Going from political journalist and UN Comms Director to designing and producing bags isn’t the most obvious career change but that’s exactly what Genia Mineeva did. After becoming interested in waste and recyclable materials and studying accessories design, Genia founded BEEN London, a brand that turns waste into handbags.

Taking materials that would have otherwise ended up in landfill as well as using innovative and recycled materials is at the heart of what BEEN London is all about – leather offcuts are used to make premium totes, zips made from recycled plastic bottles, recycled felt is used for linings and Pinatex (made from pineapple leaves) is used to make vegan leather.

And it’s not just the materials that make the bags sustainable but the design too. The use of only square and rectangular panels cuts waste to almost zero and each piece is made to be timeless and made to last – you can get the bags repaired and when they’re truly knackered, each part of it can be recycled.

The all-female team is based in London Fields, all the products are handmade in East London (every bag is named after a different place in the area) and the packaging is overseen by Mail Out, a social enterprise that employs Londoners with learning disabilities, so it’s proper local and we love that.