“You can have the most perfect product in the world and there will be someone for whom it isn’t perfect at all – that’s what individuality is about. And we wanted to celebrate it rather than fit folks into boxes, or in this case, bags,” says Karuna Ezara Parikh, co-founder, The Burlap People. “A bag is a really unique item because it carries your entire life in it. And each life is different.” If you are familiar with what The Burlap People is doing, this ideology will make perfect sense. Known for handcrafted, eco-friendly bags, the brand is at the forefront of creating unique designs made using vegan leather and burlap, a natural fibre derived from jute, which is biodegradable and recyclable. Musician Anderson Paak, director Imtiaz Ali, and actor Parineeti Chopra are fans.
Burlap bags’ niche following has grown quickly in a couple of years since their launch. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours, and prints, all serving different purposes. If you’re looking for a roomy carryall for a long weekend away, their ‘The Original Duffel’ is ideal. A chic sling that can take you from day to night? ‘The Boo’ has got you covered. Searching for a classic everyday tote? ‘The Base Tote’ fits a laptop and has a super sturdy leather base. These options and more are available in a variety of earthy colours like dark wine, cool grey, tan, navy, bottle green etc. The bags are also customizable – add a secret pocket, a rainbow, or your initials.
The journey of The Burlap People began when founder Samriddh Burman returned after completing his graduation in America, committed to a more conscious lifestyle and to rejoin his family-owned jute business. Jute is traditionally used for packaging and sacks, but Burman recognised this versatile material’s potential, wanting to make a positive impact on the environment.
Things really kicked off when he met environmentalist and entrepreneur Karuna Ezara Parikh, who spent a day designing a bag at what is now the Burlap Headquarters at a farm on the outskirts of Kolkata. When she held the finished product in her hands, she was a convert. They were soon joined by Burman’s friend Rewant Lokesh, who abandoned corporate life to complete the trio.
The brand is one of the first in India to sell solely through Instagram, and have a feed that’s packed with happy customers from far flung locations. It grew organically, with no paid advertising. Their commitment to sustainability is unwavering – they keep their inventory low (in most cases they create the bags after the order comes in) and introduce only a few designs per season. They also have a great scheme which allows you to return your old bag when you are looking to switch things up in return for 15 percent off a new purchase. In turn, they redistribute the old bag to someone in need. Until recently the only way to get your hands on the bags was through requesting an placing an order on Instagram, but the brand has now launched their online store. Talk about packing a punch.
All images: Courtesy The Burlap People