DATA

THE PROS:

Purse & Clutch states that it works with suppliers who are part of the Fair Trade Federation or are Fair Trade Certified. The brand also works with suppliers who are not Fair Trade certified due to the high cost of certification, provided it is satisfied they can demonstrate that their work abides by the principles of Fair Trade.

Seamstresses for Purse & Clutch in El Rosario, Guatemala, get 5 personal days per year at half pay, as well as the local traditional bonuses of 1 additional month’s pay in August and in December.

Purse & Clutch reports that all of the artisan groups it partners with abide by the brands Ethical Principles, including: Artisans are paid a living wage for their region.

THE CONS:

We don’t have any information on if or how the brand monitors the environmental practices of its supply chain.

The brand does not publicly disclose that it is a part of any multi stakeholder initiatives to improve the social and environmental impact of its supply chain.

We do not have any information on whether or not the brand invests in any sustainable material innovations.

/ Purse & Clutch employs 9 women throughout the US and 1 in Guatemala who work part time on a commission basis.

/ The brand reports that, at the start of 2017, it employs a total of 19 people in its supply chain in Guatemala and Ethiopia, consisting of:

  • 6 leather workers in Ethiopia
  • 11 cotton spinners, thread dyers and weavers in Guatemala
  • 2 seamstresses in Guatemala

/ Purse & Clutch states that it typically partners with artisan groups who are under an umbrella of a non-for-profit organization that is dedicated to fair trade practices & understands the unique structure & needs of that particular community.

/ Purse & Clutch recently acquired an organisation called One Loom Designs in Guatemala, which exclusively makes items for the brands own label.

/ Purse & Clutch states that it makes design choices that extend the life of a product even if it’s more expensive so that a handbag will last season after season.

/ Purse & Clutch partners with an organization called Chiban Trading PLC in Ethiopia who helps develop the brands designs and produces them to order. Further production details are shared on the brands website here.

/ Purse & Clutch recently acquired an organisation called One Loom Designs in Guatemala, which exclusively makes items for the brands own label. Cotton is hand spun & botanically dyed at a co-op of women and managed by a local woman. Further production details are shared on the brands website here.

/ The brands tannery in Ethiopia is called Batu Tannery PLC.

/ The brands Ethiopian artisan group currently sources its hardware from YKK. The brand reports that while as far as it can tell YKK don’t have transparent labor practices, the hardware is the top of the line ensuring a longer product lifetime as it is higher quality.

/ Purse & Clutch states that each year on its anniversary, it shares the impact it has made over the previous year on the lives of the artisans it works with.

/ Purse & Clutch states that it works with suppliers who are part of the Fair Trade Federation or are Fair Trade Certified. The brand also works with suppliers who are not Fair Trade certified due to the high cost of certification, and reports that it is satisfied provided they can demonstrate that their work abides by the principles of Fair Trade.

/ Purse & Clutch reports that all of the artisan groups it partners with abide by the brands Ethical Principles, including: Artisans are paid a living wage for their region.

/ Purse & Clutch pays its artisans in Guatemala 50% upfront to cover their costs, and has agreed a price per thread bundle and per fabric, depending on how complicated the weaving pattern is.

/ Seamstresses for Purse & Clutch in El Rosario, Guatemala, get 5 personal days per year at half pay, as well as the local traditional bonuses of 1 additional month’s pay in August and in December.

/ Purse & Clutch is training 3 women as weavers in El Rosario to increase their production capacity.

/ The brand reports that its materials are sourced locally wherever possible, but that for materials it cannot source locally, its sources them from a supplier in the United States.

/ Purse & Clutch states that its Guatemalan leather is sourced locally, and from different tanneries. The brand is in the process of tracking each source of leather.

/ The brands artisans in Guatemala weave by hand on a backstrap loom, that requires no electricity to operate.

/ The brands dyeing procedure in Guatemala follows a traditional Mayan process of creating botanical dye from bark, cochineal insects or dried flowers. Each color is made by boiling these natural ingredients in water for about 10 minutes. Once the liquid is strained, the raw cotton thread is dipped over & over. The more times the thread is dipped into the dye, the darker the final color. The finished thread is then hung to dry in the sun.

/ The brand reports that every inch of fabric & leather is used by adding keychains, coin purses, and tassels to the brands product line. When fabric is made during the training of a new weaver, Purse & Clutch use that fabric during the training of a seamstress on a new product or make it into a make up bag or keychain.

/ Purse & Clutch hopes to increase the number of artisans it works with from 19 to 24 by the end of its Spring 2017 collection.

/ Purse & Clutch states that its Guatemalan leather is sourced locally, and from different tanneries. The brand is in the process of tracking each source of leather. The brand has submitted a series of questions on the sourcing of the leather, how it is treated and working conditions for employees at the leather shop, and will report back the answers when it has received a response.

/ By the end of 2018, Purse & Clutch aims to move to a salary model based on a living wage for each region of the country in which its paid team members work.

 

/ Purse & Clutch states that it employs weavers and seamstresses in Guatemala, and leather workers in Ethiopia, to break the cycle of poverty in countries with limited job opportunities.

/ Purse & Clutch shares examples of how working for Purse & Clutch has positively impacted the lives of its artisans on its website, such as being able to open a bank account, or learning how to read and write.

/ Purse & Clutch publishes regular blogs, including tips on how to shop ethically, how to care for your clothes and accessories, ethical gift guides and profiles of participants in its Apprenticeship programme.

/ Whilst establishing the brand, Purse and Clutch founder Jen Lewis did not pay herself a salary. She began to pay herself a salary of 10% of sales from April 2013.

/ The brand reports that all employees currently make 10% of sales from the projects they manage.

/ There are no reported management scandals or issues.

 

/ The brands dyeing procedure in Guatemala follows a traditional Mayan process of creating botanical dye from bark, cochineal insects or dried flowers. Each color is made by boiling these natural ingredients in water for about 10 minutes. Once the liquid is strained, the raw cotton thread is dipped over & over. The more times the thread is dipped into the dye, the darker the final color. The finished thread is then hung to dry in the sun.

/ Purse & Clutch reports that what sets it apart from other brands using Guatemalan fabric in their designs, is its ability to redesign the fabric, creating modern color and weaving combinations to appeal to a wider customer base.

/ The brand reports that every inch of fabric & leather is used by adding keychains, coin purses, and tassels to the brands product line. When fabric is made during the training of a new weaver, Purse & Clutch use that fabric during the training of a seamstress on a new product or make it into a make up bag or keychain.

VOICES

NANCY FLORES | AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN

Jen Lewis, founder of Austin-based accessories company Purse & Clutch, says that millennials are accustomed to identifying international social issues through technology and asking, “What can I do to help?

“I hear about the needs of the world so much that it’s hard to escape,” Lewis, 30, says. “With all the information available, people are starting to realize they have a choice (about helping). My job is to make that choice easier.”

” – 05/23/2014

 


 

JEN LEWIS, FOUNDER | BUSINESS NEWS DAILY

For us, fair trade is a work of art that represents the time, talent, and design of other cultures around the world. We focus on celebrating the men and women who make the items we carry in our boutique, which carries only ethically made items to help create sustainable jobs for artisans in developing countries with limited opportunities.”

We’re in this for long-term systematic change in the fashion industry because we believe that people matter and that we are intimately connected with those who make our clothes.”