Every month, Cascades puts the spotlight on a young entrepreneur who stands out for his or her responsible practices and environmental values. This month, it is our pleasure to present Mireille Roberge, co-owner of Ressac.
Ressac was the idea of Anne Painchaud-Ouellet who, while exploring different materials, had a flash of inspiration about bicycle inner tubes and decided to convert them into eco-responsible bags. The Ressac team grew in 2015, when Mireille Roberge and Samuel Richer, already Ressac customers and tremendous bicycle enthusiasts, and Sébastien Richer joined the team. Since spring 2015, Ressac has been rolling at high speed thanks to this strong and motivated team!
- Services provided: Manufacturing eco-responsible bags with an urban style that allows people to have different looks while being environmentally conscious.
- Number of employees: In the busiest production periods, there are four employees in the workshop.
- Workshop location: 400 Marquette road, Sherbrooke, QC
- Points of sale: Ressac has twenty points of sale and a website,ressac.ca, where you can personalize your purchase!
How would you describe your products?
Everyone needs a bag to lug their things! Many bags could do the job… except that for some people, using an eco-responsible bag is a way to display their values, affirm who they are and make a difference for the environment. This is the need Ressac meets.
Inner tubes are black and there’s no way of changing that! Except that all the colour we can add to them lets us make bags with an incredible look. We add very colourful stitching, we insert safety straps in mauve, red and green… and we daringly experiment with different linings for each bag. The result: original bags that make a difference for the environment.
What materials do you use?
Our raw material is an inner tube from a road bike, a mountain bike or even a fatbike. With over 4 million cyclists on Quebec roads every year (and thousands of potholes), we have a large supply of raw material, for a long time to come!
Every year, we reclaim over 5000 bicycle inner tubes, diverting a large amount of rubber from landfill sites.
How do you obtain used inner tubes to design your bags?
Recyc-Québec mandates an organization, Consortium Echo-Logique, with the mission to make the rounds, several times a year, of the bicycle stores registered in the recovery program. When the Consortium’s people return from their rounds with a full truck, they call us and bring us a supply of raw material! And of course, many cyclists spontaneously take the initiative to bring us the blowouts from their cycling seasons! This is greatly appreciated.
In your opinion, what are the qualities of a good ecopreneur?
It’s one thing to be able to reclaim the material, but being able to use it to make it into a product with a refined, immaculate and elegant look is another thing entirely. On this level, I think Ressac has the essential combination of qualities to win the hearts and minds of people who don’t have a natural reflex to turn to eco-responsible products.
What eco-responsible dream do you cherish?
That Quebec cyclists automatically think of Ressac when they have a blowout! And that one day, we’ll create extrapersonalized bags. This means that cyclists would bring us all their blown-out tires from a cycling season and we would produce a bag for them from this material. A form of eco-responsible memory!
Finally, where do you see Ressac in 5 years?
Reclaiming over 50,000 inner tubes a year would be nice! We also want to be better positioned in the Canadian market and be in the process of seducing the Europeans.
Until then, keep informed on our different projects, here.