Seasoned traveler and altruist Joanna Steinberg is the founder and creator of Parcel & Journey, a lifestyle brand that connects fashion-savvy customers to handcrafted accessories made by artisans all over the world. Launched in 2013, Parcel & Journey works with communities in places like Africa, Indonesia and Guatemala, to soothe shoppers’ wanderlust through a curated marketplace that provides a sustainable income for skilled artisans abroad.
What were you doing before launching Parcel & Journey?
After I graduated college, I worked in the finance industry for about seven years. I finally left the finance world in 2012 when I decided to pursue my passion for connecting artisans and global traditions to a first world consumer market.
What was the inspiration for creating a site dedicated to travel?
At an early age, I was exposed to global cultures and their unique traditions. I fell in love with the exquisite craftsmanship and bold patterns that represent rich heritages around the world. I want to connect fashion-savvy consumers with amazing products made globally and through this, educate consumers on how they can help make a difference in these global communities.
Is there a social message attached to the theme?
Yes. I founded Parcel & Journey to give artisans living in third world countries the opportunity to earn a sustainable income by connecting them with first world consumers. I was introduced firsthand to the concept of fair trade on a trip to Africa in 2007, and my desire to help communities through a trade-not-aid philosophy has been with me ever since.
Are you doing to majority of the traveling? Which locale has been your favorite?
I do travel and meet with the artisans, and I also do a lot of communication with our global partners via Skype. I have loved visiting South Africa where I have been inspired by communities and nonprofits like the Ubuntu Education Fund, who help educate and empower orphaned children and their surrounding community in Port Elizabeth.
Have you noticed any major differences in the artisans located in the countries you’ve visited?
It is amazing to see artisans supported educationally and provisionally by the local groups that Parcel & Journey partners with. For example, we partner with Zero Hunger, Save The Children, and other government programs in Guatemala that were created to build the economy in areas with high childhood malnutrition rates. Through these partnerships we are able to work with over 250 Guatemalan artisans, including both family businesses and women cooperatives across the country.
As Parcel & Journey grows and scales we will be able to make a deep and long-lasting impact on all of the artisan groups we support. This is something that does not happen overnight and will continue to progress and make a positive social and economic impact with time and sales traction.
What are your most popular destinations?
Right now, we predominately work with artisans in Indonesia, Nepal, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, and Guatemala. Guatemala is a hotspot right now and the reclaimed textile products are making a big splash!
How do you differentiate your site from Shop L-atitude?
There are a number of ways we are differentiated from Shop L-atitude. Namely, we are a lifestyle brand with a social mission. L-atitude curates products of other brands and market finds, though I heard they are looking to also launch their own line, and, while they do have items that give back, social impact is not firmly rooted in their mission as it is in ours.
My personal aesthetic (not to mention favorite travel destinations) is very similar to that of L-atitude and I am a customer of theirs! I absolutely love their concept and am all about the gypsy/travel inspired lifestyle they embody.
Where are most of your customers based?
Most of our customers are in New York, followed by London, England, Texas, and California.
Do you manufacture all the production for your site? Is everything under your own label?
Most of our products are under the Parcel & Journey label, however, we do carry very select products with a global mission such as Paula Coles Haiti and The Mayan Store. We are steering away from this in the future to focus more on collaborations with other brands and to further build out our Parcel & Journey collections.
How do you think most of your viewers find your site?
At the moment, most views are generated by word-of-mouth and press. We’ve been fortunate to have a positive response from fashion-forward media outlets who love our trend-driven products and also respect the mission of Parcel & Journey.