D. Franca Designs || Handmade Bags On A Mission to Empower

ACS_0925.jpg

In last months handbag round up, you may remember a quick introduction to a brand I’ve been familiarizing myself with over the past few months. D. Franca Designs, a brand birthed in Italy with roots all over the world, created the gorgeous cross-body bag I’m so excited to showcase today.

In early September, I drove to a little town in between Winter Park and Denver to meet Diana, the founder, designer, CEO, and one-woman show behind the brand. We chatted over coffee in a tiny local cafe in Idaho Springs about her background, why she started sewing, what led her to Italy, and more. At the end of our visit, she gifted me with this sweet bag, packaged inside a reusable canvas tote.

The bag, that I’ve loved using ever since that day, was completely handmade by Diana. She stitched each zipper and seam, each pattern/leather/metal closure handpicked with care. As are all of D. Franca Design’s bags.

That kind of attention to detail and thoughtful curation to hand-make a full line of products is something I can’t relate to and, in the same vein, don’t take lightly. Diana could have just as easily chosen cheaply made fabric from an untraceable supplier, or outsourced her sewing to someone working for low wages, but she didn’t. Instead, she spent time sourcing the perfect fabric and leather, landing on a handwoven striped fabric woven by artisans in India, and of course, sewing the bags by hand in her home studio in Italy.

ACS_0912.jpg

In addition to designing thoughtful bags with a beautiful story, Diana has plans to extend the impact of her business, through hiring her first employee. She recently met a young refugee, relocated to Italy, and looking for work through the Sew Cooperative in Rome, and has plans to teach him how to sew her bag designs, building on his sewing skills.

She admitted to me during our chat that sharing her designs with someone for the first time was daunting and hard work, but eventually, she hopes to be able to hire a team and expand her business even further.

Businesses like D. Franca Designs are the small startups that make me excited to support slow fashion. Every step of the way, from design, to sourcing, to sewing the bags themselves is a slow, thoughtful, beautiful process that gives me hope for the future of fashion.

You can shop D. Franca’s first collection, Mesoamerican Stripes here.


*This post is part of a long term partnership between D. Franca Designs and Simply Liv & Co. All thoughts and photographs are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this site possible!*

The Bendy Shoe

8M4IhUQg.jpeg

As is the case for most industries, ethics isn’t typically at the forefront of many brands’ and consumers’ minds when they create or shop for new shoes. Creating shoes is admittedly more labor intensive than most garment production and, for most conventional shoe brands, convenience and cost trump eco or human-friendliness.

With the peak of fast fashion, shoes followed the trajectory of most other kinds of production. Exploitation, cheap corner cutting, and blind eye turning.


Luckily, there are always the trailblazers and the innovators who choose to look at footwear from a more all-encompassing perspective. They choose to create quality product without putting anyone else (planet or person) at risk. These are the companies I love to support and shed light on.

For decades, Mary Sue and her co-founder have worked in the fashion and footwear space. Their brand Ashbury Skies has always been a little unconventional, supporting small, independent shoe brands on their online retail space, but they haven’t created a product specifically their own, until the release of their newest endeavor: the BENDY Shoe.

They designed a shoe that reduces environmental impact without sacrificing comfort or style. entirely handcrafted in California. The BENDY is made with only four materials - a rubber sole, a front suede leather piece, a back sturdy leather piece, and thread. The shoes are designed to last, and are made with the utmost humanitarian standards.

Not surprisingly, BENDY surpassed its fundraising goal within a few days of launching, but that doesn’t mean that the campaign can’t use more support.

Today, Mary Sue and her co-founder have launched a scholarship program for emerging designers and students in the footwear industry who want to create an ethical brand or product from concept, to sourcing, to creation, to completion. The Ethical Shoe Design Course is a 12-week intensive course, and the first of its kind in the footwear space. The duo hopes that this course will create radical change for the future of sustainable footwear. And for each pair of BENDY Shoes purchased, a portion of the proceeds will support the scholarship fund.

BENDY, they hope, is a catalyst that will spark change and push consumers to continue to consider the impact of their purchases.

To learn more about BENDY or to support their campaign, click here.

Lauren Morgan Co. || Traceable, Sustainable Outerwear

Lauren Morgan Co. || Traceable, Sustainable Outerwear

If there's one thing that can be hard to shop ethically for, it's outerwear. Basics, sweaters, pants, shoes- those can all be found fairly easily (or, with a bit of help from an eco-fashion enthusiast ;) , but some things are hard for even me to find. 

I don't live in the rainiest climate, but having a well insulated, waterproof coat is a must during our cold, snowy, Colorado winters (bonus points for one that's ethically and organically made). 

Read More

Introducing Kennebecker || A Bag That Multi-Tasks As Much As You Do

Introducing Kennebecker || A Bag That Multi-Tasks As Much As You Do

Don't worry, this isn't just another "purse review". Sometimes, I feel like blogging is really just promoting one handbag after another. I've reviewed two others in the history of my blog (which, really, isn't that insane), and each one is ingeniously designed by brands that I've researched, interviewed, and ultimately, respect and recommend. 

I'm not a "purse person" (say that ten times fast...) by nature, but life with two toddlers and with a job that requires me to be prepared to work from almost anywhere, means that a sturdy, sizeable, versatile tote is a must. 

Read More