An Envelope Clutch Made of News Paper

A handmade clutch from the Philippines.

This orange clutch made out newspapers is one of the specialty items that my friend, Lenore Espanola, sells out of boutiques in San Francisco and New York City. She’s a businesswoman, and often makes trips to the Philippines to oversee the production of a plethora of other handmade accessories including hair turtles and slings for wine bottles.

Lenore says that the greatest challenge in ordering batches of handmade items is quality control. Because they are made by human beings, by hand, not all of them will turn out the same. Some are perfect, others have flaws, some are larger, others smaller. It drives her crazy.

So, why does Lenore continue to commission these handmade items? Because they help to put food in the mouths of families who would, otherwise, probably have no chance of earning a living. Lawmakers are helping to untangle the red tape for entrepreneurs. According to a 2011 business report, 13 of 20 cities in the Philippines implemented regulatory reforms to make it easier for Filipino entrepreneurs to start and operate a business.

The Philippines is the second-largest world producer of handicrafts made from indigenous materials. Exports of Philippine handmade goods, which provide livelihoods to a million Filipinos, add up to about $72 million. The goods are sold mainly to the United States, European Union, and Japan.

For Lenore, the handmade goods set her apart from other entrepreneurs who deal with mass-produced inventory. Her newspaper clutches and totes are unique and beautiful — not just aesthetically so, but, more importantly, altruistically. ♥ For more of Lenore’s bags: Lenore Collection