Wynwood's Ecoist Tackles Sustainable Fashion

Ecoist is a Wynwood-based collaborative of designers seeking to create sustainable products that inspire people to think critically about their consumer choices. They sell several series of fashion-forward handbags made of recyclable materials, including candy wrappers and movie billboards. All their products are fair trade, and thanks to a partnership with Trees for the Future, a tree is planted for each handbag sold.

Jonathan Marcoschamer, one of Ecoist's founders, recently spoke with us about sustainability, green living, and social entrepreneurship.

New Times: What inspired you to start this company?

Jonathan Marcoschamer: My family and I took a trip to Mexico in 2004. While there, we came across some handbags made by locals using waste such as candy wrappers. These bags were quite beautiful, but also, we noted, environmentally friendly. This inspired us to start a business in Miami where we could take the same concept, but expand it by creating partnerships with multinational brands to repurpose their waste.

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What brands are you working with?

Ecoist has worked with The Coca-Cola Company, Frito Lays, Mars, and several other major companies. We reuse their misprinted packaging to create our handbags, recycling more than 40 million wrappers so far from landfills.

Who designs your products?

Ecoist is a collaborative of designers; our pieces are designed by many different people, including Helen Marcoschamer, Nazly Villamizar, Emiliano Godoy, and Paloma Teppa. We're very interested in tapping into local talent here in Miami.

Why do you think this is important? What drives you to run a business with a social purpose?

We believe that green living is peaceful living. By making thoughtful choices about the products we consume, individuals can play a small role in creating a healthier planet better able to sustain its people. Ecoist truly does hope to make a difference - that is why we design products out of recycled materials, but also why we practice fair trade.

What are your plans for the future?

Ecoist plans to expand into other forms of fashion, such as apparel. That will be coming up soon. Besides that, though, we would like to take the brand wherever it can go. Our customers are eco-minded people who would like to do their part in promoting sustainability, and with that in mind, we'd like to provide them with opportunities to do so.

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