Canvas bags by Tiny Tipis

Jun 27, 2014

I recently had the pleasure to interview Cory B., founder of Tiny Tipis.

I first met Cory through Etsy, where she sells beautiful handmade canvas bags. I fell in love with her hand-painted grocery totes, they beautifully stand out from the crowd of cookie cutter totes in the grocery store line. Her bags are also endlessly durable and environmentally friendly. She hand sews, hand dyes (you won't believe what she uses to make her dyes!) and hand decorates. Each bag can take up 16 hours to make, and boy does it make a difference. And she does all of this with the goal of making our planet a little better. I love her purpose and her product, and I can't wait to hear what you think.

If you fall in love with these bags like I did, you can order a personalized one with the great discount at the end of this post!

It's my treat to introduce you to Cory B. of Tiny Tipis! Here's our interview:

Hello Handbag: Why are you called Tiny Tipis?
Cory B.: When I opened the company in 2012 the only thing I sold was miniature tipis. I slowly expanded by introducing new product lines that I saw could better peoples lives and have a positive impact on the environment.

What made you go from Tipis to bags?
There are a number of cities that are requiring people to bring their own bags to grocery stores in an effort to eliminate plastic waste in landfills. Not many places are selling quality reusable bags at an affordable price so I decided to start making my own.

What was your inspiration for the canvas bag?
The goal was to achieve something simple and functional that would be visually pleasing. I started with a list of things I hate about plastic bags and tried to eliminate the negative points (such as broken bags while lugging groceries) when designing my canvas bags.

Why do you think reusable bags are important?
Plastic is non-biodegradable and must be broken down by UV radiation from the sun. This process takes longer and only breaks the plastic into smaller pieces that are then ingested by animals in our environment. With reusable bags you are reducing the amount of plastic waste sent to the landfill and supporting small businesses when you purchase handmade bags. In addition to this, canvas is a biodegradable product made from cotton that if sent to the landfill can be expected to biodegrade in about 3 months. 

Why do you use vegetable dye for the hand dyed bags?
I try to avoid using chemicals as much as possible. This led me to experiment with using all sorts of things I had readily available like onion skins, berries, and wine. I love the variety of colors I am able to achieve by making my own dye. The natural colors are so much nicer than anything I could pour out of a dye bottle.

Can you explain a little about the hand dying process?
The first step is to prepare the fabric for the dye by removing all of the natural oils from the cotton. The natural oils will prevent any dye from attaching to the fibers. The dying process takes anywhere from 8 to 16 hours depending on the colors I'm using and how dark I want to get them. It involves keeping the bags at a warm temperature until the natural pigments set. After setting the pigment I let the bags sun dry before hand washing them in cold water. After the bags dry a second time I iron them with low heat to remove the wrinkles.

What was your favorite hand painted bag?
My favorite hand painted bag is my own. This poor bag has had everything done to it just to see how it will react. I've used lace as a stencil, acrylic paint like you would watercolors, drawn on it with permanent marker, overloaded it with heavy things, spilled unknown liquids on it, and had many, many friends add their own art to it. Despite all the abuse it sees, it's still in great shape and constantly garners compliments when I'm out and about.

What do you wish someone would ask you to paint on a bag?

Desserts. I really want to paint something bright and cheerful like a cupcake or some ice cream.

What was your favorite experience working with a customer? 
It always makes my day to hear from someone that loves their item. A customer that purchased one of my bags said it had officially stood up to industrial strength paint stripper and she was so thankful it saved all of her personal items inside. It was very rewarding to hear.

In 10 years, where would you like to see Tiny Tipis?
I would love to see Tiny Tipis taking a bigger stance on environmental issues and giving more back to the public. I hope in 10 years the company has many more product lines with a focus on reducing our impact on the planet. 

Thanks Cory B.! These bags are already making a difference to our planet, and I can't wait to see where Tiny Tipis goes from here.

Want one for yourself? Tini Tipis is offering a 25% discount on anything over $15 to all Hello, Handbag readers! Enter promocode "HAPPYDAY25" at checkout.

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