Welcome to SUP Tank Talks: A platform designed to start a conversation about the future of SUP, surf and sustainability with epic people and badass entrepreneurs turning their passion into cool products, solutions and generally creating amazing experiences for their users.
We caught up with Louise Hadlow, the Founder of Sewn Again Recycled Kite Bags, who’s flying high in the circular economy circuit.
What is your brand story and vision?
The whole recycling project, turning old kites into bags, came about because my son is a professional kiteboarding world champion and for many years he was sponsored by a certain brand of kite, then after about 12 years an opportunity came about to change brands, which then left us with a shedload of unusable kites they were either unsellable, too old, torn, prototypes or wrong logos.
So when sorting through all the equipment we realised there were meters and meters of material that we didn’t know what to do with but kind of knew that there was potential to do something with them, we really didn’t want to send them to land fill. So after a couple of days thinking about it and looking around for ideas, I was spurred into action, I set about sewing up a few bags to see how they would look, the first bag I made was a reusable carrier bag then I ran up a beach bag, looking at the finished bags we were pretty happy with the results, so we went ahead with that idea.
Over the next few months during my spare time I would just keep sewing, I started to give them away to family and friends each time the reaction was pretty positive so after about a year I had a stock of about 50 bags, we then had to decide what we were going to do with them, so that’s when we set up the Facebook shop and started to sell them from there.
What is the most challenging aspect of building a sustainability brand?
I think the hardest part of building a sustainable brand is getting your product out there and seen by other people, at the moment I have a very niche market of people that are interested in buying this kind of product, mostly within the kitesurfing community, but I’ve started an Instagram page which with the help of the #hashtags gets it seen by various kinds of people and it helps raise my product awareness.
What’s unique about your brand?
I like to make bags which are going to be useful, practical and helpful, that the people who buy them will get a lot of use out of them, with Aaron (Aaron Hadlow, 5x Kiteboarding World Champion, Editor Note) being in the sport it helps with the ideas, using a lot of equipment he knows what would be help out in some way, whether it be on the beach or travelling, so we look at this kind of aspect when making certain types of bags, one of the best bags which came about, was a simple oversized beach bag, this is used to carry all the pieces of equipment use in kiteboarding, down the beach in one go, by putting the bar, pump, harness wetsuit into this large bag it frees up your hands up to carry the board and kite, just small things to make life a little easier, I use the same beach bag for when I go mountain biking so it great all round bag to use for all kinds of different sports when you have a lot of gear to transport.
My big aim of this recycling project is to keep unwanted kite materials out of landfill by recycling the material, sewing it up again and turning it back into a useful product, extending the life of an otherwise redundant piece of material.
What’s next for Sewn Again?
Staying with the idea to make practical and useful bags, I’m starting to look at other kinds of sports and recreational activities to see what would be interesting to make, I recently made a chalk bag for rock climbing, it was an interesting challenge and I was really pleased with the final product.
Also this year I plan to add a carrier for yoga mats and have also been looking at ways to make a SUP sling carrier, slowly this will extending the range of my bags and get exposure to different kinds of sports but eventually the stock of Aaron’s old kites will run out and I would still like to keep the concept going by accepting donations of other people’s old, broken damaged kites and save them to by not ending up in landfill.
Title photograph credit: Eunice Burgin