This Dutch female founder swapped a career at the UN for entrepreneurship: with business, she would teach the fashion industry a lesson in sustainability. Working with tanneries in India, Paulien Wesselink has turned a longstanding interest in global development into an eco-friendly leather bag brand that embraces the trade-not-aid philosophy.
She started as a recent college graduate with just €15,000 in her coffers and has now grown O My Bag to a recognized brand across Europe.
In 2010, Paulien Wesselink had just finished studying history and international relations when she landed an internship at her then dream job: the foreign affairs office. After all the time spent envisioning a career at the foreign office or UN, Wesselink quickly realized that it wasn’t for her. As a self-described “hands-on” person, the role was too passive for her.