When Candy Brown started her company, Calico Dragon Bags, she had one goal in mind - to start a company that would benefit animals.
Calico Dragon Bags are constructed of cotton canvas and other man made materials. They are made in China, which is not something I typically look for or promote, however Candy explains why she choose this route for her line of bags with a message.
"About a year and a half after I was in Vegas talking all big about how I was going to start this bag line, I had given up and was back to square one. I had searched for someone - anyone - to make my bags, but had absolutely no luck and no leads. There seem to be no manufacturers left in my country that can make even a prototype for less than $15,000 USD. Yes - that is what I was quoted by the only company that would even talk to me! They wanted 15 grand just to make a prototype! I literally had maybe half that much to make the whole line so I had given up hope for starting the Ringo & Co. line. (side note: Calico Dragon was initially called Ringo & Co. after my beloved little rescued kitty, but as things finally progressed with the company I found out that Ringo Starr had the name Ringo copyrighted worldwide).
So here I am leaving Vegas, again, and I almost miss my flight. As a result I have to sit front and center of a Southwest Airlines flight. Turns out I sit in between two men traveling to my home city to make a presentation on an apparel line which one of them owns. I ask him if he can make bags/purses... He said no, but knew someone who can. He passed along Stephen Potter’s email and Calico Dragon was finally born. We spoke on the phone, he in China and me in America. Stephen's work had taken him to China about 10 years prior to this and he had found success living there and was now looking to give back. A sculptor by trade, he was living in China and mass producing his works of art when he found himself in a position where he could help others. He decided to help abused married women escape their abusive husbands and support themselves and their only child by producing small lines, like Calico Dragon. I was put in touch with Anne, who was in charge of putting our first order together. It took a little over a year from start to finish - a very long process. But when we finally received our first order, we were just thrilled. All in all they turned out exactly as I had envisioned. Lily Hauer put our second order together and it too took about a year to produce. Our third set of releases was actually manufactured by a totally different company under the supervision of Mike Genung, who verifies all work is fair trade. We had to change manufacturers on the last order because we simply did not make enough bags this time to meet the girls’ minimum order requirements.
I have received a lot of flack over my bags being made in China and other than not being able to find a manufacturer throughout the US and Mexico (yes I searched south of my border too), I feel that with China’s known disregard and widespread abuse of animals, it might do them good to SEE these messages on the bags they are making! Stephen said the girls did not understand the “Whips & Chains” message, but how can you not get the anti-fur designs? The issue of animal rights and welfare is an international matter, and I hope some of these messages hit home with the people in China too. I even recently received my first order that shipped back to China, so that’s promising!"