Part 11 in a series where Krates Ng (co-founder of Mokugift the ecard service) interviews fellow ecopreneurs. Today, Krates interviews Christine Hutchinson, founder of Five Accessories. Five Accessories offers eco and fair trade unique designer handbags & wood jewelry from FIVE countries.
1) Why did you start your company?
We were on our honeymoon in Bali when we stopped so I could admire handbags and jewelry made by local women. It was there I Made Kichen, a Balinese man, told us about an American couple who supported him as a young boy for just $5.00 per month. This encouraged him to finish his education and send his children to school too. It impacted his life in a tremendous way and inspired my entrepreneurial and philanthropic zeal.
2) Is there a story behind the name of your company?
Yes, because of that five dollars we named our company five ACCESSORIES. five after the five dollars given to I Made Kichen and in support of the five different countries we support. We buy fashion accessories made by the local women in these countries and resell them. We desire to empower and deliver fair wages to workers and their communities through the sale of locally made products that do not deplete the earth’s resources.
3) What was the toughest challenge in getting your company through the most recent growth stage and how you got overcame the challenge?
The retail market the past few years have been a challenge. I feel like we do everything by the books – yet the numbers are still not as strong as we hope them to be. We have overcome it by researching the marketplace and understanding how to differentiate ourselves.
4) Can you describe the moment when you knew that your company hit full stride as a business?
When we came back from our Honeymoon with a suitcase full of handbags and sold out in two days. My friends could not stop talking about how cute and unique the bamboo clutches were.
5) If you had to pick one product in your lineup, which one would you showcase and why?
Our new shoppers bag because they are made out of recycled mosquito netting. These bags are oversized with wide over the shoulder handles. Side snaps to give the bag a great shape and open up to fit everything. Not to mention lined with recycled industrial tarp. They are sturdy and durable unlike many counterparts on the market today. I want consumers to change the way they shop. Shop local, support globally.
6) How is your company going to grow in 2011? And how can other ecopreneurs help?
We are going to grow this year through increasing our wholesale accounts. I really want our company to be a nationally known brand. Other ecopreneurs can help by telling their customers and colleagues about us. We are capable of customizing our Cambodia line with business, corporate or school logos. If they have their own store they can create a wholesale account with us. We love to network and support our supporters, so we will reciprocate in whatever way we can.
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