A Better Life Bag is an Investment You Can Feel Great About
If you're like us, supporting missional companies is who you are. At BLB, your purchase is more than just a transaction; it's a way to give women from under-resourced communities in Detroit a chance to learn a new skill and make an income for their families.
Who We Are
Our small (yet mighty) manufacturing team of women from the under-resourced neighborhoods of Hamtramck and Detroit hand cut and sew every custom order that comes through our shop. We've employed and supported 19 families since our start in 2012.
We have a small batch, custom manufacturing, and slow fashion approach to creating our bags that ensures you are investing your dollars in long-lasting products that truly help our local community.
The Journey Your Bag Takes
Your bag starts as pieces of leather and fabric. Jennifer cuts every piece of fabric and Sabah cuts the leather pieces for your order.
Our seamstresses make the majority of the bag in their home (we purchase full-time seamstresses their own machine). Once back in our workshop, our in-house seamstresses sew the straps and handles onto your bag.
Once your bag is thoroughly checked for accuracy, our shipping team packages it up and takes a daily batch of shipments to the post office, so you don't have to wait one more day for your order.
The BLB Team
Jennifer - Head Seamstress
Jennifer joined BLB in 2015 after a search to find a local seamstress who could take Rebecca’s bag designs from her head and bring them to life in prototypes. She has lived in our community since 1993 and can often be found with a backyard full of neighborhood kids after work and on weekends. She loves being a part of making beautiful bags and interacting with the women who work here as well as our customers when they pop into the storefront.
Nadia - Seamstress
Nadia was our very first seamstress we hired at BLB in the summer of 2012. She was born in Texas and moved back to Yemen when she was five years old. After getting married, she moved back to the states when she was 17 and now has five children. She and Rebecca met and became fast friends through the common connection of their kids and their love for sewing. She loves working with a bunch of women from different cultures and enjoys seeing everyone act that family in a world where most people don’t interact with people from different backgrounds.
Karima - Seamstress
Karima was born in Afghanistan and came to America in July of 2014. Initially, she had to leave her husband and eight kids behind in Afghanistan with the hope that she could bring them over in a few years. She started working at Better Life Bags in December of 2015. In the summer of 2021 after many years of praying and hoping, all of her family was able to immigrate to the United States. She loves working at BLB because of the people and that it feels like family.
Sabah - Leather Specialist
Sabah came into our workshop one day in 2018 to ask for some change for the parking meter. She was coming to interview for a job down the street, but fell in love with our company and came to work for us instead. She has five kids and is from Yemen. She loves that she can be herself at work and that the schedule is flexible for her to still be involved in her kid’s lives while also doing something for herself.
Roushanara - Seamstress
Roushanara has six kids and was born in Bangladesh. She came to America in 1988 and started working at BLB in October of 2013. She loves the people she works with and that she can wear her hijab to work and be able to work freely in a workplace. Having a job has allowed her to spend her own money whenever she needs to as well as give money back to needy people in Bangladesh.
Shaheda - Seamstress
Shaheda was born in Bangladesh and has two children. She moved to America in February 2010 and started working at BLB in October of 2013. She feels really happy when she’s working here and her family is proud of her that she can earn an income while doing work she loves.
Better Life Bags started as Rebecca Smith's hobby. To beat the boredom during the last months of her first pregnancy, she made herself a diaper bag and posted pictures of it on Facebook. After hearing feedback on how many people wanted to buy one, she opened an Etsy shop in August of 2009 and decided to give 10% of every bag sale to a low-income entrepreneur overseas through microloans.
Rebecca named the ETSY shop "Better Life Bags" and sent a picture of the person the loan was going to help with each bag purchase - to show customers how someone's life was being made better as a result of their bag purchase. In 2010, Rebecca and her family moved to a low-income area of Detroit, Michigan and her eyes were opened to what poverty, unemployment, and blight can do to a city and the people living there.
When orders experienced a boom in 2012, she turned to her neighborhood for help. She hired a woman originally from Yemen, named Nadia, to start sewing bags alongside her. After a few months of spending time with Nadia and paying her for the work she was doing, Rebecca saw a shift in her attitude and economic status. Her family was finally able to afford bed frames for their four children and a dining room table. Better Life Bags was making lives better in Rebecca's own community.
At BLB, we have created a unique business that unites YOUR design efforts with tangible needs in our community of Detroit, Michigan. Every bag we sell means we can hire more women! Your bag always comes with the name of the woman who made your bag - bringing the personal connection straight to your mailbox. We'd love it if you hung that card on your fridge to think about that woman whose life is being changed as a result of your purposeful purchase.
Even from the beginning, all of our bags have been custom and made-to-order for you - the customer! And our interactive website makes it really fun to design your own bag. Click on the "Design Your Own" tab at the top and play around for hours if you have to. When you are ready to have our ladies make it for you, just add it to your cart and check out! We will get working on it right away!
Check Out Rebecca's Full Story in Her Book!
A Better Life - The Book.
Let love stretch you. As the founder of one of the most popular custom handbag companies in the country, Rebecca Smith knows a thing or two about business. A highly successful entrepreneur in a world where the focus is on scalability, brand strategy, and global marketing, Rebecca Smith also knows the truth: that every success she's experienced at Better Life Bags has been the result of very small, very ordinary, very obedient steps of faith.
Moving from Savannah, Georgia, to Hamtramck, Michigan, was culture shock enough for Rebecca. But trying to feel at home in a city where twenty-six different languages were spoken and most of the inhabitants were immigrants seemed downright impossible. It was only when Rebecca recognized that God had called her to this specific neighborhood at this particular moment in time that his plans began to unfold for her. Stepping forward into the place God had called her - a place that seemed messy and uncomfortable and unfamiliar - Rebecca discovered the true secret to success: when we slow down, pay attention, and trust that still, small voice of God to guide us, we just might change the world.
Though Rebecca never set out to build a brand or create an empire, God saw Rebecca's heart for others, and began to multiply her efforts in ways she could have never imagined, creating a company where women from different cultures, faiths, and backgrounds work together for the good of others - for a better life.
As you read this inspiring story, you will discover how to hear and follow God's voice for yourself as you slow down, take one small step at a time, and make a difference in the world right where you are.