Have you ever considered tyres as materials for fashion accessories? They sure can be! London-based fashion designer Laura Zabo came up with a clever idea to create a remarkable range of handmade fashion accessories entirely from scrap tyre rubber.
She has developed a visually stunning and environmentally focused selection of belts, statement jewellery, and even sandals.
Turning Tires Into Fashion
Having started her business in 2015 after visiting the beautiful country of Tanzania, Zabo found some brightly painted sandals made by the Maasai from used car tyres. She realised the opportunity in tyre upcycling – as it not only offers free materials for a new business but also offers a business with a mission.
Laura started her business by investing just £40, purchasing a small number of tools and collecting scrap rubber for free from local bike shops and recycling centres. Within a few days, she had sold her first collection of belts to her friends. It wasn’t long before her unique range was gaining sales from online customers throughout the UK and beyond.
Speaking of the journey so far, Laura says: “It was so obvious and quick that upcycling is a brilliant business idea. I had no doubt that I am creative enough to prepare beautiful items from this absolutely unwanted material, and I just wanted to prove that a business can be built without an investment. I now earn £3-£5k through my Etsy shop, website and events. And it’s still growing.
“Today, in the middle of global warming and economic crisis, we live in an age when upcycled items are more and more valuable and we all need more money to pay our bills and keep a happy and stable lifestyle. Upcycling gives us this opportunity. It also improves our self-confidence, reduces stress, and gives meaning to our lives. I believe that it’s one of the most exciting and beautiful industries of our age.”
Teaching Others To Upcycle In Style
Aside from launching her upcycled fashion brand, Laura’s success story has also been the catalyst for helping others. Today, she is confident to share her knowledge and inspire others by teaching them how to make their own products and even launch their own tyre rubber upcycling businesses.
She explains: “This is a niche idea and I envision a future where tyre upcyclers can be found on every corner. As soap and candle-making become increasingly popular, I know that upcycling can help families and individuals live happier lives during this crisis. And it helps financially and mentally too.”
Anyone can join her online classes from any age and start to repurpose rubber into jewellery and other items. She is already helping dozens of people and hopes to spearhead a movement towards reduced individual and collective tyre waste for many years to come.