Lea Forteza - Forteza

Finalist of the The FASHION 4 DEVELOPMENT Most Socially Responsible Handbag


2015 Finalist Lea Forteza Forteza


What country are your bags manufactured?

Please explain how your bags are socially responsible?
Due to cultural norms and shackles of society in rural areas in Pakistan, women are isolated and Earning money is not easy for them whereas money is the biggest problem in their lives.She aims to empower these women. She wants to help them grow and fulfill their dreams. Keeping that goal in mind, these underprivileged women are trained by Lea Forteza. These trainings are aimed at enriching these poor women lives, giving them a skill and hence making them self sufficient. The embroidery on The Paloma design is done by these women. Moreover, 10% of the earning from this design sales will go to a foundation which helps to empower women of the third world country.

Do you work with local/native artisans to design your bags?
Lea Forteza believes in the idea of team work. She works closely with her workers/artisans. She believes that the energy which each artist emnates can help the creativity and can notch it up a level higher. She is also a firm believer of the fact that a good and creative idea can come from anyone even if it is a local artisan who has learned from you and works for you on petty tasks. Forteza designs her patterns and motifs for her bags while these women work on the tasks assigned to them. She shares her drawings/sketches with them, as well as takes their input on it. Meanwhile she helps them on each step of their embroidery and embellishments. It is this concept of team work which enables the simple artisans to maintain quality and make pieces which are simply exquisite.

Working Conditions. (Are the manufacturers/artisans that are being employed being treated humanely, of age, and working in safe and acceptable conditions? Please explain)
The local artisans work at the unit provided by Forteza where she can work one on one with each employee. The unit has three large rooms; one for embroidery, one for embellishments, and one for the final touches. The workers are paid a fair amount of salary per month, they get 2 meals per day while at work, they get 2 days off per week and if the need arises for any medical expenses, Lea Forteza happily supports them with it.

Why did you choose this country to have your bags made and what made you decided to give back?
I was born and raised for some part of my life in Philipines and later my family moved to Pakistan. After living here for a few years, studying here and growing up with people here, I grew fond of Pakistan irrespective of the cultural differences, which I felt from time to time. I went back to Philippines to get my college degree and thought I had an opportunity to start up my business there or in UAE. I wanted to come back to Pakistan, to the country which took me in, gave me good friends, showered me with their warm hospitality and love even though I was not one of them. I decided to start my brand here because I felt there is so much talent here which goes wasted, which is not utilised in the right manner. I wanted to work here and utilize the talent of local artisans and let the world see how much skill and creativity this country has. Moreover, having seen the place of women in the society, being a feminist myself, I wanted to do something worthwhile for these women, to help them see their dreams come alive, to see a life where they do not have to be dependent on men, where they are treated equally with respect and not as puppets to the men's desires. I wanted to make a difference. As it is said, if you are not making someone else's life better, you are wasting your time. Your life will become better by making others lives better.

See other finalists from the 2015 handbag awards