Revolutionary Bags, Built by 2 Women Who Get It

Hi, we’re Rachel and Helen Lee! We’re women’s rights activists who spearheaded the Pink Tax movement in California, identical twins, immigrants, and staunch advocates for functional pockets on women’s fashion. 
Throughout college, we commuted frequently by trains and buses on a shoestring budget from Los Angeles to Sacramento to fight the “Pink Tax'', increase accessibility to menstrual products, and promote gender equity. We’ve prepared for legislative hearings while watching the early morning sunrise, got ready for press conferences in Amtrak bathrooms, worked with legislators to advocate for 4 Assembly Bills, and interviewed for Teen Vogue at the steps of the Capitol building. 

The Problem

While commuting and working to change sexist policies, we encountered a problem. We were hauling multiple, heavy bags due to the lack of one that was comfortable, had all the right compartments, and looked professional and presentable in front of important decision makers.
Throughout our travels, we carried a Dora-the-Explorer-type hiking backpack for comfort, a nondescript canvas tote bag for extra compartments, and a Kate Spade handbag to help us look and feel like we had it all together (like we didn’t nap on the 8 hour train ride or pull an all-nighter preparing). Our designer “work” bags felt like heavy, all-too-familiar black holes that lacked the organization we needed for our busy days (we’re talking receipts and hair ties that will never see the light of day, pens and laptop chargers doing the tango, and crumbs of granola plastered onto the bottoms of our books). A bag that simply looked nice wasn’t enough to feel our best (while fighting the patriarchy) when we were fighting ourselves to find what we needed in our bags.

The Even Bigger Problem

Furthermore, the fashion industry, when producing bags and accessories, contributes to over 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams. We feel passionately about the environment and our activism work has taught us that everyone needs to be able to actively take part for there to be momentum to truly become a movement. Currently, sustainable fashion often excludes people from taking part in the movement with its luxury markups. We know that social causes are truly effective when more people are able to take part in them, and we strive to make it an accessible part of our daily lives.

PRISM was born at the height of our activism and embodies a resistance to compromise. The process of getting there may not be very glamorous, but we believe that you can look and feel good while breaking barriers and do some good for the planet.

The Pandemic

As a small business that launched during the middle of a pandemic, we can confidently say that this year did not go the way that we planned. On a product-level, we recognized that not many fashion and accessories brands are adapting to us and our changing needs during this time. We are dedicated to helping women be empowered in their day-to-day, no matter what their new normal looks like. We launched our 3-in-1 Emblem Mini bag, a smaller, hands-free version of our work bag that helps women with their essential items that are relevant today, such as hand sanitizer, masks, or keys. Regardless of the circumstances, our brand, at its core, stands for empowerment. More so than ever, we are committed to adapting to our users by creating contemporary, ethical, and functional products that fit their lifestyles.  

Here’s to all the social distancers, entrepreneurs, small business owners, students, WFH-ers, and change-makers who continue to persist through challenges. As small business owners ourselves, it’s been a trying (yet rewarding) time, filled with many setbacks, pivots, and adjustments. Wherever you are, we see you, we hear you, we feel you.