Prior to the launch of our online shop (August 22, 2015!!!), we wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes look into our production process. We love sharing our learnings along the way, and are excited to share the work of the women and the time and effort that goes into the making of each of our bags with you!
Most of our bags are made out of a mix of textiles exclusively found in India. For our Vintage Collection, we use previously owned and donated saris; each carrying a history behind them. These Vintage Collection bags stand out from the rest because they incorporate one-of-a-kind upcycled sari material that you cannot find anywhere else, and since each sari is unique, our vintage bags will never look the same!
The Design Process
The design of our bags is based on functionality, style, and the capacity of the women in India who are hand sewing each item. These ladies are sewing large quantities of bags and on average, it takes each woman roughly 3-4 hours to complete a travel bag. Even though these 6 women are ambitious and detail-oriented, we like to be sure that a high quality product is produced.
Production and Final Touches
After the materials and designs are sent over to the women, they get trained on how to produce each bag. Work begins with the precise cutting of the fabrics; unlike factories that mass produce their items, our women hand cut each piece of fabric individually, using patterns they have cut out of newspaper! Our founder Reshma offered to purchase cutting machines that allow them to cut several pieces of fabric at once, but the women humbly declined. They said each woman knows the way she likes to cut her material; one woman may add an extra 1/8 of an inch here and there, depending on her stitching habits.
Next, they move on to the most complicated part of the process, the hand stitching. The detailed designs of our bags consist of an inner lining and outer fabric which are sewn together with a lining in between the two. The three layers are then sewn together one seam at a time to create the vertical stitching pattern you see on your bags. When working with the women, Reshma also offered to purchase more electro sewing machines, as all of the women were using the manual type with a foot-pedal. Again, the women humbly declined. Power outages are so frequent in India, and using an electric machine means constantly being interrupted in the middle of their work. So they opted to continue on the manual machines (we decided to purchase one electric machine anyways in case they needed it). The manual process takes a bit longer, but these women are very skilled and take great pride in the care they take with each bag.
The final stage of product includes the finishing: hardware, zippers or closures added on that complete the bag. Before shipping the bags to the US, each bag is inspected and then they are sent on their way. Once the bags arrive here, we do a second inspection before it's shipped directly to your door!
As you can see, a lot of love goes into each and every bag here at Made with a Purpose and that's the way we intend to keep it. Seeing how much effort and time the women put into the bags gives us a great sense of pride and we hope it does the same for you! Be sure to grab one of these beauties for yourself on August 22nd, 2015 when we launch the our online shop!