We all know the tales of accountants who work peacefully and calm in their daily job for years - grinding numbers and handing in tax reports of insignificant companies - until one day, out of nowhere, they totally lose it and start attacking unsuspecting trousers with string and needle!
Exactly that's what happened to Tham. After seven years of accounting she decided to create awesome bags, hats and purses from old jeans.
Actually it happened by accident. One fateful day she was sorting through her hubby's clothing when she found an old, ripped pair of jeans. With love for handcrafting and a hat full of creativity, she turned that old piece of denim into a lovely bag. Of course she shared her hands work on the web and almost instantly, someone texted her asking to buy it.
The storm of positive reactions came as a big surprise for Tham, so after not too long she decided to quit accounting and focus 100% on recycling used jeans. Her own family was very supportive during the first steps as an entrepreneur, but many friends and acquaintances gave advice - against ditching a secure job for a career in recycling art. Well, luckily she did not mind the naysayers and went straight for it!
So it came that a young woman, born in the 90s, started a journey on the adventurous path of entrepreneurship. In the beginning, she had to learn everything: Drawing, sewing, embroidery... For the first two years, Tham step by step acquired a versatile set of skills that allowed her to launch over 800 products. She is constantly learning from mistakes and spends a lot of time on perfecting her bags, hats, purses and cosmetic pouches.
It is not the love for the craft alone, that is lending wings to her dream, but also the hope to raise awareness for the environment amongst the young generation in Vietnam. Recycling and upcycling as a stylish and trendy way to care for the future.
For that reason, Tham pours her whole heart into her business to create something new and unique from old jeans. Denim is an extremely durable fabric and even if it is ripped here and there, you can still turn it into something beautiful that brings joy to the wearer for a long time to come.
For Tham this sturdiness is one of the most significant advantages, the material of her choice contributes to the final product.
The process to create a cool bag from an old pair of jeans is divided into many steps. First you need to collect the jeans. Wash them, dry them, sort and store them until they get chosen for a certain product idea. Not every type of denim is suitable for every purpose! Then you need to cut and sew the pattern. Pockets, rivets, belts and buckles - they all make lovely decorative pieces and make for good input into the creative process - and great results.
Even the leftovers don't get thrown away, no, they make formidable material for patchwork details.
You can imagine the immense diversity of the raw material - many old jeans, all different! That is the reason why every item that leaves Tham's atelier is a unique work of art, based on individual thoughts and ideas.
The artist puts herself in the customer's position, to focus on a pretty, yet functional design. Bags of less sophisticated design she is able to finish from three up to five items per day. Complex, more detailed designs can take two days or even longer.
Looking back on her progress so far, Tham does not regret anything. Recycling of used jeans means a lot to her: Not only all the contacts among other recycling aficionados in the scene, but also the steep learning curve is a great adventure. How to design a product, how to reach customers, how to create an efficient workflow...
Like many of our awesome partners, the upcycling artist works alone. A creative One-Woman-Power-Team.
And her plans for the future? Workshops! Workshops to teach others a skill set that enables them to partake in recycling and upcycling, to realize a vision for a bright future!
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