Mission (im)Possible

Our “possible” started with a mission … but our mission also seemed impossible (the best ones always do). We knew we had the skill to design high-end bags and backpacks, but we also wanted to do something unexpected, something hopeful and redemptive in a place that desperately needed both. We wanted to launch a bag and backpack company in Gulu, Uganda, ground zero in the decades-long civil conflict led by the infamous warlord Joseph Kony.

A Winning Combination

Uganda is not exactly known for bag manufacturing, but the town of Gulu does have a unique distinction, a surprisingly large number of highly-skilled sewers. Many are women who were trained in the aftermath of the war as a means of rebuilding their lives and generating a livelihood. Unfortunately, even with this training, employment opportunities for these skilled sewers were still few and far between.

We believed if we could combine our skill in design with their skill in sewing, we would have a winning combination that could provide sustainable employment in Gulu for generations to come.

Gulu Made

It is not just unexpected to build a backpack factory in Uganda, it is unexpected to build a backpack factory at all! Normal bag companies design their products, then work with contract manufacturers to build those products, usually in Asia. This is the “normal” way to do it.

But we knew that in order to fulfill our mission of providing sustainable jobs for the women of Gulu, we would have to build our own factory … we would have to be both “designers” and “makers.” And so, GULU Made was born.

What We Believe In

We believe in the power of work, that “work” is not a 4-letter word (OK, it is, but you get the point). We believe that work is more than just labor for money ... work is dignity. When we don’t have work we don’t feel fully human. GULU Made exists to create good work for the team members who make our products, and our products are created to empower our customers to do good work themselves.

We believe in the power of commerce, and the virtuous cycle that benefits both the consumer and the maker. We create products that help carry our customers toward their goals and dreams, their “possible”. And we also leverage our business to enable the dreams of those who work with us, the women of Gulu who bring their skill and energy every day as they work their way out of extreme poverty.

We believe in the power of creation. This one may sound a little “out there”, but a key principle for us is that ALL humans are made in the image of a Creator, and that one of the best ways to reflect that image is to create things ourselves. Our products are a creation of the women of Gulu, and are thus infused with the power and dignity of these women. You certainly don’t have to believe in our philosophy to carry our bags, but you can be empowered by the spirit that goes into them, and perhaps even use them to bring out the inner creator in yourself.

We believe in humankind. GULU Made is more than a product company, we are a human company. Our bags are designed and made with humans in mind, certainly the humans who carry them, but importantly, also the humans who make them. But human is nothing if it is not also kind. We strive to be kind to our customers, kind to our team, and kind to our planet. Human made for human kind.

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