Ted Louise- Sustainable Organisation

Ted Louise- Sustainable Organisation

Ted Louise- Sustainable Organisation

13th July 2023

Following a ‘eureka moment’ at an airport, Liz van der Putten established Netherlands company Ted Louise with the aim to empower women AND improve the world with a sustainable, organised handbag.

We sat down with Liz for a chat about her values, inspirations and hopes for the future.

Liz van der Putten is the kind of woman that looks straight past a problem to find a solution. “Because I was traveling so much for work, I discovered that at the airport it was always chaos. One day I was standing there with my boarding pass, with my passport, with my phone, and I wanted to order a coffee and I needed to get my wallet.

“Everything was a big mess – it was already very hectic with the pressure of catching a flight. And so I promised myself I would design a something that would bring an end to the chaos of women’s bags.

“The basis of the design is that you get an overview during a busy day. We have specially designed compartments for your pens, AirPods, a hook for your keys and even a built in wallet, so you open your bag and you can see everything immediately. That was the start of Ted Louise.”

That ‘eureka moment’ brought together all the strands of Liz’s career up to that moment.

She explains: “I studied fashion and I discovered I like fashion way more than the average girl! When I graduated I started working at the buying department for CoolCat, which was one of the biggest Dutch fashion brands. I was responsible for the accessory department. I always thought I wanted to do something for myself but wasn’t sure what it was. Then I was offered a job for a Dutch and Moroccan company – they had a Dutch owner and a Moroccan owner.

Pull quote: “I fell in love with leather and with designing bags.”

“The production was in Tangier, Morocco. I used to spend 10 days in Morocco then three weeks in the Netherlands. So I was in the factory quite a lot. I had to do everything, I had to be in contact with the customers, the suppliers, everything. I also needed to make the new collection. And there I fell in love with leather and designing bags.”

After returning to CoolCat for a while, fate gave her a push in the right direction.

“CoolCat went bankrupt so I started to working on my business plan. I talked to a lot of people, a lot of entrepreneurs. By luck, I ran into my investor and he gave me some homework. And then, six months later, I had to present the idea of Ted Louise again in more in detail. And then yeah, he invested and now we’re here.”

Key to the Ted Louise philosophy is a love of the best leather. Liz wants to educate people about its benefits.

“I think consumers don’t know a lot about leather, which is fine, but I think it’s such a beautiful product because you can do so much with it. What I really like about it is that if we didn’t use it, it would be thrown away. I think that’s also the biggest misconception about the leather industry. Last weekend I was in a pub and somebody asked me, is this a real leather bag? And I said, yeah, it’s a real leather bag. And he said, you shouldn’t be using that you should be using vegan leather. And I said, well, that’s actually quite funny, I know a bit about this… I won the argument, but I didn’t manage to sell him a bag!”

“I think this is the biggest misconception about the leather industry. No cows are getting killed for their skins. They get killed for the meat industry, and if we didn’t do anything with them, we would throw the skins away.”

The leather Ted Louise uses is pretty special. Zeology Leather. Zeology is tanned using zeolites and it is compostable – when it is discarded, it decomposes in just 90 days.

Pull quote: “If you’re not sustainable, and you don’t use sustainable products, then you should just leave it”

Liz explains: “We just started using Zeology Leather because I think, if you’re not sustainable and you don’t use sustainable products, then you should just leave it. With the leather bags and with the Zeology Leather the super nice thing about it is that nature can take it back in 90 days – any waste can go back to nature without any harm.”

Liz is always looking to improve her production practices. “We are also talking with the Sustainable Leather Foundation. I get the question quite a lot… How do you make sure that you really get the sustainable product? I went to the factory, so I went to India. I went to the tannery. I went to the manufacturer and I’m going to visit them again this year. I think that is very important that you just be there, see what they are talking about. Just go to the factories and experience it all.”

And it’s not just the leather that’s important in Ted Louise products: “For the hardware it’s very important for us that it’s also nickel free and chrome free.”

The environment is a big concern for Liz, but the treatment of people is equally important to her. “It would be weird if we will be only for environmental friendly and that’s it. No, we’re also for the workers, to make sure that they are treated well and paid fairly. That’s why we want to have everybody connected and we use the Sustainable Leather Foundation so everybody can see all the certificates. I think it’s very important to be as transparent as possible.

Ted Louise the company is now ready to move up a gear and Liz has launched a Crowdfunder campaign to bring to increase the company’s capacity. She’s on a mission to bring her production values to a wider audience.

As Liz says: “Ted Louise is made for strong women, by strong women.”

Find the Ted Louise Crowdfunder campaign here

Check out the Ted Louise website here

For more information on the tanning industry, click here and here.