Three women, two generations, and tons and tons of textile waste comprise the raw material of ReWeave L.A., a new upcycled home goods company that turns discarded showroom fabric scraps into beautiful patchwork pillows, blankets and other household accessories.
The generational differences between Millennials and Baby Boomers have never been more pronounced, but for Gen Y entrepreneur Liv Ouyang, mother Debbie and her friend Julie Benniardi, they’ve managed to unite around a very worthy cause: mitigating textile waste.
With less than a year on the market, ReWeave L.A. has created a stunning catalog of vibrant blankets and pillows, made entirely out of textiles that would have otherwise gone to the landfill and contributed to the 11 million tons of fabric that get thrown out each year in the U.S. Julie, an interior designer by trade, and Debbie, in her first professional design role since leaving the corporate finance world, handle the concepting and production of all the products, while Liv does perhaps what Millennials do best, overseeing all the company’s branding and marketing efforts (“Basically, anything dealing with a computer,” she jokes).
This is the first time all three of them have worked together, and Debbie and Julie’s first foray into the social impact space. Liv recently received a certificate in social enterprise management and impact investing from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and contributes to DonationMatch in addition to ReWeave L.A.
We had a chance to talk to the trio about this multi-generational social enterprise.
Net Impact LA: How did ReWeave L.A. come to be?
ReWeave LA: We founded ReWeave L.A. in 2018. Julie is an interior designer by profession, while Debbie developed an interest in the field during her own home remodeling projects. One day, Debbie asked Julie the fate of all the returned fabric samples. Julie wasn’t sure so she reached out to her contacts. To her surprise, most showrooms simply discard their old samples to make room for the incoming collections. They had tried to donate the fabric to design schools in the past, but were told the schools didn’t have the capacity to take in the excess inventory either.
That’s when the wheels started turning. We knew there had to be a way to salvage these swatches. Unlike many discarded textiles, which are already damaged with wear and tear, these fabrics have only been used as samples and are pretty much brand new. However, their small dimensions make them difficult to use. It dawned on us that these samples could be sewn together like a patchwork quilt. Thus, ReWeave L.A. was born.
NILA: What are the biggest problems stemming from textile waste?
RW: ReWeave L.A. is trying to address the sheer quantity of material thrown into landfills each year. In the U.S., 11 million tons of fabric enter landfills each year, and this figure continues to increase. Most fabrics are not biodegradable so they sit in dumps for 200+ years. During this time, they release harmful gases that contribute to global warming. The chemicals used on the materials can also seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater.
This issue is particularly relevant in Los Angeles. L.A. is home to the largest landfill in the country. It also has the highest concentration of garment industry workers. There is an increasing awareness of the polluting effects of the fast fashion industry. With ReWeave L.A., we hope to bring some of that consciousness to the interior design industry.
NILA: What attracted you to designing quilts and pillows?
RW: We started off with blankets because it made the most sense. We had all these rectangular fabric samples that could be sewn together like a patchwork quilt. As we began collecting more fabric from our showroom partners, we started to receive larger swatches. We use these as the backings of our blankets. The smaller pieces go into the patchwork side or into our pillows. We decided to make ball pillows because we wanted a product that was unique and allowed for a distinct range of colors and textures. Every item from ReWeave L.A. is one of a kind.
NILA: Any plans for future product lines?
RW: At this time, our focus is on throw blankets and pillows. We aren’t ruling out other home goods for the future, though. We have also been getting a number of inquiries for custom designed blankets and pillows.
NILA: What's next for the company?
RW: We are concentrating on distribution right now. Currently, we host local pop-up shops and trunk shows. We would like to be in brick-and-mortar boutiques that cater to conscious consumers. Our ideal customer appreciates luxury, sustainability, and social good. We also hope to have our e-commerce shop up soon.
As we grow, ReWeave L.A. will be able to increase not only our environmental impact, but also our social impact. We exclusively use independent artisans and manufacturers based in Los Angeles to make our products. We also donate 10% of all sales to job training for Angelenos facing barriers to employment. It is crucial to us that social good be built into our production and sales model. We want to prove that purpose and profit can go hand in hand in the luxury interior design market.