For designer Be Inthavong, a handbag is more than fashion–it’s personal. Inthavong, who was born in Laos and raised in Texas, descends from generations of women who made their living as silk weavers. In his New York apartment hangs a traditional sarong, which his grandmother wove at age 15. “It’s a daily inspiration,” he says. That inspiration is evident in his eponymous handbag line, which launched in 2010 and features a patent-pending textile made from tiny pieces of leather hand-woven together in a silk loom in Laos. It takes a month of painstaking work to create a single piece–like this platinum Bobo ($1,850)–but each sturdy, rich bag fuses a 500-year-old craft with modern American fashion. To accommodate his growing business and create further economic opportunity for women in Laos, Inthavong plans to build a new weaving mill there and invite tourists to learn about the culture and craft. “We can offer a historic piece of Laos,” he says. “It’s important for Laotian women to know their work is meaningful–socially and economically.” beinthavong.comFCS
World Changing Ideas
New workplaces, new food sources, new medicine--even an entirely new economic system.
The major tech ecosystems that battle for our attention and dollars.
What’s next for hardware, software, and services.
The brave new world of automation, from AI to drones.
How our urban centers are building toward the future.
Most Creative People
See members of our Most Creative People in Business community: leaders who are shaping the future of business in creative ways.
An award-winning team of journalists, designers, and videographers who tell brand stories through Fast Company's distinctive lens.