Day 11 – Better Life Bags

And on the eleventh day of Christmas, The Archibald Project gave to me a shop that creates custom bags with a cause: job creation and empowering women in Detroit! We got the chance to chat with founder, Rebecca Smith and hear how her boredom during pregnancy lead to a successful and ethical company called Better Life Bags!

PS: They created a custom bag just for The Archibald Project that gives a portion of the proceeds to help us fight the orphan crisis! Click here to buy!

Where are you from and why did you start Better Life Bags?
My name is Rebecca Smith and I live in the middle of Detroit, MI in a small town called Hamtramck. I started my business in 2009 as a way to keep busy as a new stay at home mom.  I made custom fabric bags that gave a percentage of each sale to low income entrepreneurs in developing countries through KIVA. I sent a picture of the loan recipient with the bag to connect the customer with the mission behind Better Life Bags. It was initially an ETSY shop, but as it grew over time, we opened our own interactive website to help our customers visualize their custom bags they were creating. We also shifted the mission from sending money overseas to hiring women from our under-resourced community. 

What is the mission and vision for Better Life Bags and why are you passionate about it? 
We live in a highly first generation immigrant community. We have lots of refugees and asylum seekers being resettled here.  Finding a place to live and a job is a high priority. I love that Better Life Bags can come alongside and provide the job they need to start their new life in America. We also partner with various organizations around the city to help provide for other physical needs like exercise, ESL classes, citizenship, and driving classes. 

What is your favorite part about your organization?
I love our workshop. We moved into a 1600 sq foot space this year and were able to have a say in how it was remodeled. Of course, I went with white everything and concrete floors. I love being here by myself. And I especially love being here when it's bustling with women speaking various languages as we make all the bags our customers order!

What is the hardest part of your business?
Being a business owner was never something I signed up to do. I wanted to be a stay at home mom. So, balancing time with my sweet three little kids and being a good boss is always a challenge. I rely heavily on my amazing operations manager and as we grow even more, I hope to build a core team here at BLB that will help to relieve a lot of that pressure. 

What advice do you have for people out there about shopping ethically?
Get to know the company. Interact with them and ask questions. A true ethical company will be transparent and honest with their operations and supply chains.

Why is it important to support small and/or ethical businesses?
We can't keep going without your purchases! We, personally, chose to be a for profit company.  We don't rely on donations, so all of our efforts are supported by the products we make!

Please share anything else you would like about your shop!
Not only do we have custom bags, but we also have prayer cards that we hope will be used to bless people! And two more prayer card sets are coming in January!

How can we follow along with Better Life and shop your amazing bags?
Our website is www.betterlifebags.com, Instagram is @betterlifebags, and Facebook Better Life Bags. My personal website and Instagram are www.rebeccasmithonline.com and @rebeccasmithonline!

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