BAG FOR LIFE
Brazilian fairtrade handbag company Nannacay was born out of founder and CEO Marcia Kemp’s passion for travelling, strong social conscience and love of fashion. “I wished to build a legacy to the world,” she says, “to impact people’s lives positively and leave something for them.”
Marcia worked as a global sales executive for IBM for 25 years, while volunteering at Rio’s Child Institute, an NGO known as Instituto da Criança, and developing corporate citizenship projects. She also travelled widely, and it was during a visit to the Maasai tribe in Tanzania that she hit on the idea of launching a fashion company that would showcase local craftsmanship and, at the same time, help deprived communities.
Marcia launched Nannacay (“sisterhood of women” in the Peruvian indigenous language Quechua) in 2014. Based in Rio de Janeiro, it’s a social fashion project, with the motto “Creative hands transforming lives”, connecting communities in Peru, Brazil and Ecuador with the international luxury fashion market.
Marcia collaborates with local artisans on new designs and techniques. Characterized by colourful, vibrant designs and shapes, every piece is unique, with playful adornments and embroidery over traditional tribal patterns. The most popular design is the Baby Roge, a small straw box bag with striped woven straps decorated with pom-poms.
Nannacay’s bags are now sold at its Rio store, fashion websites and shops around the world, including Selfridges and Net-a-Porter in the UK. As a social business, when the company grows, so do the income and opportunities for the artisan communities. “Now we have artisans coming to us,” says Marcia. “I started off with just 13 ladies and I now work with 200 families. In one part of Peru, I even have 20 prisoners creating bag parts. I organize workshops to teach new techniques and business skills, and if the communities hit problems, such as when there was an environmental catastrophe, I send money.
“The difference between Nannacay and other fashion brands is that it isn’t just about fashion – the aim is to transform people’s lives. The women who buy my bags admire simplicity and beauty, and also want to give back to society. It’s a story of compassion.”