When Haddonfield resident Nicole Jones and Virginia Dooley met while studying abroad in London, they instantly bonded over their love of quality craftsmanship, beautiful and exotic textiles, and this idea of “fair trade,” which was, at the time, making waves in the UK, but hadn’t really crossed over to the US. "We wanted to take fair trade and bring it to the US,” says Jones, “but we wanted to do it in a way that was fashion-forward, and not the usual hippie-hemp or traditional handicraft souvenir-type products that you might normally associate with it. That’s where the bags came in."
Inspired by local markets around the world, the duo began the design process by looking into handmade textiles. Today, their products are made from vintage kantha-stitched sari fabrics (a delicate method of embroidery that outlines decorative motifs with a running stitch) from India, which are all one-of-a-kind. They then focus on the silhouette of the bag, which can range in size and style from large weekenders, hobos, totes to even coin purses. (At the moment, they are focused on their market tote bags, an essential shape for summer.) As a fair trade company, they only source their products and supplies with those of fair trade cooperatives. The bags themselves are produced by women in Bengal, says Jones, "who are able to earn a fair wage for their work, while also having the flexibility of either working from home so they can still tend to their family responsibilities or going into a work center to work together," she says.
In the future, Jones and Dooley hope to expand their line into other countries such as Thailand and Brazil, and to ultimately spread the word about the fair trade initiative. "We hope that people will look more closely at where the things they buy come from and realize that the purchases they make have an impact." Go online and find the perfect bag for you at their website, or stop in to adorable boutique Pipsqueak in Haddonfield, where you can find a great selection of Rising Tide bags.