Be You. prides itself in finding innovative and creative brands that are paving the way in the fashion industry as well as enriching the world around us! Last month I had the pleasure of sitting down with one such brand to talk about the purpose and creation of designs that will uplift both the makers and their consumers: Lidia May Handbags.
May Yang, founded Lidia May handbags in Dhaka, Bangladesh in September of 2014. The brand combines her passion for both fashion design and sustainable community development to acknowledge and address issues for women. It all started when May was working with Bangladeshi non-profits learning the struggles of underprivileged women in Dhaka slums and the hopelessly chaotic environment that traps families in a cycle of poverty. For most women without formal education or employable skills available jobs lie only in factories. These positions stand to take mothers away from their families for 12 hours at a time. Working these long hours leaves no room to help raise their children or assist in household duties. However, the alternative is to stay home, causing the family to continue its struggle.
These two extremes created a dire need for another employment alternative, one that would allow mothers to both earn money and continue to care for her family. Lidia May teamed up with the non-profit Lidia Hope Centre to provide women with this alternative. Participants are taught hand embroidery, a flexible home-based trade highly sought after in Bangladesh. This allows the women artisans to care for their families while making a living and providing a better life for thier children.
Each step of the certification program is broken down into one month training periods, followed by work opportunities for their acquired skills. The quick return allows the artisans to benefit right away and see the value in continuing their training. As the levels progress each woman learns and masters more advanced technical designs and styles. This type of program has never been attempted before in Bangladesh, much less done with such success! Since 2014, they have already trained over 125 women who, not only create beautiful products of the highest quality, but have developed a skill and trade that can be carried with them for the rest of their lives.
Lidia May handbags, outside of its social impact, works to promote confidence in women consumers supply them with visual and physical modes of self-expression. A great quote from May helps explain the life behind these bags: “A woman will use a good handbag in her day to day life as a wonderful way to tell her story. We aim to make a product that allows women to really express themselves, their values, and beliefs. We’re a handbag brand that believes luxury and substance go hand and hand. We aim to serve and help produce a brave and more confident woman that understands culture, craft, and is unafraid to express herself. We hope that each woman, throughout our line can find something that allows her to be stylish no matter what circumstance she finds herself in.”
This brand has been purchased and displayed by many diplomats and ambassadors, as well as women in Bangladesh and London. Lidia May Handbags believes that every woman has within them the strength to be an Amal Clooney, Oprah, or Angelina Jolie.
I know some of my vegan readers may be frowning about the topic of leather goods, but please keep an open mind! This brand produces handbags and leather goods that are as sustainable and organic as possible. In and of itself the leather industry is very non-organic and processed, but those at Lidia May are socially aware of the harm and have created a structure that is fair and builds on what the country already offers. What this brand has done is taken an industry that is extremely prevalent and necessary for the Bangladesh economy and capitalized on it. Lidia May Handbags is not in any way responsible for the harm of any animals, but uses the available resources to decrease the environmental footprint by using natural dyes with fewer chemicals.
Be You. absolutely loves this brand, not only for their philanthropic, economical, and cultural impact in the Bangladesh community, but for the important message they hope to send to all women. Be You. is about being yourself, unapologetically. It was begun on the premise that anyone has the capacity to truly be great with a little hard work, dedication, and confidence. Lidia May Handbags designs specifically for these people. They cater to the strong, empowering visionaries of this generation while also understanding that it’s ok to still have some work to do. Oprah didn’t become Oprah overnight and neither will we. But understanding and utilizing the strength within us can help us reach our goals, and no one said we couldn’t hold a beautiful handbag while doing it!
Lidia May Links
Website – www.lidiamay.com
Instagram – @lidiamaybags
Photography by James Crump