Socially Responsible Handbag Award
Maria and I at From Belo cannot believe it but we are nominated for the 2018 Independent Handbag Awards - for the categories :
What country are your bags manufactured?
Please explain how your bags are socially responsible?
From Belo's mission is to feed goodness into the world. We are inspired by natural beauty, the global community and the unstoppable modern woman.
We maximise our positive impact by giving back to the communities where our products are made. Ensuring full transparency, ethical production and business practices to minimise any negative environmental impact. We utilise recycled materials in our products.
From Belo also hope to be a source of inspiration, empowering women to achieve their goals and make a positive impact on the world around them.
Our bags are handmade by local Brazilian artisans. We make sure they are appreciated, paid fairly and safe. Through From Belo, they have a voice and an opportunity for a better life. It is important that our success is shared to support the communities that inspire us and try to make a difference at every step.
For each bag sold, we donate 6 plates of food to a Non-Profit Organisation called Casa De Maria. This is located in the slums of Belo Horizonte, Brazil where our artisan suppliers live. This NGO works with the homeless and those in need in the city, offering a place to learn (tutors volunteer their time to provide new educational opportunities), to wash and to eat.
On average, they feed 250 people a day. Dona Nilza, the founder of the organisation. She has aspirations to build rooms for the homeless to help stop them from sleeping rough. Hopefully, one day, we will be able to help her fulfil her dreams.
Do you work with local/native artisans to design your bags?
The From Belo bag design was developed by us, the co-founders Maria, from Brazil, and Charlotte, from the UK, in collaboration with our very talented team of artisans husband and wife, Wilson and Cida.
They live in Maria's home city, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Wilson used to work for one of the biggest shoe brands in Brazil, but with the boom in China and Paraguay, the big brands stopped working with him as he couldn't compete on price.
This led to his factory being forced to shut down and left him struggling to afford the cost of living and support his family. When we met him, he was working in his small leather repair shop to make ends meet.
He brings valuable production skills to our team and it's important for us to pay him fairly and help him create new opportunities. We know with our vision and his expertise we can conquer the world! Inspired by our travels, we created the Paths Collection.
We worked with Brazilian pattern designers to create four patterns that represent four of the most beautiful decorated pavements of our four favourite cities in Brazil. The bag entered for this competition represents a pavement in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Working Conditions. (Are the manufacturers/artisans that are being employed being treated humanely, of age, and working in safe and acceptable conditions? Please explain)
We launched in October 2017, via Kickstarter. As a Startup brand, the artisans and designers we work with are freelancers and they are hired according to demand. However, that doesn't affect the high standards we carry when it comes to safe and decent working conditions and fair wages.
We are not Fairtrade registered yet, but we pride ourselves in practising its principles. Our bags are a family affair, manufactured by Wilson, his wife, Cida and his son, Wesley.
We contract their services and regularly inspected their factory throughout our production to ensure safe practise. We can confirm no children have been involved in the production of our bags, we know exactly who is involved in our chain of production, where our bags are made and how.
We believe everyone involved in making our dreams become reality should be respected and empowered. We are all responsible for making the world better. In the future, From Belo is planning on expanding and working with a woman's co-operative as well.
The cooperative is already established but as From Belo grows, we want to be able to support other local businesses too. We are also very excitingly in the process of starting our application for Fairtrade certification.
Why did you choose this country to have your bags made and what made you decided to give back?
We, Maria, Brazil and Char, UK - have known each other since high school, when Maria came to England as an exchange student. Affected by the political crisis, the Brazilian economy hit its worst in 2016 and since then, every day there is more unemployment, poverty and people and animals in degrading conditions.
When Char travelled and worked as a volunteer physiotherapist in South America in 2015/16, she was shocked by the living conditions and lack of opportunities for people in the poorer areas.
She met with Maria who was already running a clothing company in Brazil, which helped cloth the children of the slums in her home city, Belo Horizonte.
Meanwhile, on a personal quest to live more ethically, we found ourselves in search for the perfect handbag. We were looking for something that was beautiful, versatile enough to keep up with our busy lives, and most importantly, environmentally friendly and socially responsible.
However, we found most brands didn't fully consider all these needs. We decided to take the matter into our own hands and turn our desire to make peoples lives better into triple threat accessories: beautiful, versatile and conscious, no compromise necessary.
We believe in rising by lifting others and this is at the heart of our business ethos. Using our labour, vision and brand to give back opportunities to those in need is what we both always dreamed of.
We started small by helping Maria's community - which is something so close to our heart - not only by employing local artisans and designers but also giving back plates of food.
Although a small gesture, it is the fuel to live and thrive. Our aim is as we grow, we can help other communities in Brazil, giving those in need better opportunities for a better life.
Brand: From Belo, Style: Sao Paulo Mini convertible 2 in 1 bag. Coverts from handbag to backpack by sliding the handle through the hoop and splitting the handle into two straps using the zipper situated in the middle of the handle.About:
The Sao Paulo is part of our "Paths" Collection. We chose 4 pavements of our favourite cities in Brazil. The mosaic pavement outside the Ipiriranga Palace in Sao Paulo inspires the embroidered pattern.
Materials: Made from handpicked deadstock leathers and embroidered fabrics formed from woven recycled plastic bottles and recycled fabrics.
Interior: Green lining with hummingbird embroidered below the interior pocket.
Hardwear: Gold - featuring YKK Zippers throughout. Features: Golden embroidered hummingbird logo on the front of the bag. YKK zipper along strap - making the bag easily convertible from handbag into a backpack.
Price: £210, $293.60
Wish us luck and Thank you so much for reading!