Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. ~Chief Seattle
In an anxiety-ridden moment in 2007 after having watched Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, a "lighthearted" documentary about the perils of climate change, I sought solace through Google. I "Googled" terms I thought might light the way for me to get my hands dirty in the Green Movement. I wanted to be an agent of change. But most of all, I wanted the horrible feeling of helplessness I was experiencing to go away.
Pansy Maiden was born in the Spring of 2009. A year before, I knew very little about the “business” world and frankly, very little about designing and sewing bags. What I did know was that I wanted my life’s work to mean something to me. I had spent the last decade fumbling through several career paths hoping that one of them would feel right. Before blowing 30 candles out on my birthday cake, my professions had ranged from PBS TV Production Assistant in Indiana, Warner Bros. production intern in LA, Associate Director of an all-girls summer camp in Connecticut, and Executive Assistant to the CEO at a publishing company in Massachusetts. I woke up on my 30th birthday and realized what was missing: a purpose.
Around that time, I discovered and became inspired by the burgeoning DIY movement. This may sound odd but I had never really considered the fact that I could make a living wage from my art. I thought back to my college years when I had hand-sewed several bags using reclaimed denim shirts. That spark ignited a flame. I decided to try my hand at designing and constructing my own line of women’s handbags. Once I started, I never looked back. Not only did I find that I had a natural aptitude for designing durable, fashion-forward bags, I also discovered a latent aptitude for business. No one was more surprised than me.
I decided that if I was going to give this thing a go, I couldn’t be your regular, run-of-the-mill business person. My business would have to have a purpose. It was at this time that I remembered the call-to-action I had felt after having watched An Inconvenient Truth a year before. This “9-years-strong” vegetarian (now you can add “3-years-strong” vegan to that total) would have to help solve some of the problems of this world, not contribute to the problem. My ah-ha moment came when I realized that I, with the help of my company, could help spread positivity and possibly even inspire action in others.
Now flash back to that time in 2007 when I was "Googling for solace" (band name?), I came upon a quote (posted above) from Chief Seattle. I found great power and truth in that quote and have made it a part of my mantra. I very much believe that all things connect—the way we treat animals, the way we treat our Earth, the way we treat each other. If we are considerate and make efforts to treat all three with the utmost respect, our world will be a healthier and all-around better place to live. This is why my bags are 1) built with sustainability in mind--made to last many years using earth-friendly materials, 2) made in Massachusetts--providing jobs to enrich my community, and 3) cruelty-free--kind to our Earth, our animals, and fellow humans.
OK, now this last part borders on new-agey but bear with me, it’s all in the name of fun. On my 20th birthday, my friend and I went to a psychic just for some giggles. (Psychics are fun, right?!). My reading was indeed playful but there was one part that still makes the hair on my arms stand up, and I get all goose-pimply. Out of the blue, the psychic said, “Is there someone in your family named...starts with a P...Pansy?” My grandmother had already passed at the time so I listened intently as I nodded my head yes. The woman told me that “this Pansy person” was always standing over my shoulder acting as my “spirit guide” and that I should never feel alone because she is always with me. So, I like to think that the chain of events circa 2007-2009 which led me to developing my own cruelty-free brand was not random at all. Perhaps I was guided by my forward-thinking, compassionate Gran. It’s a comforting, motivating thought anyway...
Pansy Maiden and me. (That really was her name!)