Meet The Maker: Zay Bags

This week we are welcoming Zay Bags to the A&C family, a beautiful brand of one-of-a-kind woven bags founded on the idea of sustainability and showcasing the incredible skills of weavers in Myanmar.

Our Head of Brand, Abbe first saw and brought a Zay Bag in Matakana many many years ago and has always admired them and we know the A&C customer will love them too.

Zay Bags was created by Nicola Todd when she was living in Myanmar, after seeing the skill that the local weavers had and falling in love with the country and it's people.

We caught up with Nicola to learn a little more about the inspiration behind her brand and how it all came to be

01 First off, tell us a little about yourself and the journey behind where you are today?

I was living in Myanmar with my family and had already connected with talented weavers of bags that I'd seen in the local markets.  When NZ decided to go plastic bag-free, I knew they would be a great alternative to single-use plastic bags.  Over a year I continued to build relationships with the most skilled weavers, all of whom run small family home based businesses. Together we worked through ideas, designs and colour combinations. Of course, there were plenty of storage, transportation and bureaucratic issues to work through, and here we are!

02 We adore your bags, can you tell us more about the inspiration behind your brand? 

It sounds a little bit cliche, Zay is about making the world a little bit better in the little ways we can - from improving livelihoods of Myanmar families, to providing a robust and beautiful alternative to single-use plastic bags.  From a design perspective, Zay is all about colour, fun and durability.

03 Can you tell us a little more about how Zay Bags supports local makers in Myanmar?

All the weavers work from their own homes, which enables them to create their own income and to fit it around 
domestic chores and childcare, without the need to travel.   In Myanmar there are few opportunities for these women to work locally, so weaving for Zay enables them to earn an income and therefore make their own choices in life.  

04 Quick fire, what are your five top uses for the Zay bags? 

  • Strong shopping bag that carries everything and stays upright

  • Beach bag that the sand that can be shaken out of

  • Holds everything you need for work such as paperwork, laptops & lunchbox

  • Yoga bag that is big enough to carry your mat or small enough to carry your water bottle and keys

  • Store your crochet & other hobby creations stylishly or magzines

05 What about your work continues to inspire you?

I love everything about Zay - I love working with the weavers and helping raise their standard of living, and hearing great feedback from our customers who get so much joy and use out of our bags.