Alittlecowsdream raises awareness on reducing waste and people needing to cut down on their meat consumption. They sells bags made of the by-product of the meat industry. Jeanette Brouwer does not shy away from this in a controversial way by showcasing the scars and ear tags on the cows ensuring that their life is not forgotten. Therefore, to her every bag is a tribute to a cow. Working on a small scale Jeanette gives every bag a personal touch. With its approach the brand gained a lot of fans.
What are the core beliefs that define Alittlecowsdream?
The name Alittlecowsdream came about due to the little cow dream that I had when I started my business. I wanted to ensure that the cows that people eat are not forgotten. Alittlecowsdream wants to use the cow’s skin in a pure way so you can feel the connection to animal. The cows we use are not slaughtered for their skin; the skin is a residual product because people eat meat. Alittlecowsdream wants to show the imperfections and scars as a statement. By showcasing all these life marks and labelling the bags with an ear tag, we hope to make people aware of their meat consumption. It will be a vast improvement when humans eat less meat from cows, so that we need less cows and we can provide them with better life circumstances. Besides this, less cows are also better for the environment.
What are the main ways Alittlecowsdream works towards a sustainable and ethical future?
Mostly by telling stories and creating awareness with our products. A growing number of people are carrying our bags with an ear tag, showing that it was once a cow. Also, leather bags last a long time and usually become more beautiful, therefore very sustainable. Another thing Alittlecowsdream has is a system where you can return your bag when you don’t use it anymore. When I receive a return, I look for a new owner so the bag can be used again for many years. It is our aim to extend the lifecycle of the bags to the max.
You state that ‘no cow was slaughtered for the bags from Alittlecowsdream’. How do you control that the organic skins you use are from cows that had a peaceful life, have not been given unnecessary antibiotics, and are allowed to keep their calves close?
It is a fact that cows are butchered for the meat industry, not because they are used to make bags. I particularly choose the skins that were guaranteed to have been from a well-groomed cow, that was especially well taken care of. However, my aim is to also honour those cows whose lives were less good. I also use their skins for my bags, showcasing the marks and scars they obtained from their past to create awareness.
Do you find any challenges working in the leather industry at a time when the vegan movement calls for less meat consumption to slow climate change?
On the one hand I find it challenging because the vegan movement is against the use of any animal product and doesn’t want to look at the matter in different ways. Largly I agree with the vegan movement, I just use another method to create awareness.
What is challenging about making custom made to order bags?
The challenge is empathising with the wishes of the customer and what they find important for their personalised bag. I don’t find that all that difficult because I really like thinking about opportunities with them for the bag they could have, and I also enjoy creating it.
What is it about your brand that makes it original?
What Alittlecowsdream does is not like any other bag brand. Alittlecowsdream produces uniquely characterised bags; the pureness of the leather, the use of the edges that have not been trimmed, the tough looking stainless steel, the ear tags that show that all of them are unique. Besides, it is original that you can turn in your bag so you can buy a new one. It is also possible at Alittlecowsdream to pay the price of your bag in periods. This way, bags can be purchased by people who really want them, not only the ones who can easily afford them. We want to do things radically different.
What is your personal favourite bag style that you have created so far, and why do you love it?
That is difficult! Of course, I have a variety of bags that I use often – but I am very loyal to my bags, and I don’t need to change them out much due to their durability and timelessness, because that is what the brand is about My personal favourite bags are: Medium Afra in rough army green leather, Bietsj in large and an old natural colour leather, and Sjoukje and Fjoe in size large.
Do you have any future plans for Alittlecowsdream? What are the next steps?
I don’t really have any other big plans apart from what I am doing now. I am very happy that what I do is personal and small scale. I like it that I don’t deliver to stores, or let someone else make my products, as I like to make and design the bags on my own for my customers. What I am looking forward to in the future are the events – I am extremely happy that I am able to attend fairs and events again this summer! I missed the interaction with the customers and their reactions over the last two years during the pandemic.
Finally, what is your view on cooperating with stakeholders like Fairbee to generate positive impact?
I find that Fairbee is a nice selection of brands who really think about their products, with on top passionate entrepreneurs who have deserved all their success in the world of business. I hope to reach a larger audience with Fairbee, nationally and internationally. I look forward to seeing Fairbee take off!