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BRAND CANVAS: KMANA
By: Tegan Maxey
KMANA is a passionate, ethical, family-run design company producing leather travel bags and accessories handcrafted in Bali. Their products, from the bag to the hardware and the linen, are entirely hand-made by skillful artisans from Bali and Jogjakarta. We sat down with founder, Bea Sanz Corella to discuss her passions and concept behind the brand.
'"We decided to make bags that could tell a story even before they started traveling. It had to be a beautiful, inspiring and dignified story: that of all the artisans involved in their making. I strongly believe that beauty needs to shine from within and there can’t be any beauty if the process causes suffering. "
Bea draws inspiration from her grandfather and his old suitcase, as well as her desire to build her own dream bags that simply did not exist yet.
"I have always loved travel bags, especially “old-school” leather bags. They remind me of the old leather suitcase that my grandfather used to travel with, that we still keep in our house, covered in worn-out stickers from the places he visited with his wife (i.e. Lourdes, Paris, Palencia, etc.). Every-time I see his suitcase (where we now keep old family photos) it makes me smile as I think of all the stories that this bag carries. The suitcase is now more than 30 years old and the leather has beautifully aged. It is a timeless piece, the perfect companion for a traveller who is willing to open their eyes and ears and leave the known to step into the unknown, appreciate the difference, and even be challenged.
Bali, amongst many other things, with its amazing skillful artisans, offered me the possibility to start “making” my own bags, for my own travels. I simply couldn't find the bags I loved; they were too expensive or I didn’t know how they had been made as information about the process is often invisible. So, we started working in partnership with the local artisans and began making bags."
An experienced traveller, Bea set out to create a bag that was both durable and timeless.
"Being a traveller myself, having been and worked in more than 80 countries over the past 25 years, I also aimed at making timeless and gender-less bags like my grandfather’s suitcase. Bags that could last for decades, if not a lifetime, and pass from generation to generation to be filled with stories and anecdotes from the travels. This is how Kmana’s first collection formed organically; conceived as a tribute to one of the explorers who had a great influence on me: Bruce Chatwin.
Now all of our collections are devoted to a wanderer, maker or shaker, someone who defied the status quo and believed we can all shake the world in a gentle way. This is our mantra."
Kmana is dedicated to Agenda 2030. Specifically, they focus on the Sustainable Development Goals #5, #8, #12, #13 and #17.
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
"We have the privilege of working with women weaver cooperatives and workshops, such as the workshop run by the Bali Life Foundation or the Role Foundation in Bali."
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
"From cutting, to sewing, to hammering rivets, our bags are entirely hand-made in Bali and Jogjakarta. We work with small workshops and cooperatives of artisans and creatives, recently partnering with several women’s workshops run by foundations in Bali, and respect their ways of working, their pricing systems and their deadlines. We don’t want to vertically integrate them; we want to collaborate with them. The artisans who work with us also receive due visibility so that they do not remain faceless. All the workshops we partner with have been visited and verified by us or by The Bali Curator, an organization that verifies the working conditions of the artisans and their staff, the origin of the leather, and the social and environmental impact of the tanning process. We are now exploring the use of barcodes in our labels to ensure the transparency and traceability of our materials and operations."
GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
"Our bags are made to last a lifetime and our invitation to consumers is to buy less and buy better. Even if someone does not want to buy one of our bags or accessories, encouraging consumers to think differently and support the slow fashion movement is an accomplishment in and of itself. To accomplish this, Kmana is a proud participant in the slow fashion and Fashion Revolution movements."
GOAL 13: Climate Action
"We use vegetable tanned leather from verified family-run tanneries in Java with whom we have partnered to minimize the chemicals used in the tanning process. Tannins used to tan our vegetable-tanned bags are found in the local tree barks and leaves. We can certify that our leather is 100% vegetable tanned. Additionally, the leather we use is a by-product of the food industry in East Java. It is sourced from small farmers and resource-poor households who raise cattle (usually 2 to 3 cows per family) in backyard sheds and small enclosures largely for cash income.
We are committed to continue researching a vegan option for our bags and to shift to such an option once it is 100% vegetable sourced, accessible in Indonesia, and free from scary materials like PVC or polyurethane. We follow a strict zero-waste policy and use all the debris from the cutting of the hides to make small accessories and hand-woven bags. We also keep our stock to a minimum, prioritizing small batch production to ensure the lifespan and quality of our bags and to minimize our impact on the environment. We are now exploring how to close the loop and move towards a circular model by collecting and recycling old leather bags.
Finally, we use bamboo and recycled cardboard in our cards and packaging and are now exploring the use of recycled ocean plastic materials for our zippers and buttons."
GOAL 17: Partnerships to Achieve the Goals
"We acknowledge our own privilege and this awareness informs our determination to give back to the community; 20% of our net profit is invested in a number of social projects aimed at empowering our partners in developing more sustainable solutions, supporting vulnerable groups (especially women) and counterbalancing our carbon footprint. "
Visit their website to learn more about their commitment to sustainability, and what they've accomplished so far.
Kmana is most proud of the work they do in partnership with everyone involved in their supply chain. They have created what they call their "Kmana family", a combination of individuals, workshops, and small businesses that they work with. They are driven by the mottos: "small is beautiful", and "together we are stronger." In the future, they plan to continue working with local artisans while scaling up on production.
"Together with “shaking the world in a gentle way”, our second mantra is that we shall do our best until we know better, and when we know better, do better. This is something that our beloved Maya Angelou, another one of our icons, wrote and we couldn’t agree more. For us, sustainability is a journey, a commitment to integrity. It’s asking over and over again the question: “What can we do better?” and being honest about the answer; about where we are standing.
We are now working on scaling up production without compromising our values. For us, this means working together with the artisans to allow them to grow as we grow, and also on more green solutions to the shipping process. We are also expanding the network of artisans we work with, integrating new techniques and skills."