A Venezuelan-crafted minaudière, derived from different plantation-grown Amazon hardwoods, won the “Most Socially Responsible Handbag” at the Seventh Independent Handbag Designer Awards on Wednesday. Submitted by Maria Teresa Aristeguieta, who founded MTAbags to provide jobs to native communities, the skillfully wrought clutch is a triumph of artisanal workmanship—look Ma, no nails!—over cookie-cutter mass production. Plus, 50 percent of the company’s proceeds funds vocational training not only for villagers in the Amazon but also transients who live in slums surrounding the Venezuela capital of Caracas.
FOR THE PEOPLE
“By doing this we are transforming potential kidnappers [and] thieves to change through artisan and artistic labor,” Aristeguieta says. “Every single employee at MTAbags is from Venezuela, and we all are equally compromised with giving our best to obtain excellence. That is why I decided that my bags can be sold anywhere in the world but must be fully produced in Venezuela. The rough patch the majority of Venezuelans is going through must come to an end. And I am giving my best by contributing socially and economically with my people.”