Ethiopia is the fastest growing economy in Africa and since 2010, reportedly one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Despite this progress, however, it’s still one of the poorest nations with a per capita income of just US$790, and its capital Addis Ababa, faces many poverty-led social problems; including human exploitation and the trafficking of women for prostitution, though most hardly make any money to survive. The issue is so bad in fact, that girls as young as eight years of age are forced to sell their bodies.
Thankfully, California-based brand Parker Clay is doing something about the problem. The business employs vulnerable women to create beautiful leather bags, giving them an opportunity to be economically independent and earn a sustainable income, all whilst getting them off the streets.
The lifestyle brand –named after husband and wife founders Ian and Brittany Bentley’s kids Parker and Clay– was launched after the couple traveled to Ethiopia to adopt their first child in 2011. They returned a year later, moving to Ethiopia permanently (eventually adopting their second daughter in the years that followed). When they arrived in Addis Ababa, they came to learn about the many young women and children without education and job opportunities having to resort to prostitution to make a living; some even being sold into human trafficking.
After Ian discovered a beautiful artisan-made leather bag, he immediately realized it would make the perfect business with which to employ women and give them safe and sustainable opportunities. Thus Parker Clay was born.
Currently, there are over 100 Ethiopian women working with Parker Clay, with the company aiming to employ one hundred more by the end of 2020. And that’s where we come in. We want to help make that happen.
With Christmas just around the corner, a gift of a Parker Clay bag or accessory is more than just a Christmas gift, it’s a real chance to offer dignity and hope to vulnerable women in one of the poorest countries in the world.
So here are my top picks from Parker Clay’s gorgeous range:
The ideal high-fashion clutch for formal events or date nights, the Nyala Foldover Clutch is the perfect find; beautiful and functional, it will fit in all the essentials. Crafted from premium Ethiopian full grain leather, it’s the ideal gift for fashion lovers that have classic style preferences.
It’s not a Carrie Bradshaw belt bag but it’s definitely just as stylish. You can wear it in two ways – have it wrapped around your waist or slung across your shoulders with its removable crossbody strap.
When I’m out, I need a bag that is durable and spacious enough to carry my laptop, my camera, all my chargers and even my make-up kit. However, I need one that will allow me to have both hands free in case I need to whip out my camera and capture some moments. If I just described what you need, the Mari Backpack is perfect for you. You can use it for travel or even as a diaper bag! Your choice. This backpack is ethically made from vegetable tanned Ethiopian leather and built to be used for a long long time.
My oh my! How gorgeous is this? It’s not every day that you see an elegant laptop sleeve. This would make the perfect holiday gift for anybody who you loves their job or runs a business, guy, girl or gender neutral. Comes in two colours, rust brown (tan) and dark brown.
(Note: the sizes of these sleeves are based current MacBook models.)
For your fur mama friends, the Aspen Canine Collar is a great gift. A lot of fur babies can be picky with what’s around their neck, but the quality and durability of this collar will make dog owner and dog happy indeed.
This great accessory is designed for everyday use. What makes it great is that it gets better with time and use. Makes a practical gift for the person with practical sensibilities.
Order a few of these to be given to all your friends so that cords aren’t tangled at the bottom of bags. Great for organizing chargers and earphones in a sleek fashion. Comes in a variety of classic colours including tan, olive green and clay red.
This is an awesome gift for the family member or friend who’s always on a business trip; a weekender bag that has all the sophistication one could ever need to impress.
Not all men can be seen lugging around messenger bags or backpacks but all men can be seen with a wallet; and that’s why it’s important to buy one that is designed beautifully and can last a lifetime. The Meskel Square Zip Wallet is just what you are looking for, classic, premium quality and made to properly fit a back pocket.
The Atlas Backpack is for the yuppie in a suit or the backpacker in worn out boots. Either way, this backpack is created for optimal functionality with enough space for any work-related items. It consists of five interior pockets and handy zips for the gift recipient who prefer to travel in hands-free style.
These are just a few of my top picks. By supporting Parker Clay, you can make Ethiopian women’s lives better and create a more meaningful yuletide for you and your loved ones. And at the risk of overstepping the mark, particularly for the secular folk, but if Christmas isn’t the time to channel the Jesus in all of us and give back to those in need, when is the right time?
- Top 10 Films and Documentaries on the Subject of Fairtrade
- An Open Letter to the Ethical Fashion Movement
- 69 Facts and Statistics About Fast Fashion That Will Inspire You To Become An Ethical Fashion Advocate
- 10 Sustainable and Ethical Fashion Podcasts to Tune Into
- 5 Ethical Fashion Books Newbies Must Read
- Sustainable Fashion Has An Inclusion Issue
All images via Parker Clay.