Enter Dutzi Design
When she opened the box and began pulling out samples I immediately picked up the faint smell of burlap. The scent was very familiar to me because I grew up on a farm on the Canadian Prairies and was tasked with helping my parents dig potatoes out of the garden in the fall - transferring them to none other than, you guessed it, burlap sacks. The smell of those bags took me back in an instant - it was wonderful! The designs were pretty special, too.
Ariane Dutzi is the Founder and Designer of Dutzi Design Inc. - a handbag workshop in the Yucatan that was created in 2009 to empower women to meet, work together and learn the basic rules of entrepreneurship. Dutzi is a former fashion editor who worked for the likes of Elle, Vanity Fair, Glamour and Mademoiselle while living in Paris and New York before moving to the Yucatan. I had the opportunity to speak with her at length today and she is truly a fantastically warm and inspiring woman who is committed to empowering the Mayan people.
Ariane didn't just want to create another handbag, belt, or other accessory...she wanted to be able to make a difference in the lives of the people of the Yucatan. Family is very important to the Mayan people so her business model allows women, and now men as well, to come to the workshop for training, pick up the materials, and deliver the finished, handcrafted bags.
The craftswomen and men are paid for each bag they make, which gives them the freedom to work from home while caring for their families. Not only does this provide them the flexibility to manage their lives, but with Ariane's training and oversight they learn the value of consistent quality and on-time delivery.
I have to say I absolutely love the idea behind Dutzi Design. Let's face it - there is no assembly line involved here. When you buy a bag you know that it was handcrafted by one person from start to finish. One set of hands made that bag and it is a unique item.
Not only that, but the individual who made it is a mini-entrepreneur. They are paid per bag and make a personal investment in each piece they construct which, in turn, results in a sense of ownership and pride in each piece that is produced. I love that these craftspeople are given the opportunity to keep family their focus while learning a trade, developing business acumen, and managing their personal lives.
I don't know about you, but this type of item really speaks to me. I like knowing that I'm helping someone who otherwise might not have a lot of choices. Knowing that I'm investing in another person's life and helping to strengthen a community gives me a sense of pride as a consumer but, more importantly, a sense of brotherhood/sisterhood as a member of the human race *which I realize may sound cheesy, but is genuinely how I feel*. Remember when I jumped off my wallet for the Lemlem Tunic? It seemed like a chunk of change at the time, but I feel so good inside when I wear that cover up. Like I'm playing my part, too.
The Dutzi Design e-Commerce site will be up and running in September. In the meantime, Ariane has sent me an item list with basic pricing to go over with you. If you are interested in learning more and/or purchasing, please send a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would love to get your thoughts on this one ladies. There really is nothing more gratifying than helping someone out...and getting a handbag or tote in the process is more than a fair trade!