The main impetus to founding TheUrbanCollective some years ago was the realization that the value and appreciation of handmade was missing in the retail experience. The globalization of consumer goods ~ mass production ~ had desensitized us to feeling the essence or "soul" of a personal possession was not important. It was decided at that time, in 2005, that sourcing limited edition collections were going to be the focus of the buying efforts for this retail venture.
Since then, I've traveled to many markets for fashion, home, gift and furnishings - from Las Vegas to New York, Atlanta and beyond - and the search is heartbreakingly brutal. Turns out, the majority of our initial collections were right in our home town of Miami with featuring local ceramicists and wood carvers from Latin America. Others were found through research of initiatives that were taking place internationally that carried the standard of workmanship and aesthetic that represented the brand and our style.
In recently reading Hand/Eye Magazine - an international publication that discusses design not only as a tool for development and income generation, but for environmental and social progress as well - I discovered a social enterprise that has "my" eye for design called Dutzi Designs.
Ariane Dutzi, a German designer, discovered the amazing talent of the Yucatan women on a trip to Mexico and made the decision to move there in 2009 to start her own social business where she could develop her handbag designs through the use of natural and recycled materials - using Burlap from recycled coffee bags as her featured material.
It has since become a place where men and women meet, work together and learn the basic rules of entrepreneurship. It was important for Ariane Dutzi not only to give people work, but to encourage and empower them. The men and women working for Dutzi Design need only to come to the workshop for training, pick up the materials and deliver the handcrafted bags. The craftsmen and craftswomen are free to work from home and are paid per bag they make. Your purchase will give more work to more indigenous people and enable them not only to provide for their families, but also strengthen the community in which they live and work.
"For me fair trade is about respect for one's culture, ones work and one's motivation in life," says Dutzi. In return, she focuses on high design detailing and quality as a driving force. My favorite pieces from her collection are featured here... definitely All Things Taj.