We are very proud to introduce you to the latest member of the Tolmee family: Salty Bag!
Salty Bag is a sustainable fashion company that was founded in 2013 on the beautiful island of Corfu. The company creatively reuses decommissioned sails (yes, from sailboats) and masterfully handcrafts beautiful bags, totes and accessories.
Typically, sails have a lifespan of anywhere between 2-10 years. Once their use as a sail has ended, they are typically discarded and end up in landfills. While their usefulness in boating has ended, the durability and weather resistant nature of sails make them the perfect material to upcycle. That is where the ingenuity of Salty Bag comes in!
Salty Bag reuses the sails that would have ended up in landfills, manufactures beautiful and utilitarian products in a sustainable manner and employs designers and manufactures from their local community. How wonderful is that?
We interviewed Salty Bag’s founder to find out a little more about them. They are a unique company with a unique story to tell. We hope you enjoy their story as much as we do.
Tolmee: What is your name, where do you live and your relation with Salty Bag?
Stratis @ Salty Bag: “My name is Stratis Andreadis, I live almost exclusively in Corfu and from time to time, a couple of days a week, in Athens. I am the Co-founder and Chief Sails Officer of Salty Bag. I run the company.”
Tolmee: What is your background?
Stratis @ Salty Bag: “I grew up in Athens. My family has been involved in sailing since at least the beginning of the nineteenth century, so my dad got me into sailing at the age of three. I finished high-school in Athens and went to college at Clark University in Worcester, Mass and then to Northeastern University in Boston, graduating with a BSC in Philosophy. After graduating University, I came back to Greece. My first job was working in a family shipping office. I also had the joy of working as a V.I.P media boat driver at the Athens 2004 Olympics. I then went on to complete my compulsory military service where I mainly raced sailboats for the Hellenic Navy. From 2000-2008 I ran a company dealing with luxury marine lifestyle products from powerboats and sailboats to clothes, rigging equipment, and ropes. From 2008 to 2013, I raced sailboats. Doing so, I managed to climb up to the 29th position in the World Match Race rankings. In 2011 I was lucky enough to find a team to create what has become the fastest growing Classic Yacht Regatta in the Mediterranean, the Spetses Classic Yacht Regatta. From 2013, I have been deeply involved in creating and growing Salty Bag, the most award winning sustainable fashion company in Greece.”
Tolmee: What does being Greek mean to you and in what way has Greece influenced your life?
Stratis @ Salty Bag: “Being Greek means having access to a beautiful, and almost limitless world. You are part of a conversation, a language whose speakers you can read and understand, that stretches back thousands of years. You also have the joy of living in a part of the world that is aesthetically simple, absolutely stunningly gorgeous and constantly defined and washed by seas; the Aegean, the Myrtoan, the Cretan, the Ionian.
Coming from Greece influences you because you are part of a world in tension. The tension comes from being neither part of what is called the Western world and neither part of the Eastern world. Being Greek means you find yourself at the geographical and cultural crossroads of two worlds. Your understand, feel and live two worlds but are part of neither. You are part of another world that is made up of the tension between the other two worlds. It is fantastically interesting and sometimes confusing. Being Greek in this sense is never boring as you are constantly in a state of flux.”
Tolmee: Tell me about your family, pets, friends, etc.
Stratis @ Salty Bag: “My family are my parents, my twelve first cousins, most of whom are akin to brothers and sisters and my life-partner Daria with whom I live in Corfu. I have a lot of acquaintances and a few friends who are the most important pieces of my life. They are the base ingredients and spices that make the meal that is called life; surprising, extremely palatable and worth living.”
Tolmee: What are some activities you like to do for fun?
Stratis @ Salty Bag: “I race sailboats for fun, I love giving my time to creating interesting and impactful world-class yacht races around Greece, I read and write and I design flags for institutions, families and events.”
Tolmee: Tell us a bit about Salty Bag? When did you start the company? What was the inspiration behind it?
Stratis @ Salty Bag: “Salty Bag was founded on the 25th of March, 2013. The founders were Chrysa Chalikiopoulos, Spiros Daikos, Panos Varouchas and myself.
In January 2013 I was invited by the Corfu Sailing Club to teach a seminar in Match Racing. The aforementioned three were my students that had spent the autumn months of 2012 making some bags from sails. We met, and they asked me to direct them to various selling institutions in Athens. At this point there was no company and the bags were made in a 86 square foot storage locker. While I was teaching the seminar in January, I noticed that my students were braving cold damp weather and risking pneumonia to essentially come back to the club house every evening and tell their stories of the sea. They were risking their health for a story. I found that fascinating. What was more fascinating was that these stories, once the students left the clubhouse were lost, they were physically nowhere but in the minds of the storyteller and the listener. The stories, these beautiful and powerful stories would eventually fade away as time and memory were taken over by time and age. So I thought: If I could somehow capture the stories from the Greek seas, and keep them somewhere, what physical item would have these stories “written” on them? The sails that propelled the boats that the students were racing on, was the item I was looking for!
Then I started thinking more deeply about making something (i.e. bags) from sails. After some time a few things occurred to me: First, there was a dearth of handmade products in Greece. That was not always the case in Greece. Historically, in Greece we have made beautiful handmade products with a soul in them, with “Meraki” as is the untranslatable word in Greek. Second, turning my mind to the world we live in, I started thinking about how should you make a product for the 21st century. What would a handmade product have to be, to answer the needs of today’s consumer. Hearkening back to glorious ages and being inspired by them is all well and good, but we need to have products for today, products that will be useful and beautiful tomorrow and will make our life easier and prettier for years to come.
This century will most probably be defined by a couple of things; the increase in the world’s population and the possibly insurmountable strain on the planet’s natural resources because of it, and an exponentially increasing perception and care for the consequences of what we do, what we buy and how we live on this planet. These two corollaries created a series of guidelines of how we should make what we make:
- Make locally, which in our case means the western edge of Greece; Corfu.
- Handcraft products, engaging local society and creating work for local artisans.
- Make something sustainable, made with reused, recycled, or recyclable or reusable materials.
- Make an authentic product, something with a real, inspiring, beautiful and unique story behind it.
- Strive to become a circular economy company, making a product that is designed to be reused, and cared for by us for as long as someone wishes to use it.
That is what we do.”
Tolmee: Do you work alone or do you collaborate with others?
Stratis @ Salty Bag: “Collaborating and being inspired by others and their stories is our life-blood. We are fortunate to print our bags with a family-run outfit of artist silk-screen printers called TIND. They constantly come up with new ideas and keep us on the edge which is great. We have worked with the fashion house Zeus and Dione to make their first upcyled bag. We have been working with WWF in Greece making a line for them that supports their work protecting the marine environment of Greece. One of our proudest moments was our “Road to Rio” line. In 2014, two years before the Summer Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro we approach three aspiring Greek Olympians with a proposition. It was a simple idea, we tell the stories of sails, your teams use sails that, you hope, will propel you to the pinnacle of your sport. If you give us the sails that were used on the Road to Rio, we will turn them into bags inspiring and supporting your Olympic dreams by giving you 100% of the profits from this line. Long story short, all three teams qualified for the Rio Olympics, two broke into the Top 10, and one team came home with the Bronze medal.”
Tolmee: Tell us a bit about the products? Do you do all the designs? What do you like to focus on?
Stratis @ Salty Bag: “We do all of our designs in-house, for the first few years Chrysa was head of design with input from all the rest. I have been running the design process since 2018. We focus on making useful, beautiful, reusable, long-lasting products.”
Tolmee: Are your products made in Greece? Are they eco-friendly/sustainably made?
Stratis @ Salty Bag: “All our products are handcrafted in our workshop in Corfu, open Monday to Friday 8:30-16:30 (if you want to pop-by for a visit) and yes they are the most sustainable bags, made in Greece.”
Tolmee: What do your customers say about your products?
Stratis @ Salty Bag: “Our customers are happy to carry a product, that has a story of its own, that is beautiful, simple and reusable. We try to keep our customers happy.”
Tolmee: Anything else you would like to share with your customers in the U.S.?
Stratis @ Salty Bag: “Always remember to Reduce, Repair, Reuse and always try to make sustainable buying choices”
Salty Bag’s love for the environment and their mission to create sustainable products is an inspiration to us. Each product they create is unique. Each sail has a story to tell. Each handcrafted bag has a story to tell. We hope you enjoyed Salty Bag’s story.
We welcome Salty Bag to the Tolmee family and invite you to view some of their beautiful creations on our website.