By Chere Di Boscio
Ever since I can remember, I loved leafing through fashion magazines.
I adored their layouts, their fashion shoots and soaked up their beauty and health advice like a sponge. From Seventeen and Sassy to Vogue and Bazaar, I read and collected them all. But at some point, the stacks of magazines became a bit of a burden, and reluctantly, I threw them into the bin (yep, those were the days before recycling).
Magazines are easily recycled today, and are turned into not-so-glamorous items like cardboard and toilet paper, which seems like a bit of a tragic destiny, given all the hard work that I know for a fact goes into making these publications. So imagine my delight when I discovered an eco-friendly accessories brand that’s transforming glossy magazines into stylish, vegan-friendly handbags.
By Hands from Claudia carefully cuts out and selects materials from old magazines to make their specific purses, wallets or bracelets. Each one is entirely handmade, cand can take up to two days to complete. But…how don’t they fall apart? And what inspired the idea of making bags from old mags in the first place?
To get the answers to these questions and more. I asked the founder of By Hands From Claudia herself.
What inspired the making of this brand?
I always felt as if I didn’t fit in. I never found myself looking for outfits or accessories only because they were “trending” I was in search of something else. Something different. Something unique.
The person who introduced me in the world of sustainably made handbags was my sister, and I thank her for the adventure.
Since they’re made from paper, how do the bags not fall apart?
The preparation includes choosing the right coloured material for each specific purse. Afterwards the magazines are cut into strips that are specially treated to be water resistant. Each strip is folded seven times and woven into other strips to create a unique pattern for each bag. The result is 28 layers of paper, which is a surprisingly strong materia – and all the strips are securely sewn together with fishing line.
Finally, we add a matching metallic strap and branded hardware to give the bag a touch of luxury.
What difficulties did you face when starting the company?
Now, if I do an introspection of the beginning of By Hands From Claudia, I think that I was faced with two main difficulties.
First of all, I was too shy to go out in public and display my product to the world. However, I know now that was the only way which would allow me to grow my brand and make it known to potential consumers. Throwing myself into this particular process changed me a lot as a person and as a creator.
When I finally got the courage to promote them, my creations were very appreciated. I received countless words of encouragement and positive feedback: “It’s a work of art!” “Haute couture recycling!” “Your creativity is overwhelming!” and so on. I was overjoyed.
The second difficulty I faced during the start of my brand was the question of “resistance” that came with the purchase of one of my paper-made handbags. I was determined to demonstrate that my products were indeed infallible, and made to be resistant.
To demonstrate this, I wore the same handbag anywhere I went for three complete years. This greatly reassured my clients. Today, numerous clients send me pictures with the handbag they had purchased two or three years ago, proving yet again their resistance and strength.
On top of that, I decided to offer up to one-year warranty on all of By Hands From Claudia’s products.
What are you proudest of so far?
I am most proud of adding uniqueness and colour to everyday women’s lives with high-quality, eco-friendly handbags, purses and accessories that exceed their expectations.
Furthermore, I am proud of making a difference in the world by creating cruelty-free products, and for being part of the wonderful and growing ethical and sustainable fashion movement.