From a humanitarian mission to a fair trade brand

Nicolas Crombez
30 January 2019
The textile sector is very competitive and knows many drifts. But there is hope: fair trade brands win the support of consumers. Belgian Nicolas Crombez tells us how he created Bajura.
Nicolas Crombez
Nicolas Crombez

 

Who?

Nicolas Crombez, co-founder of Bajura.

 

What?

The creation and development of a fair trade brand for irresistible bags and accessories.

 

Why?

Because scandals in the textile sector are way too frequent and the production of articles with respect for mankind and our planet is meaningful.

 

Child labour, indecent wages, pollution: the scandals in the textile sector are too numerous. Yet 94 percent of respondents would like to see Fair Trade becoming the norm.

It was in this context that we created Bajura, a fair trade brand for bags and accessories handmade in Nepal. The objective is simple: produce stylish articles that respect mankind and the planet.

 

A story originating from the Himalayas

The story begins in an orphanage in Kathmandu in December 2016, when I meet Paul, a young Frenchman who has been working as a volunteer there since four months.

Appalled to see children having to wash themselves in a cold and polluted river, Paul organises a fundraising campaign to build showers. A Nepalese friend takes the opportunity to ask him to create a website for selling locally produced bags in Europe.

We then visit the production plant and meet craftsmen who show us promising creations!

The idea of creating a website is inviting, that of creating a fair trade brand irresistible. The Bajura project is born!

The best reason to start a business is to make meaning, to create a product or service to make the world a better place.

Guy Kawasaki

A positive concept

For us, everyone should be a winner in this project, from the producer of the raw materials to the final customer. That is why we reflect on commitments with the most positive impact.

The first is to consider workers not as mere means of production but as truly respected partners. Having always been interested in fair trade, it seems logical to us to respect its criteria in order to receive our certification in the long term. In a country where 37.4 percent of children aged 5 to 14 are victims of child labour, this make

s all the more sense.

Since we love Nepal, we also want to act at another level. That is why we decide to donate part of the selling price to three local associations. The customer can to choose the association that is most important to him.

While doing research on fashion, we are flabbergasted to learn that the textile industry is the second most polluting industry in the world! Hemp, a natural material already used by our partner, will therefore remain the basis of our products since it is the most ecological natural material in the world (no pesticides, negative carbon footprint, low water requirement, etc.).

Similarly, we are not happy when discovering azo dyes in most textiles, as these are responsible for cancers, allergies, river pollution and many other disasters. We therefore decide to boycott them for all our products!

A Nepalese seamstress shows a paper sheet: "I made your bag"
© Bajura

A natural progression

Let’s face it, the financial means of two young people are often quite limited and we are no exception. We therefore ask help from the people we know and we form two support groups providing us with the basic elements of the project such as the creation of the logo or the final collections.

As I am always in Kathmandu, I work together with local partners and look for transparent associations to support. When I am back in Belgium, we launch our social networks. Enough time to unite around the project and the values we defend.

The prototypes are delivered in Belgium three months later. Next, photoshoots take place, thanks to the voluntary participation of friends who are members of the support groups.

The launch of our website will mark the last major milestone of the project.

The prototypes are delivered in Belgium three months later. Next, photoshoots take place, thanks to the voluntary participation of friends who are members of the support groups.

Shooting with the Bajura bags
© Bajura

What is next?

Our range currently includes backpacks, travel bags, tote bags and toiletry bags. And since there will never be enough ethical and ecological products on the market, we want to expand our range with computer sleeves. We offer them via crowdfunding, which will allow us to continue to pre-finance our orders as required by the fair trade specifications.

So, ready to embark on this adventure with us?

 

Want to discover more?

Visit our website and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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