Pauline Lewis and Le Thi Hong Tu - oovoo, Made in Vietnam

Finalist of the The Most Socially Responsible Handbag


2007 Finalist Pauline Lewis and Le Thi Hong Tu oovoo, Made in Vietnam

Pauline Lewis and Le Thi Hong Tu FINALIST'S PROFILE

What country are your bags manufactured?

Please explain how your bags are socially responsible?
ALL our bags are hand-embroidered by two women's cooperatives in the Northern region of Vietnam. We pay our embroiderers 15% above market rate and an additional month's salary as bonus. We continue to use the traditional method of hand-embroidery rather than switch to machine embroidery as this is the women's livelihood.

Why did you choose this country to have your bags made and what made you decided to give back?
I backpacked across parts of Vietnam and was invited to observe a women's cooperative and I knew I had to work with the cooperative to make my bags. I found a designer in the Southern part of Vietnam who agreed to work with the women's cooperative and we now co-design together - it's been a wonderful collaboration!

How have your bags impacted this community?
We have increased the number of embroiderers from one cooperative to two cooperatives, due to the increase demand of oovoo bags here in the United States. We're providing training and employment for Vietnamese women, who can now work from their home and continue to take care of their children while earning a living wage for their family.

What is your design philosophy?
Leverage on the skills of the cooperatives - that is, hand-embroidery - to create new and exciting designs. I think of hand-embroidery as a cultural skill worth preserving. oovoo uses exciting new materials in the body of the bag and combines it with the tradition of hand-embroidering to create a distinctive product in the wonderful world of bags!

See other finalists from the 2007 handbag awards