Making shoes creates waste, most of which is normally thrown out and has few options for secondary use. We for a long time didn't know what to do with our scrap leather but we had for quite sometime been stashing it away in bins. We thought there might be someday where we could find a use for it.
We were super when Sherill Baldwin from EcoWorks got in touch with us to donate to her organization. A couple weeks ago one of their volunteers (the happy looking man pictured above with a cart full of scraps in our amazing century old elevator made in Hartford) drove up to the shop and a little while later drove away is a car load of scrap leather. We had Sherill tell us a bit more about her awesome work and you can read our interview with here below...
TBC: What is EcoWorks? When did you start?
EcoWorks is a social enterprise that links environmental conservation and support of the arts. We run a creative reuse center for the arts, offer workshops and classes and are developing a reBoutique gift shop of upcycled and repurposed goods made by CT artisans. We incorporated in late 2012 and opened our reuse center in November 2014. Before that we offered activities and scrap at local fairs and festivals.
TBC: What’s the philosophy behind it?
We think of ourselves as a community and economic development organization that uses art and waste as the means...we want to increase access to art and educational supplies, provide a supplemental income to artists and provide opportunities to learn how to use scrap materials in artistic and fun projects.
TBC: What makes garbage fun?
You have to ask? You must spend at least 15 minutes with our creative team - give them a bagful of scrap and see if you're not having fun! The fun comes out of making things. Creating things. And doing it with others who also enjoy making and creating things. I hope you can join us for our fundraiser this month (I Heart Trash, April 16th 5:30-8:00pm) when we offer a number of unique items - including everyone gets their own glass when they register, can repurpose some pinback buttons, and eat a delicious spread using salvaged foods.
It's also a lot of fun to see folks visit us for the first time. They think they're going to have to wheel and deal with us - and then are surprised at how much material they can get for so little money.
TBC: How do you collaborate with artists?
We are here to support artists and teachers. We work with them to better understand materials they're looking for, and look forward to collaborating more on future workshops and classes and expanding the reBoutique this year.
TBC: What’s the most exciting project you’ve done so far?
Being part of City Wide Open Studios and Arts and Ideas last year were exciting; making stick puppets at the SoNo Celebration was fun too!
TBC: How do you envision your business in the next five years?
Great question. This year we hope to move into a space that helps us provide more programs and services. We will expand one step at a time, including the addition of staff. In five years we hope to have 2 full-time and 1 part time staff person in addition to the board and a slew of volunteers, a diverse array of workshops and an expanded reBoutique gift shop!