Where do I begin? They always say writing the intro of an essay is the hardest part, and here I am trying to share the first chapter of my life for the foreseeable future.
So let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
My obsession with handbags started with my first white Chloe mini bag in lambskin. It was the first time I had ever saved up to make such a big purchase, and symbolized my growing up. I was 17, and so proud to own such a ladylike bag.
Needless to say, young Jenny was absolutely terrified to wear it and never let it touch the floor. I later learned the hard way how easily dark denim transfers color onto delicate white leather (shocker)!
And although the bag made its home on my wardrobe shelf, it always held a treasured place in my heart. I was mesmerized by the flawless stitching and loved rubbing the supple leather between my fingers.
Most of all, I loved how special it made me feel. From that day onwards, I celebrated each birthday by treating myself to a handbag. I had accumulated a small but meaningful collection (of dark colored bags, naturally) by the time I was 23.
The evolution in my taste was evident – from earlier choices of logo-plastered mini bags to my latest larger tote styles with comfortable straps and functional interiors that were suitable for work. I began to appreciate sturdier materials, thoughtful interiors, and the heritage behind the brands.
But brands rarely show you what goes on behind the shiny storefronts and alluring advertisements. My digging was met with vague, overarching statements about craftsmanship without any indication of the conditions under which the bag was produced.
Where was my money going? Did the hands who made my bag ever see a cent of it? Instead of pride, I felt increasingly uncomfortable supporting brands with opaque business practices…I considered myself a smart consumer, but I had no idea what I was buying into.
And I wanted to know. I wanted brands to tell me where the leather came from, how the bag was made, and who made it.
But it’s nearly impossible to find brands willing to be 100% transparent about their production processes. The fashion industry, by and large, has been built on a foundation of secrets and patterns of turning a blind eye. Whispers of terrible working conditions and landfills full of garments come and go, but are always overshadowed by the new collections and trends.
I was inspired. I wanted to launch a brand that moved the needle in the other direction. A handbag brand that was completely sincere, and wanted to show you exactly how your bag was made. I had a vision of classic, functional bags in muted colorways, made with the finest leather.
The first thing I learned? How amazingly naive I was.
The disillusionment of the reality of the leather industry slapped me in the face. Unlike what we’re lead to believe, leather is often not a “by-product” of the meat industry – instead, animals are farmed and killed exclusively for their hide. Transforming an animal corpse into a treated leather also requires massive amounts of toxic chemicals and energy, and produces hazardous waste that poisons the workers, land, and rivers around it.
Leather isn’t glamorous by any stretch of the imagination, and my handbag habit was killing animals, people, and the planet. Our clothing choices make a statement about who we are, and I was supporting industries and practices that I didn’t believe in. No experience was worth this kind of animal cruelty, disregard for workers, and environmental destruction.
That’s the inspiration behind Freja. I wanted beautiful, functional, and consciously made designer-quality handbags at an attainable price. And I didn’t want to cause any harm in the process. Unable to find any companies that shared my values, I decided to launch my own.
We are creating luxurious, timeless bags designed for the woman who refuses to compromise her values, and we make them with a conscience. Freja means love, and that’s the mission behind everything we do. We don’t use any animal or petroleum based materials and we only work with ethical factories.
We are redefining luxury, by showing you who, where, and how your bag was made. We are pushing innovation by using a premium ultra-fiber material that’s more resilient than leather, and only uses a fraction of the energy to produce with none of the nasty chemicals. We’re pricing our products fairly because every woman deserves to own a handbag that makes her feel special.
Handbags are the one item that accompany women through every moment of their life – and I wanted to make one that I would be proud to carry. We are creating classic, functional bags made with the finest vegan leather.
Beautiful, sustainably made handbags. Now that’s something worth treating yourself to.
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