Born on Kickstarter, handbag brand BEEN London has gone on to win awards from Positive Luxury, Marie Claire and Drapers. This conscious label delivers stunning accessories created from waste materials and plant-based leathers. The goal of the brand is to take nothing from the planet and to divert waste from landfill.
Genia Mineeva started her career as a political journalist in the BBC newsroom. She later got into campaigning and ran campaigns for the UN, Change.org and supermodel Natalia Vodianova's Naked Heart Foundation. One story really got under her skin: coffee cup waste. Genia went on to study Sustainable Value Chains at Cambridge University, where she discovered the untapped potential of innovative recycled materials rescued from landfill. Drawn to handcrafted, quality items made by real artists with generations of experience, her aim was to combine innovation with local skills and heritage. And after studying Accessories Design at London College of Fashion, and finding one of the last bag-makers in East London, the first BEEN London bag launched on Kickstarter.
"Our intention is to have a real, measurable impact on the fashion industry by proving that waste can become beautiful, inside and out"
BEEN London works with leather made from apples and pineapples, both of which have a high fruit content. The brand also uses recycled polyester.
All BEEN designs are manufactured in the UK. The company has carried out lifecycle assessments with Terra Neutra, which helped them determine CO2 emissions - the brand now aims to keep those to under 87% per bag, compared to a high-street leather option. The company also works with Tree Nation to offset their emissions.
The company works with manufacturers who can guarantee ethical treatment of workers.
BEEN products come in almost zero plastic packaging. The bags are wrapped with acid-free tissue paper, then shipped in a recycled card box.
Apple leather and pineapple leather are vegan materials, kind to animals and the environment.