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Traveling Sumatra, Running into A Unique Design

I was living in Australia for a while, and I decided to get up and travel. I ended up in Indonesia looking for waves with a friend. We stayed mostly near the city, going to the beach every day. At some point, I needed a bag and went to a street vendor. I wanted a vegan backpack, and I found a rather crudely made bag that had these unique designs. I brought the bag home with me, and people were stopping me on the street in America to tell me how much they loved my bag.  

A Second Run-in

I found myself again traveling through Sumatra working on a documentary series about natural medicines and healing. One day, I again stumbled across the embroidered patterns you see on Banda Bags now. I absolutely had to know where they came from, so I traveled into the countryside and met with the women who created such unique designs. These were magnificent artisans designing the curious and unique hand embroidered designs, and their craft bowled me over. I immediately knew I had to begin a collaboration with these women who seemed to create these designs like magic.

The Ravages of a Tsunami

My quest for these magical and unique designs brought me to a village in the Banda Aceh region of Sumatra. If you’ve paid attention to the news over the last fifteen years, you’ll remember this is the place hit by the world’s worst ever recorded tsunami. The earthquake that shook this region shook the earth off its axis, literally. The tsunami that followed devastated the area, killing over two-hundred thousand people. I arrived in the wake of this disaster, and it was a decade after it happened. Looking around, I could imagine it happened only a week ago. I couldn’t believe this was where these beautiful embroidered patterns were born.

Banda Bags are Born

The idea came to me one day that I could bring these unique designs to the world, and I could help these women stuck in a situation that hadn’t improved for years. This remote area had very few opportunities for revitalizing its economy, but they had something I knew the world would appreciate. We worked together to design a vegan and cruelty free bag that could grace the runway as well as the checkout line. The weekender bag was born.

Innovating New and Unique Designs

Soon after designing the weekender, we came up with the Nano. It’s a vegan leather handbag that really makes a statement. Then, we designed a vegan backpack that anyone can wear. The vegan backpack is beautiful and just the right size for carrying all your essentials. The shell bag is a unique design that we came up with, because we hadn’t seen anything like it. There’s still nothing else like it. Our vegan wallets take on familiar shapes, but the designs are totally Banda. We tinker and toy with new ideas all the time, and we want to be one of the most innovative vegan fashion and cruelty free handbag companies on the planet.

Good For the Environment and Good for People

Banda Bags has helped increase the economic opportunities of those so affected by the tsunami. When I started Banda Bags I made it a foundation of the company to pay fair wages and ensure the safety and welfare of the artisans. Also, I wanted a sustainable and cruelty free bag. The weekender bag and all of our styles are made with vegan leather of the highest quality. Banda Bags doesn’t use animal products of any kind, making our bags  100% vegan friendly. Our vegan leather handbags are crafted by hand from select materials that we are constantly trying to update.

Striving for Sustainability

Right now we are looking at every way to make our bags more sustainable for the environment. This means sourcing materials with a higher amount of recycled content and pursuing innovations in production. There are all kinds of cool materials out there that may one day replace the vegan leather we use today. We’re talking about materials made from all natural sources, including pineapples. We are even looking at ways to make thread from plastic taken out of the ocean!  

Banda Bags Takes Off

I was right to guess that people would love the unique designs I found in Indonesia. From the first days working with the artisans in their remote village to now, a lot has happened. The 2017 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition gave all of the models a weekender bag along with their gifts. If you read Us Weekly, you may have seen a Banda Bag! Celebrities and models are carrying Banda Bags, and I think everyone should, too.


Brianna Jane 
Founder of Banda Bags