Archive for May, 2008

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I have written previously about my struggles to find an expression of the feeling of this brand among the records of human culture. My failure to find what I was looking for lead me to two things:

1. An empty canvass from which to create something brand new that meant exactly what I wanted it to

2. The realization that human beings don’t have something they need. If after weeks of searching, I could not find ONE story of a female hero who makes a difference in the world and gets a reward, then that means most people have never heard a story like that.

We have heard dozens of tales of strong men, fighting big bad beasts in long and glorious battles. And those kinds of hero stories are important in our world as metaphors for a lot that we encounter in life. But there are so many people who give their lives working for what they think is right, making a difference because they feel it is the only right course of action, not because they are after the prize. We don’t have a word for that kind of person. We don’t have any legends that talk about that kind of heroism.

The sad part is that these are the people who make the greatest difference. These are the people we need more of. And they are not in our consciousness enough for us to give them their own word.

The Eskimos have 14 words for snow: a reflection that snow is important to them and on their mind. As soon as something has its own word, it becomes more crystalized in our consciousness.

So it seems my project to develop a brand has expanded. I want to create a social revolution. And I want these bags to be a part of it.

Buying one of these bags gives a woman the chance to make a difference. But the difference they get to make is not like slaying a dragon. It has to do with community, and problem solving and win-win. This project is about bringing consciousness to the existence of women change-makers, giving them the opportunity to make a difference in a new way, celebrating them and giving them the community of each other.

Since the canvass is clear, to express these feelings, I dug into Greek and Latin roots and pieced together a word that meant power and feminine. At the moment, it won’t sound familiar. But I hope that within the year, you’ll know what it means.

The word is Vala.

I will use the word Vala to describe women who make a difference in the world in a feminine way, taking into account community and interconnectedness, who aren’t in it for the glory. I bet you know a few Valas, too. Let’s talk about them and empower them and give them a word. If you see the need for more such people and you want to recognize them, refer to them as Vala. If you have a woman in your life that fits this description, call her Vala.

I will make my bags part of this social revolution: that is their brand identity. They are Vala Bags.

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Here is the website I made for the Wounaan artisans who carved my vegetable ivory logos.

There are still a few things to polish, but you are free to peruse their creations! www.carpioarte.com

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I recently received the photographs that were taken with Amy, a former professional model who is dedicating 3 years of her life to service. Part of that service was in the same community that makes the bag. She loves the bag project and vowed to help me. She and her friend Jenny, a professional photographer, took these for me. Here is a sample of some of the photos I got.

fair trade handbag

I realized when I saw the photos, that not only does the project benefit from the glamorous displays of the bags, but even more so from the creativity of their minds- minds that are not mine. Sometimes it feels like little me is trying to make such a huge impact on women and on the world, that I just need energy and input and points of view from other women- to help me carry it, to feel like it really is the work of a community. Amy is the target market for these bags and she tells me that women like her will relate to these photos. That is such precious information: I got market research, and professional photos all in one.

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I tried so hard to find the perfect symbol. I researched legends, dug for stories, looking for something that already had the meaning that I was trying to create.

woonan artisans tagua logo

And just as I seemed to hit rock bottom in desperation, I got a lightning flash realization: in creating something new, I can’t look for it among things that already exist.

logo handbags fair trade tagua seed

I can’t say that I found this symbol -it found me. It is powerful. It is feminine. It is natural. It looks beautiful on the bags.

The Woonan artists carved each one of them by hand and, at my request, instead of using the usual craft paint to add color, they used one of their natural dyes from boiled cocobolo wood.

It will not be complete until the name is placed on it (in the center), but we are off to a beautiful start. So far each part of the bag is handmade, fair trade, and 100% environmentally responsible, organic plant material.