Store your computer in your pants. Or your wallet in your pajamas.
With ReBag, a student-founded startup that refashions personal apparel into functional accessories like bags and laptop cases, you can. ReBag was founded this year by College senior Yi Wang.
ReBag, according to Wang, is more than a traditional recycling project. The company’s mission is to help customers retain memories.
“ReBag is actually inspired by my mom, who keeps all my baby clothes,” Wang said, recalling a blue baby jumper that stays folded in a drawer at home. “Clothes are so powerful that they witness our growing moments and connect people who we love and love us,” Wang explained. “They shouldn’t be left alone in the wardrobe.”
Right now, customers can screen pre-made samples online, select their preferences and then send their clothes out for refashioning. The online platform will automatically distribute the orders to different contract workers, who are stay-at-home moms and people with physical disabilities. Wang hopes to empower the contractors emotionally and economically.
“People tend to think business is purely profit-driven and NGOs or nonprofits are too moral-driven to achieve financial sustainability and cost-effective service,” Wang said, explaining that she wants ReBag to benefit its customers materially but also to be “altruistic.”
Wang is working with Career Wardrobe, a professional development organization for women, to sell ReBag’s products offline at Career Wardrobe Boutique, a physical store in Philadelphia that sells secondhand clothes from donation from both individuals and corporations.
The Wharton Innovation Fund gave ReBag some early financial support last December. “A thousand dollars isn’t a lot for a startup, but it was enough to carry out initial prototyping,” Wang said. “I received so much help from the Penn community.” She noted that a social entrepreneurship class also helped her refine her idea.
Wang is actively marketing ReBag to the graduating seniors to help them hold on to Penn memories. College senior Qiao Ding had her blazer turned into a laptop cover by ReBag. “This is very cool and meaningful,” Ding said. “I will definitely carry it to my full time job.”
ReBag just launched its one-month long fundraising campaign on Kickstarter. The goal is to raise $2,400 dollars to fund further prototyping and marketing. Backers can received customized ReBag products.