Amanda studied Sculpture & Installation at the Ontario College of Art and Design, in Toronto, Canada. While studying in Florence, Italy for her third year, she became inspired by traditional Italian art of leather bag making and was shocked that many of the leather bags and jackets were not actually made in Italy, or by the people we thought were making them.
During her final year, she began to see the privilege she was born into as a female living in North America. She was taught to read and write, and could also work and keep the money she earned- she began to see that not all females around the world had the same opportunity.
As it turned out, at the time, the demographic that purchased the most luxury bags were middle class North American women. She recognized that she had a responsibility to help those women and children who did not have the same opportunity as she had.
Amanda thought there had to be a better way; She attempted to create an alternative to the mass manufactured bags and found she struggled enormously to create a well-made bag. Quickly, realizing she was not naturally very good at making leather bags, she sought out a maestro to teach her.
Amanda returned to Florence to study at the Scuola del Cuoio or Leather School, where she learned the art of handcrafting leather goods. It was here that she met her 'big sister' and great friend, Ruth, who graciously invited Amanda to stay with her in her home city of Nairobi, Kenya.
After 5 years of traveling back and forth, meeting and building relationships with artisans, and getting to know the culture, Bao was formed.
Amanda works one on one with each of the artisans to design and create natural and recycled materials, such as cow bone and horn beads, upcycled brass bangles and key chains, and beaded Maasai cuffs and strips. She then brings the materials back to Canada and designs and handcrafts many of the items herself, here in Canada. Bao is a collaborative effort to create quality, handcrafted accessories, while providing a living wage to all of the artisans involved, and honouring the ancient art of working with one's hands.
Bao is based on the slow fashion movement. It is an effort to provide a chic, socially and environmentally conscious, accessories brand.