We spoke to Georgia Wyatt-Willsmore Founder of Wyatt & Jack about making tote bags out of bouncy castles (who wouldn’t want one!?) and why it’s so important to reuse and upcycle materials when designing and developing new products.
Please can you tell me a bit about you and what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I’m not sure I set out to become an ‘entrepreneur’ it was more organic than that really, I’ve had loads of jobs through the years and I’ve enjoyed [most!] of them, it’s just that an opportunity came up and I thought I’d go with it, it just kind of spiralled really.
Where did the idea for Wyatt & Jack come from?
I was sharing a pottery workshop with a friends dad who was a local beach concessionaire, hiring out deckchairs and windbreaks and stuff. One day he asked me to take the fabric off some 70’s sun beds, so he could re-cover them ready for the season. I couldn’t bring myself to throw the fabric away, so I made myself a bag out of it, it’s grown from there.
We love the idea of making bags from bouncy castles, what other materials do you use and how did this come about?
It started with the sun bed fabric, then lead onto deckchair canvas, they were the primary materials, bouncy castle vinyl was something I started thinking about while I was sewing one day. It’s such a hard wearing fabric and comes in amazing colours and, obviously as it’s plastic based – it’s clear it shouldn’t be ending up in landfill as it will never decompose [it’s almost 14 tonnes of fabric now that we have saved from landfill].
Who buys from you and where do they buy your products from and how do you let customers know the origin of the materials used?
It was Surfers Against Sewage who placed the first large wholesale order, so I think because of that, the initial customer base was water users really, surfers, wind surfers, people who tend to be more environmentally aware and up for recycled products. Now it’s much more widespread due to the growing popularity of upcycling and repurposing. There are now Wyatt and Jack stockists up and down the country in both urban and rural areas, which is cool.
How important is it to you to give a second life to these materials by repurposing them fun vibrant bags and accessories?
It’s massively important! it just makes sense, we can’t sustain the amount of waste we are producing globally. If something can be used to make a perfectly functioning ‘something else’ then it should be!! Plus, deckchairs are a huge part of British seaside culture and with that comes a whole load of nostalgia and happy memories. I really love that the textures and colours of the fabrics can remind people of those times.
Have you always been environmentally conscious and has setting up Wyatt and Jack made you think more about reducing waste in your everyday life?
Yeah, I’ve always been aware of the huge balls up mankind has made of our environment. It’s always baffled me that people of power who could intervene and help rarely do, there’s a lot of denial going on. In terms of everyday life the bags haven’t really changed my attitude, I think it’s always been the same. I really like what’s happening at the moment with
all the zero waste initiatives right now and the products are getting better and better, reusable cups and cutlery – that kind of thing.
What message do you want to give to customers and other businesses?
That’s a tricky one, I’d like to think that people make the decision to buy the bags based on design AND the sustainability aspect. I suppose I’d like to send the message that no products are defined by their original purpose – there’s always room for ideas!
Finally, what tips would you give to someone wanting to make small steps to be more sustainable in their everyday purchases?
I love the 30 wears initiative, the idea that you should wear something a minimum of 30 times or not buy it, I think that’s a great idea. In everyday life, I’d say the most simple and easily achievable on a daily basis, would be to take your own cup for those take away coffees.
Thanks to Georgia for appearing on our blog!
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Until next time!
Vix & Lou
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