Choosing artisan means supporting a form of economic development that has deep meaning, one that originates from and is rooted in the uniqueness of people and place.

–– Forbes

We feel honoured to work with brands that are committed to sustainable and ethical practices, and whose products are handmade and carry a real identity. Latin American designers don’t simply want to sell, they aspire to have a lasting and positive impact on their communities

–– Isabella Behrens & Cloclo Echavarría
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Meet the Designer

Ballen

Introduction

A brand of intricately crafted handbags and leather goods, Ballen represents an aesthetic vision for women who seek chic functionality. Its slick design is infused with subtle equestrian influences that reflect a profound appreciation for simple yet sumptuous quality. Founded by Colombian-born Ricardo Ballen, the label is the result of his desire to combine a global style language with local artistry and develop a concept of luxury that truly represents Colombia’s emerging fashion culture.

Ballen’s ethically-sourced, handmade goods incorporate geometric silhouettes, delicate materials and a versatile color palette –from fierce orange python to deep blush, demure eggplant and dusty blue. Their offer is just as varied in terms of silhouettes and styles: there’s the feminine chain-handle bags, the functional backpacks, the basket bags with a tropical air and the practical cross-body bags. What do they all have in common? That they embody polished refinement for everyday life.

Promoting Local Craftsmanship

Colombia is the world’s second most biodiverse country in the world. Acknowledging the possibilities this natural wealth offers, Ballen works with indigenous communities to incorporate locally sourced, renewable materials in many of their designs. Perhaps their most interesting innovation is the use of tagua seeds, commonly known as “vegetable ivory” for its similar color and toughness. Tagua is the seed of a native species of palm tree that grows in Colombia’s tropical forests; collected and treated by communities of artisans, these seeds are a natural replacement for ivory, and its generalized use can help stop elephant hunting. In fact, the tagua tree produces 20 pounds of seeds in the course of a year, the same amount of ivory a female elephant produces in a lifetime.

Ballen also partners with the Cubeo community of Puerto Golondrina, in the Amazon Basin, who hand craft their basket bags using natural guarumo cane fiber. They also work closely with artisans from the Huila department, in the south-west of Colombia, and from the Amazon rainforests; these communities gather and naturally treat the açaí and bombona seeds the label uses to manufacture the straps for their leather bags, giving their minimal design a rustic touch.

Artisan CraftEmerging EconomiesSustainable MaterialsWomen's Empowerment

Ballen merges the industrial design and leather goods arts; this is why we are always pursuing innovative, sustainable materials for our designs.

— Ricardo Ballen, founder