September marks the launch of Vi Bella’s new Fall Collection. This month alone, we have released over twenty new products and we want to introduce you to the inspiration behind the collection.
One of the defining features of this collection is our focus on using sustainable materials. “In a handful of our products, we used recycled plastic bottles that have been collected by people in the slums of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The bottles are shipped back to the US, flaked, spun into thread and woven together with cotton to make a beautiful, durable product. You can find this material used in many of our totes and backpacks,” shares Elizabeth, our Handbag Designer. Elizabeth has a degree in Sustainable Fashion and has played an essential role in seeking out methods for Vi Bella to continue to source natural and recycled materials.
Vi Bella’s Founder, Julie Hulstein, shares, “I am absolutely in love with our new line of bags and backpacks! Knowing that people in slums in Haiti and in other developing countries are being paid to clean up the environment around them makes my heart so happy! If you have followed Vi Bella from the beginning, it is so similar to where we began. We paid local boys to collect plastic bottles, which our artisans used to make into beads for jewelry making. I feel like this connection with our sewing team to recycling brings us full circle.”
More than a few pieces from this collection feature a material called horn. This material is locally-sourced and ethically collected from animals that have died of natural causes. This gorgeous material is one that would otherwise go to waste, but we have decided to repurpose it as an ethical tortoise alternative. We have roughly 35 men in Haiti who are dedicated to turning horn into something beautiful. They collect the material, cut it, heat it, and flatten it a number of times until it is ready to polish and carve. We are proud to say that all of this is done by hand and it is no easy feat. There is much work that goes into the creation of this gorgeous product. Find natural Haitian horn in pieces like the Amelia Necklace or the Jordan Earrings.
Our Jewelry Designer, Emie, has an art degree and has been creating jewelry for 15 years. She has been designing product for Vi Bella for the past five years. She shares, “I love the natural elements that we use directly from Haiti. The semi-precious stones that are used, tie in so well with the organic feel of our handmade products." For example, take a look at our Emie Lee Necklace!”
The Fall Collection features many leather-made products and we are proud to share that this leather is vegetable-tanned locally in Haiti. Typically, leather is chrome-tanned, which uses harsh chemicals to deepen the color. Vegetable tanning is a much longer process, taking weeks instead of days, but it uses natural resources like leaves and tree bark, which is better for the environment and the men and women working in the tannery.
Perhaps the most interesting piece from our Fall Collection, in terms of sustainable products is the Classic Tote. Upcycled tires from the streets of Haiti are used as a bottom weight. It showcases a locally-sourced, horn ring that was made in Haiti as well. To top off this sustainably-made tote bag, the external fabric is created from recycled bottles in the process we described above. This piece is rumored to be one of Julie’s Favorites. Click here to read more about Julie’s Top 6 Fall Pieces.
Our Fall Collection of jewelry and handbags is one that draws our attention to ways that we can give back to the environment and reduce waste, while reusing local, sustainable materials. Each piece is designed with quality in mind, and above all else, with the desire to provide a steady income for our artisans. It is our hope that this collection inspires you to become a part of the Vi Bella Movement, supporting both our artisans and the environment with every purchase.