Arlene Nilsson - Hemptress

Finalist of the The Timberland Best Green Handbag

United States

2010 Finalist Arlene Nilsson Hemptress


What is your bag made out of?
the body is 100% organic hemp, with a bonded leather trim (made from recycled leather). The lining is a hemp/silk blend. The inside zipper is made from recycled materials, and the outer metal zipper is of the very highest quality (because a bag is only as sustainable as its zipper.) Our hangtags and all promotional material are printed with soy inks on recycled paper.

What made you decide to create a "Green Bag"?
While designing for other companies, I realized that one average sized tote made out of lambskin would require 2 animals to be killed. Then I started researching eco-friendly alternatives and was astounded at how amazing hemp is, When i found out that it is illegal to grow hemp in the US, I decided that I had to start making bags out of hemp in the hopes of popularizing it more so that people will want the laws to be changed.

Where are you bags made? Are they made by hand or manufactured?
Since hemp comes from China, I am making my bags in China; just south of where the hemp is grown, milled, woven and dyed.

Where are bags sold?
In boutiques, catalogues and online. We will be selling them retail on our website in April, but you can buy them at www.greenwithglamour.com starting March 1st.

What is your design philosophy?
I believe that if a designer really tracks trends well, they can design ahead of the curve instead of "following" fashion trends. That way the bags can stay stylish for many years. Also some fashion is too extreme and one has to make a decision about what looks have sustainability, and which ones don't.

See other finalists from the 2010 handbag awards