Look good and do good. It’s the holy grail of fashion — finding ways to up the ante with your wardrobe, but also give back at the same time. And the designers and entrepreneurs behind SALT have done just that; they found a way to make the world a better place, but make it fashion. That’s the concept behind this brand, a unique line of gorgeous handbag straps that not only elevate your accessories game and your overall style but also give back to global artisans around the world.
Inspired by traditional Wayúu mochila bags made by hand in Colombia, these handbag straps are made using the same age-old techniques that result in beautiful, colorful and uniquely hand-woven goods. That was something that SALT co-founders Kacy Lubell and Marla Toplitzky were committed to from the start — they wanted to create a brand that was both modern and fashionable but also true to the local craftsmanship of the Wayúu artisans in the La Guajira region of northern Colombia.
What started as friends bonding over a shared love of style and travel became a thriving accessories business that brings together fashion with function and a dedication to supporting global artisans. And we are here for it.
If we’re being honest, it was the style that first caught our attention. From the bright colors to intricate details and unique patterns of these gorgeous bag straps, it’s hard not to take notice. They are happy, they make a statement, and they tell a story. Which is exactly what the co-founders were going for.
An Accessory to Your Accessory that Everyone Needs
Longtime friends since first meeting in college, Kacy and Marla always shared a love of style, but it wasn’t until a girls’ trip to Tulum that they realized they were destined to work together on a fashion project that would change their lives (and the lives of many others). Kacy was carrying a Wayúu mochila bag during their trip, and instantly the two started talking about the gorgeous craftsmanship, but equally importantly, the thick, wide, super comfortable bag strap that made her tote so incredibly appealing and user-friendly. Imagine, a bag that carries everything you need — which any woman knows is essential — but is also comfortable to carry on your shoulder. It’s almost too good to be true, and yet those mochila bags seriously deliver.
And so the idea for SALT bag straps was first born, but first, they had to really work through their brand, their product, and their mission. The two realized that oftentimes the products people love and value most are treasures they take home from their travels and items that have a story around them. “These are the items that carry sentiment and meaning long after a trip, teaching us about different cultures and transporting us each time we use them,” they said on their website.
So they created just that: bag straps that tell a story and takes you to other places around the world, because they are actually made in other cultures, staying true to those local techniques and artistic traditions.
There are several elements that make these bag straps unique: first, the intricate detailing of the hand-woven patterns; second, the wide range of gorgeous colors. It’s hard to find bags, or bag accessories, that are simultaneously fashion-forward and classic. These straps feel true to the craftsmanship and techniques that have been passed down for generations around the globe, but also feel on-trend and very modern at the same time.
Another quality we are obsessed with: these bag straps can be used with any bag you own. Let us say that again. They are so versatile that they can be affixed to literally any handbag, tote, cross-body bag and beyond, all you need is a bag with a detachable strap that you can unclip. You simply unhook the original strap and hook the SALT strap onto the rings on either side. Just like that, poof, you have a brand new handbag with a brand new look.
Giving Back to Global Artisans
Yes, we love the style of these unique bag straps. And yes, we love that the business is owned by two smart, entrepreneurial women with a mission. And of course, we love that these accessories for our accessories allow us to look fashionable without having to buy a brand new bag, but rather revamp the bags we already own. It feels like everyone is a winner there. But perhaps what we love most about SALT is that the brand gives back to global artisans around the world.
As we mentioned, the straps are modeled after traditional mochila bags, and they use traditional Wayúu craftsmanship as inspiration for the design of the straps. But more than that, SALT has formed a fair-trade partnership with artisans who have been passing down the age-old Wayúu handmade technique for generations. So every strap you purchase is not made in a factory in China, but rather handcrafted by an artisan in Colombia using renewable resources and traditional methods of hand-weaving. The straps are then finished in New York City with natural vegetable-tanned leather and solid brass lobster clips to complete the product.
And that is not where the do-gooder mentality ends for the SALT brand. The straps are not just crafted by local artisans in Colombia, but the brand also gives back to those artisans around the world through their charitable contributions and partnerships.
Initially, when SALT launched, they knew they wanted to contribute to the Wayúu community as a whole, as La Guajira is the second poorest region in Latin America. The first step in that process was to partner with the Wayúu Tayá Foundation, which is a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of Latin American indigenous communities, while respecting their traditions, cultures, and beliefs.
And as the business grew, so did their dedication to giving back. Now SALT has found a new way to help the Wayúu artisans thrive by partnering with Nest, a non-profit committed to the advancement of global artisans through transparency, sustainability, and advocacy. Nest supports more than 500 artisan businesses across over 90 countries with programs aimed at preserving cultures, fighting for gender equity and helping sustainably grow artisan businesses.
For every Salt strap sold, a portion of the proceeds goes to help Nest conduct in-depth needs assessment and well-being surveys to identify the challenges faced by Wayúu artisans. Nest and Salt are working to not only improve the working conditions experienced by female hand-workers globally but also preserve those cultural traditions embedded in craftsmanship and help those global businesses grow by connecting workers with appropriate training and resources so that they can thrive.
It’s hard to find products that can make you look and feel your best, while also allowing you to do good and contribute to the forces for change that are making this world a better place. While it might seem like a small step, buying a bag strap can actually impact the lives of global artisans in Colombia and beyond, and that’s a trend we can get behind.