Parker Clay | Buy a Bag, Change a Life
In one of the most recent statistical analysis by the Christian Alliance for Orphans, there are approximately 150 million children attempting to survive on their own — and that number doesn’t even include youth that are living in negligent and abusive families. Astounded by the statistics, Ian and Brittany Bentley thought about their two young boys, Parker and Clayton, not having parents. It was then the Bentleys’ hearts burst open, and thus began the long journey of adopting their five-month-old Ethiopian baby girl named Selah.
In 2011, they journeyed to Africa to meet and bring home their young daughter and while there they witnessed first hand the amount of young women on the streets – many of whom started as orphans and were abandoned and now found themselves prostituting or sold into human trafficking. Ian and Brittany returned home profoundly changed by what their eyes took in. The journey for them was just the beginning; however, as the insights gained from their trip to Africa, along with the love they had for their own children, sparked an idea in the Bentleys. They packed up their family, moved to Ethiopia, and began working to help take a chunk out of the problem: tackling the job creation market. They did this not from some distant corporate office but in the heart of the country, and from their efforts is their aptly named (for their first children) leather goods company Parker Clay.
Among the top ten livestock producers in the world, and the number one producer in Africa, Ethiopia has been exporting leather goods for centuries. The Bentleys decided the best way to create jobs for vulnerable families and prevent children from becoming orphans was to utilize this already booming market. Parker Clay’s products are handcrafted from hundreds of local artisans in Ethiopia, including scarves crafted by women in the capital of Addis Ababa. Zewditu, a Parker Clay employee in Ethiopia said it best, “Buying a bag can change someone’s entire life”.
In an interview with CAUSEBOX, Ian Bentley explained why the family decided it was important to work directly with the people in the African communities: “At the end of the day, it comes down to relationships for us…we committed to always be genuine in what we do. We work with our friends – people we’ve lived with, shared meals with, cried with, and this is at the core of why we do what we do.” (CAUSEBOX, 2015) While initiating a global brand in a market that has much competition, Parker Clay is a brand to keep an eye on – if not for their stunning quality, then for the devotion they have to creating social and economic empowerment for the communities of Ethiopia. It’s the absolute truth that both Micha and I carry our identical Parker Clay bags almost everywhere (which has resulted in some comical handbag mix-ups).
Take a peep into the virtual reality world of Parker Clay, as they take us on a journey to Ethiopia and into the lives of the makers of their wares, making it easy to see how your purchases with them enact change in people’s lives.