Market Overview

How a Handbag Can Change A Life: The Women Behind Laga Handbags


Malaak Compton-Rock, wife of Chris Rock, shared the Laga story on the Oprah show on April 13, 2010, afterwards the Oprah Effect continues on for Laga Handbags. The vision to help 1,200 tsunami survivors in Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia, is getting closer, a grateful thank you to all those who have supported the cause by buying a Laga bag.

(PRWEB) May 11, 2010 -- On April 13, 2010, Laga Handbags were displayed to the world on the Oprah Show by comedian Chris Rock's wife, Malaak Compton-Rock. Without even showing a logo on the show, demand for the Laga bags in the last three weeks has risen exponentially. For any retailer this short mention would be a dream come true solely because of the effect it would have on their bottom line. For LAGA Handbags, the exposure they have received from the Oprah show brings them one step closer to fulfilling their mission: To help 1,200 women in Aceh province, Sumatra, Indonesia, regain their livelihood and rebuild their lives.

Roy and Louise van Broekhuizen started LAGA Handbags as an outreach to help the women of Indonesia who were devastated by the effects of the tsunami on December 26, 2004. With a plan to help those in need and their recent media exposure, there seems to be no doubt that they will achieve this goal faster than anticipated. Roy, who does not pay himself or his wife Louise a salary, said: "I never imagined we could take LAGA this far. We are grateful with the life we have enjoyed here in the United States, arriving as immigrants from Holland in 1961 with nothing. To be able to build better lives for these women who survived one of the worst disasters of our lifetime is all we ever wanted to do, it feels so good to give back."

LAGA is providing disadvantaged women with a valuable sustainable new skill set. Every woman employed by LAGA Handbags in various villages throughout Aceh province goes through a 30-day training program to teach them how to use the single pedal treadle sewing machines and how to create the intricate traditional patterns, tweaking them to a contemporary style without compromising authenticity.

If a woman has no experience sewing, other job opportunities, i.e. stocking boxes and packing for shipment, are found in the factory for them as they go through extended training. After the 30-day program, many of the women are hired to be a part of the handbag embroidery staff.

Every woman employed by LAGA Handbags is grateful for the opportunity to learn a skill that will allow them to support themselves and their families. After the devastation of the tsunami which claimed the lives of thousands of men, women, and children in Aceh province, Sumatra, Indonesia, many of these women did not have the desire to live. They were faced with rebuilding their lives without those who had always provided for them and unsure of how to create a livelihood. Jurina, a member of the LAGA Handbags embroidery team, was struggling to feed her son after the death of her husband. Following the tsunami, she lost many other family members and friends, including her sister-in-law who also had a young child. Jurina is now the only family left for her son Mukram and her nephew Fajri. Eager to make a new life for herself after the tsunami, she took the opportunity to join the LAGA Handbags training program without hesitation and with immense excitement. Today she not only makes a more than fair living wage, but her son and nephew are able to attend school full time and have a chance for a brighter future.

These women are able to express themselves through the artwork and intricate design of each LAGA handbag. Like the women, no two bags are exactly alike. The LAGA embroiderers will now always have the means and skills to provide for their families. Roy added, "Words cannot express how excited these women are knowing that America and the world now knows what they are doing. The LAGA women have become local celebrities in their own right throughout their villages. They are leading fuller happier lives, which is all we can ask for."

Thanks to LAGA Handbags, the lives of these women have been changed forever.

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