We are all so concerned with sustainability and being eco-friendly and Virginia, the owner/designer of Remnants, a bag company, is doing her part to help keep textiles out of landfills. Virginia uses remnants to create beautiful clutches, totes, straps, belts, and more. Her designs are incredible as she mixes patterns, which I love, and colors, and she just radiates happiness. You can tell she loves what she does!
Virginia has a cute studio/shop, Remnants, in Chagrin Falls, less than 10 minutes from my house. When I walked in to her boutique I just had to smile. She said she wanted to create a happy place and she certainly has!
How did you begin creating bags and accessories from remnants?
My mother is an interior designer and I grew up surrounded by and exposed to beautiful fabrics. A favorite past-time of mine was to visit my mother’s design studio and help her sort/organize the fabric memos in her studio. Part of the up keep of the studio involved pulling the discontinued fabrics and throwing them away (gasp). I always saved my favorites pieces knowing one day I could find a use.
What is your background and how did you learn to sew?
Both my grandmother and my mother were sewers. My mother even made her own wedding dress. I remember loving home economics in high school and my mother teaching me the basics….like how to sew a pillow and make curtains. I had a basic Singer sewing machine that sat in my closet and got pulled out here or there but I really had no real desire to sew. When my third child was born we moved into a larger house and we needed furniture and décor, but we had no money. We had spent everything we had to buy our perfect family home and stretched ourselves. I had to get creative so I started to take upholstery classes and apprenticed for 3 years. I upholstered everything from chairs to headboards and eventually started my first small business, Chairs Downstairs. Upholstery gave me the skills to use industrial sewing machines and tools. It also sparked an intense desire to design and create.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My work ethic comes from my parents. Both extremely driven and hard workers. My mother taught me from a very early age the importance of being independent and have a career. My father taught me the value of hard work and taking chances. My design inspiration comes from my obsession with fabrics, textures and colors.
Where do you get your remnants and other materials used in creating your designs?
All of my pieces are genuinely made from remnants; memos, leftover pieces from upholstery workshops, discontinued fabrics, donations…..you name it. I read a statistic from the US EPA that an estimated 5% of all landfill waste is textile waste. So it has become part of my mission to do my part to decrease textile waste. Many of the local interior designs businesses are now aware of my business and will collect all of their discontinued fabrics and donate them to me instead of throwing them away. It is not uncommon for me to get garbage bags full of fabric…..AMAZING fabric.
Do you have a favorite piece you’ve created?
Ooooh….this is a hard one. Over the years I have put my heart and soul into so many pieces, but there are a few that do stand out. I had a customer reach out to me to ask if I might use some of her mother’s wedding dress and make customs remnants bags for herself, her daughters, and granddaughters. It was a very amazing feeling to give this gorgeous fabric a second life. Also, to allow the daughters and granddaughters to have a piece of their grandmother’s legacy with them always. I really enjoy that my designs are more than just an everyday essential item….they are experiences, emotions and personal to each owner.
What does a day look like for you both as a designer and boutique owner?
The most wonderful thing that happened to me by starting my own business was the ability to have freedom over my schedule. For 17 years I was a nurse and left the house before the kids were awake and sometimes got home after they had gone to bed. I felt like I was always running and rushing. Now, admittedly, I may work more hours, but I see my children off to school every morning, I a home for dinner, and I tuck them into bed…..I am so grateful for every minute.
After my children get off to school, I happily rush to my shop and design and sell all day. I jokingly refer to my studio as my “clubhouse”. I feel as though all my favorite friends and customers come and visit and chat all while I am working…how lucky am I!
Aside from your bags, straps, belts you carry other items such as clothes, pottery, wood products, soaps. I love that they are all from small businesses. How you find these businesses and how you decide what else to sell at your boutique?
For the first few years of Remnants, I hustled from one Market show to the next….setting up a tent and braving the elements of the Northeast Ohio weather to sell my designs. It was SUCH hard work, exhausting…but I met SO many amazing artists and creators. It is from these amazing connections that I am able to bring so many wonderful, locally made products into my store.
What do you see for yourself and the future of your business?
Honestly, I never imagined I would even come this far with Remnants. I was a hard working nurse who used sewing and designing as a therapy, a stress-relief. I am so grateful every morning that I wake up and get to come to my studio. If this is where it ends, I could not be more proud of what I created.
And seeing what Virginia has created, both her bags and her boutique, she has every reason to be so very proud! Her designs are beautiful and her shop is just wonderful! One of the coolest moments of my visit was when Virginia offered to let me design my own bangle clutch and crossbody strap! This was so exciting and something she offers to her customers. Remnants is open certain days by appointment only so you can come in and work with Virginia to design your custom bag. Initially I must have pulled out 6 or 7 different fabrics (and could have chosen more as there were so many that caught my eye!) Virginia was so patient with me as I’m not the most decisive person. She even had me stand in front of a mirror and put the fabric and strap selections together so I could see how they looked together on me. In the end there were two that I loved, so I asked her to surprise me!
I love the clutch and strap Virginia chose for me! The bangle clutch is so versatile. It was be used as a clutch or add a strap and it’s a crossbody or shoulder bag. The bangle on the bag is genius. How many times have you been at an event and have a drink in one hand and an appetizer in another and what do you do with your clutch? With the bangle clutch you can wear it on your wrist-perfect solution! And so pretty too! I also love that I can change the look with different straps -it’s like creating a new bag!
You can shop online at remnantsbagcompany.com. But if you’re local to Chagrin Falls, you need to stop in, 35 South Main Street, Chagrin Falls, and experience both the beauty of what Virginia sells and Virginia herself. She’s so kind and her positivity radiates throughout her boutique and in talking with her. Virginia shared with me that she has told her three children “how you carry yourself matters” and she has that sign above one of the windows in her shop. Virginia carries herself as a ray of sunshine! I sure she was a wonderful nurse (her previous career), spreading positivity and happiness to her patients. And now she is spreading that beauty to her customers through her incredible designs.