Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Jen Lewis, executive director of Purse & Clutch, an online boutique founded in 2011 that sells fair trade purses and accessories, explains how this image represents her business.
For us, fair trade is a work of art that represents the time, talent, and design of other cultures around the world. We focus on celebrating the men and women who make the items we carry in our boutique, which carries only ethically made items to help create sustainable jobs for artisans in developing countries with limited opportunities. This picture shows the care and work that goes into a bag as well as the amazing diversity of each clutch.
I started Purse & Clutch after hearing about the amazing work one of my good friends was doing with an artisan group in Northern India called JOYN. After hearing the stories of how providing jobs for the people in this village was radically changing their lives for the better, I knew I wanted to find a way to help.
Since starting the business, we’ve expanded to include several other artisan groups around the world and work hard to curate a beautiful collection of ethically made handbags each fashion season.
One of the challenges we face is that there are a lot of preconceived notions about fair trade. A lot of people ask us what percentage we give back to the artisan groups we work with, but with our business model we don’t give back — we give first. We don’t want to create a charity in which artisans depend on us, but we want to connect talented makers to a market here in the United States, so that they are an equal partner in our business. We’re in this for long-term systematic change in the fashion industry because we believe that people matter and that we are intimately connected with those who make our clothes.