Friends of Moyo World - O My Bag, Amsterdam
Finding the perfect bag is never an easy decision; whether it’s the size, color, style, or the brand that doesn’t work for you, finally deciding on one feels like a miracle. In the Netherlands, ethical handbag brand O My Bag has set out to make that decision a bit easier by creating elegant, everyday eco-friendly handbags that are made sustainably and consciously.
O My Bag’s founder, Paulien Wesselink, decided to create the ethical fashion brand after travelling to India in 2010 to visit leather manufacturers. Leather is one of India’s biggest export products, and after meeting with dozens of producers, she realized that a responsible approach was key. Paulien wanted to set up a social enterprise that would not only become profitable, but also give back by approaching business in a fair, sustainable manner.
With these ideas in mind came the ethical approach to O My Bag’s design. The process begins in Amsterdam where the designs are created; then, they are sent off to India where the bags are handcrafted and fairly made in Kolkata, India, from certified Fair Trade Organizations. In the area of Kolkata, every O My Bag is created with love in a safe and positive atmosphere: fair wages are paid, benefits are provided for, education and training are offered, and women and minorities are given equal-work opportunities.
In addition to these supportive practices, O My Bag has taken a sustainable stance by using eco leather for their sustainable bags, with a cleaner and safer tanning process, a reduced carbon footprint, and leather that is made with respect for the environment. Eco leather refers not only to the tanning process, but to how it is acquired as well.
All of the leather is made from cowhides that are sourced locally in Kolkata, and processed without the use of harmful chemicals. The leather pieces are off-cut pieces of leather that could have been thrown away or used as fertilizer – an unnecessary byproduct in the fashion industry. However, O My Bag salvages these unwanted pieces, tans it using organic and environmentally friendly methods, and develops them into handbags.
The story behind this brand is what makes it so meaningful. Any other high-end fashion label will sell you a pretty purse, but who knows how the materials were produced, or whether the workers were treated and paid fairly for their hard work. Choosing a purse from O My Bag is so special because we can see the connection that the buyers have to the designers, assemblers, and employees who worked together. There’s only one thing to say for all of their efforts to create these beautiful and ethical products: O My!