4 years ago
The one woman led women centric startup
A simple desire to help the women in her community and to open a company that produces environment friendly products led Stuti Thapa to establish My Earth Eco Bags in 2015. Deviating from her original path of social sciences, Thapa decided to venture into the world of entrepreneurship to establish a brand that supported and uplifted women. As CEO and founder of the company, Thapa helps marginalized women make environment friendly, stylish and 100 percent plastic free cloth bags. With no investors, stakeholders or co-owners, Thapa began with a personal investment of 2.5 lakh rupees. The company started with a bang as their first order called for ten thousand bags. But this achievement also came with issues that no entrepreneur ever expects to face in the initial years of their startup, an economic blockade. But even with insufficient manpower, minimal fuel and extended deadlines, Thapa and her group managed to overcome their hurdles, and completed their task.
Thapa’s eco-friendly bags aren’t just well designed; they spread uplifting messages about women empowerment as well. Thapa says, “As a feminist, I want my work and my lifestyle to reflect my beliefs.” That is why her employees are all women who are given the opportunity to learn a skill that they can utilize in the future. They are given a chance to become financially independent while contributing their time and skill at a company that pushes them to thrive. Women who are unable to leave their homes everyday are also allowed to work from home—targeting mainly home-based women for the work. This leniency allows the women to support their families without compromising on their household tasks.
My Earth Eco Bags empowers women by providing them with a source of income while helping them turn independent. All the 28 workers at Thapa’s company are composed of women aged between 40 to 50. These women have either been oppressed by their husbands or have been suppressed by their own inability to step out into the world. From earthquake victims to Dalits, these women lack the education, skill and confidence to work. Working at My Earth Eco Bags does not just provide them employment but it also provides them with moral support. Sakuntala, a 40 year-old worker who hasn’t been able to visit her maiti (maternal home) in decades, was finally able to with the salary that she received (her husband never gave her even enough for the bus fare). This simple yet seemingly mundane task had been impossible for Sakuntala before she began working. Thapa aims to provide further employment opportunities for such women and continue making this a brand that helps women turn self sufficient.
Each bag is made of cotton or gheri cloth and the designs are rendered in environment friendly natural ink at a workshop located in Kapan. The entire process of cutting, designing and stitching the bag takes approximately two hours to complete. A white tote bag with a simple design is priced at Rs 350. Over 75,000 bags have been produced since the company’s inception which is a great achievement for such a small startup, also considering that they haven’t invested much on marketing. With orders from UNICEF, Saleways, Salesberry, Big Mart, Bhat Bhateni and even stores in the US, these bags have established themselves in the market.
The future of My Earth Eco Bags remains bright with the country becoming more conscience about the environment. The company plans to launch an environment friendly clothing line, colorful bag with beads are in store for the future, but right now customers can purchase totes bags, pouches, t-shirts and caps, all made of eco-friendly materials. Customers can choose between ethnic and modern designs on any of their products. You can find them at facebook.com/bagmyearth or on Butta’s online store.