2017 FINALIST

Gabriela Lopez - Me Accessories

Winner of the The Trickle Up Most Socially Responsible Handbag



Ecuador



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2017 Finalist Gabriela Lopez Me Accessories

Gabriela Lopez FINALIST'S PROFILE

What country are your bags manufactured?
Ecuador

Please explain how your bags are socially responsible?
Me Accessories – Nuna Collection handbags are socially responsible because of our continued commitment to creating better sources of work in the industry, where employees enjoy their place in the production line and hence help us create the best product possible for the consumer. For our local production, we employ 8 local artisan workshops in the province of Pichincha, where approximately 24 artisans work. All workshops provide safe working conditions, competitive salaries and training. We create economic empowerment for the artisans ensuring fair-trade prices with high appreciation for their craft. Fair trade is the humane way that commerce should have always been. It is our commitment to ensure that all people that partake in the production of our goods are fairly recognized for their work and are provided with profit share benefits. In addition, we have contributed to the preservation of handwoven art, originating from indigenous artisans located at the Guayllabamba Valley. By adapting this technique into our production, we are showcasing the uniqueness and talent of our indigenous people and helping it to spread into other regions in the country. Finally, the decorations for our hardware are made out of tagua (ivory nut), a very special natural seed which provides an eco-friendly and sustainable detail for our handbags. Tagua is the seed of a unique type of wild palm tree, Phitelephas aequatorialis. This natural resource only grows in Ecuador and is the livelihood for many local communities.

Do you work with local/native artisans to design your bags?
Yes, we work with local artisans throughout the entire design and production process. First, when we plan the weaving, we look for design options together with the indigenous weaving artisans to ensure the original idea and the technique match. Later, for the pattern design we rely on leather craftsmen to build the patterns and finally, with the tagua artisans we develop the coloring and shape to produce the final touch that will decorate the bag’s hardware.

Working Conditions. (Are the manufacturers/artisans that are being employed being treated humanely, of age, and working in safe and acceptable conditions? Please explain)
All artisans and manufacturers that participate in our production respect all the local and international labor laws which provide safety for all workers. Child labor is forbidden and only adults work as apprentices or masters in the workshops. We have many cases of artisans that are women, who also take care of their children in the afternoons and only collaborate in the workshop part time in the mornings, allowing them the flexibility to take care of their families. There are many challenges that the artisan workshops usually face in my country, however, when our brand associates with them, we ensure continuous production for their ateliers so they can create permanent jobs. We believe in developing the full potential of all the people that work with us, not only focusing on their work skills but also on a more personal level, to motivate them to develop themselves to become better individuals. We want to be an enterprise of happy human beings that work together creating a better future.

Why did you choose this country to have your bags made and what made you decided to give back?
Once I finished my Fashion Marketing master degree from IFA - Polimoda in Shanghai and Florence, I decided to return to my home country of Ecuador to start my own line of fashion accessories. Since I started as an entrepreneur in 2010, I realized how many people depend on my success to create and maintain their jobs and source of incomes for their families. Ever since, making my accessories line successful is not anymore only about my dreams, it became a commitment to all the people related to my enterprise. In addition, this thought empowered me to think of better ways of improving life for all those within my sphere of influence. When I was living in France and Italy I realized how artisanal techniques and products were highly appreciated and valued above any others by the consumer. At the beginning this struck me because in my country that is not the case. This inspired me to find a way to incorporate the unique Ecuadorian artisan work into my designs to help preserve these techniques and create high quality handbags that could be very appreciated in the international market. Since 2014, I started producing my handbags in Ecuador and in these three years of experience I am very proud to have found first class artisans to associate with and discovered that together we have the potential to create beautiful and fashionable handbags. All my products have the premium finishing I originally envisioned, with very special care and attention to details. I contribute with first quality supplies and the design coordination while they contribute with their experience and technique to make them so unique. Together we create the Me Accessories -Nuna collection which means “spirit” in quetchua as all of us leave a bit of our souls in our creations. I am committed to make the Me Accessories -Nuna collection succeed in this fair-trade way because I want to help reduce income inequality in my country and showcase the immense passion and talent that is part of my culture and traditions.

Bag Description
Me Accessories - Nuna Collection, Achira Satchel Handbag, Woven Napa Leather, $620

See other finalists from the 2017 handbag awards