We’ve probably all been told we’ve ‘made a friend for life’ in our past. A best mate found at school or local club and for a period of time, you’re inseparable.
Most of us change and grow and perhaps even find a new 'best friend', but there are a select few who find those long lasting friendships.
That certainly seems to be the case for Charlotte and Maria. They met in school at the age of 16, and are not only still in touch, but they’re also firmly on course to make their mark on the fashion world.
Originally from Brazil, Maria was amazed at how many opportunities people from England had, compared to those back in her home country. When Charlotte went out to South America for the first time in 2015 to work in some of the poorer communities, she had the same feeling. As a duo, they decided they had to take action and ‘From Belo’ was born.
“We decided we wanted to do something to help these communities and we decided to connect our two passions of handbags and helping people together,” Charlotte explains.
“So I went back to London Fashion College and trained in handbag design and trained in pattern cutting, and we started this journey. Beforehand, we had no idea that there was so much waste in the fashion industry and the industry causes so much pain and illness to a lot of people around the world. So we thought we can't help one community and then cause pain to another. So we went back to the drawing board and thought 'what can we do?'
“We decided to create a bag out of landfill waste and out of materials that are going to be disposed of. It would be created by a team of artisans that we would help with wages to get out of poverty and give them a safe working environment. And then everything we sold, we would then re-invest back into that community to help those most in need.”
It was a plan that came to fruition perfectly. Working alongside the ‘Casa de Maria’ organisation in Belo Horizonte, From Belo not only managed to find artisan workers in Brazil and support them in their personal and professional lives, they also managed to use the revenue from sales to help feed and care for the homeless and those in need.
In just four years, From Belo is not only creating a product that saves the environment, but it helps save people too. Charlotte insists, however, both she and Maria couldn’t do it without the help of their team.
She said: “We work with the most incredible artisans, it wasn't easy to persuade them to work with materials they weren't used to, but we've built beautiful relationships with people and for us, I think that's the core to our business, building a team.
"It's not just Maria and I doing this, there's a community of people that are working together to help lift and elevate this community.”
The latest product they’ve created has now caught the attention of fashion world.
The ‘Helena Bag’, made out of decommissioned seat belts and excess fabric from the industry, is one of five to be nominated for the ‘most socially conscious bag of 2020’ at the prestigious independent handbag designer awards in New York, known perhaps more commonly as the ‘Handbag Oscars’.
“We're really, really excited. Sadly we don't get to go to New York because of the current climate, which is a little bit sad, but we're still super, super excited and it's such an honour, because it just gives recognition for all the hard work ourselves, our team have put in, to try and make a difference and make beautiful products.
“The Helena bag is named after one of our team, we name all our bags after our team members or our charity workers to celebrate them! It's a life changing award so we're so excited, even to get recognised is an incredible thing. I think we're still in shock about it!”
The winner of the award will be announced on June the 10th and we wish them the best of luck!
If you would like to see the numerous products From Belo have available, you can head to the website www.frombelo.com