Featuring Reiter8: Upcycled Sail Bags, Pillows and Accessories

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Katherine Rasmussen of Reiter8 (pronounced “re-it-er-ate”)opened her shop on Etsy in 2007. She’s a master upcycler who started making bags our of reclaimed fabric samples before she found sails from sailboard. And she’s been upycling old sails to make her beautiful bags ever since.

Let’s find out what inspires her and why she thinks operating her green business is not too different than any other type of business.

What is your shop’s name? How did you name your shop?

The name of my shop, Reiter8, is a play on ‘reiterate‘ which means to say something again or a number of times in order to emphasize or clarify. I see upcycling as a form of reiteration. I’m using the sails over again and emphasizing not only their strength and graphic beauty but the importance of upcycling.

How did you start your business?
Previously, I had started a small business making handbags from reclaimed fabric samples. I was always on the hunt for interesting materials and when I found sails, it was all over, that was my ‘new’ material that I used exclusively. I was hooked. The variety of sails and the stories behind them all make using used sails very interesting and rewarding. (I get my sails through a sail donation program – details on my website.) Early on I participated in craft fairs and flea markets. I really enjoyed meeting my customers and the community of makers which helped me grow my business.

Is this your full time or part time job?
It’s my full time/part time job. I do work in live events as a freelance producer, but when I’m not on a job, I’m in the studio working full time on Reiter8.

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What do you love about being a handmade maker?
There’s a tipping point when you create something. It’s the point where the pattern pieces that you’ve designed and cut from the materials that you’ve sourced are being sewn together and actually become something new. There’s a point in the sewing process where what you’re sewing takes on a certain bulk and shape and becomes more than what you started with. I’m aware of that point when I’m sewing and appreciate it every time.

Secondly, I love the connection I’m able to have with my customers and and colleagues who really appreciate the quality and thoughtfulness behind my products.

What are the challenges or obstacles of being a handmade business owner?
The most challenging thing I find is that Reiter8 is still a one woman endeavor. It’s by choice though – I enjoy the flexibility and total control it allows me. However, it’s can be challenging to be the designer, maker, photographer, business manager, keep up with social media and make time to still be creative.

Why an eco-friendly shop? I mean, isn’t managing a business hard enough? Why is being green important for your business?
I purposefully created my business around upcycling and being eco friendly because preserving the earth is important to me. I honestly don’t find that being green adds to the ‘work load’ of managing a business. Thankfully, there are so many eco friendly options to choose from in supplies and materials, shipping methods, etc. that being green is a relatively easy option.

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What is your favorite item in your shop and why?
My favorite item in my shop is … are you really going to make me choose?! If I had to, I suppose it would be something that I just finished: the kevlar totes. The material is super strong, recognizable to sailors and there’s loads of sail seam stitching that creates graphic patterns everywhere you look. I usually don’t sew from this kind of sail because the sail is rather stiff and hard to turn, but the lines and stitching and patterns were irresistible to me.

Where do you get your inspiration?
From the sails!

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I have to give my daughter (or a son) a gift for Christmas; what would you recommend from your shop and why?
For a stocking stuffer I would recommend the mini wallet or the striped pouch. The mini wallet is great for a bus/metro card (for all those city kids) or for storing all those holiday gift cards. The pouch is perfect for a younger child who carries school supplies to school or needs to bring a stash of small toys/pens in the car.

For under the tree I would recommend the classic tote: white sail cloth with a bright sail number on it. It’s a great book or beach bag – strong and durable. You could have fun choosing your child’s lucky number, sports number or age.

Where do you envision your business to be in 5 years?
In 5 years I think I will have finally made the jump to hiring employees so that I can expand my business manufacturing and management and spend more time creating new projects and making new partnerships.

Thanks Katherine for a sneak peek into your lovely shop. You can find her on following places:

Website: http://www.reiter8.com/
Etsy: http://Reiter8.etsy.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/reiter8
Twitter: http://Twitter.com/reiter8

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