We wear the stories of individuals.
Our team of skilled artisans, material collectors and co-operatives are more like a family than workers and that is how we always want it to be! We believe that it is important to treat our whole team like they are family and take care of them and look after them. After all, we wear the stories of individuals and every product that we buy represents someone who has worked hard to create it.
We work with over 30 artisans, below are some of the people who make our team and their stories.
Leka is the manager of the factory. She is a single mum and an absolute boss woman! Her parents come from a long succession of bag and shoe makers so she was pretty much born into the accessory making business. Leka proudly supports all of her team by offering them flexible work hours so that they can have a positive work-life balance and can take care of their families.
In honour of this incredible lady our award-winning Leka Tote bag is named after her.
Zé (Leka’s brother) is the chief of prototyping at the factory. After the initial designs are made into a prototype, Zé’s job is it to process these prototypes for further design development. He is absolutely key to our development of high quality products.
Lucia is the glue that keeps the factory together. When she was younger, Lucia's family was supported by our partner charity Casa de Maria. Since then she has become the main bread winner of the family and has given her family so many opportunities. She started her journey as an apprentice and worked her way up to become a Team Leader.
Lucia is a true boss woman. We name our award nominated “Most Socially Conscious Handbag” the Lucia Tote after her.
Patty is our Head of Sewing and a great inspiration. Her glass is always half full and for her everything is an opportunity in life. Patty left her village when she was only 13 years old to come to the big city and look for a better life. Now, 40 years later, the mother of 4 has been able to support her children, get them educated and even support them through University. Patty sees herself as a successful woman who made her dream of providing a better life for her kids a reality.
We name our Patty Pouches after her.
Fran is the life and soul of the party. She always arrives to work full of energy with a beaming and contagious smile on her face. Fran is responsible for quality control at the factory and her attention to detail ensures that every product is thoroughly checked before they start their journey to a new loving home.
It only seemed right to name our Belt Bag designed for fun times after Fran.
Meet Elaine aka Nene
Nene is responsible for making cute pompoms, decorating the wooden/fabric handles, cutting the fabric and assembling the bags. Nene has a big heart and loves animals. She started a charity with 2 other friends that is focussed on helping animals in need. So in her spare time, she rescues stray animals and takes care of them.
Nene brings warmth, love and positivity to everything that she does and this is why we named our brightest and cutest clutch bag after Nene.
Wartley is an incredible creative person. He inherited his creativity from his grandmother who taught him the traditional skill of weaving. Wartley has always used this skill as a way of relaxing after a hard day at work. During the Brazilian economic crisis, Wartley was made redundant and he had to find another way to support his family, including his two beautiful sons. He never thought his hobby could support his family but now he is busy weaving fabric offcuts that we collect from the Brazilian fashion industry into our beautiful woven products such as the Cida Shopper, Lucia Tote and our Jani Coasters.
After her husband passed away, Renata took over the business and started sewing and screen-printing cotton fabric. Renata handmakes our dust bags from GOTS certified cotton and screen prints them. She has a daughter who aspires to be just like her mother one day and is always saying how she wants to be a handbag designer one day. Thanks to Renata’s hard work and determination her daughters dreams may come true one day!
Meet Helena and Liga
“Sewing saved my life and my sister’s life” -Ligia, 2020. These two sisters Ligia (left) and Helena (right) run a small co-operative in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Ligia, a retired public servant, discovered her love of sewing while trying to find ways to help her sister Helena. Helena has special needs and Ligia wanted to help Helena have the opportunity to be financially independent and increase her confidence. Together they run a little studio where their magic happens. For every item she produces she donates part of the profit to run 3 weekly creative sewing workshops for people with special needs.
We partnered up with this amazing all-women-cooperative that upcycles materials that are donated by the car company FIAT. The cooperative make our amazing Sue Washbags from Fiat car seats. In honour of this incredible all women team, we named the car seat washbags after the Head of Production – Suellen. One day, Sue hopes she can achieve her lifelong dream and travel to another country. We hope that our partnership contributes to making that dream a reality.
Fairtrade and Our Team
Fair Trade for us starts with building relationships. It is important to us that our community is able thrive, to talk freely and highlight any issues or struggles they may have. We ensure that our team works in a safe environment and are able to develop high-quality product. Maria, our co-founder, visits our team regularly to ensure that everyone is ok. During the pandemic, we have maintained regular communication and worked hard with our team to ensure they can still work in a COVID safe environment.
Minimum wage doesn’t cut it for us! We pay a fair living wage. This difference in wage is incredibly important as it enables our team to re-invest into their family (nutritious food, healthcare, education and safe shelter) and into the community. Minimum wage too often maintains the circle of poverty, where as a living wage helps break the cycle and enables families to have the hope of a better life.
Fair trade isn’t just about the wage. It’s about ensuring that our team are respected in other ways too. At our co-operative all of our team is unionised, have 4 weeks paid vacation per year and work 40 hours per week. All hours are flexible to accommodate their family’s needs.
If you want to find out more about why Fairtrade is important to us please click here. If you want to see the wonderful creations our team have put together please click here.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about some of the members of our incredible team. To keep updated on their endeavours why not sign up to our mailing list or follow us on Instagram for the latest stories.
Char and Maria