Vancity Entrepreneurs: Clutches of Karma

Fashion, philanthropy, and entrepreneurship seem to be the winning formula when successfully integrated together. Like the girls from Wabi, another young entrepreneur brings something unique to the table. Pia Dargani from Clutches of Karma, has a neat spin on their design bags which are made in the Philippines and have a great philanthropic aspect.

1. Who are you? Tell us about your business/core idea and how it got started.

In a nutshell, I’m Indian by blood, Filipino by birth, and a Vancouverite by choice. Starting to design bags wasn’t something I consciously decided on. In fact, I never expected the first bag I designed to be made at all! My mum surprised me with it when I was on the hunt for the perfect LBC “little black clutch.” More and more people began to ask me to design for them, so that’s how Clutches of Karma snowballed into what it is today.

 2. What makes the bags unique from a product and style standpoint?

There are a couple of aspects to the designs and products that make the bags unique. More often than not, when people think luxury bags, many think Milan and Paris. The fact that Clutches of Karma is a luxury bag that is made in the Philippines creates the perfect blend of modern style and traditional filipino craftsmanship. I think the second aspect is the use of a variety of materials, I’ve worked with Mother of Pearl, Snakeskin, Stingray, Dehydrated Onion skins and rice husk.

3. Talk about your angle on philanthropy and how it’s baked into the business.

The philanthropic aspect of the company was inspired by Mohammed Yunnis, the founder of the Grameen bank and advocate of social entrepreneurship. It is a core feature of the company from the production side to the finished product. We like to work with smaller to medium companies to facilitate economic growth in the Philippines as well as support communities (usually Filipino, with a few exceptions) based on where there is the most need. Most recently, we had a Pop-Up Shop in NYC not too long after Sandy hit and donated part of the profits towards relief initiatives.

 4. What kind of challenges have you had to face and how have you mitigated them?

I think the biggest challenge has been having my production half way around the world. It would be great if I could take regular trips to work on product development more closely, however because of my full time job, I turn to late night Skype calls (because of time difference) as the main form of communication between me and my manila office!

5. How does this improve the city of Vancouver? What is the real world problem you’re solving?

I’m hoping that my clutches will play a part in getting Vancouver out of the list of worst dressed cities in the world! Haha But jokes aside, I hope that the clutches will be able to contribute to a number of communities that are near and dear to me, whether it being supporting local boutiques or giving back to the community in one way or another. Vancouver is definitely one of the top cities on that list for me.

6. What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?

Love what you do. Once it gets boring, old, routine, it’s time to change it up and fall back in love with what you do!

 *End of interview*

Other Vancity Entrepreneurs with focuses on philanthropy or fashion are Weeve and Wantering. Vancouver is a very enthusiastic but also sensitive city when it comes to talking about fashion. A lot of it needs help and a lot of it is miles ahead of the game. As entrepreneurs bring worldwide influences back to Vancouver and also apply their unique spin on fashion, it’s a sure bet that the evolution of fashion in this city will be a very interesting thing to keep an eye on.

You can follow Clutches of Karma on Twitter and Facebook.

Stay in touch @pauldavidescu

*Vancity Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs or startups that are making Vancouver a better place. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send [email protected] an email explaining why*

Photo Credit: Georgia Straight