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Customized for women, Better Life Bags helps employees cross job barriers

Courtesy of Better Life Bags
Founder Rebecca Smith prepares for a warehouse sale.

It all started as a hobby and a small online business. Today, Better Life Bags is a thriving business in the diverse community of Hamtramck that is changing the lives of the women who sew and make those custom-made bags. These women come from many different cultures.

Credit Courtesy of Better Life Bags
Most seamstresses for Better Life Bags live in Hamtramck. But many are immigrants, from countries such as Bangladesh, Yemen and Afghanistan.

After moving to Hamtramck with her husband on a whim from Georgia, Rebecca Smith was pregnant and made herself a diaper bag for her soon-to-be-born child. After posting a photo of the bag on social media, friends encouraged her to start selling them on Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade items.  After selling more and more bags, she reached out to friends and acquaintances for help. 

Now, Better Life Bags employs 16 women from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, including Smith's first employee, Nadia Alakil, an immigrant to Michigan from Yemen. This small business allows for women to work from home and earn some extra money for their families. 

Listen to the full interview above with Smith and Alakil as they talk about the business and how much it has grown, both socially and financially, from its humble beginnings on Etsy. 

GUEST: Rebecca Smith is the founder of Better Life Bags. Nadia Alakil is a seamstress, and the first person employed with Better Life Bags.

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