Our six months in Latin America saw us meet some incredible people. These people are where our motivation comes from.
We found hand-crafted items; extremely well made with quality materials. The only thing these people were lacking was a knowledge of style. I’m wrong in saying style because obviously they had their own style but the products, mostly I’m talking about leather bags, were made for tourists. They adapted traditional designs to suit the foreign traveller. The problem was though that our friends had very little knowledge of what the foreigner liked or disliked and had sadly invested deeply into the tackiest of tack. They were feeling their way around in the dark, making hundreds of bags, hoping that some at least would be liked.
So ‘Beara Beara’ was founded on the craftmanship and skill of a handful of astisans. How it was developed into a business was based on the realisation of the difficult lives these new friends of ours found themselves in. To us they deserved something more in life. To be rewarded for the skill and hard work and dedication. So we were in a position to share our knowledge and ideas and open up a much larger market. Several months of cutting shapes out of sheets of skins, saw us return to the UK with a collection of 11 never seen before bags.
Several months on and we now have a range of 17 bags and a problem of trying to keep up with demand. Every one of our bags is a unique piece (no two bags are the same). The excellent quality and the originality of the designs seems to stand out to shoppers who look for unique items that are also affordable. People are genuinely surprised at the affordability of our somewhat exclusive bags which, price wise, are in line with the mass produced factory bags on the high street.
We are determined to keep our business low scale production. Although, our biggest problem of keeping up with demand, is good for our suppliers. The more work they receive the more people they can afford to employ. The lack of employment in Bolivia is a huge problem and any little difference we can make backs up the reasons for starting the business in the first place. It improves our friends standards of living and gives employment to a handful of otherwise destitute people.
Although the majority of our customers are delighted by the value for money of our products, we do sympathise with those who cannot afford our more expensive bags. We regret that we cannot drop the prices as if we were to charge the consumer less then we would have to pay our suppliers less, which would then create a situation which the business was setup to prevent – slave labour. We pay our suppliers well and although we are not fair trade registered we adhere to our own morals and philosophies about good work practices, comfortable in the fact that by buying one of our products, you are certainly improving another human beings quality of life.
We do not hail from the glamorous world of design studios and fashion shows but from the warmth of ordinary people’s living rooms and work shops. We are delighted we can compete with the in-trends and must-haves. It just shows that not all people are void of independant thought and taste, and most importantly do still have a conscience.