Who thought an alternative to leather was... paper! Ask Chloe Hall, founder of My Paper Tote. An nature-friendly company that creates handbags and accessories made of durable, reusable, beautiful and washable FSC certified paper. They come in a selection of colors, sizes and leatherlike in texture. Read on to discover more about this exceptional woman entrepreneur and how she plans to make a difference with My Paper Tote.
Tell us about yourself and how you became interested in designing eco-friendly bags and accessories made from washable paper?
I am the founder of My Paper Tote and live with my two children and husband in a small town in Kent, England. I have always loved handbags and have a huge collection (my husband may say obsessive and excessive). From clutches and Totes to bum bags and rucksacks, I love expensive or high Street bags! However I was unable to find an alternative to leather with the look, feel and strength that wasn't a plastic derivative. So I started to look around and went to my local Hobby Lobby whilst my family and I were living in the States. I came across a crafting material that claimed to be a washable paper! Paper is an alternative to leather that doesn't have the pitfalls of plastic! I attempted to sew my own bag but unfortunately despite having the vision I am not that skilled, so I outsourced the manufacturing to a highly skilled company to create my vision of washable paper bags.
In what way has your background and prior experiences influenced where you are now?
My day job is Primary School Teacher and Mummy to Evie, 2, and Roscoe, 8 weeks! So this has taught me to be very flexible and gave me the ability to multi task. My dedication to creating a brand of eco-friendly Bags means that I am always striving to improve and work that bit harder.
What was the creative inspiration for your latest designs?
Being a working Mum I need a bag that is big enough, strong enough and chic enough. I designed the Tote to hold everything and be the go to everyday bag! The new Backpack for Fall has been designed to carry your essentials whilst looking super cute.
You use washable paper sourced from environmentally appropriate forests in Vermont that rivals leather in look, feel and durability. Can you tell us more about the materials and the process of it all?
Our Paper is FSC Certified which means it is sourced responsibly from forests. Our Paper comes from Vermont and is treated with non toxic parabens to give it washable properties. We have Metallic Paper which is gorgeous and maintains it shine throughout the washing process. Being certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council is really important to My Paper Tote as responsible Forestry is vital for the future of our forests.
www.mypapertote.com (The Metallic Paper Tote in Silver)
www.mypapertote.com (The Metallic Paper Tote in Rose Gold)
How durable are your bags? What tips would you give your customers on how to care for their handbags?
My Paper Tote bags are durable enough to rival leather! I am currently using mine as a baby changing bag and the fact it is washable is perfect for getting rid of any spillages and mess. I just came back from a holiday to Majorca and I used the Metallic Paper Tote in Silver as my pool/beach bag. Being water resistant meant I could take it everywhere with me and arty my towel and swimwear. We recommend hand washing our bags but a cold machine wash for heavier stains. The washing process also softens the texture of the material and gives it a worn leather appearance too. Try scrunching your bag when wet and leaving it to dry for added texture! The bags arrive very smooth but will crease over time giving a more natural look.
What sets apart My paper Tote from other ethical and sustainable companies?
We really have an eye on fashion. Not all ethical and sustainable products need to be dull or natural looking. We use Metallics to bring out your shine and follow the latest trends. We use FSC Certified paper unlike other washable paper available. This was really important for us to ensure we are as responsible as can be.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started My paper Tote?
I have learned that there is no harm in asking for advice from people that have already done it! Learn from the mistakes of others and you won't make them too!
Why is running a sustainable brand important to you?
Our forests are crucial to our planet. Protecting them and ensuring responsible Forestry is the only Forestry is imperative. We must be sustainable for our future!
How did you developed a passion for conscious consumption?
I want my children to grow up in a world that is conscious and sustainable. I want to teach them that caring for our planet is our responsibility.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Having a busy personal life and working as a teacher alongside developing My Paper Tote has had its challenges. I make sure I dedicate time to the business and try to turn my phone off in the evenings. Family time is the most important thing to me!
As a woman entrepreneur, what do you think is the most significant obstacle to women’s leadership in 2017?
I think we are getting there in terms of being taken seriously. In 2017 more women are leading countries than ever before. There is nothing stopping us other than having self belief! As women we take each other seriously and we need to carry on supporting and helping one another!
What's your vision for the future of My Paper Tote?
Having a flagship store would be a dream and continuing to produce sustainable products. We want to be known worldwide as innovators of washable paper products.
Any final thoughts?
We all have a the option to be responsible when we buy products. The choices we make really can have an impact on the world we live in. My Paper Tote source our paper from FSC Certified forests in order to ensure forests are maintained to guarantee their future. Feel good about your sustainable purchases and buy responsibly.
How can people get a hold of My Paper Tote bags and accessories?
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