Matador community member Jake Orak’s company has a new line of bags and a Rambling Shaman.

LAST YEAR, an idea Jake had back in 2007 during a trek through Northern Vietnam for a “socially responsible” backpack company became reality. ETHNOTEK backpacks are created using a non-intrusive sourcing model – the company purchases hand-dyed, woven fabric from tribes in Vietnam, Guatemala, and Ghana and uses them as the detachable THREADS that make their bags so beautiful.

Those same materials can be found on their new messenger bags. There are currently eight types of THREADS, although these may change depending on what’s available from the tribes ETHNOTEK works with. The bags are practical as well, with features like a padded laptop compartment, a removable padded shoulder strap, a luggage trolley handle pass-through on the back, and buckle webbing straps on the bottom.

I honestly don’t follow any company blogs, and I don’t know anyone who does. But since this is an organization that relies heavily on extensive travel and meeting with local workers in several different countries, an ETHNOTEK blog seems like a stellar idea. In Jake’s words:

It is high time that we increased transparency between our customers and villagers and this section gives you a detailed look into the lives, techniques and just how much goes into our bags.

The company’s newest team member, a travel writer and photographer known as “the Rambling Shaman” (or “Rasham”) will follow Jake on his sourcing adventures and document the journey and the process with posts, photos, and video. Rasham also has experience with bag design, so he can relay the more technical aspects of what goes into making an ETHNOTEK bag to readers.

For his first project, Rasham joined Jake in Ho Chi Minh City, where they journeyed to the Cham weaving village and met with the artisans who create what ultimately become THREADS. This video shows a look into the weaving process:

Cham Village from Ethnotekbags on Vimeo.

The THREADS on both the messenger bags and backpacks are interchangeable and can be sold as separate pieces.