It takes an amazing team of people to bring a project like the first Two Green Ladies Luxury plant based Leather Handbag to life.
Today, I would like to introduce you to one of those amazing people, specifically the woman who is in charge of taking the
first Two Green Ladies handbag from idea to reality, Ms. Stefanie Kaspar.
Stefanie has been designing handbags for 20 years, for various luxury brands, suppliers and factories. She’s done some
amazing work and is now the person who I’ve entrusted to make our 100% plastic free couture plant-based leather handbag.
I recently sat down with Stefanie to talk with her about her career in accessory design and why this project matters so much to her.
Ian: How long have you been designing handbags?
Stefanie: I designed my first handbag nearly 20 years ago as part of my Master’s dissertation work. I also studied trend forecasting,
where I specialized in handbags. Since then I’ve worked for luxury brands, alongside some great designers, for various handbag
brands, suppliers and factories.
Ian: Why do you like working with plant-based materials or non-plastic materials?
Stefanie: Because I strongly believe it’s the future!
I’ve followed the development of plant-based materials for many years now. Starting with “vegan” leather alternatives (which were mainly glorified polyurethane bags) to apple skin leathers, corn, grape, pineapple, mushroom, and cactus leathers (and many more!)
All of these contained a certain amount of bio-based material but were still mixed with polyurethane binders to varying degrees.
I’ve always seen them as steppingstones as the materials still keep developing and evolving.
Mirum was the first material I’ve discovered that was truly 100% plant-based, polyurethane and plastic-free and 100% biodegradable that actually meets high aesthetic expectations and scalability unlike other natural materials like Cork or MuSkin (mushroom leather).
Ian: What drew you to this project?
Stefanie: I think it, it was really your attitude, and unwavering vision, determination and integrity. I’ve done previous projects with
people that said, “yeah, I want to make a 100% plant-based leather handbag but, but none of them really meant it like you do.
And even after we’ve had some challenges with interior of our current prototype and how to optimize it to be a good weight,
and so on, you still would not budge a millimeter on your determination to stick to your original plan, nor would you make any compromises on
the material or quality choices.
There is no way of adding any weird stuff inside that you can’t see. You’re absolutely strict. You keep things your way and it’s brilliant.
Ian: What is your process for designing a handbag? Where do you start?
Stefanie: The process is very different from project to project. Sometimes clients are really very clear on what they want and, and they
often have a list of aspirational brands and so on.
In this particular case, it started with your vision to have a hundred percent biodegradable, plastic-free bag. Originally, you suggested the
mushroom skin leather. That was really our starting point.
At first you thought you wanted a clutch or a small bag. So, I did a lot of drawings and I played around with your logo. At some point we, we
figured out that you didn’t actually want a clutch, but something more like a cross body or shoulder bag.
Then, I had to tell you we can’t use the mushroom skin because it, it just won’t work in production. It’s a
beautiful material, but it can only be used for artisan small, unique pieces, not a scaled-up production product.
The problem is it’s a naturally grown fungus, so every piece is slightly different. Every piece is unique. They have slightly different
shapes and it’s really tricky to get any sort of consistency from it. You can do some beautiful things with it, but you’d never get
any sort of consistency from bag to bag.
I had heard of Mirum, and I’d seen their product at material shows, but at that point it wasn’t as commercially available.
They were only working with established brands, I went ahead and gave you their contact information anyway, to see if you
could persuade them. Then you sent me a swatch card (samples of the material) and said, “Yeah, let’s go with this.”
Once we’d made the decision to go with Mirum, the design of the bag changed a bit, because I had more freedom.
The pieces of material I was working with were bigger and they were consistent. Despite this, I still wanted to keep the handbag
quite simple and let the materials speak for themselves.
Ian: What are you most excited about in terms of seeing this project come to fruition?
Stefanie: To see that we never caved in and used any nasty materials in the entire construction of the bag (common components like EVA fillers
and backers that are hidden inside). I love that we never said “Okay, it’s easier to use this or that inside” but instead,
we kept looking and finding solutions that match the Two Green Ladies mission and values.
I also like that it’s really a luxury bag and not a street brand or small or mid-level bag. I think the material deserves to be
appreciated for its preciousness because so much time went into the process of developing this material. I feel like we’re
definitely moving in the right direction.
Ian: What do you want people to know about the first Two Green Ladies handbag?
Stefanie: What makes the Two GreenLadies handbag different from others is that it IS eco-friendly WITHOUT looking like an “eco bag.” I think this is really
important because there are lots of people that want to use more sustainable materials, but they don’t like the look,
because many of them often scream “I’m Eco-Conscious!”
Sometimes that’s not what people want. They just want a really nice bag. I think many people especially in the luxury sector would like to make
more eco-friendly choices but don’t want to compromise on beauty and elegance.
The Two Green Ladies handbag is meant to celebrate the beauty of nature and the amazing materials that come from it.
The material takes center stage in the design of the bag by simply letting it speak through subtle details like the raised front panel.
It’s a very simple, functional bag, but the main thing is that it’s beautiful.
I also see a handbag as a representation of personality, values and style – it makes a statement. For me personally it is a
statement of beauty and hope for the future
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