Feature, product design
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Upcycling to Uplift

A year ago, JLee announced to MLo, “I’ll pack you up in my suitcase when I work in Africa.” Little did we know that we would reunite this Easter in South Africa. JLee is working in Kenya to bring change through small scale farmers while MLo is wandering countries on the X-Ordinary project.

LeeandLo is dedicated to blogging about the “Socient Life” – Social Entrepreneurship lifestyle. Our mission is to bring you stories and ideas from around the world in the areas of Fashion, Design & Tech with a social impact mindset.

Today, we wanted to celebrate the official launch of LeeandLo by showcasing one of the more creative Socient businesses we discovered during our reunion in Cape Town.

Located in the hipster central, Woodstock area of the city, we found a small storefront a few blocks down from the Old Biscuit Mill, an eclectic enclave of cafes, local design and eateries. All Women Recycling is a two-year old startup that creates amusingly pretty gift boxes, termed “klickityklikboxes” that open and close through cleverly bent plastic flaps.

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It took us a little while to realize that these boxes, each featuring motifs of differing prints, colors and patterning, were made from the bottoms of recycled 2-liter bottles.

“Kool little boxes straight out of Afrika” is the tagline painted across the store walls, and the brainchild of Lynn Worsley, owner of All Women Recycling. The boxes are made by company workers, all women who have been unemployed for 2 or more years. Through this enterprise, the women are taught not only product design and assembly, but also business management, sales and life skills.

We were particularly interested in the product development aspect of these boxes, which at first glance, look the same except for the artwork. It turns out that the artwork are the design differentiation. Many of the klicketyklik boxes are purchased by corporate customers and can feature company logos or African art motifs. Wild animal and safari art can go into tourist-friendly gift shops while vibrant patterns do better in the more fashionable locales. All in all, we were surprised to learn that 60% of the boxes find their way to Germany, Switzerland, UK, USA and Australia.

Along with past LeeandLo articles on upscale value creation through materials – bamboo, yak hair, tea bags, we like how All Women Recycling simultaneously solve two problems in one business: plastic recycling and job skills training.

You can learn more about the company at their website http://www.allwomenrecycling.com/.

Meanwhile, at LeeandLo we are glad to have you with us this Easter for our official launch. We are also thankful for the support and encouragement of our many friends as we worked through unofficial word-of-mouth in previous months. We hope you’ll take time to browse through our articles and join along as we travel the world reporting how people are creatively making an impact through business.

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