malia designs

An Upcycled Bag That Ticks All The Boxes

Sponsored by Malia Designs
malia designs zero waste vegan cement bag
By now, it will surprise no one that I love a practical bag. 

Pockets, zippers, compartments, and an adjustable strap are the key to a happy long term relationship with a handbag. It also helps when it's lightweight and made with ethics and sustainability in mind.

So Malia Designs, who I've worked with for a couple years, is a natural choice...
malia designs zero waste vegan cement bag

Why Malia Designs?

Malia Designs was founded by a Peace Corps veteran (Lia) and her best friend (Maria) to provide economic opportunity to women in Cambodia by working with preexisting co-ops under fair trade guidelines to create practical, versatile bags, often made with readily available recycled materials.

In addition to advancing the goals of fair trade, Malia Designs gives back to agencies that fight human trafficking in Cambodia and the US. During 13 years of business, Malia Designs has assisted in the sustainable growth of the co-ops they work with and donated over 160,000 dollars to anti-trafficking efforts through their philanthropic arm, Stop Traffick. Learn more here.
  malia designs zero waste vegan cement bag
Ethical Details: Tee & Jeans - Everlane, Shoes - thrifted; Earrings - Shop Glister via Darling Boutique; Blue Dragon Crossbody Bag - c/o Malia Designs

About The Bags

Malia Designs specializes in two types of textiles: recycled cement and feed bags, and screen printed canvas remnant. This makes their range suitable for a number of aesthetics without compromising on practicality or ethics.

I'm using the Blue Dragon Crossbody Bag made from a recycled Cement Bag. My sister has a Malia Designs cement bag purse from a few years ago and she still uses it every day because it's sturdy and lightweight. I really like the idea of upcycling old materials intended for discard into long term items, and there's something about this style that feels both fun and a la mode. High fashion is having a moment with novelty and it's lovely when it coincides with sustainability. Plus, I was born in the year of the dragon according to the Chinese Zodiac, so this has some symbolic value for me (and my birthday was yesterday!).

The Blue Dragon bag has two open exterior pockets, two internal pockets, an adjustable strap, and a zip closure. It is lined in red cotton. Price: $38.00
  malia designs zero waste vegan cement bag
Now I have a little "capsule" of ethical, practical bags that I can feel confident wearing, both because I know how they're made and because they work for my lifestyle and my wardrobe. I harp on this a lot, but turning 30 (and the anticipation leading up to it) has really pushed me into a long season of self reflection and inspection. It's valuable for me to know what I like. If nothing else has come from aging, at least there's a small glimmer of self assurance coming to the surface.

Shop Malia Designs here. 

Malia Designs on Social Media: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest
where to find upcycled fair trade vegan handbags malia designs

giveaway: Malia Designs Pleated Crossbody + Matching Wallet ($80 value)

fair trade crossbody purse giveaway

Malia Designs has partnered with Style Wise for an Instagram giveaway, happening now:

Win a Pleated Crossbody and Matching Wallet from the Spring '16 Collection!

To learn more about the Pleated Crossbody, ethical guidelines, and the spring collection, see my review post here. To enter, check out the Instagram post. Best of luck!


Enter here.

the moral wardrobe: Malia Designs' Spring Bag Collection

ethical outfit Malia Designs crossbody
Sometimes things just work out perfectly. One cold winter day, I was sitting in front of my computer pondering what type of handbag I wanted for spring and where in the world I would find it. I knew I wanted something large enough for my planner and a book, with lots of organizational pockets in a fairly neutral print. Plus, it needed to be a crossbody (I only use crossbodies). A few days later, I got an email from Lucia at Malia Designs asking me if I'd like to collaborate with them on a post about their spring line!

Malia Designs is a well established fair trade handbag company. The artisans and producers they work with in Cambodia - primarily marginalized or at-risk women - are paid a living wage and provided a safe working environment. Read more about one of their artisan partners here. Additionally, all materials are sourced locally, which is more sustainable and benefits the local economy. A portion of proceeds are donated to Damnok Toek, an anti-trafficking rehabilitation and resource center that primarily serves child survivors of sex trafficking.
  Malia Designs Pleated Crossbody reviewethical outfit with Malia Designs
That's all well and good, of course, but a product needs to suit your lifestyle and your personal taste, too. The cotton canvas Pleated Crossbody in Canary (part of the Khmer Collection) is sturdy, beautiful, and comfortable. I've always loved gray and yellow together, and the screen printed leaf print feels like spring without overdoing it.

It's such a luxury to be able to fit a lot in my bag after carrying a tiny purse around all winter (though there are benefits to carrying virtually nothing around, too). That being said, it's still a manageable, everyday size that transitions well, whether I'm going out to dinner or stuffing a day's worth of work into my bag. At $50.00, it's a reasonably priced option if you're in the market for a new purse this season.
  Malia Designs Fair Trade HandbagsEthical Details: Dress - secondhand; Sandals - Sseko Designs*; Earrings - Hannah Naomi; Pleated Crossbody Purse - c/o Malia Designs

I've been toting around the Pleated Crossbody for the past week and I've already gotten a lot of compliments on it. Plus, now that I have room for my planner, I'm not forgetting everything anymore (it was getting pretty bad - someone showed up at my house last week for a meeting and I asked them what they were doing here!).

Here's to warm weather, remembered meetings, and ethical handbags.

I'll be giving away this bag and more later this week, so make sure you're following me on Instagram!


Shop Malia Designs here. Follow along on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook

an ethical outfit: afternoon lecture


Details: People Tree Dress, Mata Traders Earrings, Malia Designs Bag, Ruby Dust Vintage Loafers

(Click the styleboard to be redirected to polyvore)

I don't have any lectures to attend, though I did go to a special talk given by one of Daniel's professors a couple weeks ago. It's important to me that I'm still connected to the academic community. I enjoy living outside of it while keeping up with the conversations within it; it's the best of both worlds. Being married to a grad student has its perks.

I love this People Tree Dress, but the conversion rate makes it pretty far out of my reach. Sad face. The Malia Designs bag, however, comes at a reasonable price at $38.00. It's made from a cement bag and has the most adorable graphic elephant print!

The weather is inching down to fall temps. I'm not excited for the winter, but Charlottesville is really meant for fall. It's a fireworks display of changing leaves and mountain breezes in October and November.

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