When I interviewed Brad Jeffery, founder of ethical bag company, CAUSEGEAR, a few months ago, I ended the call with a profound sense of gratitude for the amazing, good-to-their-core people who spend their days and years trying to make the world just a little bit better.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the unsung heroes of nonprofits, community organizing, and social enterprises: the sustainers.
Because someone can have a good idea any day of the week, but it’s the people who recognize that showing up matters that contribute the greatest good. And those people never get any credit! I have volunteers at the shop I manage who’ve come in for an unpaid shift every week for more than 15 years! Those people deserve awards and public recognition, but the ones who get the accolades are the 20-something men with chips on their shoulders who created some sort of inane app. Those people suck compared to the badass retired women I know.
My point is that a lot of people want to change the world, but thinking big picture isn’t always – or maybe ever – the key to world change. You know what changes the world? Thinking up manageable solutions, then putting in the work. If we don’t develop interpersonal connections, cultural sensitivity, and attention to detail early on, we may just end up feeding our hubris instead of the people we came to “save.”
I have deep respect for the Causegear crew, because I see their humility and their drive. They’re not in it for themselves – they’re in it for the greater good. That’s why I wanted another chance to partner with them. Their Blogger Review Program provided a way to do that, so they generously sent me a bag to highlight in this post.
The Causegear Bucket Bag comes in three versions: Full Leather, Sky Canvas, and Taupe Canvas. I have a deep love for army khaki as an accent to basically anything, so I chose the Taupe Canvas.
The first thing you should know is that this is basically the Mary Poppins Tote of handbags. You can put your entire life in it and it still manages to feel streamlined. That’s due to the flexible canvas and soft but structured round base. I’ve been using a tiny purse for the last 6 months, but this hasn’t felt like an overwhelming transition. The adjustable strap makes it easy to use it as a crossbody or shoulder bag, too.
This bag was crafted by Shahida, who received 5x the standard wage. As I mentioned in my original post on Causegear, this wage was set with input from the artisans themselves to ensure that that it is livable and competitive. Fair Trade certifications do not set a minimum livable wage, so most companies offer only 2 to 3 times the country’s standard wage. 5x is a noticeable improvement, and means that employees can provide for themselves and their families.
That’s what sustainable enterprise looks like.