I first discovered Mad Imports on Hey Susy (a very chic blog written by stationery designer Susy Jack) and then met the lovely Laurel Brandstetter (the one who started the business) at the NY Gift show and I thought it would be a great addition to the shop. Their product is not only designed beautifully, it is well-priced and made responsibly- oh and of course it's useful! Not only does the sale of their products help the weavers in Madagascar and Kenya gain economic independence and self-sufficiency but it helps promote environmental conservation.
Laurel started Mad Imports in 2003 with the initial help of a relative, James Sellers, who was working on a development project in Madagascar. Laurel has a well rounded background in community development, urban planning and has volunteered in public health. She saw a great opportunity to help the poverty in Madagascar and Kenya through the fair trade selling of traditionally handmade accessories. She now has the help of dsesigner Jamila Hubbard in creating wonderfully chic bags. Mad Imports has been feautured in several major magazines and the Today Show and CNN Headline News. They work with a local orphanage to provide supplies, training and funding for their craft workshops. They conduct market readiness workshops for small artisan groups and small businesses. And they have facilitated the construction of several clean water wells in rural Kenya with the help of private donors. Laurel believes in "trade not aid" and all their weavers received a fair salary.
Now, is your current clutch doing all that! Talk about cocktail party conversation!