I searched for substance in fashion. When I found it under the name of Banda Bags. With so much talk about sustainable fashion and a plethora of fashion brands venturing smoothly in to structuring a sustainable business structure, Banda Bags is just one of many bridging the gap between luxury fashion and humanitarian. Sumatra, is know for stunning views, a tropical feel and herbal – off the radar medicines. And now for Banda Bags and fashion.
WHO IS BRIANNA?
I am an Aries. Explorer, adventurer, entrepreneur and defender of the underdog. I am a lover of culture and languages. I have lived in a few different countries (currently residing in Sumatra) My career is 24/7 Banda Bags. Meanwhile, my studies were in CAM (Complimentary and Alternative Medicine), something I have always loved learning about and I have a Masters in Health Communication, because I love writing about what I have learned.
WHAT WERE THE BEGINNINGS OF THE BRAND?
I was on a trip to Sumatra a few years ago filming my Docu-Series about natural medicines, something Sumatra is filled with, and I stumbled upon these amazing, artisanal-made bags in one of the bigger cities. After some time, I was able to track down where they came from and I found out that the majority of the artisans who made the bags are tsunami survivors and have been through the unimaginable, so I felt compelled to help them and bought a lot. Normally you are supposed to negotiate prices as a foreigner, but I just overpaid anyway. How are you going to negotiate prices with people who have lost everything in their lives!? Overtime, I found myself visiting Sumatra more (it is just so beautiful and untouched!) and I continued helping the artisans out while getting more involved in the design and production. Eventually it evolved into a business and now a brand!
HOW ARE YOU INSPIRED BY THE WOMEN AND MEN WHO CREATE THE BAGS?
Oh my gosh, resilience isn’t an adequate enough word for the people I work with. I mean, there are some who lost their entire family (mom, dad, brother, sister, etc.) then had to live in a tent for two years and basically had to build a brand new life. I sometimes question if God could exist for such an atrocity, yet they have chosen God to help them get by. I am inspired so much to just lets things be. There are so many aspects of life we cannot control or have answers for, but you just have to move forward and they have inspired me to do so.
WHAT ARE THE BRAND’S VISION AND GOALS
Banda Bags’ message is about keeping it real…to be unique…to be different. We don’t follow any trends or seasons or any business models because I don’t even know what they are. I just go with my intuition, let the artisans take control of the designs and leave the rest to this amazing community we’ve built- my Banda Babes. I am just so tickled at how awesome our followers are. They are so supportive and even help me and give ideas! This brand is built upon the artisans and our followers and I intend to keep it that way. My goal eventually is to grow Banda Bags around the world, be able to empower more artisans and women and influence people to shop more ethically and responsibly and be unique in the process!
DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO WORK IN FASHION?
No! I actually know nothing about fashion and have always received hand-me-down clothes from my sister. I wear the same stuff all the time. As I mentioned, I have always been interested in natural medicines and writing. And my plan is actually to split my passion of natural medicines and healing with Banda Bags. I am actually just about to launch a blog where I can share more information about what I have learned living here in Sumatra.
HOW HAS BANDA BAGS CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
For starters, it has made me grow up a lot! I can no longer just save up money and go blow it all on a trip. I am so much more responsible and now any money I earn goes straight back into the company! Haha. But it feels good. Especially because I was able to recently raise and donate money to my favourite environmental organisation, Orangutan Foundation International. We also had an earthquake here and I donated a portion of our sales to the village nearby that got hit really bad. Being in a position to help people and causes (remember my zodiac is the defender of the underdog) makes my life worth living… Well, that and travel! And I am making sure I do both thanks to Banda Bags!
HOW DIFFICULT HAS IT BEEN TO ESTABLISH THE BRAND?
Well, I have gone through some trials and tribulations, no doubt. Not too much in terms of selling the bags…On the contrary that has been the easier because the bags are so beautiful. It’s more like the hard lessons I have learned along the way and cultural differences. As much as I love helping people, you can’t help everybody and also get taken advantage of.
HOW HAS THE BRAND CHANGED CUSTOMER’S VIEW ON FASHION AND INDONESIA?
Well I do believe that our customers are moving more away from the big department store and luxury brand purchases and understand more the power of their purchase. They see who is making their bag and how special and unique it is, not to mention the remote area from which it comes from. Plus, I can’t even count how many customers have said they get more compliments on their Banda Bags. It’s just something I have heard often and when I tell my artisans and they feel so proud. They are very proud of their culture and be able to share it with the world.
Visit here to buy the collection