Ever wondered how you could support ethical, sustainable businesses? Our regular series highlights products, services, and organizations that are doing well by doing good. We spoke to Sarah Burroughs, the woman behind anne b designs, which produces beautiful leather bags made by local refugees in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Please give us an overview of your organization.
I design women’s leather bags and they are all hand made by local refugees in Salt Lake City, Utah. I also organize local projects that serve refugees and the homeless in Salt Lake, and humanitarian trips in developing countries to teach women how to sew.
How did you get started with this idea?
I’ve always enjoyed sewing and teaching, so it’s been a natural development of creating sewing projects for the community to get involved in.
What is the purpose of this organization?
As a self taught seamstress, I love teaching others how to sew and helping them discover new skills and creative ideas.
What are you proudest of?
I’m most proud of the people that get involved in the projects I organize and hearing them say, “That was so easy!” Whether in learning how to sew or participating in service projects. I also love the closeness that is created with those who attend a class or come on service trips.
What do your customers and community say about your organization that makes you happy?
I love when people tell me after having attended a class or reading about a recent experience that they’ve sewn their own projects at their house, or found ways to serve in their community.
What is your favourite story about your organization?
Goodness, I can’t think of one favorite story….. last year had several amazing moments though. I organized a group of volunteers to India and we taught 30+ women how to sew and make jewelry. At the end of the program, the women presented their projects in a fashion show and each received a certificate. The best part was that their children were the proud audience members that got to admire the clothing their mother’s and sisters sewed in the classes.
Another experience was when a homeless man came into my shop and asked me to sew him a sleeping bag and hygiene bag. He had already hand stitched the bags, he just needed me to reinforce the seams. I chatted with him for 2 hours while I sewed and learned that he moved from Baltimore because the Walmart in Salt Lake City was the first place that would hire him.
He sent most of his paycheck back to Baltimore to pay for his kids’ college tuition. He was my inspiration for organizing sewing classes for the community, to learn to make sleeping bags and hygiene kits. We filled those classes and donated the products to Rescue Mission of Salt Lake, a local homeless relief organization. Anthony is now back in Baltimore working at Walmart.
What difference do you make in people’s lives?
I hope to inspire others to use their talents, great or small, to help others and be a positive force in the world.
Where can people go to support your organization?
Go to † or you can Sponsor a refugee to take a sewing class.
What are your plans for the future?
I’d love to continue to organize humanitarian trips in the summers to various countries. I want to work with more boutiques that support fair trade and social good brands. And I want to become a mom and teach my kids how to sew.