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Interview with Linda Miles - Owner of Fashion Green T Bags
This hub is a part of a series of hubs interviewing women entrepreneurs who have managed to set up and run successful small businesses while managing a family and a full time job. My aim is to share their success stories and provide inspiration to moms looking to start their own business.
Meet Linda Miles, the founder and owner of Fashion Green T Bags, a small business which specializes in making unique and eco-friendly T-shirt bags, pouches and more! Every item is handmade and a 100% earth-friendly.
I was fortunate to get acquainted with Linda while looking for eco-friendly businesses online and I decided to bring her creativity to the forefront with this interview. I have also reviewed one of her bags. You can read the complete review here.
Q1. Linda - tell us a little about yourself and Fashion Green T Bags?
I’m a retired teacher and a mom of 2 fantastic young adults. I’m married to the man of my dreams and I have a great life. I medically retired from teaching long before I had planned to retire so I was looking for an activity that would be constructive and helpful to the community. I have a close relative who recently needed the services of our local food bank and it was through his experience that I realized what a valuable resource our social service agency can be to people in need. I decided to create my store to generate revenue to donate to this agency as a way of repaying their help to so many people.
Q2. So, how did a teacher get this wonderful idea of transforming everyday clothing into re-usable, eco-friendly bags?
I learned that plastic bags given by stores are called t-shirt bags and that gave me the idea to make the bags out of the t-shirts. I was always scrounging around trying to find bags to use at stores but I didn’t have many, so I started experimenting with my son’s old shirts and came up with a bag that’s versatile, strong, reusable and washable. I now have plenty of bags! My friend’s daughters had the idea for making the backpacks but I had to figure out how to do that. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it took me about a month to figure out their construction.
I don’t know what gave me the idea for the cross-body bags. I just had the idea one day when I was gathering some used clothing for the County Clothing Center. I didn’t want to use just the sleeves and render the rest of the shirt as landfill material so the idea of making gift bags and dog collars from the remains was borne from not wanting to waste material.
Q3. Your bags are creative and fashionable! How do you define creative inspiration?
I define creative inspiration as solving daily problems in a new way. The problem I was trying to solve was to create something fun and sturdy to use when I went to the store. The store bags that I could get would fall apart so quickly that I didn’t believe it was really eco-friendly to use them. I wanted something that would for last a long time and be washable. My bags have been through many different carnations as I tried to find the best construction technique. I really like the ones I make now. Some people have suggested that they’re almost too well made. I don’t believe there is such a thing.
Q4. What is the one thing that sets your products apart from other eco-friendly sellers on Etsy?
There are two. First, I donate all of my profits to our local food bank. There’s a greater need here than ever before for their services and I believe it’s a privilege to help.
Next is the quality of construction. I use an ultra-strong double-stitch to secure the bottom of the bags and the openings are triple-layered and sewn to help the bag keep its shape. These bags can hold more than I can carry and they’re washable as well!
Q5. As the owner of a green business, what steps have you taken towards protecting the environment and creating a healthy lifestyle within your own home?
First, I buy used items whenever possible. It’s economical as well as being environmentally friendly.
Second, I clean my home primarily with vinegar and baking soda. I don’t use chemicals to clean.
Next we recycle or reuse absolutely everything that we possibly can.
Finally, we drive as little as possible. We take steps to be careful to combine trips using the shortest routes available. We don’t have a good public transportation system in our town so driving is necessary a lot of the time.
Q6. How do you balance your work life with family time? What advice do you have for moms like you looking to launch a successful career in business?
My business is mostly a hobby for me. My children are at home but they’re 21 and 23-years old so they’re pretty self-sufficient and don’t really care to have me around most of the time. I do most of my work when people are out of the house. I can concentrate better and have fewer interruptions.
My advice is to always put family first no matter what. Family is the most important investment one can make.
Q7. What is the biggest challenge that you have faced in your business this far?
The biggest challenge is marketing. My sales are not as brisk as I’d like them to be but I don’t have a business background and I don’t know much about marketing my product to interest more customers.
Q8. What has been your most memorable experience?
My most memorable experiences are those when young children are clearly wanting one of my bags but for whatever reason their parents can’t/won’t purchase one for them so I give them a free wristlet! They’re always so thrilled and excited and that makes me happy.
Q9. Your favorite ‘green’ website would be...?
My favorite green website is EcoEtsy. I’m a contributing writer but I think there is a lot of great content there that most people would find to be very useful. There’s a new post every day so there’s most certainly something for everyone.
Q10. What is the future of Fashion Green T Bags? How do you plan to expand your resources to reach out to more eco-conscious people?
I would like to learn more about marketing and getting people to be aware of my bags and their many great uses. I think sometimes people look at them and think they’re just another bag but since they hold so much and are not rigid, their use is very diverse.
I have begun participating in more craft shows and have generated some interest by doing so. If anyone has advice for me please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More success stories
- Interview with Karen Moore - Owner of EcoHomeResource
- Interview with Natalia KW - Author of Pure Pleasures - Luscious Live Food Recipes from the Glowing T
- Interview with Victoria Francis - Founder and Owner of NouriShea, a USDA Certified Natural Beauty Br
- Interview with Lori Hoffmann - Founder and Owner of FaceFacts, an all Natural Cosmetic Beauty Brand