We had a chance to catch up with Ann Greenberg, CEO & Founder of Underground Chic, for those who are not familiar with her- perhaps the name rings a bell if you have one or a few of her fashion forward bags hanging around at home. Let’s start with the basics – the motivation behind Ann to start making handbags from recycled products.
Here is what Ann had to say:
“I am involved in another business, Eco-Logic Green Products that develops Eco-friendly promotional items including aprons, cosmetic and tote bags for the beauty industry. I am therefore very familiar with the latest advancements in earth-friendly fabrics and I use RPET (polyester made from recycled plastic bottles) for cosmetic bags.
I love the concept of taking plastic bottles and transforming them into a fashionable accessory. In addition to imparting a sense of whimsy so that at first glance The Underground Chic bags look like real leather with metal hardware however, upon closer examination, you see they are 100% RPET with a crisp photo printed image that has tricked your eye!”
NYE: When did you make your first bag?
“I began developing this bag in February 2013, perfecting the colors and styles.”
We dug a little deeper because I’m sure there is that one burning question that we are all curious about. How many bottles does it take to make one bag? What is the process? How much time does it take to accomplish one design?
“It takes approximately twelve plastic bottles to make one handbag. Plastic bottles are melted and then extruded into fiber which is used to make the yarn and then woven into fabric. The fabric is printed and cut and sewn into handbags. The process of printing, cutting, sewing, and inspecting the quality of the handbag takes about 6 hours per bag.”
Wow- that’s a lot of time but the results are worth the grind. Ann’s grand vision and goals are to develop variations of her products with the current designs that can be used for different purposes. Her goal is to see her handbags proudly carried by customers who appreciate the Eco-friendly manufactured products.
NYE: If you could sell your bags to any three celebrities, who would they be and why?
“Oprah Winfrey—she cares about the world and her actions speak loader than words, Lady Gaga because she motivates and inspires people through her music and has a tremendous impact on her followers. Lastly, Beyonce- because she empowers women through her music and charitable causes.”
Though Ann does not have plans for making clutches just yet, her collection does include make-up bags and coming soon are diaper and pet carrier bags. Keep in mind all new products are tailored around the responses and feedback from you- the customer- so if you like something – say something and it could be the next iconic bag hanging in your closet.
Though Ann’s biggest challenge is searching for e-commerce business willing to sell her items – she encourages us to assist with increasing exposure – by means of social media and of course purchasing her products. In case you wonder if Ann would do it all over again- she would because “she loves the idea of taking the image of an iconic handbag limited to few and printing it on fabric made from recycled bottles, thereby providing an affordable and sustainable yet fashionable handbag alternative that reduces the environmental impact.”
Well said. So the next time you see Underground Chic Handbags at your local high-end department stores – just remember where you got the scoop first.
By: Laura M.Artis