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There’s More to a Cesta Collective Handbag Than Meets the Eye

Designers Courtney Fasciano and Erin Ryder created a brand that makes a difference.

cesta collective handbags
Photo: Jonathan Dee
While they met in the summer of 2017, Courtney Fasciano and Erin Ryder were still only acquaintances when they first quit their jobs (Fasciano was an editor and marketing director, Ryder a brand director) to launch their handbag brand, Cesta Collective. “We were both ready to jump into the unknown, so we held hands and did it—as virtual strangers,” Ryder says. “We both had a similar viewpoint, [and] because we’ve spent our careers as curators on different sides of the business, we both know exactly what we like and want. Through this process of manifesting our future together, we’ve become incredibly close friends!” The two didn’t want to create just any brand, though. “We felt compelled to do something that made a difference, specifically in the lives of women.”

“Our baskets are woven by hand by female artisanal cooperatives in the hills of Rwanda using locally sourced renewable resources,” Fasciano says. “Our goal is to celebrate traditional Rwandan weaving techniques and the work of these incredible artisans by interpreting their craft in a modern way.” Both Fasciano and Ryder have a goal to educate consumers on the benefits of purchasing handmade artisanal brands. “As Americans, we’re cognizant that we have immense privilege and opportunity based off of where we’ve been born, and we both feel that it's important to pay that forward. Our sourcing partner in Africa is a Fair-Trade certified B-Corporation, and all of our artisans are paid a fair wage for the beautiful handwork they do. In fact, our artisans set the price per basket themselves based on the amount of time and energy each style takes them to weave; they have a voice in the process.” The majority of Rwandan artisans are women and breadwinners for their families, and Cesta Collective’s goal is to help these women save and invest in themselves in their families. Each bag takes three to seven days to make, and Fasciano and Ryder intentionally limit certain pieces so that they are made in small batches. “Ubiquity is not interesting to us, and we see a lot of value in owning a unique piece with a thoughtful supply chain that is not available on a mass scale,” Ryder adds. “This is what ‘luxury’ means to us.”

Photo: Jonathan Dee
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