Cleobella: Integrity from Production to Purchase

“Cleobella is my mom — her name is Cleobelle, and she is a very strong and important female figure in my life. That’s where the name came from, when she came to visit me in Bali and we were just getting the idea to start a business.”

Angela O’Brien and her husband, Jim, were on a worldwide surf trip when they realized that they wanted to build a life — and a brand — around the people they met along the way. When this idea was starting to take shape, Angela’s mom visited them in Bali.

We ended up starting our business in Bali because we met some amazing people there who have taught us so much about life, their culture, and their crafts.” The O’Briens realized the best way to connect their travels and newfound lifestyle with the places they loved was to meld modern product designs and traditional craftsmanship and bring it to the global market. Angela remembers the inspiration behind creating a globally-inspired fashion line, “I was a fashion model before our trip, but I always knew I wanted to make the product rather than be the product, to celebrate other people’s work.”

To Cleobella, female empowerment means raising the consciousness of female integrity from production to purchase.

For all of its success, Cleobella remains strongly connected to its roots. “Fast forward ten years and we still travel to Southeast Asia twice a year. We love that part of the world — it’s where a lot of our inspiration comes from and a lot of our partnerships are.” Angela is dedicated to maintaining that sense of reverence and connectivity that she felt the first time they visited Bali. The brand celebrates female artisans across the globe and brings some of the world-travel experience to every product it offers. O’Brien is a big believer in the cultural exchange that occurs with travel and with handmade goods that proudly celebrate where and how they’re made, all while providing something meaningful for the end user. “To Cleobella, female empowerment means raising the consciousness of female integrity from production to purchase.”

Cleobella is an extension of the O’Briens’ own sense of wonder at the world and connections with the people they’ve met along the way. “We love connecting our customers with the people we work with, celebrating their stories, and empowering women.” And Cleobella empowers even more women than it employs. The brand partners with CARE.org, an organization that identifies specific needs and operates a wide variety of hyper-local programs in 93 different countries.”

“The three prints that we’re doing with CAUSEBOX are an abstract floral, a stripe, and a very handmade polka dot that is imperfect and has an artisanal feel. They’re on-trend at the moment and very much in-line with our spring collection even though these prints are exclusive to CAUSEBOX. We hand-paint our prints, then we send hand-designed prints to our factories where all these talented artisans translate the designs and then send them to us. It’s so amazing to see the full-circle process and share our products with strong, independent women!”

The scarf in your Spring CAUSEBOX is made of the latest and greatest vegan silk, “Vegan silk is essentially polyester, which is manmade instead of made by silkworms. After months of sampling, we developed this scarf out of the highest-quality polyester we have ever seen. It is cruelty-free and totally re-imagines silk (and polyester!).”

John is the managing editor at CAUSEBOX and a traveling writer who lives on the road with his dog, Hank.