When I look into Indie Designers, I have a lot of criteria. Typically, I’m a fairly picky person. I’ve been called “pretentious”, a snob, an elitist… I don’t really care, honestly. If I’m going to drop top dollar on a piece of clothing, it had better have me so excited about it, I’m all but licking the fabric.
It’s kind of a “point system”, to me. The fact that a designer is independent already earns them like 10 points. Eco-friendly is another point, locally sourced materials is like 5 points, unique design is about 15 points, and if there’s a powerful, beautiful story behind each piece… Well, that’s invaluable.
Hence the introduction to the ultimate Eye Candy & Indie Genius: Novica.
Now, I have to say, Novica isn’t so much an indie designer as a facilitator. As an associate of National Geographic, they are an e-commerce production that allows independent artists from countries all over the world to sell their wares on their website to help support their families. Many of the artists are from India, Thailand, Bali & Java, and Brazil.
The artists that create these pieces have stories – some beautiful, some heartbreaking, some empowering like you wouldn’t believe. Novica offers this opportunity to struggling family operations, individuals with pure passion for their hometown’s traditional art, and a slough of other inspiring people.
I was very generously given $150 to play with on the Novica handbag site, and play I did. I spent about $120 and bought three handbags – one from India, and two from Thailand.
The packages from Thailand
I’m proud to say that my handbag picks were extremely influenced by the artists who created them. Their stories are readily available right on the product page. They add about 5 artists per week, and 150 new products. Approximately 50% of the proceeds go directly to the artists.
The package from India
The handbag I selected from India was made by Nupur, who is from Bengal. I chose her because of her obvious passion, and our shared view of art and life. “My husband and daughter are very proud of my work. My greatest creation is my daughter, Ananya. In Sanskrit her name means ‘that which cannot be copied.’ This too is how I feel about my other creations, something unique which I have put into the world.” Beautiful. Just like this “Sea Sand” Silk Clutch I received from her, along with a handwritten postcard from the artist herself, thanking me for appreciating her art.
The silk used for this bag is divine. The texture, the sheen, the raw feel… It’s all there, but with an elegant, classic feel. Plus, hello, do you see the shells and pearls? It’s like having a piece of the ocean on my arm. How much would you pay for this gorgeous bag? $57.95? Good choice.
The next piece I selected had a specific purpose: Save my laptop bag from my purse. Countless things end up in there, and I don’t want my precious baby (laptop) to get scratched by the various gadgets, cameras, and telephones that end up in there. For this reason, I chose the “Elephant Gala” cotton bag, created by Pah Come. Brace yourself, for her story is a tear-jerker:
“We had our first son after two years of marriage, and then we had another son. My husband is Chinese and, according to Chinese beliefs, if the first child is a boy that means the parents are real soul mates. But I am not sure this belief applies to us, because we separated after five years of marriage.
My husband is a good man, but he is addicted to gambling. Most of the money we earned was lost to his gambling debts and I could not tolerate it any longer. I had to think about my sons’ future, and I realized I was able to look after them better without my husband.
I returned to my village with my sons, worked in the rice fields and returned to sewing. I was able to earn enough money to support my sons, who are good boys. They have always helped me the best they can. My first son eventually joined me in the rice fields. He would do any kind of work there, and later on he went to town to do construction work, just to help me with the finances.”
Are you crying yet? We forget how fortunate we are here… Yet, this woman still has the most positive of outlooks. It’s reflected in her hand-painted design with leather straps. If you buy anything from Novica, consider purchasing from Pah Come. She is truly a beautiful person.
This bag, in all its handmade, hand-sewn, hand-painted beauty is only $24.95.
Lastly, I decided to grab something that I’ve never previously been interested in – a long-strapped satchel. I love big purses, I LOVE THEM. Little tiny purses with big long shoulder straps are just not my cup o’ tea. But after visiting a local farmer’s market with a GIGANTIC, leather bag… I want something smaller.
This is the “Floral Network” bag, made from cotton and hand-carved coconut shell. I KNOW, right?! It’s an absolutely stunning bag, and I’m completely enamored with it. The woman who made it is from Thailand, and her name is Sasithon Saisuk. It’s intricate, delicate, and strong all at the same time. The price? $27.95.
I am extremely happy with my bags. In fact, I am so happy with them that I’m certain I will buy more. Novica has an “Ambassador Program” where you can receive a discount after purchasing an item from each country. Also, if you’re worried about shipping costs – don’t be. If you’re willing to wait 2-3 weeks (I was!), you can look forward to shipping as low as $3.95 from places like Thailand.
I feel amazing after learning about, ordering from, and receiving my products from Novica. I want to thank them so much for allowing me the ultra-generous opportunity to experience these traditional crafts.
Go visit Novica for beautiful clothing, jewelry, home decor, furniture, and obviously some of the most gorgeous handbags with the most heartwarming stories behind them.
(Don’t mind the hair. ;) )