REFISHED FOUNDER SISSI VOGLER SPILLS THE BEANS ON UPCYCLING
"Rubbish is produced everywhere, or will be produced everywhere. But the question is, on the one hand, how we can minimise this waste right from the start and, on the other hand, what we can make useful out of the waste."
(Sissi Vogler, REFISHED founder)
What does upcycling mean to you?
In contrast to recycling, in upcycling the basic material is not destroyed, but directly processed into a new product. What I particularly like about it is that the high energy input that the recycling process requires is omitted. I find it exciting that you can basically upcycle endlessly, you can always find material or products that you can save from the landfill or single use to make something useful and (again) valuable out of it.
Where does your passion for upcycling come from?
Actually from my mother Isolde, who showed us early on what you can conjure up from supposedly old things. Her wealth of ideas was unlimited. An old favourite jumper was made into a cover for the hot water bottle, grandma's armchair was upgraded with an old but wonderfully patterned curtain. That has always inspired and excited me.
When did you found REFISHED and what does the brand stand for?
I founded my label at the end of 2012 after discovering old fish food and cement sacks in great colours as a base material on a trip to Asia. The central themes of my label are upcycling and sustainability. In concrete terms, this means that nothing and no one should come to harm along the entire production chain. On the contrary: fair payment, the creation of jobs for people with disabilities and the careful treatment of the environment are essential points for me. On REFISHED products you can also see on the product WHO sewed it and WHERE it was produced.
What were your first B2B upcycling cooperations?
The Bank Austria Kunstforum Museum approached us a few years ago with a request for upcycling their outdoor flags of past exhibitions. They no longer wanted to simply throw them away. We love upcycling - no matter what the material! So we designed our small but fine flag collection #FLAGS for the Kunstforum. The collection is exclusively available in the museum shop and at REFISHED. A little later, the Belvedere Vienna approached us with a similar request. Here, too, we designed a few fine pieces from their used VIENNA PRIDE flags.
Do you want to expand the B2B upcycling branch and if so, why?
Expanding the B2B branch is one of my goals for the next few years. We have reached a point on earth where we have to take extreme care of our resources in order to be able to live here for a long time. More and more, companies from various sectors are becoming aware of this. Waste is produced everywhere, or will be produced everywhere. But the question is, on the one hand, how we can minimise this waste right from the start and, on the other hand, what we can do with the waste that makes sense. A showcase example of this is the Schärdinger reusable bottle campaign, in which we were allowed to participate as a bag producer.
What was special about the Schärdinger sustainability campaign?
The campaign perfectly integrated the concept of sustainability from start to finish. It was already decided in advance that bags would be upcycled from the giant advertising banner at the Westbahnhof station. The bags could be won in a competition. All advertising campaigns should be thought of in such a holistic and environmentally conscious way. I hope that many companies will be inspired by this!
What used materials do you already have experience with?
We have already used some interesting materials to make stylish bags, besides PVC bags (fish food and cement bags) we used outdoor flags from museums, outdoor tarpaulins, event tents, cotton scraps, leather scraps and more.
Which materials are particularly suitable for upcycling? What is not suitable at all?
Solid, hard-wearing materials such as advertising tarpaulins, banners or tents are particularly suitable for manual upcycling. The larger the surface, the better. Visually, it's a plus if the material has a design, lettering or colour change on almost every spot, because that's what makes an upcycled product even more charming: That every piece is unique and looks different.
On the other hand, thin stretch polyester materials such as branded on-shirts are not very suitable or not suitable at all. But you always have to look at the materials and then weigh them up.
Speaking of branding - can your B2B customers have their logo applied?
Of course they can. There are a few options from sewn on to attached and the customer can choose one of them.
Where do you upcycle the material from business customers in Austria?
In order to keep transport distances as short as possible, we always produce where the basic material accumulates as waste, in this case in Vienna, Austria. We work together with an integrative workshop in Seestadt, where, for example, deaf women also work.
Where will your journey lead you, what's your dream?
Our goal is for 30% of our sales to come from B2B projects such as that for Milka or Schärdinger. We want to become "THE partner for B2B upcycling" in German-speaking countries.