By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Think leather can’t be eco-friendly? O My Bag! Founder Paulien Wesselink would beg to differ.
Wesselink’s extraordinary brand is made with leather that is not only vintage; it’s actually vintage eco-leather. In other words, it’s constructed from skins that are tanned without the use of harmful chemicals. The result is a stylish range of bags that welds sophistication with sustainability.
Patrick Lee supervises that all environmental conditions, and ensures eco-integrity is preserved all along the production process, from energy management, to water control and employee safety conditions. Patrick is a pioneer in the field of sustainable leather, but strongly believes his working practices will soon be ubiquitous: “My methods might be progressive now, but it will be common in the future. That is only a matter of time,” he says.
Besides being eco-friendly, O My Bag is also committed to social causes, since it gives work to many natives of Kolkata. These people are rewarded for their contributions to the making of each bag by being paid fair wages and granted health benefits, as well as receiving education and training. Paulien Wessenlink contributes to the Millennium Goals by encouraging the empowerment of women by giving them the opportunity to grow economically through their work with her brand.
Paulien stresses how “O My Bag supports the concept of Trade, Not Aid, which means part or all of a company’s supply chain involves trade in a country with a struggling economy. While there is clearly no question of the value of aid to these developing countries, developing trade relationships in these same countries offers a realistic long-term path for sustainable economies.” As a matter of fact, this brand mainly works with producers aligned with the World Fair Trade Organisation, in order to have a greater international platform.
Wesselink loves her workers and teamwork. To attest to this fact, not only does she give her bag some cheeky names, like Dirty Harry, Frankie Fierce, and Sleazy Jane, but she also honours some of her staff by gracing a bag with their names, such as Lou’s Big Bag and Betsy Petite. May we suggest the next range include the Clean Paulien? The Positive Patrick? Hmm….better leave the naming up to them!
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