Sarrah Zadeh - La Mochi

Finalist of the The Most Socially Responsible Handbag

United States

2016 Finalist Sarrah Zadeh La Mochi


What country are your bags manufactured?

Please explain how your bags are socially responsible?
I created La Mochi to bring together my two passions of art and community growth. All La Mochi handbags must be handmade by independent artisans, follow the Fair-Trade guidelines, and help the communities of those artisans grow. We work with the Wayuu women of Guajira, an indigenous community in northeast of Colombia. We purchase the bags at a price the Wayuu ladies have set themselves and believe to be fair, and our small group of artisans follow the fair-trade guidelines in regards to hours spent working on La Mochi bags, and that their working conditions are comfortable. We also work with a woman in Bogota, who along with her sister and cousin, work from her apartment in putting the final touches to our handbags by fully lining them and placing pocket(s) on each bag. A certain percentage is not given bag into the community in terms of charity. I believe by working with these women and bringing business into their communities (by us having our bags made by them), they have the opportunity to grow strongly and proudly, having to learn to negotiate and handle finances. By being strong business people and artisans at the same time. With that said we do have a line called La Mochi Familia, and 100% of the profits from these items goes toward the fight against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children in Colombia (through our partnership with RENACER) When we reconstruct the traditional Wayuu bucket bag, the straps we have cut we convert them to beautiful key chains as part of our Familia line.

Do you work with local/native artisans to design your bags?
We work with the Wayuu women of Guajira, Colombia (in the northeast region of the country). We have taken the traditional Wayuu bucket bag, called Susu in their language, and reconstructed it to be more practical and modern for our clients. A task for which I asked permission and I needed their approval prior to us being able to cut and create a new bag. The Wayuu ladies, after some time had passed, taught me how to cut and create a new handbag without destroying their craft, which represents so much of themselves and their culture. We also have our own designs which the ladies create for us from scratch.

Working Conditions. (Are the manufacturers/artisans that are being employed being treated humanely, of age, and working in safe and acceptable conditions? Please explain)
The Wayuu women in our small group have set their own wages (the price they want for each bag sold, which varies depending on the price of material), also the hours that they will work for each bag. All of our bags are quoted a longer production time to make sure the women are not being worked long hours. Also we make sure the women are in comfortable working conditions.

Why did you choose this country to have your bags made and what made you decided to give back?
I live between Colombia and the States, being originally from Iran. I had always seen these beautiful bucket bags on the streets of Cartagena being sold by the Wayuu women, and it reminded me a bit of the artisans in Iran. An artist by trade, I also have always been interested in human rights, particularly women's rights (and women in Iran). I had worked with Amnesty International and Rotary International, and had been in search of some how bringing my art and helping women together. My husband came up with the idea of me working with the Wayuu women not only because of their craft, but mostly because they are one the poorest and underprivileged community in Colombia. I started to slowly build a relationship with a couple of the women and over time they took me in and taught me about their craft and culture. I created La Mochi on April 2013, the day I gave birth to my daughter, to be platform for these women; who had the desire and the need to work for themselves and their families. All of our artisans are strong and creative individual who want to work and provide for their families, however they simply do not have the resources to be seen or heard, and that is why I continue with La Mochi. In the near future, our goal is to open our own NPO to help women (mothers and children with providing aid in their health and educations) I do not believe in just giving charity because it is merely a bandage or a crutch to a much bigger problem, however if we educate and help their economies grow they will have the power to sustain themselves and their communities.

Bag Description
style name: SaSa Clutch silhouette: Clutch material: Cotton retail price: $158 usd

See other finalists from the 2016 handbag awards