"I love being a part of the VIP Team. It has truly helped my family. I have two children, ages two and five. Supporting them is my top priority. Working for VIP has given me the income I needed to save during this time at the shelter. What started as a job to earn extra money soon turned into so much more. I learned that my organizational skills, attention to detail, and conscientiousness are strengths that companies look for when hiring. I thought everyone was like me...it's nice to know what makes me special!"
-Grateful to be a VIP
When accessory designer Leigh Ann Barnes began creating her high end clutches for specialty stores in 2010 she realized the amount of leather waste each style produced. If her small company was producing this much waste, weren’t others? She wanted to create a product that would use the leather remnants and at the same time give women jobs here in the U.S., especially ones who were trying to rebuild their lives.
Barnes created VIP Unlimited Bands; each band features exclusive designer remnants of Italian leather, lambskin, snakeskin, embossed patent leather and artisan original hand-painted leather. The small leather cuff that converts into a ponytail tie carries an important message: they are assembled by Very Important People (VIP’s), survivors of domestic violence. Women residing in the shelters’ transitional housing have the opportunity to earn money while in a safe healing environment. They are trained by Barnes and are paid to make the product. “They are my manufacturers,” she explains. “Women are paid per band, so nearly 85% of the production cost benefit these women. This is helping women create their own American dream,” says Barnes. The story of the bands and how they are made domestically by women are featured on the VIP gift card. “The program is limitless. We’re already collaborating with other designers to create custom lines for them. Whether we use their remnants or help with the design, our VIP team is ready to begin.”