I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this: “The only bad thing about Queen Bee stuff is that it lasts for so long, I don’t have an excuse to buy another one!”. And even though we are in the business of selling our creations, and in order to thrive as a company, we need to, this statement is music to my ears. Because it is one of my goals when designing something - to make it last. This is one of the single most important things we can do to lessen our impact on the planet - to consume less and when we do purchase something, invest in quality so that we don’t have to toss anything into the trash too soon. We find that our customers and fans get realllllly attached to their Queen Bee bags and find it hard to let them go even when they reach an eventual state of wear. It is heartening to see how important one of our bags can become to someone! I get it. It’s like having that familiar friend by your side. The cozy sweater you wear when you’re feeling blue. The red shoes you wear when you’re feeling sassy.
Aside from the goal of crafting goods that last, there are many other things we do at Queen Bee that we hope can lessen our footprint:
- We strive to reduce waste as much as possible. When we cut up fabric to sew into our goods, do we toss the scrap in the trash? No way! We save that stuff and cut smaller and smaller items out of it until there’s nothing more we can use it for. Then? Sometimes we use it to stuff the little “pillows” that we put inside our bags in the retail store to fill them out and make them look good. And sometimes it gets donated to a kids classroom. Our “scrap cases” are named that because we cut them out of the remnants left from cutting our bigger bags. For the appliqué pieces that we stitch onto our items, we use as much of our little bits of scraps as possible. We have a small die press that allows us to really maximize use of fabric. If we were to have these pieces cut by someone else, a lot more waste would be produced. We try to keep as much of our operations in-house as possible as that gives us the most options for how to handle our materials.
- We buy local first. If we can find something locally, that’s where we start. Sourcing fabrics and hardware is one of the toughest parts about designing and manufacturing soft goods. It can be very hard to find the right stuff consistently and at a price that works for us. If we can’t get what we need locally, we’ll buy regionally, then domestically, and then internationally. We only buy 2 fabrics from international sources (Italy). Other than that, we buy everything from U.S. companies. It is notoriously difficult to find fabric that is produced in the U.S. since the textile industry left our country years ago. But as a small, Portland-based company, we understand the importance of supporting the other local businesses in our community, so we do what we can.
- We ride bikes. Ok, not ALL of us, but several of us do. Riding a bike is one of the single best things you can do to lighten your impact on our planet. I started seriously bike commuting about 8 years ago and I can say that it is one of the most positive choices I’ve made in my life. Not only do I feel great about leaving my car at home most days, but I also benefit from the exercise, both physically and mentally. And I get to be more in touch with my city, the environment, the weather, the scents of flowers, and my body. I recently received a little bluetooth speaker that I use on my bike rides and listening to my favorite tunes makes my commute even more enjoyable. Plus riding a bike is what inspired me to make cute panniers! I hope that offering up some functional *and* stylish bike bags will encourage more women to get on a bike and ride.
- We try and use the best fabrics for their intended use. When crafting a bike bag that is to be used in all weather conditions, it is important to use a fabric that will perform well. So, in this case, we choose waterproof, pvc-free faux-leather, Cordura, and water-resistant canvas. When it comes to something with less rigorous requirements, we may choose an organic cotton or hemp blend. We are always trying to find the balance between function, impact to the planet, and creating something that will last so that you can keep loving and using your Queen Bee. Perhaps when you are done using your Queen Bee you can pass it on to someone else that will enjoy it. But we can't promise that we won't keep designing brand new things that you may just be tempted to add to your collection!
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