Suzette Munson: founder of Love41
Wife. Mother. Entrepreneur. World Traveler. Philanthropist. These words only begin to cover the many hats Suzette wears. Working alongside her husband in running Saddleback Leather, it's obvious that Suzette has an eye for high-quality pieces and a heart for social justice. Five years ago she launched her own line of leather goods called Love41. This line gives 100% of its revenue to a nonprofit working in Africa and provides an unparalleled environment for it's employees in Mexico...
Can you tell us a bit of your personal background?
I come from a large family. I'm the youngest of 10 and learned how to speak up, express myself and fight dirty in order to protect myself from scrappy older brothers and sisters. Every year from 1st grade on, I got into a fist fight. It was always over protecting someone who was being bullied. I lost once to a boy (two were boys) but I certainly wasn't the loser :) It definitely helped shape who I am today.
What gave you the inspiration for love41?
It was in 2010 after my first trip to Africa. At the time I was already designing for our other leather company, Saddleback Leather. My first trip to Africa rocked me. It changed me. I had never seen poverty at that level before and I knew I had to do something about it. Love 41 was born after a repetitive dream over a two week span. I knew God was speaking to me and could clearly see I needed to just keep doing what I knew to do, online retail with high quality leather goods.
Has there been a particularly rewarding aspect of your work?
Going and seeing the impact of our work. Women being trained in a trade so they can provide for their children, children going to school and being educated, orphaned young men going on to university because of our scholarships, and most importantly, the church we helped plant is bringing people to Christ and He's transforming them.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PRODUCT FROM LOVE41?
Oh my gosh! Are you really gonna ask for only one? Yikes! Hmmmm, the answer is YES but more than one. For a bag I would say our Simple Tote or Koroha Bag. For a wallet I would say the Continental is my new favorite but I love, love my Zipper Tote for all my international traveling.
Describe Your Personal Style
I think my style is boho casual with a lot of comfort. It didn't used to be my style, but after two little ones things change a lot!
When shopping for yourself, what are your favorite ethical brands?
I'm always on the look out for new companies who might be coming out so I can give back thru my clothing or shoes, but I think this area still has lots of potential in the market. My favorite is Raven & Lily. I LOVE their clothes.
What do you wish more consumers understood about the marketplace?
Consumers are smarter today than they have ever been. I think they are extremely wise about who and what they purchase. I do wish they understood that not all companies giving back make disposable products. We take pride in the fact that our products are built to last and we even back it with a 41 year warranty on our bags.
Where would you like to see love41 in 5 years?
Stopping the sex trafficking epidemic along with starting a private school for underprivileged children in Mexico AND giving out 100's of scholarships to orphans to attend university.
Suzette visits the factory in Mexico to build relationship with their employees. Workers are given a bright, clean, safe space to work in and there's a daycare provided for their children.