When I asked for a Raven + Lily tote for Christmas, I couldn’t have been more excited to receive it as a gift. I always enjoy having large bags to carry with me, and not for just hauling groceries. When I lived in Denver, I used to have multiple bags to carry everything I needed for my jobs and was always thrilled when it could fit my lunch as well. In Chicago, a reusable grocery bag was always necessary to carry coats, jackets and umbrella for the just in case moments walking from the bus stop to work. That’s why I was excited to see this one from Raven + Lily that is colorful, playful and was durable as well. Just how much do I admire this tote? I didn’t think it was possible, but after learning more about it like I have with other accessories, I appreciate it even more.
Totes specifically made by Raven + Lily’s artisan partners in India, are made of 100% organic cotton or natural jute. The designs are screen printed and the artisans are women who were formerly a part of the sex trade. But it’s not just my tote that these artisans from India construct. Raven + Lily also has organic and natural soaps, paper made from recycled materials and wood and leather handicrafts in their accessories and home goods. Many of these products serve the same purpose: to provide artisans with enough revenue to be economically independent and work that gives them pride. A short video from Raven + Lily shows exactly the kind of partnership the company has with their India artisans.
Knowing all of this makes me feel proud to be the owner of a bag crafted by a skilled and empowered artisan. What’s even better is that the tote is something I use and rely on every day. It’s perfect for books, binders and other items I carry between my work at the Utah Shakespeare Festival and the Southern Utah Museum of Art. Functionality, design and skilled craftsmanship in one tote—what could be better than that?