"...could we bring these beautiful products to the world, create jobs to empower vulnerable women to become economically independent, and protect traditional, sustainable, and ethical craftsmanship all at once?"
OUR STORY BEGINS & ENDS WITH FAMILY
A few years back, family meant the four of us – Ian (that's me), Brittany (high school sweetheart and the best mom ever), and our boys, Parker and Clay (yes, their names came first). We were enjoying a lazy afternoon when a news story, seemingly inconsequential, but now totally unforgettable – caught our attention. It was a new study, suggesting that there were now 160 million orphans worldwide. As parents, our instinct was to look at the boys at our feet and think, "What if that were them?". It was a reality check and it led to a regular dialogue in our house about inequality, opportunity, and most importantly, some perspective on the life we had been so lucky to lead. This dialogue grew louder and louder, and it became the catalyst for some huge changes to come – by 2020, our household would grow to six, while our family would become nearly 200 strong.
In 2011, we first traveled to Ethiopia and came home with our first adopted daughter. In 2012, Ethiopia became our home. We adopted our second daughter while living in Addis Ababa, the capital city, and it was there that we saw firsthand what many news outlets in America would never bother to cover. We saw how many young women, without opportunity or education, ended up in a life of prostitution, or even sold into human trafficking. While living there, we worked with organizations empowering these women through rehabilitation, skills development, and job creation. Meeting these women and witnessing the transformation that can come with just a teaspoon of opportunity deeply moved and inspired us
Around the same time, I happened to be looking for a birthday gift for Brittany and came across an incredible leather bag. The artisans' craftsmanship was beautiful, and we learned this leather was not only ethically sourced, but some of the highest quality in the world. The cogs started to turn, and an idea was born – could we bring these beautiful products to the world, create jobs to empower vulnerable women to become economically independent, and protect traditional, sustainable, and ethical craftsmanship all at once?
In 2014, our family got some unfortunate news; one of our daughters needed some major medical attention. We moved back to the United States to address these complications, and this decision turned into an opportunity to take roots back in our hometown of Santa Barbara. Here, we’re able to share our vision about Parker Clay with a wider audience, and this platform for growth allows us to create even more employment and empowerment in Ethiopia.
Today, we own our own factory in Addis Ababa to ensure the highest quality of production, implement sustainable processes, and create a safe and dignified workplace for our employees that have become like a second family. Our Center of Excellence allows us to create training and mentorship programs, advancement opportunities, and community events for our nearly 200 employees in Ethiopia. And most importantly, we're approaching 500,000 hours of ethical employment created thanks to your support – like we said, it begins and ends with family.
Our vision is to end exploitation in Ethiopia, and our promise is to make a better bag for a better world. Thank you for joining our family along this journey – without you, none of it would be possible!
Welcome to Parker Clay.
Ian & Brittany Bentley