In 2014, long time fashion experts, Eileen Vincent and Danica Shepetys founded Land of Ed, to bring in a new era of luxury fashion. With over 20 years of design and commercial experience they noticed a void in the fashion industry. Luxury fashion with transparency and a purpose. In 2015 Land of Ed joined the Benefit Corporation (B Corp) family. The non-profit B Lab implements rigorous standards of accountability to place the B-Corp status on a brand and business.
Land of Ed launched with a simple mission to create beautiful, functional baby bags that would also support children’s educational initiatives around the world. The release of their first product is a luxury baby bag called “The Patrick” named after Eileen’s son, that will help build a school in Myanmar(Burma). 58 million children are out of school globally. Land of Ed sees this as a tremendous issue facing children in the developing world. Each limited edition bag is dedicated to a developing international community determined to teach their children. For every bag purchased, an element of a school is built.
What was the inspiration behind starting Land of ED?
With a strong background in luxury fashion, a serious love for children and belief that *all* children deserve equal access to education – Land of (Ed)ucation was born. Of course timing is everything too, Eileen was pregnant with her son Patrick, and there wasn’t a fashionable, considered baby bag, at a reasonable price point, on the market. This had to change so we decided to design our own! Land of Ed launched with a simple mission to create beautiful, functional baby bags that would also support children’s educational initiatives around the world.
How does it all work? When someone purchases a bag what does that build or buy for the school? How many bags need to be sold to build a school?
Each limited edition range is dedicated to a developing international community eager to teach their children. With our first project, 400 bags will build a school in rural Burma, one that will be complete with concrete foundations, solar panels, water tanks, toilets, windows, doors, tables and chairs – a place that is completely self-sustaining which is particularly important in an area where there is no running water or electricity. For every bag purchased, an element of the school is built. Our next project currently in development will be dedicated to a new educational initiative, in a new country with new partners.
What organization(s) does Land of Ed work with to help build a school?
For a new school build in Burma, it is our focus to work with non-profit organizations that have a proven track record in supporting education and are experienced at working together with local stakeholders. To enable success for the long term, it’s critical to have a commitment from the local community so that both students and school facility are nurtured long after build completion. We love the foresight that smaller NGOs have, operationally, logistically, and creatively. By working in smaller teams we are able to have fun together without all of the administrative costs and red tape that comes with a super large organization.
It goes without saying, we are beyond thrilled to work with our partner in Burma, Building Schools for Burma, a registered UK charity that has already built 5 schools across various states. These guys know what they’re doing and are so inclusive in inviting us in to every step of the process!
Why Burma? Do you have a history there have you traveled there before?
Sometimes there’s such beauty in timing! We shared our vision for Land of Ed with friends, and before we knew it, the recommendations for partner organizations came flooding our way. A friend mentioned the amazing work Paddy Gilfeather had been doing in Burma, building schools for children through his non-profit organization, and within moments our interest piqued.
We reached out to him immediately and on a rainy afternoon in London, several coffees later, we were captivated by his background and the history he had established working within the country. Despite never visiting Burma ourselves, we were committed to supporting his work with our first bag. Looking back on how it’s come together, it really is all timing of connections – we really look forward to traveling with him to Chin State to build a school for such beautiful, deserving children.
Are the bags made in a traditional way like most luxury brands?
We can’t speak for other luxury brands, but what we can say is that after working for a number of years in fashion, it became more and more clear that we needed to create a brand that thought about more than just financial stakeholders and took into account both social and environmental spheres. We will always strive to improve, and are learning more and more each day, however having committed ourselves to a B Corp standard of doing business (most importantly having made it a part of our operating charter), we are committed to finding the most sustainable suppliers, utilizing the most ethical and safe production practices.
For our first range, we wanted to work with someone we could trust – obviously we didn’t want to start producing for the sake of it. We are beyond fortunate to be working with a trusted UK supplier, one that has an established relationship with a really nice factory in China. Yes, our first style is being produced in China! We are super proud of the relationship that we are growing with these partners and count ourselves lucky to have found a team that makes both beautiful products and is led by an owner who understands the value of treating employees well. Although we produce in the very same factories as some of the most loved labels, we still require stringent workplace compliancy reporting. It’s an exciting journey ahead to say the least, and look forward to growing in a very organic, sustainable way.
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Founder of Causeartist + Social Entrepreneur + Partner at Charity Charge.