Clare Elsmore-Dodsworth - Gifted Label, Made in Mongolia

Finalist of the The Most Socially Responsible Handbag

Great Britain

2007 Finalist Clare Elsmore-Dodsworth Gifted Label, Made in Mongolia

Clare Elsmore-Dodsworth FINALIST'S PROFILE

What country are your bags manufactured?

Please explain how your bags are socially responsible?
I took advice from local NGO's and the embassy as to fair wages. I have also set up a fund which pays for schooling for their children and fuel.

Why did you choose this country to have your bags made and what made you decided to give back?
I was in Mongolia in Summer 2006 on a holiday visiting my brother who was working there for a year. At the time I was employed in London working in fashion PR & Marketing. We travelled into the countryside where the locals were very hospitable, when they found out I worked in fashion they were eager to show me their home crafts. As is often the case the skills are exquisite but the product designs don't match - e.g many people were using owl and eagle feet and legs for the clasps- it was at this point that I realised that these people needed some guidance.

How have your bags impacted this community?
I have set up a team of 3 women in a studio (with proper lighting and heating and a mobile phone) these women work for me full time but they can also use the facilities to make products for the tourist market and I have been able to secure places in the capital city where they can fetch a good price for their wares. These women support financially their own and extended families' and I hope in time as the business grows to employ more women from this community. Life in Mongola is hard with temperatures getting as low as -40 degrees in the winter. Many children die young for example one of my employees has had 10 children but lost 5 and her husband. These women feel empowered that they are supporting their families and exporting abroad. I also employ a translator who I communicate via email several times a week- she is my main point of contact and speaks to the women on a regular basis and distributes wages etc. I employ a man in Ulaanbaator (the capital) who makes up the leather part of the bags.

What is your design philosophy?
To harness traditional skills from around the world into a product range that is accessible, useful but most importantly highly covetable.

See other finalists from the 2007 handbag awards