I’m very excited to tell you about this amazing company I’ve discovered Catrinka that makes ethical fashion accessories from around the world. BUT there is so much more to these bags and accessories than that… Every bag really has a story because these bags are employing women in countries that meet Catrinka’s ethical criteria.
Catrinka is about leveraging the power of women and girls to invest in each other and the future. Catrinka pieces are made by women, who invest twice as much of their income in their families as men. And with each bag sold, Catrinka provides a week or more of education and mentoring in crucial life skills for adolescent girls on the margin, so that they have the tools to take charge of their own future. Girls who have the ability to postpone marriage and childbirth beyond the age of 12 or 14 can make a better life for themselves, and then invest in the next generation.
Now, this all sounds well and good but even better is that these bags are just wonderful. I’m in LOVE with their new Indian Summer Collection. India is a colorful country I recently visited and this collection reflects that wide range of brilliant colors. India is also a place of extreme poverty and opportunities for women are far less than men. Here are the stories behind the Indian Summer Collection.
The Kanta Weekender
The Kanta Weekender is a hand drawn Indian street scene embellished with hand embroidery and mirrors by a mother-daughter team in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The bag is named for Kanta, the 33 year old daughter on the team. Bhagwati, Kanta’s 52 year old mother learned the embroidery craft from her mother and taught Kanta when she was 10. Kanta and Bhagwati were both born and raised in Jodhpur, known as the blue city for its tradition of washing homes in light blue. This dreamy bag fits this imagery perfectly, don’t you agree?
The embroidery work used for the snowflake pattern comes from Chikankari, originating out of Lucknow, and is called the Ulta Bakhiya stitch. The mirror work is traditional to Jodhpur. Each panel takes 2 days to complete. Locally, Kanta and Bhagwati are known for their hand embroidery talents, and Catrinka is excited to bring their work to the world. Each bag made provided 3 days of fair work to women in India. The sale of each bag will provide a week of life skills mentoring for adolescent indigenous Mayan girls through Catrinka’s NGO partner, Redmi.
Lalita Beach Bag
The Lalita Beach Bag is a Lola Approved item since it is SO PINK! And, PLEASE, don’t the “beach” fool you. This bag has become my full-time summer bag. The inside is lined with contrasting fabric and 3 pockets perfect for holding everything from your iPhone to your favorite lip glosses. The bag was stitched and assembled from market fabric in a small woman-owned workshop in New Delhi by a number of women including Lalita. The workshop was established in 1996 with the motive of reviving the dying arts of India, and providing regular work to home workers – women in India who traditionally work irregularly from their home to earn income while also retaining responsibility for their work at home. The workshop’s directors also run and fund a girls school that offers free tuition and midday meals. Each bag provided 1 day of fair work to women in India. The sale of each bag will provide a day of life skills mentoring for adolescent indigenous Mayan girls through Catrinka’s NGO partner.
Anita Bucket Bag
I just adore the Anita Bucket Bag. It reminds me of a dear friend, also named Anita, who just loved colorful things and would have worn this bag with true style. The bag was stitched and assembled from market fabric in a small woman-owned workshop in New Delhi by a number of women including Anita. The workshop was established twenty years ago to preserve the dying arts of India, and providing regular work to home workers. The workshop’s directors also run and fund a girls school that offers free tuition and midday meals. Each bag provided 1 day of fair work to women in India. The sale of each bag will provide a day of life skills mentoring for adolescent indigenous Mayan girls through Catrinka’s NGO partner.
Educating a girl is the single most effective way to reduce poverty around the world, and can literally change the world. We invest in girls because when girls have full access to their rights and are empowered and supported, they transform structures of poverty and inequity. That not only positively impacts their own lives, but entire communities, countries, and the world.
More on Catrinka’s NGO Efforts
Since early 2014, they have been working on a pilot project with a Population Council program called Abriendo Oportunidades (AO) and one of their NGO’s, Redmi in Guatemala. AO is a community-based initiative (it was founded by the first female Guatemalan doctor) to provide education and life skills mentoring to indigenous Mayan girls aged 8-19. In Guatemala, 14% of girls start secondary school, 3% graduate, and only 1 in 10,000 goes to university. There is enormous work to be done to make it possible for these girls to access the life skills and basic education they need to survive, and the further training and education they need to thrive. AO has found that many girls who enter the program between the ages of 8-12 face enormous pressure not to continue past age 15, because they need to generate an income. The pilot project with AO is to develop a mentoring program for these girls (aged 15-19), which will give them an excuse to spend time in their safe spaces; while they are there to be educated on reproductive health and other crucial information by the mentors in our program; to develop their social network with their peers; and to practice and deepen their financial literacy skills.
HOW LOVELY that you can do all of this just with the purchase of a beautiful bag!