Pending the launch of O’Bazzië Classics on June first this year, we took a look at O’Bazzië and two other entrepreneurial, ethically-conscious fashion companies seeking to make a difference in more way than expanding their customers’ closets. If you’re in the mood for a new pair of specs, a little leather, or some summer sandals, consider clicking on these collections.

O’Bazzië Classics

  •  leather accessories
Courtesy of O'Bazzië Classics

Photo: Courtesy of O’Bazzië Classics

Ever felt torn between buying yourself a gorgeous new accessory or doing something good for the world, like donating to charity? Well, come June, you won’t have to choose anymore. For every “simple, well-designed and classic leather” satchel you buy from O’Bazzië Classics, a satchel of classroom supplies will be sent off to African school children.

Courtesty of O'Bazzië Classics

Photo: Courtesty of O’Bazzië Classics

“Our supporters will rest-assured to know that owning an O’Bazzië Satchel will not only enhance their sense of fashion and style, but it will also be a reminder that they are change-agents who are making a tangible and positive difference in our world,” says chief designer and founder Ebenezer Obasiolu.

He says the company’s main goal is “to enhance a unique display of timeless and fashionable accessories, while carving a signature that focuses on the provision of school supplies for children in places where there is a high curiosity for education but less resources — especially in Africa.”

Obasiolu studied engineering in college, and was always doodling briefcases and satchels on his papers in class. His long-term plans for O’Bazzië include making his products available in retail stores internationally and expanding the reach of donated classroom supplies to countries in South America and the Caribbean.

Sseko Designs

  •  sandals
  • scarves
  • leather bags
Courtesy of Sseko Designs

Photo: Courtesy of Sseko Designs

Inspired by a post-college trip to Uganda in 2008, Liz Forkin Bohannon founded Sseko to give young Ugandan women just out of secondary school a place to work where they could earn money to fund a college education (see the video below).

Courtesy Sseko Designs

The almond-nude tie sandals. Photo: Courtesy of Sseko Designs

“Not only can you buy creative, well-designed, handcrafted accessories,” Bohannon says, “but you can feel good about knowing that every purchase is helping to educate and empower women.”

The company is based in Uganda, where marginalized women from all walks of life manufacture bags, accessories, and the versatile, ribbon-tie sandals that were Bohannon’s starting point for the entire project. As well as the online store, Sseko Designs are being sold right here in Columbia at Mustard Seed Fair Trade and Swank Boutique.

Bohannon says that Sseko’s typical customer “is stylish, loves adventure, has a taste for the unique, is passionate and cares about making the world a little brighter.”

Her long term goals include growing the brand into a “globally-recognized ethical fashion line”, and making a “larger-than-life” impact by working with women both around the world “and right here at home, too!”

Warby Parker

  • eye wear

Warby Parker was founded in 2010 by four friends who attended business school together. The name is a whimsical mash-up of the names of two Jack Kerouac characters, but the work the boys do through their website and showrooms is a little more serious.

According to their website, “Warby Parker was founded on a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to create boutique-quality, classically crafted eye wear at a revolutionary price point.” But what really makes WP stand out is their partnership with companies like VisionSpring in their “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” business model. For every pair of WP glasses sold, a pair is provided to someone in need. In four years of operation, over 500,000 pairs have been distributed.

“Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” is a five step process: when someone buys a (fashionably affordable) pair of WPs, the company’s partners (like VisionSpring) receive funding and/or glasses. With this money and merchandise, partner companies provide low-income entrepreneurs in developing countries with the necessary training and products to start their own business selling glasses. These entrepreneurs are then equipped with the tools to make their own living, while people living in the area who previously could not afford glasses gain access to affordable, effective eye wear.

The glasses are specially designed for where they’ll be sold, taking into account that “glasses are as much a fashion accessory in poor rural communities in developing world as they are in New York or Los Angeles.”

Talk Back:

How do you feel about these companies? Tell us in the comments below.

(Photo on the homepage: Courtesy of O’Bazzië Classics)

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