Saturday, April 28, 2012

Introducing....My American-Made Teacher's Bag

Over the winter, I wrote about my search for a teacher's bag, a bag where I can tote papers to grade, pencils and pens, and my weekly calendar.  The ones I longed for were made in China. Where was my American-made bag?

After an obsessive search on Etsy, I found it. Here it is! It arrived today from Arkansas.

This is only my second year teaching and this year I noticed Vera Bradley bags were ubiquitous among my female colleagues. (Last year, my learning curve was so steep I don't think I noticed what anyone else was wearing or carrying) I like the bags, which come in patters such as Buttercup, Twirlie Birds Navy, and English Meadow.

I was all set to buy one until I discovered the Fort Wayne-based company has outsourced all its manufacturing to China. Frankly, I was upset about that. I would much rather support an American company that actually employs American workers.

That's when my Etsy search began.  is a website where you can find all sorts of handmade and vintage items. The bag I discovered was designed and sewn by a woman named Sarah Hurd, who lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Mrs. Hurd runs a home business called Picking Poppys. She named her company after her mom, Poppy, who died of breast cancer in 2006. 

"So the misspelling is intentional and I love to think of my Mom as a flower that is so vivid and beautiful," she writes. She grew up with five sisters in Arkansas and now she is married with two daughters and a grandson.

I am thrilled with this $33 bag. I love the owl design. I teach English and somehow owls, being wise, seem like readers. It almost looks as if these owls are wearing reading glasses. I don't expect I ever will meet Sarah Hurd, but it sure warms my heart to know a grandmother in Arkansas made the bag I will carry with me down the crowded hallways of a New Jersey public high school. Check her out! (And please try to Buy American)

P.S. In response to a reader question, I discovered the fabric design was created by a company called Premier Prints, a growing company that now employs 25 people in Sherman, Mississippi!


  1. very cute! good for you for going with America! I get so mad when I see perfect little polymer beads like the ones I make being sold for pennies because they were made in some factory in China. Of course, those polymer beads don't have fine Catholic symbols on them, but still...handmade is better and American handmade is the best!

    1. Indeed. And, as with your home-based business, I love knowing these were made with love and care. BTW, Sarah Hurd makes adorable headbands and wall hangings with similar styled fabric...

  2. This is a tangent, not exactly in keeping with the spirit of your post. For the past few years I have been a volunteer with an anti-sex trafficking NGO headquartered in NY. In Cambodia, we provided training and transitional jobs for survivors of sex trafficking, in jobs in the garment industry. In Phnom Penn, Cambodia, we currently employ 50 women in the making of women's tote bags. All profits are re-invested in anti-trafficking efforts. We have just started a similar effort in India.

    - Stephen M. Bauer

    1. Stephen: This is beautiful to hear about. As much as I can, I try to know the origins of the stuff I buy. This is another great place to buy tote bags from.