Emmy-winning television producer-turned-bag designer Rita Nazareno was enlisted by Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors to collaborate on the North Star Project which raises awareness on the incarceration of Black women.
The bags, limited to only 40 pieces, are etched with a poem by Nissi Berry, who was formerly incarcerated. Berry’s poem, Carrying Freedom, is laser engraved on a leather panel at the back of the bags, which were crafted in the original S.C. Vizcarra workshop in the Philippines.
"It is very important to bring communities together and we’re in this human race together and we need to support each other," Nazareno said. "There's also an intersection between fashion and design and art as well."
As part of Black History Month, the North Star Project collaborators recently had a panel discussion at the Crenshaw Dairy Mart on what the bags and freedom mean to them.
"It’s been such a healing project. I worked on it for a year with Rita and I wasn’t sure if we were going to put it out this year. I was just secretly working with her, I hadn’t told my team yet but this project means so much to me," Cullors shared. "It's so important to be sharing it with the world, also collaborating with Nissi and having Rita as the main collaborator has just been so special."
Nazareno is no stranger to the US. Through the years, she’s lived on and off around the country, even winning an Emmy award as a TV producer for a local network. She has many more pieces being sold across the US, including at the "Do Not Enter" store in Los Angeles, as well as in San Francisco.
The bags and the message will be at the Crenshaw Dairy Mart until the first week of March.