But be warned, before I tempt you with such delights as The Carrie Handbag (ladies of leisure, some attention please...), that even though Ollymolly may not follow a strictly eco-friendly route, they deserve a mention for recycling efforts, their hands-on local production and their generous donation to local communities.
Lindsay McFarlane, from Scotland, and Gemma Coll, from Northern Ireland
but instead to set up their own business in 2005, employing their extensive textile and weaving knowledge with more experimental materials.
Says Gemma of the birth of Ollymolly, “We were both weavers and the idea came from wanting to use that skill and incorporating a recycling factor into it. The factory we worked at was situated next door to a paper recycling plant which gave us the idea of recycling paper. Weaving is an age old tradition and many materials have been used in this ancient craft, but we thought of bringing in a contemporary twist to it by weaving strips of paper that would normally have been thrown away as waste.”
Since starting their training in April 2005, Ollymolly has worked with various community and women’s groups. As with any community/new business initiative, keeping logistics and overheads at a minimum is a difficult process, and Ollymolly found that to do so, they would take the work to their ‘employees’ homes. Thus delivering the recycled material and picking up products did away with rents and daily transportation costs, allowing the weavers greater flexibility of time by working out of their homes. Weavers are provided with the recycled material and wages are determined by how many bags individual persons make.
And the name Ollymolly? A combination of Lindsay’s nephew’s name, Oliver, and Gemma’s niece, Molly.
Process, processing, processed... So how do they use recycled paper to make such cool gear? Gemma explains: “To begin each bag we first have to prepare the paper that is generously donated misprints from printing firms or bought by the kilo from a paper recycling plant. The paper is then cut into strips.
This of course means that the entire process is handmade and labour intensive, but Gemma swears that machines just couldn’t produce the same aesthetic as one finds in their products.
Gemma works closely with the individual weavers on ideas, designs and colour schemes, but confesses to still being surprised on occasion by what they come up with. When I asked Gemma if she would consider Ollymolly an eco-conscious brand she did point out that because of the plastic coating they have to use, they can’t be considered 100% eco-friendly, but that their use of recycling spreads a level of eco-consciousness to every customer that buys a Ollymolly product.
Also, working with local communities