Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Handmade Accessories and Organisers by Melissa Tan

Around 2 months ago, I met Melissa Tan at The Rocks Markets. She was selling her handmade organisers and accessories next to my market stall. It was nice to meet another person creating everything herself, and she told me that she used off cuts of designer fabrics and vintage finds...A little bell went off in my head...I had been looking for someone to take my off cuts of fabrics, as I think it is important to help the environment wherever possible- so it was fate that we met!

Take a look at my notes on things I am doing to try and minimise the Penelope Red waste!

Melissa’s designs are unique, and her quality is very good. I bought a bag organiser for a friend’s birthday, and my friend LOVED it! I thought you might like to read a little about Melissa’s work:

1. Where/when/how did you come up with the idea of those nifty little bag organisers?

For some time now, the large, oversized bag has been very fashionable. I noticed large bags never had compartments, or maybe just a little zip pocket for your phone. Women were endlessly digging in their bags in search for that ringing mobile phone etc.

I did a search online; products were available but they were just big pouches and looked ugly. Nothing seemed quite right, so I decided to design my own! This way, I could combine all the ideas I had seen with my own to create the best possible design.

The design needed to be simple and practical; hold numerous items; organised so items are easy to see and grab; adjustable so that it would fit every woman's handbag and made from vintage, recycled and reclaimed materials.

2. Why did you decide to use recycled and vintage fabrics in your designs?

I like the concept of transformation and the idea of turning nothing into something...Having worked in the Sydney fashion industry for many years, I noticed that the fashion industry is guilty of creating a lot of waste. When creating my own label and designs I wanted to do something different!

In today's society I think every Designer should be thinking about how to substitute consumption with innovation. To counteract the over consumption of materials and excessive waste created by the fashion industry I decided I would focus on using recycled materials as much as possible. This could be vintage, recycled or reclaimed fabrics, anything found in a 2nd hand shop, off cuts from clothing manufacturers and local designers, such as from Penelope Red.

By using recycled and vintage fabrics I try to create accessories by transforming something "old" or materials that are considered "waste" into something new, fun, useful and fashionable. Another bonus from using vintage fabrics; each piece is one of a kind, they cannot be mass-produced.

3. Do you create custom orders?

Yes, definitely. I love that someone might see their own idea in my ideas and designs.
Using vintage and recycled fabrics does create limits though due to their small quantities, but I always seem to somehow work around this. I am always happy to help someone out by creating one of my designs in a recycled fabric bought to me.

4. What are your plans for the future in your business?

I like to think the concept of my brand is helping to educate people about recycling. Recycling doesn't need to be "crafty" or "hippy", and recycling can be fashionable.

I want my accessories to compete with mass produced products. I want everyone to see the value in something that has been made in their own city or country, when it is handmade with lots of love and care. Hopefully they will think twice about buying something cheaply mass-produced.

I hope my business will grow to reach more people and eventually I hope to sell my accessories to boutiques all over Australia, to promote local production and recycling and hopefully inspire others.

Some of her latest designs have been made from Penelope Red off cuts, such as:
Denim Stripe Folded Wallet and the Black Brushstroke Mini Bag Organizer. There will be more to follow.

Find Melissa at the following:
If you are in Sydney, Melissa is often selling her accessories at the Rocks Markets.

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