I am so excited to find more and more of these hidden gems that are small companies with true passions to help others. As time goes on (and my talents for digging for such things improves), they begin to see more abundant and it makes me so happy in this world of fast fashion and self-serving overconsumption. I always like to feel that fashion shouldn’t ever be just for me—since my dollars will be going somewhere, they might as well go to those who could truly use them the most, right? Win win! What impresses me about these small charitable companies is how most of them began…by an independent creative like me who one day had an idea, or just found his or her passions leading them to an opportunity to give back. I’d like to think one of these days I could follow in these footsteps!
My latest discovery is an amazing handbag brand called Better Life Bags. This company began when founder Rebecca Smith turned her last-trimester pregnancy boredom into something crafty, creating diaper bags and posting photos of them on Facebook. They received a very favorable response, and when requests started flowing in, Rebecca opened an Etsy shop in 2009. The cool part though, is that she decided to donate 10% of each bag’s sale to a low income entrepreneur overseas through microloans. With each purchase, she’d send a photo of the person the loan would be benefiting, to show each customer the good they were doing. In 2010, her family moved to Detroit, Rebecca witnessed first hand the impact of poverty and unemployment can do to a city. By then, her orders were exploding, and she reached out to a local woman from Yemen, with the name of Nadia, to help her sew bags for her company. As time went on, Rebecca was inspired by the positive shift this employment provided Nadia, as she was finally able to provide some much needed essential items for her family. Rebecca continues to hire as many women in need from Detroit to help sew her bags as she can…the more sold, the better! Like before, each bag come with the name of the woman who made it, creating that personal connection that really shows how impactful and beneficial voting with your dollars can mean for those whose lives need it the most.
Better Life Bags offers three bags for custom, made-to-order options: the Clara, Linda and Brynnda, seen below. Custom orders take 2-3 weeks, but there are also plenty of ready-made bags to purchase as well! See below for some of my favorites.
Made-To-Order, “Design Your Own” Bags
Ready to Ship Bags
“Our mission is to hire women who have various barriers to employment to make our custom leather and fabric bags. They are adopted into our Better Life family and given a chance to succeed in life, family, and friendship.”
“We really believe we have created a unique business that brings together YOUR design efforts with tangible needs in our community of Detroit, Michigan. Every bag we sell means more women that we can hire! Your bag will come with the name of the woman who made your bag – bringing the personal connection straight to your mailbox. We’d love it if you hung that card on your fridge to think about that woman whose life is being changed as a result of your purposeful purchase.”
Read more about, and shop even more beautiful pieces from Better Life Bags, here!