We’re honoured to be introducing O My Bag to THE-ACEY. The Amsterdam based bag brand set out to create a for profit business that gives back through both social and environmental initiatives. Winner of the Sustainable Leather Award 2015, O My Bag were recognised for their positive impact working with Fair Trade certified producers and suppliers in Kolkata, India and their eco tanning methods that avoid the use of harmful chemicals. We meet founder Paulien Wesselink who started O My Bag based on the belief that the choices we make as a consumer can improve our global society.
What is O My Bag’s purpose?
I wanted to set up a social enterprise that would not only make profit but also give back by undertaking business in a fair and sustainable manner. Every bag means fair work and thus a better life for somebody who really needs it. All our raw hides are locally sourced, as opposed to imported which is usually the case in the leather industry. By aiming to source locally we try to keep our carbon footprint to a minimum.
In your opinion, how is your brand doing business better?
We make our supply chain very transparent, this way we can inform our customers as much as possible on the origins of our products. Currently, we work with two different producers in India, where we know labour conditions are good and people are not exploited.
The local fair trade producers offer jobs to the economically and physically challenged. They can work together in a social environment for a fair wage, with health insurance and under fair conditions. This way, hardworking people get the price they deserve for the bags they make with so much love and dedication. Creating jobs for minorities in India is our way of contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, like fighting poverty and empowering women. Our bags are made in a gorgeous flourishing environment, were men and women are proudly working on O My Bags.
Here at the - acey, we know that no brand is perfect and we don't expect any brand to be either. How could O My Bag improve it's social or environmental impact? Is there anything in particular you are working towards? We are constantly looking for new ways to improve our production and communication towards our customers. At the moment we are working on measuring our impact on both a social and environmental level with the help of an external company, Avance. On our next trip to India in March, we will gather information and talk to different parties to examine our impact.
Is there a particular quote that leads or inspires O My Bag?
Powerful women inspire me. This ranges from the powerful female social entrepreneurs we work with in India to Gloria Steinem, Journalist and Activist who stands up for issues of equality and Oprah Winfrey, who always motivates to keep learning and improving yourself. Pursuing a life of development and betterment is important to me. Through improving ourselves we get the most out of life. We have quotes all over the office, these small reminders can lift our spirits when we need it.
When things get overwhelming I feel comforted by the quote of Bhuddist Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh: Smile, Breathe and go slowly. You can find this quote in big letters on our office wall.
See and shop O My Bag's Collection: here
Click the images in the article to shop the product
Read other journal articles: here
Keep up to date with the latest ACEY happenings on Instagram: @the_acey
All imagery shot by the incredibly talented Iringo Demeter / @iringo.demeter