Yankee ingenuity. It's a phrase you may have heard tossed around before, but in Maine, it's a way of life. Take Maine-based companies Sea Bags and Flowfold for example. Both companies wanted to start a business that would marry form and function with a commitment to sustainable practices. Inspired by the durability and beauty of sailcloth, they've found new ways to repurpose it into stylish totes, wallets and accessories that are both practical and beautiful.
You've probably seen a Sea Bags product before. Whether it's been on the arm of someone on the street or in your local J.Crew, Sea Bags got their humble start right here in Portland, Maine. Founded in 1999 by Hannah Kubiak and Beth Shissler, the duo wanted to start a company that would be truly green in product and practice. Every tote they create is handcrafted using a recycled sail. You can see the remnants left by the sea on each piece, making each product they create truly unique. The line has since expanded to pillows, wine totes and limited edition runs with brands like Sperry Topsider and Woolrich. The best part? Everything is made right here in Maine and sourced in the USA.
Out on Peaks Island, a 20-minute ferry ride off the coast of Portland, is a small team sewing wallets and iPad cases. Chuck Friedman, founder of Flowfold, decided to construct his grandfather a wallet from scrap pieces of sailcloth to replace his longtime leather staple that had since fallen apart. He found the ideal material for a wallet that was lightweight, durable and could even stay afloat if it accidentally fell overboard. After that first prototype and many thereafter, Flowfold was born and has since salvaged over 130 pounds of sailcloth that would have otherwise been sent to a landfill.
As the saying in Maine goes, one man's sail is another man's treasure.