the source for much of her merchandise. In 1992, the Cornells established a factory in India so they could produce their own fabrics and products with colorful prints inspired by April’s sketches and watercolors. In fact, Cornell Trading was the first foreign export house to register in India when the country opened to foreign investment.
April and Chris Cornell’s booming retail and wholesale business is now based in Hong Kong, India, Montreal, and Williston, Vermont. April’s most recent business venture is a new book called “April Cornell At Home,” which shares her philosophy of making an occasion out of everyday life.
As the Cornells grew their business in India, they developed a deep concern for the impoverished conditions in which many children and families live. They felt compelled to find an effective, lasting way to give back to the people and communities they had come to know so well. In the early 1990s, the Cornells established The Giving World Foundation, which emphasizes education as a means toward self-reliance.
The Foundation funds schools for children living in the Delhi slums, as well as hundreds of first-generation learners at a school for the disabled, and a day care center for the elderly, who would otherwise be neglected.
April and Chris Cornell’s generosity has also extended to Champlain College through the Power of Three capital campaign, the Annual Fund, and Support-a-Student Scholarships. On top of this, April gives of her time and expertise on the Board of Trustees at the private, career-oriented college in Burlington, Vt.