Charlotte Bingham-Wallis and Maria Costa - FROM BELO

Finalist of the The Global Goods Partners Magazine Most Socially Responsible Handbag

Great Britain

2019 Finalist Charlotte Bingham-Wallis and  Maria Costa FROM BELO

Charlotte Bingham-Wallis and Maria Costa FINALIST'S PROFILE

What country are your bags manufactured?

Please explain how your bags are socially responsible?
At From Belo, we stand firmly rooted in the belief that kindness is a daily practice that supports, and elevates our local and global communities. We proudly work with impeccably skilled artisans to create ethical fashion using reclaimed materials that are meticulously refurbished with great attention to detail. We believe in the dignity of fair wages, transparency in the workplace, and giving back from where we take. We make sure everyone that works with us are appreciated and respected. At From Belo, Fairtrade is the norm. We use skilled artisans from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Including many who had lost their work as they were unable to compete with the cheap labour in other parts of the world. These groups of people had unfortunatly fell into poverty as they were unable to get sufficient work. We not only decided to work with these amazing skilled people but also provide them with a living wage so that they can grow and prosper rather than just surviving. We also work with creative innovative artisans that have the dreams to develop their own new techniques to produce beautiful refurbished materials. We have invested in theses artisans from poor communities to help us develop these new techniques of recycling and upcycling, that way we all thrive and prosper together. Through Belo, they have a voice and an opportunity for a better life. We believe in building communities and making them stronger, that is why for every bag we sell we donate meals to the homeless and in need via our partner charity "Casa De Maria". located in the slums of Belo Horizonte, Brazil - where our artisans live. This charity works with the homeless and those in need in the city, offering a place to learn (tutors volunteer their time to provide new educational opportunities), to wash and to eat. That way they have the support to work towards a better life. We believe in rising by lifting others. In doing so, we literally reshape what is and empower what can be - all while being kind to our fellow humans and the planet. Not only do we create fashion that is beautiful, we create fashion that is kind.

Do you work with local/native artisans to design your bags?
The bag designs are developed by us, the co founders Maria, from Brazil, and Charlotte, from the UK, in collaboration with our very talented team of artisans in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. We ensure they have voice through the creations by taking on their experience to help keep the authenticity. We believe that working as a team helps us not only problem solve more effectively but also ensure that everyone feels valued as artists. We know with our vision and their expertise we can conquer the world! Another thing we do to value our workers and the volunteers of our partner charity Casa de Maria is naming our bags after them.

Working Conditions. Are the manufacturers/artisans that are being employed being treated humanely, of age, and working in safe and acceptable conditions? Please explain.
We believe that pain does not produce beauty. This is why we ensure that every worker that is hired by From Belo is of working age (18+), works in safe/clean conditions, reasonable working hours (40 hrs a week), in a positive environment where they feel respected/valued, and paid fairly above living wage. We apply the World Fair trade organisation guidelines to our manufacturing practises. We know all our workers personally and Maria (co founder) leads the production process to ensure that we can guarantee that we practice what we preach. We are transparent and have no secrets. The people who make our beautiful bags play such an important role in From Belo™s existence. Everyone deserves to be appreciated, paid well and safe, doesnt matter where they come from.

Why did you choose this country to have your bags made and what made you decide to give back? How have your bags impacted this community?
We have both experienced working with poverty stricken regions in South America. It is heart breaking that globally we do not have the same opportunities. Charlotte had worked in the National Health Service in the UK for many years and had never experienced the perils that severe poverty can place on a person, their family and the lack of opportunity for food. Charlotte volunteered in the slums of South America and felt she couldn't return home without doing something. She turned to her old school friend Maria who had set up an inspirational company that donated clothing to young women who lived in the slums of Brazil. Both inspired by each other stories, decided to start a social impact company that tried to break the poverty line and provide people with the basic energy to survive another day so that they could work, learn and have one less thing to worry about. Along this journey, we learnt that we could support people not only by giving food but by offering work. We chose to work in Belo Horizonte, Brazil at Maria's hometown - to start just so we could focus on one community and help it thrive. We chose to create bags that represented carrying kindness. A desirable item in its own right but would also be a way of creating income to provide meals for the homeless.We have dreams to expand this further globally as we grow.

Bag Description
From Belo, Gold & Blue Lucia, Tote, Decommissioned Seatbelts/ Upcycled Wood/ Recycled Plastic Bottles/Scraps of Fabric/, $99 This bag is a statement for a better world, that is why the inside pocket - formed from plastic bottle fabric - is embroidered with our mission: “ feed goodness into the world”. The colourful fabric represents the positive vibes of a world filled with kindness and love. The circle upcycled wood handle decorated with thread stands for the circle of kindness. It starts and ends with vision. Vision of sustainability. Vision of fair wages and artisans. Vision of a better world that takes what already exists and reincarnates it into new purpose. Our artisan Wartley gives a second life to scraps of fabric from the clothing industry by hand weaving them into this beautiful material. itted with an inner pocket. This bag Feeds Goodness Into the World by donating 3 meals to the homeless and in need in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

See other finalists from the 2019 handbag awards