Meet Issara, a new e-commerce player focused on selling leather goods, cutting the middleman and fairly compensating workers. In many ways, Issara is reminiscent of Everlane, a clothing startup that has inspired many entrepreneurs.
Issara workers are paid at least three times the minimum wage and receive health insurance for themselves and their families. It sounds too good to be true, but the company can do that as it’s a direct-to-consumer brand. All the designs are made in-house, and the startup avoids large factories. That’s how the company can make well-designed, affordable leather goods.
Currently, the company works with two workshops in Central Java and Eastern India. It’s unclear how it can scale, but this strategy has worked for many companies. Issara also works with local tanneries that also supply the most popular fashion brands. These tanneries comply with environment standards.
Right now, you can find anything between a $49 business card holder and a $549 weekender. There are already dozens of wallets, bags and laptop sleeves. Some of them look good. It’s too soon to say whether these goods age well.
While there isn’t anything revolutionary about Issara, finding the right partners and making this kind of startups gets off the ground takes some serious effort — this isn’t your average software company. There are 46 workers producing goods and managing an inventory. Moreover, Issara already provides worldwide shipping.
But more importantly, I think Issara ticks all the right boxes when it comes to making sure that everybody is well-compensated. Too many brands still rely on sweatshops to produce cheap goods. Cutting the middleman is a much smarter way to bring prices down.
Now, it’s important that these clothing and leather companies don’t give up on their initial mission as they grow. It requires a lot of effort as these companies need to oversee all the production lines and double-check everything, but it is definitely worth it.