Miz B jewelry collection by Leila Radan
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Featured Stories blog from YoLadies.com

Eco-chic meets environmental education

September 10, 2010 | Kim Milata-Daniels |

Meet Sushanta Bhandarkar and Naz Saeed - artists, interior designers, and environmentally minded women who have found themselves adding another notch to their belts as purse and bag designers. Through their company, Zansus Purses, Sushanta and Naz provide beautiful, designer purses, totes and bags made from discarded materials that otherwise would be destined for the landfill. If that wasn't good enough, they also work as environmental educators, teaching kids how to be environmentally aware - portions of the sales of their purses go to fund that pursuit.

The ladies of Zansus were kind enough to answer a few questions for us - and don't miss the slideshow of some of their work!

K: What is Zansus Purses and what gave you the idea to start making bags out of discarded fabrics?

Sushanta & Naz Realizing how much usable items/ fabrics/ textiles/ accessories/ etc gets discarded into the landfill, we decided to put our design skills where our mouth is. Being resourceful and fashion minded, we decided we could design something useful and functional that reduces the impact on the environment. We use eco-friendly resources otherwise destined for landfills. Because of large assortment of creatively adapted materials every design is fresh and unique. No two are alike!

And this is how a collection of fashionable, artistic, designer purses was born.

K: Do you get your fabrics from donations or do you spend a lot of time in thrift stores?

Sushanta & Naz We do not shop at thrift stores. Thrift stores carry usable items that are donated and can be used as is by someone else. We solely concentrate on discards.

Our discards come form the upholsterers table before they are placed in the trash. They come with our connection with upholstery and drapery workshops that we work with . If these items are trashed, they ultimately land up in the landfill. These fabrics are high quality, durable fabrics suitable for furnishings hence they are treated with backing and stain resistant - fire resistant materials. Once discarded they remain in the landfill for a long time. Maybe forever! Believe me it is easier for the shop to trash it then hold on to a bag of "discards and remnants" for us for a month.

Showrooms also discard their obsolete samples. But now they are looking for ways to put it good use.

We do ask people who have items such as belts, straps, buckles that are no longer useful to be donated to us. We take these useful parts and incorporate these into our designs in terms of handles or other decorative items.

Being a green business, we diligently donate whatever we cannot use. We try to incorporate even the smallest of pieces in creative ways and minimize our waste. For eg: we use small pieces as tags inside our bags! And whatever we don't use, we donate to various organizations such as RAFT, ScrapSF.

K: Your most popular item is the pursangle - what is that, exactly?

Sushanta & Naz We love our Pursangles!
Pursangles are versatile, functional, modern and eco-forward accessory perfect for a day or night out.

We needed a small fashionable bag that we could carry our essentials such as business cards, cell phone, car keys, credit card, cash and ofcourse the lipstick to various networking events and on a night out! We had some really fabulous small fabric pieces that were piling up in the corner of our studio, that seemed perfect for this purpose and that's how the Pursangle was born!

Since we have started carrying them, people wanted to buy them!

Although they looks small, these are large enough for all your essentials, keeping then accessible at all times. All while conveniently resting on your wrist, keeping your hands free for your glass of wine or martini.
You have to try one!

K: 10% of the profits from your sales go to your environmental education organization, Empowering World Change. Tell us a little about that side of your business. How did you become inspired to educate kids on environmental issues?

Sushanta & Naz Empowering World Change, a not-for-profit organization, promotes environmental awareness and sustainability through education, collaboration and outreach programs that inspires children, parents and communities so we can all take those small steps that can collectively lead to a positive environmental change. It is a grass root movement that enables each and every individual to do their part in saving the planet.

Inspiration: It's important to adopt good habits at an early age. We are getting in the area where I don't think we have a choice whether to be environmentally conscious. It is a requirement. Educating kids today can make the most impact. And they are very effective in educating others.
Any approach to saving resources has to be part of one's life style in order to be sustainable. Life long habits are formed at very early age.

More information is available on the website: www.EmpoweringWorldChange.com and on our Facebook page.

K: If someone has fabric they would like used in a custom piece, how would they go about having that done?

Sushanta & Naz We offer Custom Service, where people can send us any suitable remnant to create a purse/handbag/tote. We discuss the design via email, get their approval and create that perfect eco-chic piece that they will be proud to carry on any occasion!

K: Besides online shopping on your website, are your purses available in any stores?

Sushanta & Naz We are always looking for specialty boutiques that are interested in carrying our product.

Currently they are available in San Francisco bay are at these locations: (Poster attached - Attachement 2)
24th st. x Harrison, San Francisco, CA.

334 State St, Suite # 105, Los Altos CA 94022

577 5th Street West, Sonoma CA

We also participate in trunk shows and accessorize fashion shows. check our Facebook page for the latest events.

Thanks, Sushanta and Naz, for the beauty and the work for our environment!