Two Sons in a Bag
What’s in a bag? A little bit of Sweden, Bangladesh, 2 loving families, 2 patriarchs, 2 sons. So much more than Sandlund Hossain's tagline “a journey across borders and generations.” What’s in the bag is friendship and the remarkable gifts it brings. It all started in 1977, when Jan and Inger Sandlund made the life altering decision to leave behind their family tannery Bole in Sweden and move to Bangladesh to volunteer for two years. In the tiny village of Bagatipara, they met Atiq and Dolly Hossain. Anders Sandlund, says of this meeting, his “father was enlightened by Atiq. The relationship became a strong bond.” They men inspired to bring change for the poor of Bangladesh. Through letters and phone calls their friendship traveled into decades. Eventually Anders would meet Tulin, the son of Atiq on a family visit back to Bangladesh in 1999. “I had just finished school and had no thoughts about what was next. When I met Tulin, we felt similar. Two simple boys. You could feel he was very special. He has taken everything from his father: his thinking, wisdom, righteousness.” Anders and Tulin kept in touch like their fathers before them, this time through skype and email. It was Tulin that inspired Anders to travel back to the family business of leather crafting and to create a socially conscious brand based in Bangladesh. “Without Bangladesh, I don’t think I would have worked with leather.” says Anders, “in Bangladesh, the way of life feels deeper and more real.” Both sons are now driven by their “clear intent to to create the most beautiful, durable, and sustainable bags in the world.” Sandlund Hossain uses only vegetable dyes, no chemicals in their tanning. They are defenders of water and energy, and are in the process of building a new factory run on biofuel and solar powered. They are initiating a cattle care program that partners with local families to raise cows humanely creating a solid income for the villagers when the cattle meat is sold. Every aspect of their supply chain is carefully evaluated to create positive change for their workers, community and the environment. Sadly two years ago, Atiq Hossain passed away. But Inger calls and skypes with Tulin daily, he has taken on the role of patriarch to both families. Anders is quick to point out of Tulin, “we are brothers not of biology but by blood. Family is important and we all keep in touch.” This summer Atiq and his wife are traveling with their young son Shamo to spend a few weeks vacation with Anders his wife Marie, and their young son Oscar in the countryside of Sweden. “The boys better like each other,” says Anders, “We are in this for life. I wouldn’t be surprised if our sons will skype or communicate as they will in the future, the way we and our fathers did. It all feels quite fantastic!”.