For me, the best part of traveling is finding the handcrafted souvenirs local to the area. For those of us who aren’t traveling to Guatemala, Haiti, Indonesia or Nepal on a regular basis, the best place to find such unique accessories is Parcel & Journey. Founded by Joanna Steinberg, the idea to to give artisans a sustainable income, rather than financial aid. Read more about this incredible ecommerce site.
Louise McCready Hart: What is the philosophy behind Parcel + Journey?
Joanna Steinberg: I launched Parcel & Journey in 2013 as a platform that would improve the lives of artisans around the world through microfinance and craft revival, while at the same time, sharing with First World consumers the history and tradition that these crafts represent.
Parcel & Journey works as both a product development arm and a trade enabler. We design fashionable products in-house and then work with artisans to produce the finished product. It is truly a collaborative process.
LMH: What inspires you?
JS: Living in New York, I am constantly inspired by my surroundings: ambitious people, art, fashion, and culture. I am equally inspired by the new cultures and experiences I have when I travel to other places. I love connecting with people and understanding what gives them their unique perspective.
LMH: What is the inspiration behind your current collection?
JS: I always find inspiration for products when I travel. When I come across exquisite crafts and bold patterns, I dream up new product lines and ways we can blend modern trends with traditional craft methods. Parcel & Journey’s products are crafted by hand with local materials and traditional processes to build a bridge from these communities to the fashionable consumer. Inspiration for our Holiday 2014 collections are based on places:
Canyon Road in Santa Fe, NM (think chocolate brown with gold accents, fringe, beadwork)
Trancoso, Brazil (think white with black accents and beading in colors that make up the Brazil flag)
Zuma Beach in Malibu, CA (in two words: Free City, my favorite loungewear brand)
LMH: Who is your ideal client? Your muse?
JS: The Parcel & Journey woman is someone who is fashion-forward, but has a unique flare to her style. She is socially conscious, open-minded, and has a free spirit. She embraces a Gypset lifestyle and is always seeking new experiences.
Tara Michie, also known as Ladyslider, is our aspirational girl, our muse. Tara embodies everything we strive to be. She is a beautiful, down-to-earth, free-spirited woman of many talents—a surfer, photographer, blogger, and wanderluster).
LMH: Describe your personal style and aesthetic.
JS: I like to think of my personal style as comfortable-chic with a global twist. I have an eclectic palette and appreciate a wide range of styles, but really cherish comfort and laid back clothing and accessories with pops of embellishment and color. Parcel & Journey’s products are pieces I would wear (and do wear) on a daily basis—accessories with a story and a heritage.
LMH: Any personal styling tricks? Insights?
JS: Don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns and styles. I love throwing a beaded tribal necklace, like this Parcel & Journey one, over a poncho top or basic tee.
LMH: Where do you see yourself, and your company, in a year? 5 years? Any upcoming plans or projects?
JS: We have exciting new collections and collaborations launching this summer and in the fall. Within the next five years I hope to see many more collaborations with like-minded companies and expansion into several new communities. I also plan to expand our fashion accessories collection with a home goods line.
LMH: Is there anything you’d like to add about your company, your designs, etc?
JS: Shortly after my departure from Lehman Brothers, I spearheaded the advisory business for an economist named Nouriel Roubini. After sitting listening to the concerns and questions posed by investors and business leaders, it became clear that there are some basic things we can do from an economic development standpoint that are altruistic, but also make perfect business sense.
I figured if I could help stimulate local economies through trade by leveraging the microfinance efforts, skills building, and education that exist today through the work of government organizations and nonprofits, I could pull people out of poverty and help grow local economies.I started Parcel & Journey because I really care about creating new possibilities for people who are circumstantially limited.
In Guatemala, for example, we focus on products that utilize repurposed Huipil fabrics. We partner with local programs like Zero Hunger and Save The Children to build the economy in areas with high childhood malnutrition rates. Through these partnerships we are able to work with over 250 Guatemalan artisans, including both family businesses and women cooperatives across the country.