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East Anglia Future 50

Belo Bags with founders Charlotte Bingham-Willis in Suffolk and Maria Costa in Brazil- are making an impact

PUBLISHED: 13:39 25 May 2018

Charlotte Bingham-Wallis and Maria Costa, whos upcycling business Belo Bags has a special bag selected as a finalist in the international Handbag Awards which take place in New York. They are pictured here when they were in South America volunteering in 2016

Charlotte Bingham-Wallis and Maria Costa, whos upcycling business Belo Bags has a special bag selected as a finalist in the international Handbag Awards which take place in New York. They are pictured here when they were in South America volunteering in 2016

Charlotte Bingham-Wallis

Sudbury-based Charlotte's unique eco-friendly handbag is in the running for an international award

One of the Belo bags, sold in the UK, and made in Brazil, where they also support charityh work among the poor and homelessOne of the Belo bags, sold in the UK, and made in Brazil, where they also support charityh work among the poor and homeless

Socially responsible business Belo bags and accessories, founded by a pair of Sudbury schoolfriends, is making a difference within the slums of Brazil.

Best friends Charlotte Bingham-Wallis and Maria Costa met at Sudbury Upper School, and later travelled and did volunteering work together in South America.

Ms Bingham-Wallis, born and raised in Sudbury, is also a physiotherapist at Ipswich Hospital, while Maria is now back in her native Brazil and looks after the production of Belo bags – also providing work there.

Now their socially responsible accessories brand Belo is a finalist in the international Independent Handbag Awards, which are held in New York – the only finalist from the UK.

Belo is in the running to win the award for Most Socially Responsible Handbag as well as Accessories Magazine Fan Favourite.

Miss Bingham-Willis said: “We believe that investing into a community will give opportunity for those who can’t afford it, education and the possibilities to grow, develop and have the opportunity of a better life. To do this every Belo bag is handmade by local Brazilian artisans. We know them personally, make sure they are appreciated, paid fairly and safe. We believe that building relationships is vital for business development, ensuring safe working conditions, trust and growth.”

Launched on Kickstarter under a year ago, Belo was set up with the mission of “creating beautiful accessories that could feed more goodness into the world”.

Belo says it places sustainability and social responsibility as the driving forces within its ethos, and designs and produces handbags using plastic bottles, high-quality leather and fabric off-cuts.

For each bag sold, six plates of food are donated to charity group Casa De Maria, which supports the homeless and those in need, in Ms Costa’s home city of Belo Horizonte, where the handbags are handcrafted.

The bag nominated for the award, Belo’s San Paolo, features embroidery inspired by the pavements that surround the Ipiranga Palace, Sao Paulo.

Belo will make its debut at the Suffolk Show next week, on stand 420 and in the Craft Marquee.

To vote for Belo visit: https://bit.ly/2ISvOFE

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