Sometimes, I look at my trusty travel bag (worn and rugged, still more than ready to accompany me into a future where I’ll grow old and placid) and think: you’ve travelled around the world more than most. It’s just a thought, one that doesn’t actually mean anything other than the weight of the words which compose it. Probably not very original either – and one that is put in its rightful context. I’ve also come to think about the journeys the materials that compose it did, before the thing was even assembled.
It’s like that with everything. You start to know and think more about something and the cadence, the color and the shape of thoughts you have about that something morphs and changes forever.
When we started our Ina Koelln brand, our mission was simple: to create and deliver good, reliable products made from organic, sustainable, environmentally-friendly materials. A green brand, whatever that may exactly mean. And to do that, we would have to know absolutely everything about the materials we put on our products.
Knowing where the things you work with come from, and how they were made, or harvested, is also important to our customers. If they come to us expecting to get a vegan bag, for example, we have to make sure that we know if the bag we’re selling truly is a vegan or vegetable tanned bag – and, in order to know that, we need to know what type of processes those materials were subjected to before they reached our hands. It is our responsibility as a brand, and one we take seriously.
At first, though, obstacles were everywhere. We’re a product of globalization, but we feel that our identity is first and foremost European. With that in mind, we wanted all the materials we used to be made in Europe. We also wanted to work with local economies and small producers, for several reasons – to help fostering local communities and to be as sustainable as we could in our processes. That meant crisscrossing the continent so we could find the right partners and the right suppliers so we could trace the origin of each and every raw material and the changes they would be subjected to, before they reached our hands.
Today, we can proudly say that we know how our fish and goat leathers are harvested and that the methods and techniques used are chemical-free, with a minimum impact on the environment. Our Piñatex is harvested working with local farmers and produces zero waste. And our cork not only is 100% sustainably harvested and waste-free but also contributes to the growth of the Mediterranean cork oak forest, fostering its growth ad biodiversity.
We work to create the best possible products in scope with our vision. And to do that, the best possible quality is not enough: knowing the impact your activity produces is as much a badge of honor as a social duty. And we’re proud to being able to fulfill ours.