Pauline Lewis & Le Thi Hong Tu - oovoo design: Made in Vietnam

Finalist of the The World of Good by eBay Most Socially Responsible Handbag


2009 Finalist Pauline Lewis & Le Thi Hong Tu oovoo design: Made in Vietnam

Pauline Lewis & Le Thi Hong Tu FINALIST'S PROFILE

What country are your bags manufactured?

Please explain how your bags are socially responsible?
I started oovoo because of my love for handcrafted art and a desire to build a business based on positive relationships among women. oovoo is a collaboration between one woman in Virginia and one woman in Vietnam. This alliance has grown to support dozens of Vietnamese women in cooperatives. All workers are paid 15% above market rate and given a monthâ??Ã?ôs salary as bonus during the Vietnamese New Year. They are also given an annual, all-expense paid vacation in Vietnam.

Why did you choose this country to have your bags made and what made you decided to give back?
I left the corporate world and traveled to Asia. On my first â??Ã?úexploratoryâ??Ã?ù trip to Vietnam, I was invited to observe a womenâ??Ã?ôs cooperative and from the moment I stepped into the small little house where 8 women were sitting in an embroidery circle, I knew that I wanted to work with them. I knew right then and there that I would have a company that incorporated embroidery, for women by women.

How have your bags impacted this community?
The women that I work with have stayed with me for the past five years, despite the huge growth in Vietnam. They continue to work with me because we pay them well and they are able to earn a living wage AND look after their children at the same time. Family is very important in Vietnam and we're giving the women the opportunity to earn a competitive wage while still maintaining their traditional nucleus family structure.

What is your design philosophy?
Producing high quality, unique, hand-made products while improving the livelihood of women in South East Asia.

See other finalists from the 2009 handbag awards