Sandlund/Hossain, one of the companies in the Unboxx incubator, is focused on fusing sustainability with high quality in their manufacture of leather bags. And by employing high levels of social conscience and climate awareness, the company’s founders create a close relationship with both customers and staff.
“Our core belief has always been that it is profitable to take responsibility for both people and the environment”, says Anders Sandlund, who founded the company in 2016 with Tulin Hossain.
Anders and Tulin got to know each other through their parents. Anders's parents, Inger and Jan, left Sweden in 1977 for volunteer work in Bangladesh where they met Tulin's parents, Atiq and Dolly. The four became friends and colleagues. Subsequently, their sons Anders and Tulin followed in their footsteps.
Sandlund/Hossain manufactures their leather bags in Dhaka, Bangladesh, based on techniques used at the Sandlund family tannery in Böle, a family business founded by Anders' grandfather's father in 1899 and is now in its fourth generation.
The cotton in the inner lining is hand-woven organically without pesticides and chemicals. When the leather is tanned, instead of chromium, bark extracts from different types of wood are used.
“The result is a material that is not mechanically treated. It has imperfections and natural variations, which means that every bag is unique”, says Anders.
Own production chain
Anders and Tulin’s long-term plan is to own the entire production chain. One step towards this target is the Cow Funder Initiative project - just as with their other activities, the project is driven by care and sustainability. For every bag that Sandlund/Hossain sells, money is donated to the project and used to buy calves for vulnerable families in the Bangladesh village of Bagatipara.
“The families are trained to take care of the animals, and when the cow goes to slaughter, they keep the surplus from the sale, which could be commensurate to a couple of annual incomes in Bangladesh. At the same time, we get a well-maintained, transparently sourced skin of high quality”, says Anders
In Dhaka, Sandlund/Hossain has 35 employees. The staff have health insurance, holidays, and earn almost twice the salary compared to the agreed wage rate for the industry in Bangladesh.
“We negotiate collectively, and wages have risen quite a lot since the start. In Bangladesh, there is no system for pension savings and therefore we also have a savings scheme in which employees save every month and where we set aside money for them”, says Anders and continues: “It is important for us to treat people as we ourselves want to be treated. We have placed great focus on respect for each other and we have achieved something that is unique in Bangladesh: a workplace where men and women work side by side, without a hierarchical atmosphere. Normally there is high staff turnover in these industries, but we still have the same core of people that has worked with us since the start. I take that as a sign that they appreciate the work environment.”
According to Anders, a major driving force behind Sandlund/Hossain is to create a high-quality product that lasts a long time. “We humans need to consume less, and our customers have begun to understand what it means to buy a product from us - that quality doesn’t have to come with the highest price tag.”
Sandlund/Hossain is flourishing and has become established in the market, something which requires access to greater resources and new skills.
“As we grow, we need specialists in more areas,” says Anders. “This is where Unboxx comes in with the sound values of their business model. They’re excited by entrepreneurship and running companies, and it’s also a positive for us that they are based in northern Sweden. It is a new collaboration and I look forward to the future with them. We see a lot of possibilities.”
Unboxx is also enthusiastic about helping Sandlund/Hossain take its next steps. ”We are happy to be part of Anders and Tulin's journey,” says Unboxx digital specialist, Viktor Lundberg. “We can learn a lot from them and what they have achieved. We want to help take their business to the next level, guided by their admirable perspective on sustainability.”
To find out more about Sandlund/Hossain, visit https://www.sandlundhossain.com/