The Burlap People // 'Hand Crafted Bags for Earthy Souls'
The Burlap People are makers of bags. Good looking, well made, unique, beautiful and made-of-burlap bags. Better than that, from their home in West Bengal, India, they make bags that have a story behind them and a lot of heart. Bags that have been designed with sustainability and ethics in mind. I chatted to Sam, one of the dynamic trio behind the company, to hear more about The Burlap People way of doing business.
Hello Sam! Thanks for being here and for sending me one of your gorgeous makes to try out. Now tell me, why bags and why burlap?
S: Because you wouldn't travel without one and because jute, or burlap, has traditionally always been used for bags! We just wanted to find a new and aesthetic way to make them. Burlap grows abundantly in West Bengal, India- where we're based. It's also an incredible plant - one of the most sustainable in the world. Every single part of the plant is consumed. It grows naturally, and has wonderful qualities (besides looking gorgeous!) that made it our first choice when it came to making bags.
Take us through The Burlap bag process...
S: Jute is one of the most affordable, sustainable and eco-friendly vegetable fibers in the world. We take a heavily woven form of jute, dye it, and then wash it to make it softer and vintage looking- basically, we give it an aesthetic upgrade. This is then hand stitched by our 3rd generation craftsmen into bags. Our bags constitute of about 90% jute, making them one of the most eco-friendly options available on the market today (compared to similar bags available in canvas, leather and synthetic materials). Although, our bags are not currently 100% natural or biodegradable, we are constantly working to make them so. At this point, as mentioned, all our material is manufactured and sourced locally (except for our zippers and brass fittings), as burlap or jute grows naturally in our region. In fact, the region is the largest producer of jute on the planet. We source the burlap directly from the mills who cultivate the jute crop and weave the fabric.
We are also in the process of making our workshop completely solar powered and reducing our overall carbon footprint...
Where did this desire/need/urge to care for our planet and consume consciously come from?
S: Though all three founding members of The Burlap People were raised to be interested in their environment, two of us - Samriddh Burman and Rewant Lokesh - attended Luther College where we were exposed to this kind of conscious living. The third founder, Karuna Ezara Parikh, served on the editorial board of India's first mainstream green living magazine - The Green Life - where she too developed more serous ideas about this way of living. Together they found a shared ground and interest, which became the oil that keeps The Burlap People going.
What are you most proud of in The Burlap People journey and whats the vision?
S: Sticking to our guns throughout. Our vision was to form a company that used jute to create aesthetically pleasing, highly durable, quality bags that were also sustainable- or as biodegradable as possible. That has always been our core aim - making and providing our clients with a product that gives them the option of choosing something "green". Furthermore, we have been able to grow completely organically. We started with little, almost no capital and have only invested from the profits we make. Even on social media, we haven't done any paid posts or advertising. All our marketing has been based on word-of-mouth.
The Burlap People wasn't created simply to "sell" a product, which is what so many brands, especially big ones, do today. We took a strong decision at the start, where we made a choice. We said we don't mind selling less, if it means sticking to our guns, and making the conscious or right choice at every step of the way. Hence, the motto. By choosing to buy The Burlap People, you also choose to be on that path with us.
From your Instagram it definitely seems like you guys are a family not just a business!
S: Well we're glad that comes across! The three founding members don't think of each other as colleagues, we think of each other as family and I think the attitude stemmed from there. As a result we don't think of our employees or our clients as anything but family as well. Thinking of it that way increases the warmth and reduces the sense of the "other".
I've got to ask- what's your favourite bag?
Thanks so much Sam and the whole Burlap People team. Isn't that the most incredible way of doing business? People and planet first, profit second. Honestly, since discovering these guys and following their journey I have been blown away and challenged by the way they choose to make their products - and they do this in the most humble way too. Make sure you go visit them over on their Instagram, say hi and, when you are needing your next bag, remember The Burlap People.