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Woven Wonders — Mercado Global Handbag Collection Available Exclusively at Calypso St Barth

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Never  underestimate the “I-can-change-the-world” optimism of a plucky college student with a dream. It is, after all, the wide-eyed idealists  — not the jaded pragmatists  — who typically function as the catalysts for social transformation. Take, for instance, socially responsible accessories brand Mercado Global, which was launched from inside a Yale University dorm room back in 2004, two years after founder Ruth DeGolia took a fateful trip to Reu, Guatemala, and decided to  help local female artisans earn a living and rise from the clutches of poverty by opening up a channel of commerce through which they could sell their wares. During its nine years in existence, Mercado Global has blossomed tremendously, forging partnerships with brands like ABC Carpet & Home, Levi Strauss & Company, and Crate & Barrel. With each new partnership, Mercado Global is able to provide  fair wages to the indigenous artisans it employs in impoverished areas of Guatemala, as well as fund important community-based programs that address everything from business development to HIV/AIDS awareness. Currently, Mercado Global encompasses 400 artisans — many of them indigenous women — in more than 30 communities throughout Guatemala.

Mercado Global’s latest endeavor is a two-piece handbag collection available exclusively at Calypso St. Barth. Made of hand woven cotton and leather, the two handbags feature lovely geometric prints in a timeless black-and-white color scheme. Measuring 16″ in height, 14″ in width, and 5″ in depth, the Mercado Global Emilia Cotton Tote ($195 at CalypsoStBarth.com) is an excellent summer tote choice, perfect for accessorizing white cotton frocks and Bohemian maxi dresses and for packing essentials when hitting the beach.One half of the bag’s front panel features a repeating diamond print, with each elongated diamond shape outlined in black and housing  a smaller concentric diamond outline inside its center. The other side, meanwhile, boasts a more minimalist motif, one with plenty of negative space. This side features two vertical stripes on either side of a wide, ribbon-like, vertical band featuring diamond shapes placed sideways. In addition to the shift in the spacial orientation and size of the diamond motifs, this second half reverses the color scheme so that the backdrop is black and the diamonds are outlined in white.The two sides of the bag are divided by a slim strip of brown leather piping which, in turn, matches the tote’s sturdy handles.

If you prefer to travel light, check out the  Mercado Global Marabella Clutch ($125 at  CalypsoStBarth.com), which features the same hand woven diamond brocade pattern but in a much smaller package. The fold-over clutch features leather piping all around the edges, a half-moon shaped zippered closure, and a fringe leather tassel adorning the zipper pull tab. Measuring 6″ in height and 11.5″ in length, it’s the perfect way to add a bit of ethnic flair to a cocktail dress or a shorts-and-blazer outfit.

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