La Mitra, a sustainable fashion brand, has anchored its fundamental beliefs on not only to serve the finest work of sustainable leather craftsmanship to the modern world, but also to empower independent Thai local artisans to have dignified and sustainable opportunities to exercise economic autonomy.
It all started with Juju, founder of La Mitra, who had the opportunity to volunteer as a translator under the International Medical Relief organization for the Akha tribe at Doi Pha Mee in Chiang Rai province. Being there, she had learned their ways of lives, their culture, and also their traditional techniques of craftsmanship.
Sadly, the people of Akha tribe were not only stateless but also had limited access to resources such as basic welfare, banking services and dignified job opportunities that could provide sustainable income. They had to grow seasonal crops to get by and feed their families. When out of growing seasons, the Akha women would hand embroider strap-like garments. Their delicate handcrafted embroidered straps which were no less than two weeks’ worth of work were undervalued and cheaply sold in the market for less than a hundred Baht.
Juju then felt a strong urge to change those circumstances and bring the spirit back to the community's valuable arts. She went ahead and hired those indigenous women and paid them 5 times higher than the price they would have got from selling those traditional embroidered straps in the market.
Determined to make a sustainable difference, she delicately blend those unique and full-of-culture pieces of craftsmanship from the Akha tribe together with the up-cycled yet perfect premium-grade leathers that were surpluses from an eco-friendly tannery in Thailand, and finally turn them into these soulfully exquisite designed leather bags under the brand “La Mitra” .
From supporting the spirit of unparalleled Akha artisans’ skills to bringing a fresh new life to leather goods from a sustainable tannery. The journey of this conscious leather bag brand, La Mitra, has not only empowered small independent artisans’ community to value and take pride in their long-held traditions but also contribute to the reduction in the consumption of new raw materials that could potentially affect the environment.