Inspiration strikes at the oddest times, especially if you keep your eyes – and mind – open. Deaf since two-years-old, I have learned to pay attention to the world around me! And it was while cruising the Caribbean with my then-infant son that I saw them: ladies sitting beneath palm trees, stitching sail ties onto durable, discarded flour sacks. The bags were colorful, practical, and versatile. The ladies were recycling the materials they had available to make market bags. I loved the simple beauty of what they were doing and suddenly saw other possibilities. In that moment, WeBe Bags was born. I asked the ladies to send me the flour sacks they didn’t need.
At first, I simply sewed them into bags for my friends, a fun and useful gift from the tropics. But soon, without me even realizing it, my hobby became a business. WeBe was featured in Glamour Magazine, USA Today and other publications. They were also named the swag bag at Sundance Film Festival events for .50 Cent and Josh Groban as well as the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.
But just like in sailing, rough waters sometimes chart a course in life least expected. Events forced me to put WeBe Bags to the side. And I missed it. A few years later, I found myself back in the States, now a single mom of two young children, starting over. I considered going back to my previous profession - I had been the producing partner to Francis Ford Coppola. But I also knew that would require me to be away from home... a lot. Re-launching WeBe just felt right.
The company makes me proud. Not only are the bags eco-friendly as they are made from upcycled coffee, bean, rice and feed bags (even the labels are made from coconuts!). But I also still hire the ladies who inspired me more than a decade ago to collect the bags that they do not need.
I was thrilled when WeBe was honored yet again as the official bag for the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival. It made me realize that, no matter how many detours one may experience, life can come full circle. The key, as my mother often said, is to love what you do. And believe me, I absolutely know how lucky I am when I can say, that’s the case for me.
Chief Bag Lady