Who Made Your Bag?
We partner with factories in Kolkata, India and travel there twice a year. Having worked with these small factories for over many years, the workers have become like family and we were lucky enough to share some special moments together on our most recent visit. We thought Fashion Revolution week was the perfect opportunity to introduce some of the people who make your bags, and read about their stories, dreams and happiest moments.
Tanjilibibi, Dust Bag Lady
Tanjilibibi recently took part in a training as one of the ladies that produce our dust bags. Organized by O My Bag, the training focused on self-care, home economics and women’s rights.
“I really enjoyed the training on self-care, home economics and gender equality today. It was great to hear about women empowerment and it was valuable to learn about how to invest, save and manage my money for my family.” Tanjilibibi told us about her saddest moment in life, 6 years ago when her husband passed away from a stroke. Her husband sold vegetables and fruits at the local market to make a living. Now Tanjilibibi has to take care of her 2 children on her own – her 14-year old son and daughter of 8.
Before sewing dust bags, Tanjilibibi worked for a water purifying company. She has been working as a dust bag lady for one and a half years now and she really like it. “I enjoy working with other women, receive fair wages and was happy to receive the necessary training. I grew up in a large family and attended school before entering into an arranged marriage. I was quite young but my husband was a very good man and loved me very much. We had ten years of happy marriage and I am very sad that he is gone. The best thing in my life? My marriage and the birth of my two children.”
Tanjilibibi’s biggest dream is to complete her school education, something she had to stop in order to marry. She hopes her kids can finish their education and will be able to secure good jobs and become good people like their father was. “My husband was the most influential figure in my life because of the love we had for each other.”
Rita, Head of the Edge Coloring Division at EMA
O My Bag has been working with our factory EMA right from the very beginning in 2010. Rita started working at EMA in 2005 as a trainee and got offered a permanent job in 2006.
She was excited when she heard from her neighbours about EMA as an organization that is looking to empower women and provide sustainable livelihoods by producing various types of fair trade products.
“I have become the head of the edge coloring division and it’s now my responsibility to make the decisions when it comes to color matching. My job is very important to me, so I like to work separately from the other colorists to have an environment where I can concentrate on mixing the colors perfectly.” The work at EMA has allowed Rita to take care of her son since her husband passed away, as she manages her family’s finances now. Her son is currently training to repair mobile phones and computers.
Rita’s biggest dream? “My biggest achievement in life would be for my son to establish a good life for himself with proper work and a family.”
Ab Sharan, Machine Operator at EMA
Ab works at EMA as well, as an expert in leather machines for splitting and skiving – processes used in leather crafting. He grew up in a small village, where it is very peaceful and quiet. Ab has many happy memories of that place, as there is no pollution, many green trees, and a nice pond for washing.
Ab completed school and was 16-years old when he graduated. Afterwards he started a 3-year training as a machine operator in Kolkata at Global Export and moved to the city. In 2007, Ab interviewed for a job as machine operator at EMA and has worked there ever since – 13 years and counting! Ab: “My grandfather taught me everything that’s important in life – to be well educated, to love and to take care of my family.”
Ab’s happiest moment? “The birth of my sister’s child was one of the happiest moments in my life. I can’t wait to have children of my own one day.” Ab’s wife is currently doing a computer course, and he stresses that her education comes first. “Once she has completed the course, we are thinking about getting children ourselves. My dream would be to move back where I grew up to start my own family there.”
Sabin, Dust Bag Lady
As you may already know, all our leather items come with a same sized dust bag that will guard and protect your beloved bag. One of the women making these dust bags is Sabin.
Before Sabin worked as a dust bag lady, she was a housewife. “My brother-in-law told me about the job as a dust bag lady, which seemed like a great match because of my stitching skills. If I can save enough extra money, my dream is to buy a new golden bangle for myself. I would like everyone who owns an O My Bag and takes it out of the dust bag to know that I made it and that I am very happy to be able to do that.”
She has been married for the last three years but she is proud to be able to provide for herself now with the money that she earns. Talking about a strong independent woman! Her message to the owners of an O My Bag: “I want to say thank you for buying the bags and for providing me with a job! A few weeks ago, we had a very big order from a client, so I had to work late to finish it, but I was grateful about it.”
Pre-Loved Online Sale
During such strange times, these moments we shared with our workers become even more special. We want to do everything we can to help factories and workers both locally and internationally. Due to the nationwide lockdown in India, work for our factories has become challenging.
As a way to support our second family, all proceeds from our pre-loved sales will be donated to our partners in India. And until the 30th April, we are offering our pre-loved beauties with an additional 20% discount to find all of them a new home.
We hope you enjoyed getting to know some of the faces behind the O My Bag brand and want to thank you for your support during this time. If you’d like to know more about the Fashion Revolution and how we can achieve transparency with the industry, make sure you’re following us on Instagram.