Our Laga story is something I convey to everyone who has an ear to hear it. And I tell it with love and compassion and with my heart on my sleeve. But my purpose for writing this particular blog post is to share the backend of our story that very few people really hear.
Although I spend most of my time either on the road going from show to show or in California working on the necessary paperwork, inventory, website, social media, public relations, etc. required to keep the business running and flourishing, I am daily reminded of those “beautiful people” of Aceh province, Sumatra, Indonesia whom I serve. The people for whom I quit my job to help them rebuild their lives. The people who have been helped by Laga in the nearly twelve years we have been serving them.
I consider working with our artisans to be such a blessing. Even though I am not physically there with them, I keep their best interest in mind always as we develop ways to make sure Laga thrives. My prayer always is that I can be a catalyst to make their lives better.
To spend more time in Indonesia on the day-to-day would be truly remarkable. But unfortunately that is not a possibility for me at this point. Without promoting Laga here in the US, it would be impossible to grow the business so that it is profitable for them. So I must leave that to our team on the ground without whom Laga would be impossible to continue.
When I say TEAM, I am talking about the amazing artisans who make all of our Laga Handbags. But I am also talking about my right hand: Hana (right)
Hana is the extension of my heart in Aceh and the life’s blood of Laga there. I have no doubt that Hana (with the help of her husband Denny) is a huge reason why Laga Handbags exists at all, let alone the reason its growth has developed to the extent that it has around the world. Hana would not realize that her life and role in Laga has had such an impact on the world if she were not able to see its fruits on the internet and in social media. And I’m happy that she can access this information as a way to witness the result of all her hard work.
One of Hana’s jobs is to work with the talented artisans who make our Laga Handbags. To manage, give instruction and guidance, and basically form each process of what it takes to make our Laga Handbags into a cohesive and cooperative business.
From working with the artisans themselves, to training and hiring new people, to overseeing every process, to ordering and maintaining supplies, to quality assurance, to packing and shipping, … all these things and much, much more.
Hana is responsible for overseeing all the production for Laga and for finding solutions to overcome every obstacle that might come up, whether it be in the making of Laga Handbags or researching better materials to use or developing more effective ways to accomplish a task. She is also responsible to make sure that the Customs Dept in the United States does not turn away the shipments she sends over to us on a semi-monthly basis. I am so blessed to have such an effective right hand.
But Hana is even more than that. This young woman had no experience doing free motion embroidery on a non-electric treadle machine. She is basically self-taught. And she did this just so that Laga Handbags could begin training and helping people who had lost everything in the tsunami nearly 12 years ago. She and her husband Denny are survivors of that tsunami themselves. They lost every earthly possession in that tsunami. And yet their life’s work is to help survivors do just that: survive.
Having taught herself, Hana is an amazingly talented artisan in her own right. She gave of herself relentlessly and selflessly all the while having a husband and two children at home to raise. And she had yet another child just a few months ago.
When asked “Hana, do you still like working for Laga?” with tears in her eyes, her answer was “Ibu, I love it. I really love it.”
She and Denny have truly given their lives to Laga Handbags and we are so completely thankful to them both for giving Laga its life.