Upcycled jeans lead to Remixxed Bags

Sienna and Sierra Williamson are 16-year-old twins who have a business called Remixxed. They repurpose opshop jeans and make them into handbags.

Good: First of all, what inspired you to start Remixxed and where did the concept come from?

Sierra Williamson: Being teenagers, Sienna and I both have a strong interest in issues like climate change and sustainability. But Sienna was really motivated to start upcycling after reading in an EPA report that more than 80 per cent of opshop donations end up in landfill. This sparked her to make a jean bag for herself out of an old pair of shorts we were originally going to give away. As she wore this bag around town, she received heaps of compliments on the tote, and people were constantly asking where they could get one like it, making us realize that there might be a market for this product. We both have a passion for business, and so in February 2019 we launched Remixxed Bags under the Young Enterprise Scheme.

Where are you based?

Actually we’re based in the heart of Wellington! We love working with local suppliers to reduce clothing waste in our community, and we’re proud of the fact that we source all of our raw materials from our local Salvation Army on Willis Street. As part of our commitment to supporting local Wellington business, we will be donating 5 per cent of our profits back to the Salvation Army at the end of the year.

You were in America recently with your bags — how did that go?

Great! Through our Instagram page @remixxedbags, we’ve been able to connect with people around the world who love our product and our sustainable mission, and it was wonderful to meet these customers face to face. Plus we were able to deliver our bags in person, avoiding the high cost of shipping and promoting our brand overseas.

What was it about jeans specifically that interested you in the repurposing potential?

Denim is an incredibly durable fabric, making it perfect for our bags. Unlike canvas and cotton totes, our bags are built to last, and because they’re sturdy they can hold anything you put in them. Jeans come in all shapes and sizes, meaning that each bag is unique and every customer gets a one-of-a-kind bag that suits them.

Where did you learn how to make these bags and how long does one bag take to make?

Well I have taken fashion technology classes at Wellington High School for three years now, and that’s how I learned to sew. However, I also sew a lot in my own time, and that’s how I perfected the construction of the bags. It used to take us two hours to make a single tote, but we have streamlined our process so that I shape and prep the bag and Sienna sews it, allowing us to make them quick and more efficiently.

Where are you selling Remixxed bags at the moment?

We’re selling at the Maker Faire Wellington on Sunday, 20 October 2019. We’ll be there all day promoting our business and giving advice on how you can live sustainably, so be sure to come down to TSB Arena! Check out their website for more information on tickets and what other ‘makers’ are going to be at the event.

If people are keen on a Remixxed bag but they’re all sold out, what do you recommend they do?

Our bags are also available at the Hopper Home Eco Shop. Otherwise, DM us on Instagram @remixxedbags and we can make a custom bag just for you!

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