Today, I would like to introduce you to Gabriela Arvelo, founder and designer of Sabrina Sakosh. An amazing and colorful eco-friendly handbag and accessory company based in Montréal, Canada. Gabriela creates handbags made from recycled paper. Yes, recycled paper! What a great idea to find ways on how to reuse and recycle unwanted newspapers or old magazines. All her products are 100% handmade, unique, original and one of a kind. Sabrina Sakosh mission is to make an ecological gesture for nature, thanks to the recycling and transformation of paper. Read my full interview to learn more about the brand and how Gabriela strives to make a change.
Photo: Gabriela Arvelo
Tell us a bit about your background and how you became interested in designing eco-friendly handbags made from recycled papers?
We are a team of only two people, my mom and I. We are from Caracas, Venezuela. My grandmother who was from Colombia, taught my mom how to weave hats using palm trees. When we came to Canada, we learned how big recycling was and still is. Being a team of artists, my mom and I started creating different products using as much recycled materials as possible. Finally, we figured out how to transform recycled paper into useful products like our line of handbags.
How did you come up with the name Sabrina Sakosh and what’s the meaning behind it?
This was 100% my mom’s idea. She’s a very creative lady and she wanted to express what we do through the name of our brand without being so specific. Sakosh is the phonetically sound of “sacoche” (handbag in French) and “Sabrina” is the name of my daughter.
Why did you start Sabrina Sakosh?
We wanted to create useful products with a meaning and a purpose. We wanted to be part of a sustainable community to increase awareness towards recycling.
All of your handbags are handmade with newsprints, magazines and other types of paper. What's your design philosophy?
Our design philosophy comes down of what’s in at the moment. We try to put colors and prints together to make all our products attractive, but all this depends of the recycle paper we have at hand. We work with what we have.
Photo Credit: www.sabrinasakosh.com
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Fashion! We want to show that recycling can be fun and can be transformed into fashionable pieces.
Why ethical and sustainable practices are important to you?
These practices are important to us, because sadly where we come from (Venezuela), recycling is not a priority. Canada taught us a very valuable lesson and we are proud to know that we are doing something right using recycling as our main passion as artists.
Have you encountered any challenges since you've started Sabrina Sakosh? If yes, how did you managed to overcome these challenges?
We encountered a few clients that doubted the sturdiness of our handbags because they are made out of “paper” but then realized that they are strong as they can be. The way that we protect the paper, fold it and weave it plus all our handbags are sewn by hand which makes it last longer than expected. We are appreciative that we also have clients that have bought our products more than 8 years ago and their handbags are still stronger than ever.
What is a typical workday for you?
Getting orders, selecting the papers, colors and designs. Shipping our products, have a presence on social media, do marketing, blog and get invites to events & festivals.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Between our jobs at the office, my daughter and the day-to-day life, we are very busy but we always find a way to do what we love and that is to create new products. If you do what you love, you don’t have to work a day in your life.
As a woman entrepreneur, what do you think is the most significant obstacle to women’s leadership?
The most significant obstacle to women’s leadership is some of the skepticism about whether women will be able to overcome the obstacles that keep them out of top leaderships positions in business. Some don’t realize how strong and focus women can be. It just gives us the strength to keep improving and prove them wrong.
Photo Credit: www.sabrinasakosh.com
Can you give us some clues on what's next for upcoming pieces in your collection?
We are known for making crazy combination of colors and our followers love it. Soon, we will go for solid color designs. We're crossing our fingers to make this a hit as our signature bags.
What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your brand?
Our goal is to be a business example to the culture of recycling, stimulate professional development and mainly help our planet.
Use 3 words to describe Sabrina Sakosh?
Unique, Trendy and Eco-Friendly.
How can people get a hold of a Sabrina Sakosh bag?
Sabrina Sakosh bags are a must-have. People can easily find us on social media as followed, on Instagram: @sabrinasakosh, Facebook: SabrinaSakosh and online at www.sabrinasakosh.com
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