Charlotte Bingham-Wallis & Maria Costa - FROM BELO

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

Great Britain

2020 Finalist Charlotte Bingham-Wallis & Maria Costa FROM BELO

Charlotte Bingham-Wallis & Maria Costa FINALIST'S PROFILE

What country are your bags manufactured?

Please explain how your bags are socially responsible?
Our accessories are built to carry kindness. We proudly work with skilled artisans in poverty-stricken communities in Brazil to create our beautiful accessories from meticulously refurbished reclaimed materials, such as seat belts, plastic bottles, car seats, construction wood and excess fabric from the fashion industry. We believe in the dignity of fair wages, transparency in the workplace, and giving back from where we take. Our workers are all unionised, working 44 hours a week following Brazilian employment law, and earning above the Brazilian minimum wage - with a pension plan and health insurance - so they can provide a dignified life to them and their families. We also built strong relationships with our suppliers to ensure we are socially responsible throughout our supply chain. Every purchase supports our artisan’s community in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, by donating meals to the homeless and in need. So far, we have given 2308 plates of food via our partner charity Casa de Maria. They support, literate and feed people in need in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have maintained our social responsibility by honour existing contracts. Since our accessories are handmade, part of the work can be done at home. In the co-operative, we put in place strict health & safety rules and a rotating system of 3 workers per day.

Do you work with local/native artisans to design your bags?
Us, the founders, Charlotte (UK) and Maria (Brazil), lead the design concept and development, but we work as a team with our artisans from Brazil to create our beautiful accessories from recycled materials. We believe taking on their experience, heritage and culture enrich our products and the meaning behind them. We know with our vision and their expertise, we can conquer the world with kindness!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, with working hours following Brazilian's employment law (44 hrs a week), in a positive environment where they feel respected/valued, and paid fairly above Brazilian minimum wage. We apply the World Fairtrade organisation guidelines to our manufacturing practises and develop our practices alongside the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to ensure that we are working towards a better life for everyone who is part of our community. We know all our workers personally, and Maria (co-founder) leads the production process to guarantee that we practice what we preach. We are transparent and have no secrets. The people who make our beautiful bags play such an essential role in From Belo’s existence. Everyone deserves to be appreciated, paid well and safe, no 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 chose to create a bag for lives that would not only help stop hunger but would strengthen and grow the communities we work with. Our inspiration came from sharing both our experiences of working within poverty-stricken regions in South America. It is heartbreaking that globally we do not have the same opportunities. Some of these missing opportunities are just basic life necessities, such as food. Without food, we are unable to have the fuel to seize the day and prosper. Within the communities, we volunteered with the fight to be able to put food on the table was real. Children were regularly pulled out of school to work on the streets selling sweets. Without an education, the circle of poverty was highly likely to continue for these families. We could not ignore what was going on, so we decided to use the local artisanal skills to create a bag that would represent carrying kindness. Every bag is handmade by our artisans who are paid fair wages, and every purchase helps donate meals to the homeless and in need. So far, we provided 2308 meals.

Bag Description
The Helena bag made by From Belo. With Helena, you can carry more than just your belongings, you can carry kindness. This bag saves from landfill 200g of scraps of fabric and 12 meters of decommissioned seatbelts. 8 meals are donated to the homeless and in need in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. It comes with its own interior zipped pouch embroidered with our ethos “Feed Goodness into the world”, which is exactly what we do. $176

See other finalists from the 2020 handbag awards