2013 FINALIST

Maria Teresa Aristeguieta - MTAbags

Winner of the The John Paul Selects Most Socially Responsible Handbag



Venezuela



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2013 Finalist Maria Teresa Aristeguieta MTAbags

Maria Teresa Aristeguieta FINALIST'S PROFILE

What country are your bags manufactured?
Venezuela

Please explain how your bags are socially responsible?
In a country like Venezuela where poverty strikes at an impressive rate, MTAbags is one of the most responsible design enterprises. Having an exclusive wood line, 50% of our income goes directly to funding artisan schools for natives, mainly in the small communities of our Amazon Jungle. We've also organized special lessons in the capital of Venezuela, Caracas, to encourage people from the slums/favelas -Petare- to work with us. By doing this we are transforming potential kidnappers-thieves to change through artisan and artistic labour. The reason behind our social responsibility is no other than the love we have for our country and both its natural and human resource.

Do you work with local/native artisans to design your bags?
Yes. Every artisan that works for MTAbags is native

Why did you choose this country to have your bags made and what made you decided to give back?
My family has lived in Venezuela since the very first day that this land was discovered. I feel more Venezuelan than no one. Even though the insane political situation we are going through, this is my country and I will work here forever. Every single employee at MTAbags is from Venezuela, and we all are equally compromised with giving our best to obtain excellence. That is why I decided that my bags can be sold anywhere in the world, but must be fully produced in Venezuela. The rough patch the majority of Venezuelans is going through must come to an end. And I am giving my best by contributing socially and economically with my people.

How have your bags impacted this community?
When I first went to the Amazon Jungle I was astonished by natives' impeccable work with wood. I knew it was the right time to introduce our beautiful Venezuelan wood to MTAbags. That is how this dream became a reality. At first natives were reluctant to work with me, because they felt people from the city were there to steal them. Things started to change as they became more familiar with my brand, I went visiting them every week and also took them to my workshop. As my wood bags arouse international interest (one of them was featured in Vogue Italia) profits raised, and I started my social program focusing on giving every native of the Amazon Jungle the chance to learn new techniques and to start their own wood enterprises. Little native children see MTAbags as some sort of savior that came to their land but didn't intrude. They see us as the path to succeed.

Do you think you are giving back by producing there?
Absolutely. Nowadays is easier and cheaper to mass produce bags in China rather than make them in Venezuela. 1 Bs is equal to 0,00004 $. Is no longer an interesting business to have an artisan work done here. That just gives me strength to continue my work here and to help as many artisans as I can. MTAbags is here to preserve artisans and to achieve excellence and exclusiveness in our designs.

What country are your bags manufactured?

Please explain how your bags are socially responsible?

Do you work with local/native artisans to design your bags?

Why did you choose this country to have your bags made and what made you decided to give back?

How have your bags impacted this community?

Do you think you are giving back by producing there?

See other finalists from the 2013 handbag awards