Company turns bikes, balls into bags

April 6, 2009 8:37:45 AM PDT
Three stay-at-home moms are turning old bike parts into big business. Three moms. Three different cities. All with one common goal: to stay-at-home and still earn a few bucks. The result is a line of products that are handmade, trendy, and green.

They range from small lunch bags to large beach totes, and they all have one element in common: inner-tubes. Yes. Bicycle inner-tubes.

"Sometimes we use the big fat chunky ones, which can be really cool and hip, on the different bags. Other times, we sew them down and people kind of look twice at them because they look leather," said DeAnna Cooper.

They also use old baseballs to shore up their sports totes.

"When people bust a seam on a baseball or they split it and it slices the leather, they just pitch it!"

DeAnna Cooper is holding down the Midwest division of the new internet-based company called Coopersong.

"Coopersong is a creative collaboration between three partners. One is in Colorado. One is in Los Angeles and myself here in Chicago," said Cooper.

The women connect for high-level meetings and how-to lessons through the internet phone service, skype.

Then each set out to carve a niche in her own city. A typical day forC starts with a stop at a Glen Ellyn bike shop. The store donates inner-tubes after flat tires are fixed.

"In season we do a lot more, probably a couple hundred a week," said Dennis Hostetler, Glen Ellyn Cycling and Fitness. "I'm so glad DeAnna was able to come up with an idea to recycle these tubes into useful products.

Then, it's off to one of the two local boutiques that are carrying the company's line. Cooper says she is both surprised and excited by the reaction to what they call their "eco-happy" totes. Until a few months ago, the mother of three and former finance executive admits she couldn't even sew.

"I feel like I am a bit recycled myself because sewing was not in my past," said Cooper. "But because we're a fresh new company, you know, we don't have a factory. We are the factory!"

Cooper says the Bulls-Sox Academy in Lisle donates its busted baseballs to her company. For information on where you can find these bags, visit coopersong.com


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