I’m a sucker for a do-good company, so it’s no surprise that I’m pretty obsessed with Better Life Bags. They sell handmade-to-order bags that are sewn by women in a low income area of Detroit, Michigan. Better Life Bags gives these women, who have various barriers to employment, the opportunity to work making their bags, which then gives them the opportunity to feed their kids, which then gives their kids the opportunity to do better in school … it all trickles down to make one family’s life a whole lot better. Every bag comes with a card bearing the name of the woman who made it, which is a touch I love. There’s something about seeing the name and handwriting of the person who made your bag and being able to send them some good vibes through the universe—or pray for them, or whatever your thing is—that’s really special.
There are so many styles at Better Life Bags that it can be tough to make a decision, but since I love a good backpack and was in need of a good diaper bag, the Harper backpack seemed like a no-brainer to me. And since stripes are my love language, I went for the black and white stripes option in their ready-to-ship section. The sides, bottom, back and flap are a gorgeous genuine leather in a camel-brown shade.
The bag is well-constructed; it feels sturdy, and the leather adds a little extra heft that makes it great for even heavier loads. The straps are easy to adjust, and there is an easy-to-grab handle at the top that you can use if you want to hold it in your hand instead of throwing it on your back. (I do this surprisingly often.) There’s a pocket on either side that’s just right for a water or baby bottle and a small pocket on the back that is perfectly sized for your phone and keys.
Inside, you’ll find a sturdy canvas lining with two elastic-topped pockets on one side and a zipper pocket on the other. The bag is nicely sized and includes an insert on the bottom that helps hold the shape of the bag, which makes it easier if you need to find something in a hurry. The whole thing zips closed, and snaps on either side allow you to expand the bag when you need more room (but keep it slimly-sized for easier toting when you don’t). The flap has invisible magnetic bits at the end of each strap, so it closes fully and stays in place.
This is a really great bag, and it’s available in a ton of different varieties: You choose your leather color, hardware and outer, pocket and interior fabric (there are so many options for the outer fabric and pockets!). You can go all leather if you so choose, or stick to just a leather flap and straps and opt for a fun print instead. Really, the sky is the limit. If you’re a pouch person and would prefer to go pocket-free inside, that’s an option, too. And if you aren’t in the market for a backpack, no worries: You’ll find messenger bags, totes and a myriad of other options, as well.
Price: Varies; $248 as shown
To buy: betterlifebags.com