Every month, Cascades puts the spotlight on an entrepreneur who stands out for his or her responsible practices and environmental values. This month, it is our pleasure to present Isabelle Bérubé, owner and founder of Bagnole.
Isabelle, I’d like to start with hearing about your products.
Bagnole is a line of eco-responsible bags made from 95% recycled material. These bags have a modern, new look. As implied in the company’s name [bagnole is French for car], the recycled material comes from cars sent to the SCRAP YARD. I take fabric or leather from the seats, seat belts, electric wires, carpets and airbags—anything that may be useful for my creations! Only the zippers and eyelets found on some models are new.
Where do you snatch up all this material?
Every two weeks, I pay a visit to the LKQ recycling centre to stock up on material. Formerly called Lecavalier, this company has been with me from the very beginnings of Bagnole. I am so grateful to them; I had a very difficult time finding a reliable partner who would not charge me astronomical fees and who believed in my crazy vision.
When did this crazy idea come to you, and how?
It was completely out of the blue! I have always been a creative person, and I always gravitated toward fashion and sewing. About ten years ago, I was getting into my car and I thought to myself, “These seat belts would make great straps.” The idea grew, and I started thinking that I could use all of this great material. And that’s when I launched the project.
How much time goes into making such beautiful products from scratch?
It is hard to say how much time is needed, as it varies a lot from one model to another. I would say maybe one and a half days. In this time, I find the materials I need, clean the leather by hand or the fabric in the machine, undo the existing seams, sew the bag and finalize the details. (Author’s note: Isabelle is a very hard worker!)
What type of clientele do you have?
My clientele is very diverse—women, men, younger people, older people… However, I have noticed that these people buy my products either for their eco-responsible component of for the materials used. Some even ask me to make them a bag using fabric from a specific car brand! Anything is possible!
What’s in the pipelines for Bagnole?
Bagnole will be launching its very own online boutique in the near future! It will be operational before the Holidays. As for my long-term vision, I would eventually like to export to Europe on a broader scale. I do sometimes send products there, but I would like to expand this market.
Where can we get our own Bagnole?
You can place your order from my Facebook page. You will eventually be able to shop on bagnole.ca.