Kendallville, Ind. Recycle? Sure. But used clothes, used furniture upholstery, used buttons, used zippers, or just about anything else made from thread… why not?
Melissa Hess of Kendallville, Indiana has innovated a clever niche for recycling but also for practical daily use. Enter, Green Chick Designs (www.GreenChickDesigns.com) designer handbags.
“It really started as a hobby. I never sewed a stitch in my life until the past couple years when I pulled out a friend’s Kenmore sewing machine she gave me and decided to give it a try. I used old clothes and buttons and made a personal handbag. I showed it to friends and family and they loved it. Since then, I’ve been designing one-of-a-kind creations from remnants of old upholstery, clothes, and just about anything I can find at garage sales or is donated to my craft,” stated Melissa.
Not that the t-shirt quilts or legacy stuffed animals haven’t already been around, this recycling initiative enters more of the designer accessory market than something you’d throw over a spare bed or put on a shelf.
“I have customers all over Northern Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois sending me their favorite pair of worn out jeans, or kids clothes that no longer fit them in order for me to make a designer accessory for them. I’ve even had a male customer have me custom design a laptop bag using outdoorsy materials from old hiking pants and backpacks he no longer used,” she added.
Green Chick was chosen as the product brand to capture the reality that relatively every item used in the product is recycled except the thread, thus being a “green” product.
As a stay at home mom since 1996 and part-time office administrator for her husband’s business, Melissa creates each handbag, clutch, overnight bag, or kids mini-purse without using a single pattern. No two bags are the same because the recycled materials used are typically enough to make just one creation.
“When I discovered Green Chick handbags from a friend and the Green Chick Facebook page, I fell in love with the design and obvious detail that goes into each one. You just don’t find this kind of product in stores around Chicago. I’m actually amazed at how durable and strong they’re put together. It doesn’t matter where I go when I carry one of them, people go nuts over it and I end up having to sell it to them and replace it with another,” stated Dawn Austin, a regular customer based in the Chicago area.
Many of the products can be seen at the Green Chick website. Although custom orders are a normal part of the business, creating stock for sale through her website fulfills Melissa’s creative drive.
Melissa noted, “It’s nice to know that apart from toting the cardboard and plastic to the recycle bins each week, I’m also helping re-purpose items that would otherwise end up in the trash.”
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