“We launched Laga Handbags to provide income for those who lost their livelihood, but what transpired is much, much more: we developed a personal relationship with the people of Aceh… and we left our hearts in their homes.” – Roy and Louise Van Broekhuizen.
As promised to you guys, everything we write about on Living 360 is about ‘enhancing one’s life’ and generally adding value, so this particular product touched us deeply and we had to share.
Shortly after the devastating tsunami that hit Indonesia in December 2004, California based trader of Indonesian origin, Roy Broekhuizen received a phone call that changed his life. To help with relief efforts like rebuilding houses and schools, he led a team of people to the disaster-struck province of Aceh. Once done, Roy returned, but knew there was more he could do.
Seeing the unique handicraft and embroidery skills of the women of Aceh, Roy and his wife Louise knew right away that they could do their part in helping these women earn a livelihood. And Laga Handbags was born. Roy and Louise made it their mission to help 1200 women in the Aceh province rebuild their lives. Apart from a 30-day training programme which teaches the employed women to operate traditional single pedal sewing machines, they are also taught to intricately embroider indigenous designs, with a contemporary twist. Women are also employed in the factory stocking boxes and packing them for shipment.
Laga Handbags does not pay a salary to Roy or Louise. For the women of Aceh, the income from the sale of these bags allows them to send their children to school, pay the rent and make a fair living. Even the Indonesian names given to the handbags offer hope – “Damai” for peace, “Percaya” meaning believe, “Sehat” for health – depicting the depth of thought that has gone into this project.
Not only are Laga bags exquisitely and painstakingly embroidered, they also undergo a strict Quality Control before being shipped. Every zipper and label, each thread is carefully checked. What’s more – because they are handmade, no two bags look the same!!
Check out some of their unique designs here – http://www.laga-handbags.com/handbags.html
In April 2010, Laga Handbags were featured on Oprah by Malaak Compton-Rock (Hollywood comedian Chris Rock’s wife), giving this fashion brand-with-a-heart some much needed publicity. Apart from Oprah herself, Laga’s celebrity clientele now includes Laura Bush, Rachel Melvin, Anita Perry, Brandy Norwood and Pauly Perrette.
Laga handbags, travel bags and wallets can be purchased online via http://www.laga-handbags.com/. The website also has heart-rending true stories of tsunami survivors who now earn a meaningful livelihood and are rebuilding their lives.
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