Waking up the recycling monster: The Frankenstein Collection
If you have a South Asian mom, the chances of you mastering the art of reusing 94% of the things that come your way, by the tender age of thirteen, are pretty high. This includes plastic bags, brown paper bags, wedding cake boxes, carefully smoothed out wrapping paper, gift bags, rice bags, fancy department store bags, wine bottle bags, tote bags, storage boxes, junk mail, envelopes, newspapers, bottles, ziplock bags, bubble-wrap bags, nylon mesh onion bags, takeaway bags, fabric scraps (did we mention bags?) and everything else imaginable that’s reusable. None of these things ever made it to the bin without being given a second chance. It also meant that you knew how to make anything edible go a long way; dried, boiled, pickled, or used for cleaning, as pet food, bird food, or at least, as compost worm food! So all those ‘new’ #lifehacks on homemaking blogs? Meh. Take it from our co-founder Aparna Samarakoon whose mother ingrained frugality so deeply into her persona that today, she has had a major impact on ApiHappi being a minimal-waste brand. So, as we release the Frankenstein collection—a beanbag series put together entirely using scrap fabric we collected over the years—we thought to share the story of how Aparna awakened her thrift spirit under the mentorship of Mama Samarakoon.
For Aparna, even within her impressive assortment of reusing skills, the most treasured is what she learnt from her mother about cutting fabric ensuring minimal waste to millimeter precision. “When I was in third or fourth grade, and just starting hand stitching lessons in school, we were asked to bring along perfect squares of four inch fabric to make a sample book of sewing styles. Since my mom has already taught me a few things about this, she thought to let me handle the project by myself. The clueless child that I was, I cut the first square smack in the middle of the meter of fabric! When my mom came to check on me, I got an earful from her. I was berated for my thoughtlessness, but she showed me how to start from one corner and carefully work my way along the fabric; how to mark in ways that allow you to continue using the rest of the stretch, and more. That incident really stayed with me, and became the foundation to one of my most useful skills for ApiHappi.”, she says.
Aparna also recalls how Apihappi started off using the little money that the co-founders had at the time, and being mindful of how you spent that was a matter of survival for the business. “Putting my lifelong training, I was driven to make sure that any product I designed, would cause the LEAST amount of wastage and any extra bit of fabric was kept aside to reuse,” Aparna says.
As ApiHappi grew, so did our pile of scrap fabric. But with the ApiHappi family being very hands on with what we do, there was not enough time to work on our pleasure projects; so, the upcycling project got postponed. But recently, while brainstorming a new idea, we pulled out all the scrap materials. Seeing piles and piles of nice, warm handloom pieces, each in a strikingly different colour, was like seeing the ApiHappi colour philosophy of keeping things big, bold and bright, but under severe intoxication. This is what inspired us to push the speed button on the upcycled ApiHappi beanbag series.
We named the series ‘Fankenstein’ for obvious reasons. Watching Aparna take each unique fabric and piece them together, we definitely felt like a bunch of freaks were being brought to life in our workshop. The fact that she was already channelling the creepy scientist Dr. Victor Frankenstein and calling the beanbags ‘my children’, was just a tad spooky. We got over it. “The Frankenstein collection made me really happy; I know now that ApiHappi will not stop making upcycled beanbags; now that the monster in me has been awakened. There's no turning back,” Aparna says, throwing her head back for a bone-chilling evil laugh. (No, we just added that last bit for extra effect).
Apart from how great it feels to reuse and upcycle, something we really love about the Frankenstein collection is that these beanbags are true freaks of nature—no two are ever the same. Complete oddities, total weirdos. We love that. Even when we tried to bring them together as a collection, their individual uniqueness really kept them apart. But this is also exactly what ties them together. In the words of Mary Shelley’s 1818 original edition of Frankenstein, “It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more like one another!” See the full collection here.
Happy Halloween folks!