Handbags that Elevate Entire Communities

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Storytelling is in my blood, it’s at the core of who I am and, in a strange, roundabout way, it’s become my job. Telling the stories of brands who are adding to the global movement of responsible consumerism. Telling their stories because they deserve to be told. Telling their stories because they’re so much more valuable than a positive “blog review”. Story is what drew me to the ethical fashion space in the first place — once I realized that each piece I bought and put on my body either told a story of exploitation and unfairness or one of beauty and hope, I couldn’t stop telling the stories of these trailblazing brands. I wanted everyone to know that there are better options. And so this space, in my mind, functions as an online collection of stories, a virtual library of brands who are making the world healthier and happier.

Today’s edition is about a brand who, very quickly, grew very close to my heart for several reasons.

Elevate’s name doesn’t leave room for speculation — they’re upfront about what they’ve set out to do: lift people up through job creation and business development. Tucked away in an unassuming Nebraska town, Elevate sells handmade leather goods made by artisans in communities all over the world where they work with locals to develop leadership programs and, eventually, full fledged businesses.

I have a sweet spot in my heart for Midwestern brands. I lived in central Nebraska until I was 10, only a few hours where Elevate has their headquarters. The sense of home, community, belonging, and slow captured across endless landscape and small towns packed with rich history. In a way, it will always feel like home. And in urban settings where the rush of inspiration and convenience of connection is rampant, finding brands doing amazing things isn’t uncommon, in rural Nebraska, however, where resources for socially conscious businesses are limited and it can be hard to convince communities to think outside their tradition, it’s something worth celebrating.

I see so much worth celebrating about Elevate.

Their Process

Instead of setting themselves up as “saviors” coming to employ the locals in the communities they work in, Elevate sets up long term programs, with locals as the true leaders. People are at the heart of their mission — they seek to understand the true needs of these communities and their worldviews, not imposing their own ideals where’re better left at home.

Their mentor program is meant to draw out the leaders in each community, giving them the opportunity for business ownership. The business training can take six months to a year to complete, with the opportunity to accept a small low-interest loan upon completion. These small businesses create jobs for others in the community and their leather products are sold both locally and to the global market.

It’s a sustainable, measurable method that is setup to create long lasting change in the communities where Elevate operates.

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Their Products

Elevate creates a wide-range of (really, really) high quality products for all budgets. Each and every one of their pieces are exquisite and designed to last a lifetime - from their briefcase messenger bags, to their totes and backpacks, to their belts, journal covers, and wallets.

I have their Mid-Sized Zipper Tote in camel (because I can never choose anything besides camel) and it’s the perfect middle-of-the-road option between my large ABLE tote and my small leather clutch. It has interior pockets perfect for holding phones and wallets, and a spacious main compartment for a laptop, planner, or a daily stash of diapers. It can either be worn as a cross-body or as a shoulder bag — I usually leave the cross-body strap attached because I like having options.

Their pieces would make the perfect keepsake gift for anyone on your list, or of course, the perfect addition to your own closet built for real life that won’t wear out from heavy use.

You can use the code “Olivia10” for 10% off your purchase!

Elevate is truly a brand to put high on your go-to list — their mission is making a real impact and their products are build to last. What more could you ask for?


* Thank you to Elevate for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions, photos, and words are my own*