Below, Nicole Lombardo shares her insights from starting her successful and socially conscious company, Lusso Bags.
Not only does the company design great products, but they also do so with a social enterprise nature: they donate 5% to help women avoid or leave the sex trade. Read on to find out more about Lusso and Nicole’s story (secret: there is a discount at the end, too!).
What inspired you start to start your business?
I started my business after having a 15 minute conversation with my cousin. She had just returned from India and had met with a company called Freeset. During one of the meetings, a woman expressed to my cousin and the other visitors to send more business their way so that they could continue to help more survivors of human trafficking. Freeset hires the women for fair wages, teaches them to sew, offers health and child care benefits and they teach them simple writing and math skills. I decided then and there to send over a simple pattern for a shoe bag and Lusso Bags began.
As you have grown your company, has your vision for it evolved or changed?
Originally I was creating patterns for shoe and travel bags and trying to grow my business the conventional way with sales reps and trade shows. After 1 year, I had this deep rooted feeling that I needed to get back to the original mission of helping the women in India. After a short call with Jess I decided to downsize, sell online and only use the survivors in India to sew my bags. This way I can focus on designing cute bags and raise awareness for the fight against human trafficking.
Are there any new products coming out that you are excited to share?
Yes! We just received our new totes and cosmetic bags. Every time I pick up one of the cosmetic bags, I think of the woman who may have sewn that particular bag and I am in awe.
How are you using your business to make a broader impact?
Lusso Bags has teamed up with an organization in India that has a small training school for daughters of widow’s as a prevention program in India. This organization is just in the beginning stages of setting up scholarships for the girls to complete a cosmetology or tailoring program for 1 year. I am very excited to be partnering with this organization as this will bring hope to many young women that otherwise would be on the streets begging. These young women are beautiful and so talented. On a smaller scale, I have the opportunity to tell every person who asks what I do for a living about human trafficking, the survivors and the prevention programs. For me raising awareness through selling bags has been so fulfilling.
What advice do you have for other product-based business owners out there?
Hang in there! Having a product-based company is exciting yet sometimes overwhelming. Surround yourself with honest hard working entrepreneurs and have fun!
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