organization also provides support, resources and a caring
network to help empower them to redefine their life's purpose,
with hopes to reduce or eliminate recidivism.
Recidivism refers to a person's
relapse into criminal behavior and is measured by criminal acts
that result in re-arrest, reconviction or return to prison. (NIJ)
Bags to Butterflies
is taking an innovative approach to create jobs using a very
common women’s accessory -- a handbag! While fulfilling their
mission, Bags to Butterflies handcrafts exceptional and gorgeous
handbags and clutches made from repurposed wood, leather, and
high-quality textiles. Their programming employs female
returning citizens, allowing them to showcase their creative
abilities to design and craft these uniquely stylish handbags.
Founded in 2015 by Detroit native, Michelle Smart, her
founding purpose was to empower formerly incarcerated women with
employment in a creative environment. “The ladies are encouraged
to be creative without boundaries,” said Smart.
support its mission, the ladies are provided with the materials
to design and market a collection of handbags and clutches. The
handbag collections function as a reminder to the women to “let
go” of their past, “live life” with a sense of purpose, and
“fly” towards their dreams. Bags to Butterflies’ smaller
handbags symbolize downsizing personal baggage while focusing on
mental and emotional stability, a value the organization holds
near and dear.
Bags to Butterflies
employs an innovative approach using common accessories that can
be worn as a handbag, kept as a keepsake, or as a decorative
Each handbag comes with a gift inside with a message about the
designer creating an emotional connection between the creator
and purchaser. Each bag is handmade using repurposed wood
symbolizing the character of old materials that have been given
a new life, just like the designers.
Despite past experiences, Bags to Butterflies L3C provides an
opportunity for returning citizens to become reinvigorated
through the program. Through commitment, perseverance, and with
the help of Bags to Beautiful, returning citizens are creating a
new, successful life for themselves by creating beautiful work
they are proud of.