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How luxury leather goods maker Parker Clay is empowering women in Ethiopia

·Writer
·2 min read

When Parker Clay founders Brittany and Ian Bentley first visited Ethiopia in 2011, they were looking to grow their family through adoption, but they quickly fell in love with the country and its people. That love led the couple to move to the African nation and found the luxury handmade leather goods brand whose mission is to keep women in the country out of prostitution and help them become financially independent.

Brittany Bentley joined Yahoo Finance to discuss how the company is making an impact through employment.

“Ian and I met in high school and got married shortly after college. And then we started our careers in business and design and had two boys and just really wanted to grow our family through adoption. And we chose Ethiopia specifically from there ... We just fell in love with the vibrant country and fell in love with everything about it. And so that led us to one year later buying one-way tickets as a family to move to Ethiopia, to work with women coming out of prostitution and help with job training. And that led us to where we are today. It is a company of over 150 employees, where we are making an impact through employment,” she said.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 02: Co-founders of Parker City, Ian Clay and Brittany Clay attend the American Express and Delta Air Lines #DeltaAmex Card Relaunch event at 14th Street Garage on October 02, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for American Express)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 02: Co-founders of Parker Clay, Ian and Brittany Bentley attend the American Express and Delta Air Lines #DeltaAmex Card Relaunch event at 14th Street Garage on October 02, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for American Express)

Eighty-percent of Parker Clay’s employees are women, and the bags are made entirely in Ethiopia out of high-end, locally-sourced leather and materials. Bentley tells Yahoo Finance that many of the women who work for the company come out of a Women at Risk program and have no official job training.

“We start them out with basic skills training and ... they’re able to gain further job training skills and receive certifications that can carry through not only Parker Clay, but to future career opportunities.”

Bentley notes that Parker Clay is operationally profitable, but it is just as important for the company to have that impact on people.

“People are very important to us, and our employees are extremely important. So we want to be growing at a pace that is sustainable and healthy for all of us,” she said.

Bentley tells Yahoo Finance that Parker Clay hopes to grow to 250 employees by year’s end.

“We want to continue making amazing leather bags, better bags, better production, and just have a better world by people making conscious choices on what they’re purchasing.”

Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.

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