Last week, George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minnesota. There's been an outpouring of supportive messages for #blacklivesmatter and justice for George Floyd on social media. It's not just about George Floyd: it's about Atatiana Jefferson, Ahmaud Arbery, Aiyana Jones, Mike Brown, and so many others who came before him. We must end systematic racism, both conscious and unconscious.
I've spent a lot of time over the weekend reflecting how I can do better personally and how we can do better as a business. We must open our minds to the reality of racism faced by many across America and aim to become anti-racist in both thought and action. We need to teach our children, we need to have tough conversations with family and friends, we need to support black owned businesses, we need to vote, we need to donate to organizations that support what is happening in Minnesota and beyond, and we need to do better. When the social media exposure slows, it will matter just as much if not more, how we proceed from here. We must stand up to what’s wrong, speak up, and take action to promote equality and tolerance on every level. Most importantly, we must listen and be allies. We should listen not to fix, but listen to learn.
I always strive to be inclusive on our site, but I know we can do better in our coverage. I will do a better job about including Black owned and other minority owned bag brands, while also featuring more people of color in our editorials. Aurora James, founder of Brother Vellies, shared her thoughts on how we can do better: support Black owned businesses by buying product from them. The Black community makes up 15% of the population and her call to action is to give Black owned businesses 15% of shelf space at retailers. While we aren't a retailer, we do introduce you to brands to shop, and while there is much more to be done on micro and macro levels, it's important to make changes now.
Aside from donating monetarily, one way I feel can help right now is spotlighting Black owned handbag brands on our platform. We will continue to feature other Black owned and minority owned handbag brands on a regular basis.
If you want to deepen your anti-racism work, here is a comprehensive document with resources on books for kids, podcasts, articles, videos and more.
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In 2013, Aurora James founded Brother Vellies with the goal of utilizing traditional African design practices and techniques while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs. My favorite bag is the newest member of the Brother Vellies handbag family, the Nile in Mint, which features embossed leather and a wooden hand-carved logo handle from Kenya.
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Founded by self taught designer and artisan Valerie Blaise in Brooklyn, New York. VAVVOUNE bags are sleek, with my favorite, the Riya, featuring one curved side while the other has straight lines.
Check out his designs here
Growing up in both New York and Tokyo, Brandon Blackwood released his namesake label in Spring 2015 with a 4 piece collection of bags which immediately garnered accolades from major publications. Quite a few bags are sold out on his site, but I really like his Sophia Shoulder Bag which is made of burnt suede, a practice created by Blackwood.
Shop her designs here
Yvonne Koné created her namesake label in 2011 and is one of Denmark’s preeminent designers. Her line exudes an effortless style that upholds story and heritage with a dynamic cultural background. Her Large Filippo Bag is beautiful and great for daily use, plus it's crafted from leftover leather.
Founded in 2017 by co-founders Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece, ASHYA is a New York–based label focusing on unisex travel accessories. The Palmetto Belt Bag is really cool, plus it's hand-stitched and features custom 14K gold plated hardware.
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A A K S was founded by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi. Her goal was to introduce the world to her favorite weaving techniques done by the women of Ghana while also creating and igniting sustainable jobs within Africa. All bags are handcrafted in Ghana.
Shop her bags here
Agnes Baddoo is a designer and stylist, who focuses on investigating our ever-changing environment through fashion. Utilizing genuine craft and techniques, Baddoo creates well-made and classic leather goods.
While he doesn't have a huge bag assortment, T-Michael does offer a handful of leathergoods in his line. As a bespoke tailor, designer, and artist, his conceptual approach to men’s tailoring inspired by his love of sartorial traditions, offers a very design-focused and creative collection.