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Dressed to Give readers know I love highlighting businesses that are giving back in style.
I've blogged about shoe companies and boutiques that have made giving back a part of their business model, and I've been thrilled to see an upsurge in fashion-focused entrepreneurial ventures lately that have a strong commitment to philanthropy.
One of my favorites is five ACCESSORIES, based in Chicago but with a global focus. five ACCESSORIES features a collection of handbags and accessories made from sustainable or recycled materials made by artisans in five regions (hence the name): Bali, Honduras, India, Cambodia and Chicago. five ACCESSORIES supports income-generating programs for people in need in these areas and also donates a portion of the proceeds to a local nonprofit in each of these communities ($5 for each bag, 15% for each accessory). For example, if you purchase this amazing coconut bag (which will be in my closet soon), not only are you supporting a Balinese artisan, but also $5 of your purchase goes to a Balinese nonprofit that allows underprivileged children to continue their education. Check out the Giving Back page of the company's site for more info.
From $5 to five ACCESSORIES
Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with the founder of five ACCESSORIES, Christine Hutchison, to learn more about her company. She and her husband got the idea for five ACCESSORIES on a trip to Bali. Their tour guide told them how an American couple had given him $5 and what a huge difference that had made in his life from encouraging him to finish his education and to send his children to school as well. "The large impact that $5 had on his life and the fact that he was still so grateful for that gift many years later inspired us to create five ACCESSORIES," said Hutchison.
To get started, five ACCESSORIES linked up with existing organizations that work with local artisans to make fashionable and unique products. "We wanted to work with organizations that were also fair-trade certified and in areas receptive to income-generating programs," explained Hutchison. The company maintains direct contact with all of the organizations that supply the products and the nonprofits they support, ensuring that working conditions meet their standards and that their donations are being spent as expected.
Stylish and Successful
In order to provide on-trend products to their customer base, five ACCESSORIES usually tweaks or customizes the items the artisans are producing, like adding a gold chain to a bamboo handbag. Hutchison understands that to reach college students and young people in their 20s and 30s, she has to get serious. About fashion that is. If the products don't look good, then no one is going to be interested in buying them, despite the philanthropic component. The company is continuing to expand and evolve their product line, often relying on interns from Chicago's art and design schools to weigh in on what's hot and what's not.
Hutchison firmly believes she can do well by doing good and has big plans for five ACCESSORIES. While the products are currently available online or in various retailers around the US, she hopes to have five ACCESSORIES store fronts some day. In addition, she sees opportunities to expand by offering items for men and the home as well. five ACCESSORIES also operates 2 blogs about eco-couture, fair trade, and gives updates on its sponsored nonprofits. You can also follow the organization on Twitter and Facebook.
I'm excited to see what's in store next for five ACCESSORIES... in the meantime, I'll be placing my order for the cream coconut bag and the silver clutch made from recycled chip bags and the bangles from Bali and the...
Check out the online store here! Do you know about similar businesses that are giving back in style? Let me know in the comments below!