At Leatherina, we aspire for a better world, together. Founded in 2016, we are a women-owned, sustainable leather goods manufacturer based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. As a change maker in the leather industry in Bangladesh, every bag is handmade, using sustainable leather and ethically sourced trims.
As a member of the WFTO, gender equality, social inclusion, ethical environmental production, and climate change mitigation are at the forefront of our mission. With each bag sold, together, we are empowering peaceful progress. This principle is not only evident in our production, but also among our subcontractors. We are firmly committed to a safe and fair manufacturing culture all along our value chain.
At Leatherina, we maintain business-to-business (B2B) partnership opportunities for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), such as our successful line with the Netherlands based MYoMY, corporate sales, or business-to-consumer (B2C) sales via our label, Gootipa.
The story of Leatherina follows a long and difficult road, that twisted and turned with the main events of my life. Graduating from Dhaka University in Sociology, I pursued a career of my passion, journalism, where I spent a solid and active six years. During this time, I settled down with my own family, but the arrival of my son changed my priorities and I found that the long hours demanded by journalism was cutting into motherhood. I decided to shift away from service, into entrepreneurship. With my existing savings, I jumped into the market. My first business was in retailing finished goods, mostly supplying computer hardware, to the local market. It was a successful business that ran for several years, but I was constantly chased by the urge to begin my own production-oriented capacity business.
I looked for another opportunity to find something where I could make a difference. I had long since yearned to be able to make my own products that would successfully meet a market demand. I deeply respect the multitude of skills and the tireless efforts that make a good manufacturer, who can make the final product look seamless. I craved to enter the world of sophisticated and technically challenging production to make my own mark there as an independent manufacturer, exploring materials, learning processes, and researching techniques while setting a standard in workmanship that was of the highest quality. I always knew that anything I would produce would have to blend in our local culture, with the best of our human capacity and skills of our local artisans and elevate our potential for creating fine consumer goods. I wanted my products to showcase the best that Bangladesh had to offer, while being respectful and mindful of our greatest treasure – the environment.
As the dream persuaded me on, I looked at local raw materials and production capacities in the leather industry over a long period of time, both in Bangladesh and abroad and finally one day settled on leather goods as my products of choice. I started small, with a limited number of designs each season, and with my Facebook page as my only marketing outlet. But the products flew off the line! Before I knew it, we were coming out with new designs and finding new customers and lifelong friends in this journey.
I registered my business as Leatherina, deliberately using feminine terminology as I am conscious about women’s challenges in the workforce and in this country and wanted each stage of my business to work towards making the playing field a bit more even for women. My manufacturing business is a symbol of women’s empowerment, responsible production and consumption, and ethical fashion.
The business turned a corner when we were selected for training by Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). Leatherina’s operations received training and hands-on coaching on bag-making, which gave us our primary exposure to global standards of sustainability and export-oriented production. During the 2017 Christmas season, Leatherina shipped its first international order abroad, to the Netherlands and from there we have never looked back!
We began our journey with the goal of creating a positive impact on people and the planet, and therefore preventing any harm from our actions is a major priority. As the creators of handmade goods, we appreciate the critical ways in which commerce and industry affect our lives and this world and we aim to ensure a production process in support of a more harmonious world.
Our mission is to manufacture beautiful, high-quality leather bags that empower artisans and encourage responsible consumption.
Our vision is to become an inspiration for global brands by driving them towards ethical fashion that can lead to a more sustainable planet.
Leatherina is committed to the principle and practice of responsible production and consumption as defined by the Sustainable Development Goal, SDG 12. We believe that ensuring sustainability is the most responsible, ethical, and lasting development pathway for businesses. Our organizational foundation is based upon our gender equality, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability principles, included below.
Gender Equality And Social Inclusion Policies
In an environment of heightened attention of consumers’ awareness on sustainable production, our social responsibilities include supply-chain traceability and workers’ occupational health and safety. To achieve full traceability, we confirm that our suppliers understand our priorities and goals, and they in turn ensure full traceability of materials. This makes it easier for us to ascertain environmental compliance standards of Leatherina products in all aspects of manufacturing.
In its most significant social responsibility, Leatherina is also deeply committed to care for the health and safety of its workers as well as the end user — and that is you. We guarantee that no harmful substances are allowed in the items such as adhesives, accessories, string, threads, or trim, that are used in the production of our leather goods. We ensure safe working conditions and take an active stance against labour exploitation.
We reject specific items in making our leather goods even if there is a high demand in the market. Guided by our ethical sourcing policy, we strictly maintain no use materials that may be the subject of child labour, and of leather that may have a background of animal cruelty.
Our gender equality and social inclusion policies include the following elements:
Environmental Sustainability Policies, In Adherence to World Fair Trade Principles
We are striving to ensure that our leather and other materials’ sources are complying with stringent international standards in their production processes. Similar to verifying that our tannery sources are applying global environmental standards in the tanning process, that they use only allowable chemicals, and observe best practices to ensure safety by not releasing untreated, harmful effluents into the environment. We are vigilant about the use and production of harmful substances in all our processes to the greatest extent possible. We monitor these processes and adhere to progressive international norms in the case of chemicals like chrome. Our production method also prevents excessive wastage of water and actively minimizes solid waste. Our leather is only sourced from Leather Working Group certified tanneries, of which uphold the highest certification process globally and we guarantee that no harmful substances are allowed in the items such as adhesives, accessories, string, threads, or trim, that are used in the production of our leather goods. Our environmental policies adhere to the following:
Climate Change Commitments – Mission Zero Waste
Mission Zero Waste (MØW) is Leatherina’s innovation initiative. As a supporter of the circular economy, a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. For a product to be included within the circular economy framework, its raw materials, its wastage, and its end-of-life residual objects should be kept within the economy, wherever possible. Leatherina’s MØW project has a target of reaching full zero waste discharge status for its two main raw materials sources by 2025 by:
Fair Trade Commitment
Leatherina is a member of WFTO and verified under the WFTO membership Guarantee System. As such, Leatherina has committed to adhere to the following Principles embedded in its mission and practices:
Our Quality Guarantee
As a women-owned business and guaranteed member of the World Fair Trade Organization, we are a leather industry leader in Bangladesh. Each product created combines an artisan approach to design, handmade and machine craftsmanship, and the utmost focus on quality standards.
We are continually researching techniques to ensure the best results in creating and designing using a diverse spectrum of raw materials. Every piece of material and trim is hand selected to confirm our utmost commitment to quality standard, chic design, and functionality.
Through fair working conditions for employees, and a dedication to the betterment of our community, we are continually upskilling our young artisans. Ultimately making a positive impact in their lives, and within the industry. Being a change maker in the Bangladeshi leather goods industry is the goal we strive for every day.
I have met Taslima Miji some 4 years ago and have worked with her after her company was targeted by a Dutch brand for the supply of fashionable leather bags based on my consultancy report on the Bangladeshi leather value chain in 2018. She has been able to assimilate the requirements of a tough consumer market and her company has since produced quality products suitable for the more demanding markets. Taslima was given an opportunity and she has grabbed it with both hands. Her reward is an expansion of her business and a qualified mostly female staff.
Taslima Miji is a talented, dedicated, and a very promising actor in the handicraft sector of Bangladesh. I am confident that she would be able to contribute significantly in the Fairtrade movement in the country and beyond. Ms. Miji has excellent skills in operating and managing a leather factory which can ensure high quality leather goods to the world market.
Founder, MYOMY Ever since we had met Taslima Miji and her company Leatherina end of 2017, we knew that she was the person we could weave a journey we can walk together. We are so proud to have collaborated with this dedicated, pro-active woman and her committed team to make our sustainable bags. She pairs timely and quality production with impact in society and is already a role model for many Bangladeshi women.
What a delight to work with Taslima and her team at Leatherina. With open communication, shared vision and mutual commitment she is a true partner in bringing an idea to market.
Taslima Miji receiving her certificate after graduating from the business course titled ‘Women Trading Globally’ sponsored by Australia Awards in Sydney, Australia in November 2019.
Leatherina Managing Director receiving an appreciation crest in the "Radhuni Kirtimoti" award programme organized by Bangladeshi corporate, Square Group in March 2020.
Taslima Miji and the Netherlands brand MYoMY team visiting the former Dutch ambassador in Dhaka during a technical cooperation mission in 2018. Photo taken in front of the Dutch embassy premises in Dhaka.
Dutch ambassador Leoni Cuelenaere visiting the factory and office of Leatherina in July 2018.
Senior Bangladeshi businessperson Syed Manzur Elahi, a pathfinder in the Bangladeshi leather industry and chairman of Apex Footwear Ltd visiting Leatherina’s stall at Dhaka leather expo in 2019.
Charlotta Schlyter, Ambassador of Sweden to Bangladesh greeting Leatherina founder Taslima Miji at the embassy residence in 2019.
Former US ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat greets Leatherina founder Taslima Miji at a dinner party at her residence.
Founder Taslima Miji with local women entrepreneurs and leaders during the 5th anniversary celebration of its brand Gootipa in 2021.