Rising Tide Fair Trade is a new company working with artisans in West Bengal India to produce weekend bags and other purses that are sold online. The artisans are part of a cooperative and earn Fair Trade wages while the products are made from material bought in local markets or from recycled material. A passion for fashion and the desire to empower impoverished women in West Bengal, India, led Virginia Dooley and Nicole Jones to start Rising Tide Fair Trade—a company that takes socially conscious design, puts a strap on it and lets you flaunt it on your weekend getaways.

The Rising Tide collection of travel totes, handbags and change purses are stylish, produced to meet fair trade standards and give Bengali women means to care for their families.

Shall we count the top three reasons why TakePart likes this company?

One, the artisans are all part of a fair trade cooperative and earn fair wages—60 percent more than they will at a factory. Two, the materials are either purchased from local markets or made of recycled textiles—like vintage quilts stitched with delicate Kantha embroidery; and three, most products are finished in cruelty free leather (from naturally deceased animals).

Also, a percentage of Rising Tide’s profits are donated to philanthropic programs that educate and equip impoverished women to start their own businesses.

The company is expanding its reach. This spring, it launches the the Zola & Zaria collection—batiks, shwe-shwe prints, tie dyes and wax prints sourced directly from markets all around sub-Saharan Africa. The leather will also be cruelty-free. http://www.takepart.com/news/2011/03/16/rising-tide-how-fair-trade-weekend-tote-bags-empower-women-in-india