HONORING THE STORIES OF UNSUNG AMERICAN WOMEN Through BOLD design and storytelling


BETTER HANDBAGS MADE IN BROOKLYN BY FORMERLY INCARCERATED WOMEN

Lula Bright, 1965

Lula Bright, 1965

LULAH is a lifestyle and heritage brand celebrating the unique American perspective of resilient and unsung women. Founded in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn in 2018, LULAH aims to illuminate the untold stories of daring and persistent women through craftsmanship, community and culture. Our first collection of heirloom-quality leather handbags are elegant, adaptable, and reliable, reflecting the genuine lived experiences of womanhood.

OUR VISION

LULAH is reimagining the future of heritage fashion by honoring the strength and grace of women of color throughout American history. By tracing the multigenerational legacy of her family through the eras of slavery, civil rights and Black Lives Matter, our founder’s vision is to build a brand in the likeness of the histories, traditions and cultures of black and brown American women, while seeking justice for all women.

OUR MUSE

LULAH is named for our founder’s mother, who overcame racial oppression while growing up in the Jim Crow South. A champion of single motherhood, she invested entirely in her three daughters’ education while carrying the same leather handbag for a decade. Despite economic hardship, she never compromised on quality while pursuing extraordinary opportunities for her three girls. Much in the tradition of our brand’s namesake, at LULAH we are committed to marrying relevant products with timeless stories in order to uplift the voices of underrepresented women. Our core values: sacrifice, imagination, dignity and inclusion, are the cornerstone of our brand promise — to instill a sense of unity and pride in all women —  freeing her from life’s baggage.


OUR OPPORTUNITY

Ibada, our founder, (far right) and guests of the Women’s Prison Association attend the annual WPA Summer Soiree hosted by Widow Jane Distillery in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Photo: Mambu Bayoh. Courtesy of the Women’s Prison Association.

Ibada, our founder, (far right) and guests of the Women’s Prison Association attend the annual WPA Summer Soiree hosted by Widow Jane Distillery in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Photo: Mambu Bayoh. Courtesy of the Women’s Prison Association.

When thriving women of color leverage their dollar to create social and economic impact, we predict that a broadened perspective of the modern American aspirational lifestyle will emerge, rivaling top brands in the $11.5 billion handbag industry. Recognizing that women of color are collectively the most powerful intercultural influence across American music, fashion, beauty and film, LULAH aims to embody both nostalgic and contemporary representations of this unique and valuable perspective through inclusive storytelling. The collective buying power of underrepresented women has enormous potential. Meanwhile, heritage brands are enjoying a renaissance. LULAH aims to evoke both timelessness and modernity through superior craftsmanship and community gatherings that hold space for women and uplift their voices.

True to our vocation, we have partnered with the Women’s Prison Association to provide paid training and employment in bagsmithing to women impacted by the criminal legal system who seek dignified career opportunities in the fashion industry. By sharing stories of adversity and triumph, we aim to add visibility to powerful women who have overcome obstacles, against all odds while creating a culture that celebrates “freedom from baggage.”


OUR FOUNDING TEAM

Mohini  serves as  Chief Advisor & Director of the Board  for LULAH. She moved to New York City to attend  Parsons School of Design , where she received the  Gold Thimble Award  from Donna Karan. She has contributed her talent to respected brands including Ralph Lauren. In 2008 she joined  PVH  as  Design Director  and launched The Insignia Dress Shirt division for high-end brand licensing, which included John Varvatos, Michael Kors and Elie Tahari to name a few.  After the devastating collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013, she decided it was time to use her skills and knowledge to “do good” within the industry, and joined the  Tommy Hilfiger Foundation , now  The PVH Foundation.   Mo is passionate about human rights; particularly working conditions in the apparel industry. Since receiving an  Advanced Diploma in Coaching from NYU , she has focused on creating positive social impact for businesses, beginning with LULAH . Mo lives in Manhattan and is the founder of Beacon18, an organization that supports teens who are culturally vulnerable to arranged marriage. She is a 2019 Echoing Green semi-finalist.

Mohini serves as Chief Advisor & Director of the Board for LULAH. She moved to New York City to attend Parsons School of Design, where she received the Gold Thimble Award from Donna Karan. She has contributed her talent to respected brands including Ralph Lauren. In 2008 she joined PVH as Design Director and launched The Insignia Dress Shirt division for high-end brand licensing, which included John Varvatos, Michael Kors and Elie Tahari to name a few.

After the devastating collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013, she decided it was time to use her skills and knowledge to “do good” within the industry, and joined the Tommy Hilfiger Foundation, now The PVH Foundation.

Mo is passionate about human rights; particularly working conditions in the apparel industry. Since receiving an Advanced Diploma in Coaching from NYU, she has focused on creating positive social impact for businesses, beginning with LULAH. Mo lives in Manhattan and is the founder of Beacon18, an organization that supports teens who are culturally vulnerable to arranged marriage. She is a 2019 Echoing Green semi-finalist.

Mohini and Ibada at Mara Hoffman, 2018

Mohini and Ibada at Mara Hoffman, 2018

Mia is faculty at Parsons School of Design and founder and creative director of MWR Collection. She previously held the position of Senior Footwear Designer at Tibi. Mia has also worked for notable brands such as Calvin Klein and Philip Lim. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Parsons.

Mia takes every detail of her journey as a reflective space for both personal and professional growth. She will co-lead LULAH’s pilot training program, launching in March 2019. Mia is originally from Richmond, Virginia and lives in Harlem, New York.

Ibada  serves as  Founder & Chief Executive Officer  for LULAH. She joined the  Women’s Prison Association ’s Emerging Philanthropists in 2017. As an avid practitioner of yoga, she recently trained on scholarship with  Liberation Prison Yoga  to teach in New York jails and prisons.  Prior to this, Ibada managed sourcing, production, manufacturing, and global compliance for  kate spade new york ’s women’s empowerment initiative. She worked cross-functionally with the design, merchandising and buying departments on the   on purpose   handbag collection made in Rwanda.  Ibada has served  global artisan communities  throughout her career. She was first exposed to artisan craftsmanship while studying in Ecuador and volunteering at the  Women’s Prison in Quito . While pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Global Justice and Human Rights and minoring in Spanish and Latino Cultures at Juniata College, she heavily focused on social and criminal justice. In 2019, Ibada will be honored with the  Young Alumni Achievement Award  by her alma mater .   Her interest in fashion was cultivated while working with artisan communities, as she identified opportunities to fill socioeconomic gaps in the industry through business and entrepreneurship. Ibada was awarded a grant by  Fondazione Zegna  in 2011, allowing her   to further explore her interests in the intersection of fashion and sustainable development. She spent nine months in Italy researching sustainability while engaging executives at Ermenegildo Zegna, Gucci, Fendi and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. She has also worked at  The Aspen Institute ’s Alliance for Artisan Enterprise and the  Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage  as a fellow and consultant, respectively.  In 2014, Ibada was arrested while traveling in Spain and spent  30 days in prison ; an event sparked by a violent encounter with police who wrongfully accused her of illegal immigration while working for the Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture. Although her record was expunged, this traumatizing event reactivated her interest in racial justice and social equity and led her to contemplate “freedom” and “justice.” Subsequently, in 2016, Ibada was selected to participate in the Institute for Design + Public Policy at  Rhode Island School of Design , where she was inspired to “reimagine civics for the 21st century.”  Ibada is an  activist, writer, speaker and teacher  focused on criminal justice reform, corporate responsibility, fashion, design thinking, social entrepreneurship, and women’s empowerment. She lives in Bed Stuy with her dog, Sadiki, from Kenya, and can be found eating lamb kofta at  The Wing .  Ibada dreams of retiring to a farm in her family’s homeland in Eastern North Carolina.

Ibada serves as Founder & Chief Executive Officer for LULAH. She joined the Women’s Prison Association’s Emerging Philanthropists in 2017. As an avid practitioner of yoga, she recently trained on scholarship with Liberation Prison Yoga to teach in New York jails and prisons.

Prior to this, Ibada managed sourcing, production, manufacturing, and global compliance for kate spade new york’s women’s empowerment initiative. She worked cross-functionally with the design, merchandising and buying departments on the on purpose handbag collection made in Rwanda.

Ibada has served global artisan communities throughout her career. She was first exposed to artisan craftsmanship while studying in Ecuador and volunteering at the Women’s Prison in Quito. While pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Global Justice and Human Rights and minoring in Spanish and Latino Cultures at Juniata College, she heavily focused on social and criminal justice. In 2019, Ibada will be honored with the Young Alumni Achievement Award by her alma mater.

Her interest in fashion was cultivated while working with artisan communities, as she identified opportunities to fill socioeconomic gaps in the industry through business and entrepreneurship. Ibada was awarded a grant by Fondazione Zegna in 2011, allowing her to further explore her interests in the intersection of fashion and sustainable development. She spent nine months in Italy researching sustainability while engaging executives at Ermenegildo Zegna, Gucci, Fendi and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. She has also worked at The Aspen Institute’s Alliance for Artisan Enterprise and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage as a fellow and consultant, respectively.

In 2014, Ibada was arrested while traveling in Spain and spent 30 days in prison; an event sparked by a violent encounter with police who wrongfully accused her of illegal immigration while working for the Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture. Although her record was expunged, this traumatizing event reactivated her interest in racial justice and social equity and led her to contemplate “freedom” and “justice.” Subsequently, in 2016, Ibada was selected to participate in the Institute for Design + Public Policy at Rhode Island School of Design, where she was inspired to “reimagine civics for the 21st century.”

Ibada is an activist, writer, speaker and teacher focused on criminal justice reform, corporate responsibility, fashion, design thinking, social entrepreneurship, and women’s empowerment. She lives in Bed Stuy with her dog, Sadiki, from Kenya, and can be found eating lamb kofta at The Wing.

Ibada dreams of retiring to a farm in her family’s homeland in Eastern North Carolina.

Lauren  serves as consulting  Chief Design Officer  for LULAH. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan in 2006. Prior to this she studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Most recently, Lauren contributed her talent to  kate spade new york  where she served as  Senior Designer, Handbags  for seven years. During her time at kate spade, she designed 20 seasons for  kate spade      on purpose  ;   a   women’s empowerment initiative based in Rwanda that produces handbags for kate spade and Coach in order to advance social and economic development through philanthropic and commercial investment.  Prior to joining kate spade new york, Lauren was Associate Handbag Designer at  Coach  and Associate Accessories Designer at  Polo Ralph Lauren,  where she designed women’s and men’s accessories for  Rugby .   Lauren lives in Park Slope with her husband, and their cat, Neko. When she is not designing, she is traveling from Wyoming to Bali, and the places in between. Lauren designed LULAH’s signature handbag and plans to move with her family to Seattle in 2019.

Lauren serves as consulting Chief Design Officer for LULAH. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan in 2006. Prior to this she studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Most recently, Lauren contributed her talent to kate spade new york where she served as Senior Designer, Handbags for seven years. During her time at kate spade, she designed 20 seasons for kate spade on purpose; a women’s empowerment initiative based in Rwanda that produces handbags for kate spade and Coach in order to advance social and economic development through philanthropic and commercial investment.

Prior to joining kate spade new york, Lauren was Associate Handbag Designer at Coach and Associate Accessories Designer at Polo Ralph Lauren, where she designed women’s and men’s accessories for Rugby.

Lauren lives in Park Slope with her husband, and their cat, Neko. When she is not designing, she is traveling from Wyoming to Bali, and the places in between. Lauren designed LULAH’s signature handbag and plans to move with her family to Seattle in 2019.

Lauren and Ibada at Urban Zen, 2018

Lauren and Ibada at Urban Zen, 2018

Darrin is pattern maker, sample maker and designer in Shinola’s leather department. He is also adjunct faculty at College for Creative Studies in the Fashion Accessories Design program. Based in Detroit, Darrin previously worked with the Detroit-based non-profit organization, Back Alley Bikes as well as The Hub of Detroit, where he worked with the Mechanics-in-Training Program, educating youth in bike mechanics and matriculated them into employment at the shop. Darrin is looking forward to the next step in serving LULAH and the Women’s Prison Association, and will join the team in Brooklyn to co-lead training.