Lucia Poliovkova, the founder of Love Your Planet: Recycle and The Berry Berry is a young entrepreneur and eco fashion designer who follows her dreams and makes a difference at the same time. At her blog you can find inspiration how to recycle, upcycle or even tips on how to incline towards healthy and eco friendly lifestyle. Ever since I discover that Lucia started a new business focused on sustainable ethical fashion, I’ve been intrigued to get an interview and find out what is the story of The Berry Berry.
When did you realize that you want to pursue a career as an eco fashion designer?
It all started with Love Your Planet: Recycle, an environmental, non-profit organization. The main idea is to encourage others to reduce, reuse, recycle and upcycle; and for that purpose, we have organized many workshops and events which people could attend, get inspired and be creative.
While organizing such events, we discovered that the textile waste is enormous. After doing a bit of a research, we found out that in the United Kingdom 1.3 million tons of textiles end up in the landfill. The European Union follows with 4.3 million tons, and America with 11 million tons, and this is just in one single year. Together with other countries, we end up with millions of tons of textile waste being dumped in landfills.
Knowing all this gave me the confidence to start my own sustainable business The Berry Berry, where we create our own eco-friendly upcycled handbags in order to help the environment.
The Berry Berry is an interesting name. What is your vision behind it?
Actually, it took me almost a year to come up with a name that resonated with the image I had in my head. I tried to be innovative so I took my time and waited for the perfect name to come to me. One day I was looking at random images on the Internet and I saw a picture of the fresh berries being turned into fresh berry juice. I immediately associated it with an image of old textile turning into a new, up-cycled bag and the name The Berry Berry was born.
What are the products that The Berry Berry offers to its customers and what are they made of?
Handbags are the main product we offer, however we handcraft also upcycled jewellery and accessories. Everything is made of recycled materials in order to reduce the textile waste from going to landfill. For example, we use off-cuts from furniture factories, mainly material used for sofas, as well as reclaimed clothes such as blazers, skirts, jeans or blouses. We have a handbag collection made of the traditional folk style tablecloths from Slovakia, too.
Is there any particular bag design that is popular with your customers?
As my company is in its beginnings, we are still in the process of researching the market and improving our handbag designs to fit the needs of the customers. So far, I noticed that in UK are popular the handbags made from the off-cuts from the sofa factory. On the other hand, the handbags with traditional Slovak folk design are very popular with people from Slovakia. However, we have various designs and each of our handbag is unique, so everyone can find something based on their individual style an preference.
What makes your up-cycled handbags special in compare with other brands?
As I mentioned before, The Berry Berry products are made of 100% recycled textiles and are made with the purpose of reducing the textile waste and offering an ethical workplace for all the company’s employees. Each of the handbags is practical and has a unique design. You can choose from a variety of handbags suitable for every occasion, not to mention that every handbag has an internal pocket and a mini bag for make-up, lipstick or a phone.
Let’s talk more about the environmental mission of The Berry Berry which is reducing the textile waste and offering an ethical workplace. How do intend to pursue this mission?
The process of creating our handbags has a few steps. It all starts with collecting the textile waste material that is being washed by using natural cleaners and later on, cut and sewn by our designers. And here comes the amazing part. With every 3 handbags made, we save 1kg of waste from going to landfill. Even smaller scraps are being used; we cut them into strips to make yarn out of them which we use for jewellery making. The more handbags we create, the more kg of textile materials we prevent to end up as textile waste.
What about offering an ethical workplace for your employees?
One of the reasons behind founding The Berry Berry company was that I wanted to start helping someone. I realized that my company can offer jobs to women who wouldn’t be able to find employment elsewhere for different reasons. At the moment, I have several skilled seamstresses who help me with creating my handbags and this way they are able to earn extra cash and improve their financial situation. This is just a beginning. In the long term, I would like to take it up a notch by organizing free workshops for women. I simply see The Berry Berry as a great way how to empower women by fashion.
That all sounds great. Right now, the Christmas time is approaching and I’m curious if there is any surprise waiting for The Berry Berry customers?
Yes, there is. At the moment, we’re about to launch the kickstarter campaing where we want to present what we do and emphasizes the fact that all the products are made of 100% recycled material. The purpose of this campaing is also to appeal to all of you that it is important to think about the environment and our planet. The Berry Berry is already doing its share to reduce the textile waste but there is still so much more that can be done. To do so, we need to collect £4000 so we can purchase more sewing machines, workshop equipment, tools and materials. This way we could scale up up the production, upcycle more materials and save our environment from thousands of kilos of textile waste.
Thank you for the interview Lucia. Is there anything else you would like to share about your company with my readers?
I’d only like to remind you that everyone can make a difference! This way I’d also like to ask you for your support by buying one of our products or simply by sharing the story of The Berry Berry. If you want to find out more about our products or the company, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit our Facebook page (website is coming up soon) or follow us on Twitter or Pinterest. Thank you.