Best Recycling Microbusiness

Bird vs. Bird

By day, proprietor Bess Petty works as a graphic designer at a sign
shop, helping to announce the East Bay’s grand openings. In the
evenings, she toils away on her sewing machine, listening to NPR as she
churns out purses adorned with sketched graphics of kingfishers and
goldfinches. The bird purse is the classic, but Petty also works her
biologically accurate depictions of various species — plants and
forest critters as well as birds — onto coin purses, magnets, and
stickers. She sketches the designs in Adobe Illustrator using a Wacom
tablet, which is a bit like using a magic pen that can draw onto a
computer screen. The inspiration for the microbusiness came in 2005
when Petty, a self-described crafty cheapskate, despaired over the
scrap material her employer was hauling out to the trash. She began
reclaiming the scraps, printing her bird designs on spare bits of the
nylon-reinforced vinyl material used to make banners, then sewing the
images onto handmade purses. Later she invented a use for the
adhesive-backed vinyl used to print rigid signs: Those scraps became
stickers and magnets. Petty’s standard design set includes twelve
birds, six critters, and six plants, and she occasionally creates
custom designs as well.

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