The MUSEUM LEATHER COMPANY is a subsidiary of Leather UnLimited. The company was created in the early 2000’s specifically to work in the museum gift shop market. We wanted to offer our unusual raised embossed work to the museums using both our own designs in our readymade collections and a bespoke service using motifs from the particular museum’s collection. Our rather special work lends itself very well to the intricacies of the designs we work with creating very elegant gifts. We worked in this market earlier under our original name of Ambika.
Leather Unlimited is a small fair trade company based in Central London. Our principal activity is the production of handmade leather goods and leather boxes in Bangladesh, using the special skills of our artisan groups to create colourful, well made products.
The company started life as Ambika Ltd in 1986 when three women, including our MD Claire Weldon, decided to help Third World women in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Chile and Bangladesh earn a living making their traditional handcrafts so they could support their families. We have done this by giving them design input, quality guidance and marketing their products in the wider world.
Since mid-1988, when Claire Weldon first went to Bangladesh, we have focused on working there having realised that one can spread oneself too thin. Our partner there was a well established NGO (non-governmental organisation), BRAC. We sold their indigenous embroidery known as Nakshe Kantha, leather goods and other artefacts at the start. Now we are now more or less completely specialised in leather goods. Again we decided to concentrate on goods we love and feel we can therefore sell.
We changed our name in 2001 to reflect the markets we work in and also to get away from a totally ethnic name, which we felt possibly devalued the quality of the products we offer. Since then our partner is Martin Rodrigues, who is one of the minority Roman Catholic community in Bangladesh who having worked for BRAC for many years, founded his own company to look after our interests in Bangladesh.
Our aim is to constantly improve the products we sell and to this end we have worked hard with our suppliers year on year. We feel our products can stand alongside the best handmade products in their field these days. Several tens of families are now supported by our work and this enables the workers not only to feed their families, but to help educate some children. We hope the knock on effect of this will be progress in the next generation. There is no government funded education, health care or unemployment benefit in Bangladesh.
Our workers are very skilled and work in small workshops, some specialising in particular work. Every process is done by hand despite our efforts to modernise their methods!
The team in Bangladesh