As of of the writing of this story, Whitney Riley's "Stitched" Kickstarter project is more than halfway to her $15,000 goal, with just over a week to go. Collaborating with Y.U.M. in Indonesia, the "Stitched" project endeavors to bring unique, one-of-a-kind fashion to the market without the use of sweatshops. According to the campaign's Kickstarter page:
Made in sweetshops not sweatshops, Stitched handbags transcend their pragmatic purpose combining wearable art and social responsibility. Designed with imaginative care these bags are inspirations and not just disposable fabrications.
In an effort to spread the word about her products, and her Kickstarter campaign, Riley is throwing a "Sweet! Stitched Brand Bags Kickstarter Party" (along with Hello Lucky, and Hunter Gatherer) at G Gallery on Thursday, August 29 at 6 p.m. that will include music, food and drink, and a fashion show featuring her bags.
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Riley says her ultimate goal is kind of ethereal. "We want to create more peace and safety in the world, and by being 100 percent transparent our customers don't have to look the other way." Her bags are a reflection of what she calls "conscientious capitalism," in which the marketplace takes care of--rather than exploits--people and materials. "I have always had this core belief that we have everything we need to build a better life."
It took Riley two years to find a sweatshop-free/factory-free community in Indonesia to fabricate the bags, and she is currently on the hunt for additional communities to expand into. "Workers are paid well, and don't need to leave their families to go to big cities to make a living. Ten percent of profits go into a group fund, and the community decides on the next steps. Our model encourages empowerment."
Whitney--a sculptor who studied art at UH, and who developed the handmade, hand-stitched bags--has combined a global and an American focus on this project. Materials are purchased in the United States, and she hand-paints the one-of-a-kind bags to complete the process; in between, workers in Indonesia fabricate the materials into purses, bags, wallets, and other accessories.
Make a pledge to the Stitched Kickstarter project and receive a limited edition, hand-crafted handbag in colors of your choice. Money raised through the Kickstarter will be used to buy canvas, paint, zippers, fabric, and other materials needed to make the Limited Edition set of bags, and project set-up. Do you need to see the bag up-close-and-personal before making a decision? Visit the G Gallery on Thursday, August 29 between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. and you'll not only see them featured in a fashion show, but you can also enter to win a Stitched bag of your very own.