We’d like to introduce The Green Stylist community to a Kickstarter application from Tierra Ideas, a wonderful bag company from Raleigh, NC. Tierra Ideas creates all of their bags from recycled materials, and are designed for the environmentally-conscious, urban hipsters, and self-proclaimed fashionistas, each one-of-a-kind piece is handcrafted from bike and tractor inner-tubes, automobile seatbelts, and aircraft seat covers. Tierra Ideas has a Kickstarter application that started today to help grow their sustainable business. You can view the application HERE. The Green Stylist also interviewed Matthew Mahler, Founder of Tierra Ideas, to learn more about his company’s philosophy and their Kickstarter application. Enjoy!
I’ve been making bags out of recycled bicycle inner tubes since 2009. More recently, I’ve obtained worn aircraft seat covers and curtains donated by Delta Air Lines and have created the Altitude Collection of bags and accessories. I’ve been selling to six stores regionally and at a few local arts festivals in the Raleigh area. I’d like to recycle more material and reach customers beyond the Raleigh area. Kickstarter seemed like an excellent platform for reaching a broader audience who value sustainable products. With my Kickstarter Project, Taking Recycle Higher, I’m making available for pre-order bags made with my newest upcycled First Class aircraft textiles, which were donated by Delta Air Lines.
Q: What drives your passion for environmentalism?
Born and raised in the bayou country of south Louisiana, Matt grew up exploring and fishing in the wetlands with his Dad, an avid outdoorsman. These many years immersed in nature shapes your respect for ecology and led him to a career in environmental engineering. During a 2009 visit to an active landfill, he was moved at the sight of 1000’s of plastic bags dangling in the wind. That same year, I read a magazine article about designers who recycled waste into bags. That was the spark, I wanted to try this concept myself. Having a background in the arts, I was motivated at the thought of creating a functional bag out of waste materials.
Q: Have there been any surprises along the way in launching Tierra Ideas?
The main surprise is the outpouring of generosity from people you’ve never met before since I began this journey in 2009. I think if people see you that you’re passionate about an idea, they truly want to help you. I’m thankful for all the help I’ve received along the way. One technical surprise, was the amount of time it took to figure out how to sew rubber inner tubes together. My team and I spent many days figuring out how to sew and transform an inherently circular object into a flat sheet of textile.
Q: What is your first product and what is your current favorite?
First product was the Piedmont Laptop Bag made from recycled bicycle inner tubes. At the time, I needed a new laptop bag and so it was a natural first candidate. My current favorite bag is the new Hargett Messenger Bag. I love the huge cargo space and typically stuff it full before meetings.
Q: Where can people buy your designs?
tierraideas.com and at…
Brick & mortar stores:
designbox in Raleigh,
NOFO in Raleigh
A Southern Season in Chapel Hill, NC,
Morgan Imports in Durham, NC
Re- in Peoria IL
Texture in Norfolk, VA
Givegreengifts in Weston, MA.
Q: Do you value waste and the ecological design process differently after creating Tierra Ideas?
After starting Tierra Ideas, I see higher value in ordinary waste and I see challenge in taking traditional refuse and waste and turning it into something brand new. It just makes sense against the backdrop of our world approaching 7 billion people, that the less land and resources we use, the better stewards of environment we become. Recycling facilitates responsible use of resources. I’m now aware of other bag designers using a host of non-traditional materials in bag construction. Such as orange construction barrier fencing, retired firefighter’s hoses, and retired sailboat sails, among other materials. The sky’s the limit and I think you’ll see a steady growth in this niche market.
10% of profits are given back by donation to Delta Air Lines’ chosen charitable organizations. In 2010-11, Tierra Ideas donated to The Nature Conservancy, an international land conservation organization.