SUBMITTED BY TONIA MARIE HARRIS
From the beginning, Fe Handbags sought to improve the lives of the Colombian indigenous tribes, particularly the creative women who were trained from early years in the ways of cultural artisanship.
The company’s motto- “The Power of waiting is a virtue! Accept that everything has perfect timing… it’s a matter of faith”- acknowledges a story that began centuries ago when the tribes of Colombia perfected the artisanship and traditional skills now exemplified in their handbag and jewelry lines. This motto also encompasses the social movement that inspired the beginning of a company whose integrity goes beyond the elegance and sustainability of its products and to its desire to empower displaced women.
We spend a tremendous amount of time learning about the cultural significance of the indigenous patterns we use, and ensuring that the patterns are respectfully and tastefully integrated into our designs.
Valentina Palacios, CEO of Fe Handbags says of their primary duty, “What make Fe unique amongst its peers is the social mission that underlies and drives the brand. Fe was born to help to solve the social problem of indigenous homeless people, specifically women, from Chocó that live in Medellín, Colombia. Our aim is to empower these women by giving them a means to earn a steady income using the traditional cultural techniques they were taught in their tribes. By doing so, we hope to keep them off the streets, and give themselves, their children and their families a chance to improve their lifestyle without sacrificing their traditions and culture.”
The foundation of this quiet revolution in ethics is that everything available to the savvy buyer is 100% Colombian- all products are handmade by tribes such as the Embera and Tule communities, and all materials are locally-sourced from Colombia.
Indigenous women from the Embera tribe work collectively on the jewelry line . The culturally historic technique of the beading is called Eunai Kadai. Each piece takes one to two days to create and the process itself has its significance in the idea that the beading technique grounds the artisan in a meaningful relationship with Mother Earth. Any gold-plating finish is accomplished by skilled workers in Colombia.
The Tules and Embera Katio tribes are the creative force behind the “Mix and Match Tribes” handbag collection. This collection is the result of a collaboration of design and generational technique. It features a variety of handbags, all of the leather itself is Colombian cow leather selected by hand and often produced to resemble alligator, iguana, and even armadillo skin. The fabric is a graduation of layers, achieved by a technique called the molas. The Guadule (meaning “person who lives on the surface of the earth”) female artisans choose the number of colors and fabric layers before beginning the intricacies of layering the fabric, tracing the chosen design on each layer, then cutting and sewing each layer by hand. “We spend a tremendous amount of time learning about the cultural significance of the indigenous patterns we use, and ensuring that the patterns are respectfully and tastefully integrated into our designs. All the input materials are hand selected by us, and then stitched by Colombian artisans. We are deeply involved in every aspect of the production process, so that we can ensure the highest standards of quality,” Valentina sys of the company’s interest at every level of process and design.
Fe Handbags will be exhibiting its “Mix and Match Tribes” handbag collection and exuberant jewelry pieces at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource from February 5-8 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.
For more information or to purchase these remarkable products, please visit www.fehandbags.com