Meet Sophia O’Neal. A young woman entrepreneur and founder of 2 Pink Peas accessories. She’s a designer and creates environment-friendly purses which keeps ¼ yard of cloth out of landfills. Continue to read this article to know more about this talented and creative entrepreneur and her company 2 Pink Peas.
Who is the woman behind 2 Pink Peas?
The founder and owner of 2 Pink Peas is Sophia O’Neal. I am a sophomore studying International Business at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. I am a creative with a passion for music, fashion, and every possible fandom - LOTR, Harry Potter, Superlock, you name it.
Photo Credit: Sophia O'Neal, 2 Pink Peas
What is 2 Pink Peas?
2 Pink Peas is a sustainable accessories company that aims to make purses that are Fashionable, Affordable, and Eco-friendly.
Photo Credit: 2 Pink Peas.com
How did you come up with the name 2 Pink Peas and what’s the meaning?
2 Pink Peas is the name my mother came up for the company my sister and I had in our childhood because we were “Two peas in a pod.” we added pink in the name to distinguish it from food companies, and as a nod to my little sister, Olivia, whose favorite color is pink. Although that company no longer exists, and Olivia has no formal association with 2 Pink Peas, I chose to use the name to acknowledge to the company’s roots as well as a reference to the its sustainable and feminine style. It is also a constant reminder that no matter what happens in the life of the company, family always must come first.
How did you select the materials for your purses?
We select our materials by collecting castaway fabric scraps, then choosing only the ones that are fashionable and can be cut into a purse without destroying the print or style of the fabric. The denim we use for the lining of our purses is from local thrift stores. We choose only jeans that are in good condition (none or very few rips, tears, or stains) and that have ample fabric so we waste as little as possible when cutting the patterns. All denim is washed and bleached prior to being cut.
What makes these fabrics you're using ethical and Eco-friendly?
3.84 million tons of fabric waste (textiles) are deposited in landfills every year according to the most recent Advancing Sustainable Materials Management report. All our fabrics are scraps that would otherwise have been thrown away, so each purse reduces landfill waste.
Many of our fabrics and all our denim is cotton and by using recycled cotton fabric and denim instead of new materials, we save hundreds of gallons of water with each purse sold. According to Eco Fashion Week, it can take over 920 gallons of water to make a single pair of jeans. Our denim is also bought from thrift stores that benefit organizations in our community, in particular Goodwill and Children's Hospital of the King’s Daughters, the latter of which uses the funds from the thrift stores to give discounted care to needy families with sick or injured children.
What are your inspirations for the designs of your purses?
It might be cliché, but I get inspiration from everywhere! Sometimes I wish it was socially acceptable to stop people on the street and take pictures of their purses, because I would definitely do so! I try to keep the purse styles simple, modern, and elegant so that the craftsmanship and fabric make the loudest fashion statement. Often I just start off with an idea or keyword, and sketch until I come upon a version of the bag that I like or matches the image i have in my head. Then I will create prototypes and go between drawing board and sewing machine until I create a product that I think is both fashionable and sturdy.
Photo Credit: 2 Pink Peas.com
In your opinion, what are the things that brands should focus on when it comes to promote their sustainable practices?
I think companies should use more recycled materials in their products and, most importantly, make quality, long lasting products. Our society is such a disposable economy that wants things quickly, cheaply, and easily. That is a selfish mentality that benefits us only in the short run and can be a permanent detriment to the environment. If more brands created dependable, durable products that withstood the test of time, they would speak for themselves. Instead of companies trying to find out how they can work a sustainable angle into their marketing or creating a product targeted towards those of us who shop consciously, they should just make better, ethical, conscious products. Period.
Does 2 Pink Peas reflect your personal styles?
Our newest purses made me jump up and down with excitement when I first saw the fabric! My personal style is eclectic and varied, so each of our purses would blend into my wardrobe on different days and different seasons. I try to not make purses that I would not eagerly wear, while understanding that my own style is not everyone’s style. That is one of the reasons that I love doing market testing and running ideas past stylish friends. Many times, they can see past either of our senses of style, which are different, and put together an outfit or suggest a style that is really cute, even it doesn’t reflect my current wardrobe.
Have you always been socially conscious?
As a child, I grew up with an understanding that you shouldn’t waste things, whether it be food or resources. Most of my clothing at the time came from thrift stores - it still does. The concept of throwing away clothes didn’t exist to me, I always donated mine once I outgrew them.
My current socially-conscious worldview didn’t come until last summer, when I began researching the facts and figures behind the fast-fashion industry, and the amount of materials - from paper to fabric to plastic - that was in our landfills. I was horrified. How could we do this to the only planet we call home? After that I resolved to live in a conscious manner. For me that means patronizing local restaurants that use farm-fresh ingredients that require minimal transportation and benefit the community instead of chain foods. It also means using ceramic instead of paper, and having a recycling bin instead of a trash can at work. Living consciously does not have to be a let’s-go-vegan-and-move-to-Seattle kind of life change. It is instead a series of small choices that make a big difference in your community and the world.
What are the most challenging parts of being an entrepreneur?
The most challenging part of being an entrepreneur is the time drain. A mentor told me that for any company to work, especially one that is a nascent college startup, it needs to be “The only option”. That requires a lot of time and dedication, and a minimal work-life balance. I’m often out of the house by 8:30am and not back until 10pm, sometimes later. I miss dinner catch ups, game nights, and have had to give up most of my weekends as well. I’m very close to my family, and to not see them for days on end because of my long hours, even though we live in the same house is very difficult, but I know it will pay off in the end.
How have you managed to overcome these challenges?
By devoting scheduled chunks of time to the people in my life who matter. On Sundays, I don’t go to the office, I don’t care how much work I feel the need to do. I might be up until midnight on Saturday, but once I wake up the next morning, my mission is to spend time with them. Without giving yourself that down time, not only to catch up with your family, but also to attend church and read a magazine or watch an episode of your favorite TV show (only one!) you burn yourself out and limit your creativity and work potential for the rest of the week.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs, such as yourself, who are just starting out in the industry?
Firstly, whatever you do make it a product or service you love and behind it a cause you believe in with all your heart. If you do not have both you will peter out quickly because it’s a lot of work to start and run a successful business.
Secondly, surround yourself with great people who will love you, encourage you, support you, and will tell you the truth. If you do not have friends who have your back and mentors who can guide you, you are relying on your wisdom alone, and that’s a dangerous place to be. I don’t care how many internships you’ve had or articles you’ve read, you don’t know as much as you think you do.
As a woman entrepreneur, what do you think are the most significant obstacles to women’s leadership?
I think a large part of women choosing not to start a business or be in leadership are the comments you get and the inner voice that both tell you, you can’t do it. That it’s a pipe dream. For one high school project, I was supposed to say where I wanted to live and what I wanted my career to be once I graduated college. I said I wanted to work for my own company and live in New York City. My teacher told me to pick a real job. I don’t think she would have said to a guy who proposed the same career. But women are more likely to start companies that will ultimately become successful in 5 years than men and bring a point of view that can revolutionize arenas that haven’t been touched in 100 years. Any woman can be anything; she just needs to believe that she can and wisely work towards her goals.
How do you envisage the future of 2 Pink Peas?
I want to see 2 Pink Peas as the first-thought of affordable, sustainable accessories. Instead of women suggesting a trip to a cheap retailer that sells throw-away items, I want them to instead instantly think of us. That way they get a beautiful purse that not only looks great, but is well made, sustainably created, and will last them forever.
Any closing thoughts?
- Never discard an idea because you think “It will never work.”
- Never make anything mediocre.
- Enjoy being a wallflower - they make the best observations.
- Always tell the truth in love.
Where can we purchase 2 Pink Peas products?
You can purchase 2 Pink Peas on our website at 2pinkpeas.com, or at a local pop-up shop in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, USA.