FREEPORT — Ten years ago, Hannah Kubiak and Beth Shissler opened their store in Portland not knowing if their tote bags made from recycled sails would resound with the public.
The partners grew up in Maine, and left the state for college making a vow to return and start a business.
“We love Maine, the people, and communities are special here. It’s a business friendly welcoming state,” Shissler said. “There isn’t a better place to start a business.”
Kubiak found the avenue to make their dream a reality, from a childhood experience. She grew up on sailboats with her father at the helm.
“Sailing in Maine is magical,” she said. “One day my father made a bag from an old sail; that inspired me.”
Now the company is sailing into the future. With articles in more than two-dozen major magazines, as sponsors for the China Olympics sailing team, donations to community causes and Martha Stewart as a fan, their customer base is continuing to grow.
In July, Sea Bags took the next step and opened a retail store in downtown Freeport, at the new Village Station mall.
“We choose to expand because our customer base has grown all over the world, so it was a natural progression. It’s a great time for people to have a Maine Made product. We love the recycled aspect of our business. A lot of our decor in our new store is recycled from other products by local Maine businesses,” Shissler said.
The company proclaims that each bag has sailed around the world before it is recycled into a Sea Bag. Creating new ways to recycle the sails into quality products is a mainstay for the business.
“We have two wonderful designers. Not only do they take old sails and turn them into designer bags, now we have started to take sail material and weave it into indoor out door rugs. One of our designers has even taken the sails and crafted them into runway dresses for a fashion show,” Shissler said. “We believe in recycling because it works. Creating new products from sails, proves how well it works for us.”