Upcycled Handbags by Echoes In The Attic

Upcycled Handbags by Echoes In The Attic

This is the second entry in H&C's Faces Behind Our Products series. H&C talked to Laura Jennekens from Echoes In The Attic upcycled handbag company about everything from the Canadian company's modest startup to their hopes for the future. To view our last entry on The Good Seed Grain Merchants, click here.

Co-owners of Echoes In The Attic “upcycled” handbag company Vicki Gerke (Lower Right) and Laura Jennekens (Mid Left) have always been avid recyclers. Having grown up in households with parents who had suffered the Great Depression, the two were always taught to find new ways to use old things—they were “schooled on ways to save,” Laura told H&C, “This has continued throughout both our lives. It’s just part of who we are and how we think.”

The “seed of an idea” was planted in Laura’s head when she recycled her freshly cut locks of hair into braids that she sewed onto a bandana to wear during her chemotherapy treatments while fighting breast cancer. The seed blossomed when she met Vicki, “my now business partner and resident local sewing guru. She had the know-how and could actually bring to life the idea for a handbag business from upcycled fabrics… recycling of a whole different kind.” 

In 2005, Laura and Vicki’s partnership was formed and Echoes In The Attic was created. In late 2006, The Global Group, an international company who manufactures office seating and furniture got in touch with Echoes. The company was looking for an eco-responsible way to deal with their excessive scrap fabrics. Echoes gladly took their tons of scraps and cut-offs, and began contacting many different designer textile companies to persuade them to eco-donate their scraps and divert their potential landfill waste. Not only does Echoes use diverted landfill excess textiles, but also all vegan-friendly materials.

H&C asked Laura what attracted the two to their line of work in the first place, “We love handbags!” Laura told us, adding that the two had always been passionate about upcycling, recycling, redesigning, and finding a better use for what is considered to be trash by someone else’s standards.

Echoes is another purely Canadian company that H&C is proud to carry. Echoes designs their bags in Bradford, Ontario (just north of Toronto), and has them hand-sewn by a professional sewer in her home in a small town nearby Bradford, called Schomberg. When the demand is high, she will hire other professional sewers.

Although Echoes owners are proud and love their own designs, they are modest about their company’s rapid popularity growth over the past five years. When we asked about their hopes for the future, Laura told H&C, “We couldn’t imagine we could go as far as we have in just five years. Echoes eco-bags are in almost 100 eco-boutiques and stores across Canada.  Echoes bags can even be found in the Yukon and NWT, who’d have thought?” Echoes hopes to continue to grow its home market in Canada, and to be in stores in California within the next year.

Some Of Echoes' Popular Styles

Stop by H&C and browse our selection of incredibly unique Echoes bags. Because of the uniqueness of these bags, we are currently unable to portray each one accurately for online sales, but to get an idea of what kinds of gems you'll find, check out the styles below.

The Liberation Laptop Bag, the Purse-ifier Diaper Bag, the Hipster Zipper, and the Zipster Jr.

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