How One Ethical Brand Defines Made in the USA

Editor’s note: in January, 2024, Kámen Road closed its doors after 10 years of business. We’re keeping their story alive because it’s an inspiring story of what one brand can do to make things more ethically and sustainably.

Kámen Road is a California based brand, specializing in natural and ethically made bags and accessories. The founder of Kámen Road, Kathleen Murphy, believes in the concept of one bag travel and has tailored her brand to fit into that idea.

With an emphasis on style and artisan made in the USA, Kámen Road is set to change the landscape of bags.

*Note: Kámen Road offers men’s, women’s, and unisex style bags.

Eco-Stylist: What first sparked your interest in building a sustainable brand such as Kámen Road?

Kathleen: The idea started in 2014 with a prototype of a carry-on bag. Originally, I was trying to perfect that exact carry-on size so that I could put everything that I loved inside. I told everyone that 

I want one bag made of all natural materials to hold the things that I love for 30 days. 

Maybe this is my mindset of minimalism, but I wanted to create that bag that says you can have beauty, simplicity and ethics all at the same time.

Eco Stylist: In your opinion, what sets Kámen Road apart from other bag brands?

Kathleen:  I think what sets us apart is our real commitment to sourcing natural materials and learning how natural materials can outperform synthetics. There’s nothing like leather, for example, in its aging ability and lasting beauty.

Kámen Road Coyote Thunder Field Bag

Eco Stylist: In what ways has your company, Kámen Road, evolved since it was founded?

Kathleen: At first, I thought that I would just create the perfect carry-on bag. Now, I want our bags to have dual use. I want to give people the most purpose out of one design. That is very important to me.

Today, my goal is to create six core designs that support what someone wants and needs for travel, work, and everyday.

Eco Stylist: How has being a part of the Artisan Alliance impacted and shaped Kámen Road?

Kathleen: I believe in what they’re doing completely. It’s membership based, and Kámen Road was accepted as a member because I made the argument that 

I wanted to create opportunities for artists and artisans in the United States through our company. 

It’s wonderful to be a part of this alliance because of their focus on creating economic opportunities for artisans around the world.

Eco Stylist: How does your brand motto ‘Carry What You Love’ represent Kámen Road’s ideals? 

Kathleen: It is about creating a meaningful and personal connection to what we buy, and connecting more to where we are and who we meet. ‘Carry What You Love’ is about supporting that liberating experience of one-bag travel, which we can do when we only pack what really inspires us.

Put in your bag only what you truly love and I bet you’ll only have ten things, most likely only six or seven things.

Kámen Road Weekender Bag

Eco Stylist: What are the steps that would need to be taken in order to make Kámen Road a more sustainable and ethical brand? 

Kathleen: I know that there is a big sustainability argument against leather. We are focused on sourcing from small farm producers and artisan makers in this country both with our leather and our raw materials.

Our model is small scale manufacturing so we can continue to learn and implement the most sustainable practices. This is a very exciting time for us in terms of meeting our goals and achieving more sustainable outcomes.

In the future I will make a bag that is not made of leather, but is instead made of alternative fibers sourced from artisans that are part of regional Fibersheds in the U.S.

I am also trying to determine how we can source deadstock materials that will not compromise our quality.

Leather coasters sustainably made from 100% post-production materials

Eco Stylist: What does the concept ‘made in USA’ mean to you at Kámen Road? 

Kathleen: It means finding those amazing and skilled artisans who are in the United States. I want to know the people who are making our products and our materials.

I wanted to build relationships where I live and work and that happens to be here in the United States. 

It’s been the best decision I ever made.

Eco Stylist: What is one word that you believe best describes the Kámen Road brand?

Kathleen: I think the one word is connection. Connecting our product to people and producers from regional areas in the United States, finding ways for artists and artisans to become a part of our collection and our process, connecting back to our own communities, and connecting more personally and meaningfully to the people and places that we encounter everyday.

Kathleen Murphy, Founder of Kámen Road

A Gift for Our Readers

Kathleen would like to offer Eco-Stylist readers 15% off any Kámen Road bag or accessory. To redeem this offer simply use coupon code ECOSTYLIST at checkout.

Which Brand Should We Interview Next?

Eco Stylist strives to promote brands like Kámen Road that are ethically sourced and meet our sustainable brand criteria. It is important now more than ever for us to highlight fashion brands that improve the lives of makers and reduce their impact on the environment. 

We are always looking for new sustainable fashion brands to interview as a way to give them a platform to tell their story.

If there’s a brand you would like us to interview next, let us know in the comments.


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