Innovation That Matters

Laotian kudzu bags with a mission and a story

Nonprofit & Social Cause

Much the way Shokay aims to create markets for Tibetan herders’ yak down, so Nature Bags hopes to benefit the ancient Khmu culture on Laos’s steep mountainsides. Using a design that’s been perfected over thousands of years, members of one of Southeast Asia’s poorest minorities make Nature Bags using wild-growing JungleVine, also known as tropical kudzu. The result is a reusable and sustainable organic bag that’s compact, lightweight, minimalistic and highly durable. Eight variations on the Nature Bag are available, varying in both style and size—prices begin at USD 15 for a small bag in the Pahk style. Iowa-based Hawkflight has purchased some 10,000 Nature Bags from Khmu families, and is running the operation with the help of a 22 year-old Laotian student. Of course, social entrepreneurship with a side serving of product life stories and (still) made here appeal is all very well, as we noted in our story about Shokay. But a heaping helping of traceability would go a long way toward playing up those virtues, much the way Icebreaker does. Time to help introduce the world to the individual Khmu craftsmen involved in making each bag…? (Related: Furniture with a story, crafted from salvaged dhowsTracking & tracing fashion brands’ product storiesCoffee life stories.)



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