LONDON, England, Monday November 21, 2016 – Imitation handbags and other goods pose significant problems for designers and the fashion industry generally. So, it’s encouraging when authentic luxury products are discovered that are ethically produced in a socially conscious manner.
Some of these exist within the Caribbean, including two highly distinguished hand-produced bag companies – MayaBags from Belize and REECII from St. Kitts and Nevis.
MayaBags is a handmade, design-driven women’s accessories collection of purses and items for the home inspired by nature and crafted with the artisanal skills and spirit of the Maya. With a model to support and empower Maya women, MayaBags aids in the building of a village economy.
Founded in 1999 by Judy Bergsma, Jovita Sho, Desiree Arnold, and five additional indigenous Maya artisans from different villages in the Maya Mountains of Belize, the company has been producing a range of contemporary designed bags using ancient skills, and teaching financial literacy, while celebrating creativity.
Today, the MayaBags talented team of shareholder-artisans has grown to over 90 people who meet the thirst for authentic high quality products that are ethically produced, and at the same time maintain an ancient skill and contribute towards the prosperity of the Mayan villages.
Just 2,500 kilometres to the west of Belize, in St. Kitts and Nevis, REECII is creating beautifully designed handbags crafted from naturally found materials. REECII enables communities to start by using what they have, to get to where they want to be, while investing directly in the lives of marginalized young people through education and vocational training.
All products are meticulously handcrafted by skilled artisans and are made from everyday materials such as plants, paper, or anything that can be recycled.
At REECII, they not only get their hands dirty making products, but also by wrestling the tough social issues, such as gang violence, HIV prevention, gender inequality, bullying, and substance abuse. When you own a REECII piece of art it helps the environment, fights poverty, reduces gang violence and supports the people of St. Kitts and Nevis in sustaining their customs and traditions.
These two companies will be among those featured when Design Caribbean pops up in Camden Market, one of London’s most sought-after shopping areas for those looking for an eclectic mix of unique gifts and hand-crafted products, later this week.
Design Caribbean is a programme of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, and funded by the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Regional Private Sector Development Programme, which the Agency is currently implementing. Its pop-up shop comes during the busy Christmas shopping season when London is bursting with tourists and locals looking for gifts for loved ones.