Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fashionable + Ethical Bags for Your Weekend Travels

How perfect to find an ethical fashion accessory brand, especially one that's all about investing in women and girls, providing the women with fair work and, with the sale of each item, adolescent girls receive life skills mentoring. Also, it's so perfect that, planning to visit India in the fall, I found out that this company, Catrinka, which I originally wrote about months ago, is now selling the Kanta Weekender, a 100% cotton canvas bag with a hand drawn Indian street scene embellished with hand embroidery and mirrors.

The artisans behind this fashionable and ethically-produced bag is a mother-daughter team from Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The bag is named for Kanta, the 33-year-old daughter on the team. (Her mother, Bhagwati is 52 and she learned embroidery craft from her mother.) The mirror work on the bag is traditional to Jodhpur, each panel taking two days to complete. The embroidered snowflake pattern originates out of Lucknow. (Both women are noted locally for their skillful hand embroidery work.)

The bag -- it'll hold all your clothing, accessories and toiletries for a weekend -- with its cow suede base and handles, cotton lining with zip pocket and top closure is assembled in a small woman-owned workshop based in New Delhi. Each bag provides three days of fair work to women in India. And indigenous adolescent Mayan girls receive a week of life skills mentoring through Catrinka's NGO partner, Redmi, with the sale of each bag. (Redmi strives to reach out to poor and at-risk indigenous girls, aged 8 to 19 in rural Guatemalan communities.)

So many of my activities, whether it's mentoring seniors at Barnard College where I did my undergraduate work or creating a fashion and accessories line, revolve around working with women and girls. Catrinka whose motto is "buy a bag, employ a woman, educate a girl, fits right along with this sensibility.