How a Handbag Can Change a Life: the Women Behind Laga Handbags

The recent appearance of Laga Handbags on the Oprah Winfrey show has led to a surge in orders for Laga bags. Laga handbags was created to support women after the Tsunami in Indonesia in 2004. This is the story of how learning a new skill can change someone’s life.

Irvine, CA, May 11, 2010 --( On April 13, 2010, Laga handbags were displayed to the world on Oprah Winfrey’s TV show, by comedian Chris Rock’s wife, Malaak Compton-Rock. Without even showing a logo on the show, demand for their handbags in the last three weeks has risen exponentially. For any retailer this short mention would be a dream come true solely because of the effect it would have on their bottom line. For Laga Handbags, the exposure they have received from the Oprah show brings them one step closer to achieving their mission: To help 1,200 women in Indonesia regain their livelihood and rebuild their lives
Roy and Louise van Broekhuizen started Laga Handbags as an outreach to help the women of Indonesia who were devastated by the effects of the Tsunami in 2004. With a plan to help those in need and their recent media exposure there seems to be no doubt that they will achieve this goal faster than anticipated. Roy, who does not pay himself or his wife Louise a salary, said: “I never imagined we could take Laga this far. To be able to build better lives for these women who survived one of the worst disasters is all we ever wanted.”

Laga Handbags is providing women with a valuable sustainable new skill set. Every woman employed by Laga Handbags, in various villages throughout Aceh province, goes through a two week training program to teach them how to use the single pedal treadle sewing machines and how to create the intricate patterns Laga Handbags is known for. If a woman has no experience sewing, other job opportunities (stocking boxes for example) are found in the factory for them as they go through extended training. After the two-week program, many of the women are hired to be a part of the handbag embroidery staff.

Every woman employed by Laga Handbags is grateful for the opportunity to learn a skill that will allow them to support themselves and support their families. After the devastation of the Tsunami, which claimed the lives of thousands of men, women, and children in Aceh province, Sumatra, Indonesia, many of these women did not have the desire to live. They were faced with rebuilding their lives without those who had always provided for them and unsure of how to create a livelihood. Jurina, a member of the Laga Handbags embroidery staff, was struggling to feed her son after the death of her husband in 2000. Following the Tsunami, she lost many other family members including her sister-in-law who also had a young child. Jurina is now the only family left for her son Mukram and her nephew Fajri. Eager to make a new life for herself after the Tsunami, she took the opportunity to join the Laga Handbags training program without hesitation and with immense excitement. Today she not only makes a more than fair living wage, but her son and nephew are able to attend school full time and have a chance at a bright future.

These women are able to express themselves through the artwork and intricate design of each Laga bag. Like the women, no two bags are exactly alike. The Laga embroiderers will now always have the means and skills to provide for their families. Roy excitedly added, “Words cannot express how excited these women are knowing that America and the world now knows what they are doing. The Laga women have become local celebrities in their own rights throughout their villages. They are leading fuller happier lives, which is all we can ask for.” Thanks to Laga Handbags, the lives of these women have been forever changed for the better.

Laga Handbags International
Kristen Hinman