Let’s face it, everybody loves a great bag! The only frustrating thing about a great bag is finding one! Yet, what actually constitutes a great bag? For O My Bag founder Paulien Wesselink, this is quite clear. Timeless design and quality are key, but also a production process that values both the people and the planet.
Realising the opportunity to support developing communities with trade as an aid alternative, in 2010 Paulien travelled to India to visit leather manufacturers, with the intention to set up a social enterprise that would not only become profitable, but also give back by approaching business in a fair, sustainable manner.
Having made the decision to work with leather, due to its durability and renewable character; Paulien met with dozens of producers to find those who shared the same ethical and environmental values. Cultural values also played a big part, and the collective and community mentality was something that confirmed the decision to work with India.
“After the first trip to India I knew for sure that this was the way to go. The colorful country and nice people amazed me and got me very excited! “
Over the years O My Bag has built strong relationships with both Tanneries and and Producers, based on respect, honesty and trust. Each producer is relatively small, which creates a community feel within the work environment. Not only this, but fair wages are paid, benefits are provided and additional education and training are offered to women and minorities, to ensure there are equal work opportunities for all. At O My Bag we speak with our producers on almost a daily basis to ensure ethical practices are maintained and offer them support to continue further improvement.
By choosing to work with like minded businesses, we have the ability to drive industry change and collaborate with our partners on sustainable solutions that are healthy and safe for both the people and the planet. Pre COVID-19 our production and sustainability manager would typically visit our partner factories twice a year to discuss production techniques as well as visiting the employees and their families.
Since 2010 we’ve also implemented workshops for those who want to up skill, as well as women empowerment training. In addition we launched our living wage project in 2020 and continue to support local projects in India to ensure the wider community in Kolkata also benefits and grows alongside O My Bag.
At O My Bag we believe that by supporting conscious trade we can contribute to a better world with fair and decent employment, gender equality, safe working environments, equal opportunities and the protection of our ecosystem.
Join us on this journey.