Two friends create #CaymanKind bags for charity

Attractive holdalls make a great gift

Susie DeSilva and Anna Hislop have parlayed their close friendship into a going concern, supporting Cayman's community. - Photos: Lisa Reid Photography of Blank Canvas

On 23 July, some ladies gathered at a private residence to browse a pop-up shop of Anna Hislop Home products.

At the same event, Hislop and her good friend, Susie DeSilva, proudly introduced the group to their new project – the #CaymanKind bag.

A perfect combination of style and sturdiness, the bags are designed to be attractive holdalls displaying a distinctly local message. They retail for $75 and all profits from sales are being donated to charity.

The idea came to the pair quite recently, when the island went into lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We are extremely close friends and we talk daily,” said Hislop. “Over the COVID period we spoke so much about how lucky we feel to be living in the Cayman Islands. We agreed, however, that we didn’t want to just be here and enjoy what the islands had to offer us. Instead we thought, ‘What can we do to make a difference?’”

They wanted to raise money for worthy causes, but didn’t want the funding to come from donation requests. They instead turned to the idea of creating a desirable commodity that people would be proud to own and could use on a daily basis.

“We wanted something that also appealed to visitors, as you can only sell so many of something to our relatively small local community,” said DeSilva. “That is when we settled on the #CaymanKind market bag.”

They brainstormed about the wording to be featured on the bags, and chose ‘Cayman Islands #CaymanKind’ because “it promotes our lovely country as well as kindness”, said Hislop.

The materials are exotic and built to last. Each bag is constructed from 100% natural golden jute fibre, harvested in Bangladesh, with leather straps reinforced by antique nickel rivets and a 100% polyurethane water-resistant lining. The person carrying the bag will probably give out before it does, as it can hold up to 100 pounds.

The items are crafted by Bangladeshi women who receive Fair Trade wages, annual profit dividends and a retirement fund.

“This was important to us, as our bags promote kindness; so all elements – including where and how they were produced – mattered,” DeSilva said.

If the bag launch was anything to go by, the initiative is off to a great start. “We are sold out right now, but we have lots more coming soon,” she added.

Initially, they will be sold at Tips N Toes in Bayshore Mall and through
www.annahislophome.com, but Hislop and DeSilva would love to get them into lots of local retail outlets such as shops, spas, hotels, airport stores and more.

“We feel that it is an honour to be a part of this movement and we hope that our retail partners will be as committed as we are to this project,” said Hislop. “As such, our hope is that they will be willing to purchase the bags from us for $70 (allowing a little extra margin to cover their merchant costs etc.), and then sell them for the set price of $75.

“By purchasing them from us, they are doing their part and showing their commitment to the community, and this will then allow us to get the money where it needs to go so much faster.”

The initial charities that the friends have in mind to benefit from the sales of the bags are the Cayman Food Bank, Feed Our Future, the NCVO and the YMCA.

“Depending on how much we are able to raise, we hope to help more,” DeSilva said.
“Our ultimate goal is to offer as much help as possible to the local community,” Hislop explained. “Once the borders open, we will be particularly keen to get these #CaymanKind market bags to as many visitors as possible, as this will greatly increase the number that we are able to sell.

“These bags will also promote our wonderful country, as they travel the world!”
Already the two friends are working on a slightly different model with a longer strap, which is already on order. “That design will simply provide another option, but we are hoping that lots of people will buy both models,” said DeSilva. “Right now our focus is on these bags, but we’d like to do more, so we’re currently brainstorming over new ideas!”

| For more information on how to become a retailer of the #CaymanKind bag, call Anna Hislop on 938-7877 or email [email protected]. You can watch the story behind the creation of market bags in Bangladesh at apol.is/bag-story.

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