Folha de São Paulo (Brazil): Startup produces bags from discarded leather scraps

TRANSLATION FROM PORTUGUESE OF THE ARTICLE “Startup produz bolsas a partir de retalhos de couro descartados”, available at Startup produz bolsas a partir de retalhos de couro descartados - 22/03/2019 - Consumo Consciente - Folha (


Startup produces bags from discarded leather scraps

Brand saves 30% of material cost and trains refugees as seamstresses


Using leather scraps from the footwear and clothing industry in Rio Grande do Sul, the designer Fernanda Daudt, 44, makes bags saving 30% of the material cost and sells between 100 and 200 units per month, in more than 15 stores in United States and Puerto Rico. In Brazil, his collection, with 15 models is on Amazon.

A week ago, the production of his company, Volta, was selected by the Green Product Award 2019, in Germany, which highlights innovative and sustainable products and services. It did not win the award but was exhibited at a large international handcraft fair in Munich.


The Volta bags are signed with the names of their producers: Maude Jules, chief seamstress, and Arture Leveille. “A way of valuing manual, handmade work”, says Fernanda.

They are Haitian refugees in Brazil, in Caxias do Sul. Hired by Volta, they receive in their homes the leather cut in a studio in São Leopoldo, in the molds designed by Fernanda, and the materials needed to assemble and sew the bags.

Living in the United States for eight months, Fernanda invested less than R$ 100 thousand to open the startup Volta, in August 2017, which aims to manufacture accessories using 100% leather discarded by the industry.

“The leather sector wastes between 8% and 30% of the material. Today, we use residues from the leather-footwear industry in Rio Grande do Sul, which are leftovers from productions or collections, leathers in colors and textures outside the current color chart, and usually in small pieces ”, says Fernanda.

The use of scraps brings savings of 30% in material costs, according to Fernanda, which is a good advantage for the business.

After unsuccessfully trying to sewing her pieces with labor from inmates in Caxias  “because of the bureaucracy”, Fernanda sought out the city's Migrants Service Center, an NGO that provides assistance to refugees. There she found several women in need of work. “Men are more easily absorbed by the city's economy,” says Fernanda.

She then offered training to a group of women. “Those who were showing familiarity with manual work stayed for weekly meetings. Six of them did complete training. ”

After six weeks of training, he employed Arture and Maude. 

Maude, 33, came from Haiti to Brazil five years ago. She went to Caxias because there were already family members in the city. She previously worked at a chocolate company and an organization that helps documentation for immigrants.

She lives in a house with two children, aged 16 and 9, and a cousin, aged 23. Working with the bags, she says, is more advantageous, because she earns from the product delivered and works at home. Arture also arrived five years ago. She has a Brazilian son and lives with her husband in Caxias.

Volta is supported by Apex. Fernanda Daudt presented the company's experience at the 3rd Global Creative Industries Conference, at the University of Hong Kong, in 2015, and participated, in February 2019, in a seminar at the UN headquarters in New York.

Since the end of 2017, Volta has been part of a collective of new designers Flying Solo in New York, which is part of the official calendar of the city's fashion week.



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