Oct 7, 2011
What is REpurposing NOLA?
Launched September 2009 by founder Traci Claussen, REpurposingNOLA is unique in itself in that it follows the triple bottom line concept: People, planet, profits, which embraces social, ecological and economic values and principles. Corporate social responsibility is key, namely in the form of community activism, employment of local workers, the utilization of repurposed materials, participation in mentoring programs, and support of philanthropic projects.
Community achievements include:
- Mentoring Edna Karr high school to win the Brees Dream Foundation IDEABOWL December 2010
- Salvaged Wood Workshops Feb-May 2011 with Rebuilding Together New Orleans + the Salvage Store teaching the community to create their own truly UNIQUE piece of New Orleans
- Donated over $2,000 in sales proceeds to GNOSF 2013 NOLA Super Bowl Host Committee since September 2010 product launch
- Member, Global Green New Orleans Committee
- Member, 2013 NOLA Super Bowl Host Committee
- New Orleans Magazine Award: 2011 PEOPLE TO WATCH
People always ask me how one goes from 18+ years in the broadcast industry to REpurposing NOLA, literally. And, as luck and New Orleans would have it, there’s a good story. My company was created first and foremost on the idea of designing chic bags from repurposed materials; anything else we could create would basically be lagniappe.
The Reader’s Digest version:
Since 2004, I longed to renovate my warehouse loft, only wasn’t quite sure into what. Since my day-job took me to Los Angeles, NOLA became my retreat for parading in MUSES, fete, and kicking it on long weekends, until it could become my permanent base-camp again. There was no rush to fix what didn’t work about the loft, until mid-2008 when it was all staring me in the face on a daily basis. Green was just hitting the scene with retail-one-stops like CANOPY, and salvage shops like the Green Project and RTNO. I spent days searching treasures that not only represented the New Orleans era in which my warehouse loft was created, but could also blend with my eclectic, eco-design vision.
My floors went from allergy-ridden carpeting and cheap wood laminate flooring (gratis the previous owner) to beautiful woven-strand bamboo with cork tile inlay. The loft was transformed. Then I realized we still had two boxes of bamboo flooring. The kind of Bamboo flooring that is good for 25 years. The kind you really don’t want to just give away.
One of my 2010 goals was to design a festival/beach chair with our craftsman and Furniture Salvations Best in Show 2009 winner, Jose Cruz, especially after the first series of salvaged cypress gourmet serving trays were a huge holiday hit. I love sitting in London’s Green Park in their fabulous chairs, and wondered if we could make one from salvaged wood spindles and scraps. We both got sidetracked by other projects until one day I revisited the idea, calling on my “What if….”
“What if we made folding chairs from the two boxes of bamboo flooring?” To which Jose looked up at me through his Clark Kent craftsman work glasses and uttered, “uh-m, what kind of folding chair?” We drew it out so he could make a mock-up from his pine scraps to use as a pattern. The following day, he called to say, “come see.”
Why is it important for us to re-purpose items?
People used to repurpose everyday, until the post-war economy + Madison Avenue led us to believe that disposable convenience was the way to geaux. My grandmother re-used her sugar + flour sacks to make dresses for my mother ~ the makers of sugar + flour, knowing that the material would be repurposed, used to change up their floral patterns. I’ve been recycling bottles, paper, and cans for decades; however, it wasn’t until the dumping on our streets post-Katrina, then a trip to Costa Rica + the Galapagos made me realize WHY we need to geaux back to it. Many countries have no choice because of their size and lack of “modern” conveniences, which we take for granted. Global trotters understand this best, I believe. And they are the ringleaders in the paradigm shift.
What are some of the great projects you are working on in the community right now?
We are about to complete another great project design utilizing the remaining SB44 banners for Rita Benson LeBlanc (the SAINTS) made exclusively for a special luncheon she’s hosting for 250 ladies; the SUGARBOWL may have a project for us to complete in time for January made from their old banners; and the French Quarter Festival folks came by the design space last month to see if we could make cute totes from their old banners. We’re in holiday production mode right now, too, with our popular burlap stockings from last year, and designing our next items for SPRING 2012. Never a dull moment at REpurposingNOLA!
What do you love about New Orleans?
A previous blog says it best: For me, New Orleans is a relaxed, yet complicated city and culture filled with the nations most colorful history. Our buildings wear it like a scout badge sash collecting patches for each milestone achievement. If only our buildings could talk! I would love to indulge in all of their milestones over a glass of wine or Pimm’s Cup and a five-course meal. It would no doubt be inspiring! How can any artist not be inspired every single day by the history of a city like New Orleans.
What can we expect next from you?
Definitely something pretty cool, in limited supply, MADE in New Orleans utilizing excess fabrics of our community, and sure to bring you loads of compliments whenever you wear it. You’ll have to follow our blogspot, or facebook, or twitter to get the latest!
Just want to let your readers know that our brand is available online at http://repurposingnola-piece-by-peace.com/ and select New Orleans retailers (best selection at Little Miss Muffin or lost + found); in Santa Barbara at plum goods store; in Dallas at Southern Simplicity; in Escondido, CA at the Urban Barn; in Sutter Creek, CA at the White House Boutique + Wine Bar; and coming soon to Omaha, NE + Birmingham, AL!
Be Cool; Do Good. xo TLC
Thanks so much!