When Jamie Lim, the founder of KAYU, thinks about her childhood in South East Asia, she remembers a bounty of artisan creations. She says, “I grew up surrounded by beautiful indigenous crafts – rattan furniture, vibrant batiks and hand woven baskets. However, over the years these crafts started to disappear because of the advent of synthetic straw and mass production. I began KAYU as a way to preserve and promote my cultural heritage as well as provide jobs to the artisans.”
Jamie is driven to preserve the heritage of craft in her community. “When you mass produce you lose the artist touch,” she explains. “Our bags are made by women who were taught how to weave from her mother and her mother’s mother. Working with them helps to preserve their cultural heritage for future generations. In addition, these women have families to support. Weaving allows them to work from home, look after their children and also be financially independent.”
KAYU’s clutches and totes are made from seagrass, which is a naturally renewable material. “My son has been a big catalyst in our commitment to using sustainable materials. Since his birth I’ve thought more about the type of world I want to leave behind for him. Why use plastic straw which will stay in the earth’s eco-system forever when we have more sustainable alternatives available? We use seagrass to make our totes, a fast growing grass that has traditionally been viewed as a weed and will eventually completely biodegrade. Our bags are also all handmade which curtails the need for machinery and energy consumption. Fashion and sustainability need not be mutually exclusive.”
The one thing we haven’t mentioned? These bags are cute! Seriously, KAYU’s collection is completely on-trend for all your spring parties and summer trips to the beach.
See some of the collection and behind the scenes in KAYU’s handmade production in the slideshow!