Environmentally conscious artist Laura Shnitzer came up with an idea for Eco Pet Handbags, an accessory collection for pet lovers. She presents her line and her inspiration.
ABI: How did you get started making your EcoPet Handbags collection?
LS: Eco Pet Handbags came from my love of nature, animals, mixed media and the unconventional. I love sustainable design and I love turning the traditional into the nontraditional.
I like to create aesthetically pleasing and inspiring work but also like to create things that are unique and different, that carry meaning and have the potential to shift awareness and consciousness. I hope my work does that, inspires and gets people to think more about the environment and the products they support.
While in university, I took an environmental art class and the idea of making a handbag line out of pet food bags was born in that class. My first bag wasn’t exactly couture but it definitely planted the seeds and set the stage for what would culminate into a handbag line that is well made, I hope beautiful and one that promotes environmental and social awareness. I give back to animal shelters and rescue organizations with a portion of all sales and I encourage all businesses to do the same. Our world would be a very different place if everyone gave back, what a beautiful thing that would be!
ABI: You use upcycled materials. Tell us about your concept and your process.
LS: Yes, I use upcycled pet food bags that I collect directly from the community, from consumers like you. They’re cleaned and treated with a special, often recycled protective material which makes the actual pet food bag more durable and water resistant.
It’s a long and laborious process, but it’s well worth it! After cleaning and treating each bag I dive into the artistic and creative process of combining each bag with all kinds of wonderful materials and fabrics, many recycled or repurposed. I use vintage fabrics, contemporary designer fabrics, seat belts, vintage jewelry, even paintings.
I have repurposed oils on canvas, my own paintings as well as the works of other artists… they make great handbags! The end result is functional art. Each bag is a unique creative work of art, and no two are exactly the same. I have a fantastic stitcher who works with me in Los Angeles and turns my creations into finely crafted, well-made handbags. I choose all of the materials and fabrics, embellish and enhance all of the pieces I’m going to use for each bag and he stitches it all up to complete the process.
ABI: How are you currently selling, and what are your future plans?
LS: I sell at various shows and events and online through my website. I sell to local stores, galleries and pet-related boutiques, but would like to expand and increase my wholesale market and sell throughout the country.
I’m at a point where I need to take the next step to grow my business and get my work out there. My focus is on increasing my sales and expanding both my retail and wholesale business. You can purchase my products at Eco Pet Handbags or contact me for more information through my website or sign up for my monthly newsletter, a great way to see where I’ll be and what I’m doing. There’s always something interesting and exciting going on!