Our signature line of bags have been made by working directly with artisans in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and New Delhi, India. We are working with these artisan partners to produce thoughtfully designed and ethically made handbags to help end the cycle of poverty - proving the fashion industry can be a force for good.
These contacts and introductions were made through my dear friend Jen - owner of her own certified B Corp who brings over a decade of experience working with artisan groups. I met Jen on a life changing trip to Bali, Indonesia with a group of woman who all run their own impact-based businesses.
Our model in this process is to pay our artisan partners upfront. We purchase raw materials before production begins and then pay a mutually agreed upon fair wage for their time craftsmanship to eliminate their risk on production.
We are committed to the following set of values:
- No forced or child labor.
- Artisans are paid a living wage and work in positive environments.
- Our artisan groups are conscious of their social, economic and environmental impact on their country and ours, using as many natural techniques and dyes as possible.
- We have a strict nondiscrimination policy based on gender, race, caste, political affiliation or age.
Measuring & Cutting the Leather
Meet Israel. As the manager of the Addis Ababa workshop, Israel keeps every detail straight for each handbag while managing his team with grace and confidence. He's also the mastermind who transforms designs and patterns into life - giving invaluable feedback with his extensive knowledge of leather construction.
Typically, it's Israel who cuts the patterns from the leather before he hands them off to be sewn.
Sewing piece by piece
Meet Higemengist. He's the mastermind behind the sewing machine and sews in such a perfectly straight line you'd think it was impossible not to! His concentration and attention to detail is truly astounding.
Hand finished details
Meet Hafiza, Azeb, and Lydya. After the handbag is carefully assembled, these women tie the ends of each thread, seal the knot with a small flame, and trim the ends for a final polished look. These final details are incredibly time consuming, but the effect on the finished handbag is clear: this is high quality work.
In India, the age-old craft of leather crafting has been carried from one generation to the next by master artisans training master artisans for hundreds of years. But unfortunately, the global demand to produce leather faster and cheaper has decreased the value of these master craftsmen. In rural areas especially, many artisans struggle to find consistent employment.
Your purchase helps empower and employ the artisans who made it.
Sourcing the Leather
Our artisan partners work with remnant buffalo leather, which means it was first purchased by factories in large quantities and then discarded or left for waste after their orders were fulfilled.
This perfectly good leftover leather is then rescued by a local merchant where our partners start their search for enough of the right leather to match the products that have been designed.
This method of sourcing makes each small batch perfectly unique as well as a sustainable source for our leather.
Sewing piece by piece
The leather is then cut by hand using a template to get the exact measurements.
Hand finished details
After the handbag is carefully assembled, it's sewn together by hand on a sewing machine with care. These final details are incredibly time consuming, but the effect on the finished handbag is clear: this is high quality work.
We’re eager to continue to provide additional work with your help through your purchases and by helping us spread the word that we can make a difference little by little - handbag by handbag.
Hi, I'm Sara!
If you are new around these parts, let me first say welcome! I am so happy you are here. Secondly, you may be wondering who exactly is Terra Shepherd. Terra Shepherd is actually not a person - it is a business name, a place, a way of thinking, and a community.
It is my goal to connect you with your clothing on a deeper level than you likely ever have by telling the stories of the makers, fabrics, production practices, and brands I have selected to carry in the store. I hope to help you realize the incredible value of investing in garments you truly love and are excited to cherish for years to come.
This space is intended to be one in which we learn and grow together. I welcome and encourage your feedback - it will serve as my guide with this journal.
Welcome to Terra Shepherd friends.