Alicia San Marcos: Upcycled Bags for Education

Apart from profits + purpose, successful social enterprises have one fundamental element: an authentic story. Alicia San Marcos, a one-of-a-kind handmade bags and accessories company, definitely has one. Co-founded by sisters Nicole and Michelle Bakva last year, the company is named after the woman who inspired it: Alicia Angel from San Marcos, Guatemala.
The Company

The company honors Alicia's life story of immigration. She left her family to come to the U.S. and provide better educational opportunites for her children - and she did. Thanks to her sacrifices, they earned college degrees and broke the family’s cycle of poverty. Alicia's experience left a lasting mark on the Bakva sisters and inspired them to find a way to honor her life, her sacrifices, and her country. With that, Alicia San Marcos was born.

The ultimate goal is to provide children in Guatemala with a quality education, something that Alicia so deeply valued. Alicia San Marcos fulfills this purpose by giving donations and paying fair wages. To round it out, it uses upcycled materials to reduce waste.

This photo shows the variety of materials that Alicia San Marcos repurposes to make the products

This photo shows the variety of materials that Alicia San Marcos repurposes to make the products

  • Donations: Ten percent of proceeds go toward children in Niños de Guatemala schools and the Casa Bernabé orphanage. Both organization take a comprehensive approach to education and target the academic, social-emotional, health, and physical skills of children. Casa Bernabé also provides teens with vocational programs and workforce training to prepare them to be productive citizens.
  • Fair Wages: Every bag is handmade by indigenous, Guatemalan women who receive a living wage for their labor and work in fair trade certified environments. This model provides sustainable incomes for the women and their families.
  • Reduced Waste: Upcycling is when worn materials or objects are repurposed to create something better. [1] In other words, it reduces waste by making it useful. Alicia San Marcos upcycles huipils (traditional Mayan blouses) and fabrics to weave bags and totes. If you were wondering how each bag is one-of-a-kind, this is why!

The Products

You can find any type and size of bag to suit your needs. They make travel bags, clutches, totes, and even fanny packs. Some can take up to 12 weeks to make. They are a work of art!
Alicia San Marcos sells more than bags, though. It sells bags that honor Alicia's story, contribute to family incomes, support children's education, and reduce waste. 

Ready to Responsibuy? Nicole shared a special 40% off promotion (FLASH40) for us!

Anairis Hinojosa