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The UpCyclist

06/25/2014 12:00AM ● Published by Enjoy Magazine

Jennifer Biondi, Biondi Upcycle Brand

ENJOY: How did Biondi Upcycle Brand start?
Jennifer: Biondi Upcycle Brand started in my garage. While clearing the clutter, I came across a box of my grandfather's leather making tools. That box was filled with memories. As my cleaning continued, I came across some of my old bike parts. I kept the old chain from my first bike because it was a reminder of the freedom I felt when my dad let go of my bike and told me to keep pedaling. Biking was my first form of freedom, and from it I learned what was important to me: pain, effort, the time it takes to learn to do something well and keep doing it simply because you can. I’d put time and miles on that chain, wear and tear, and I knew someday I would use it to create a keepsake. The wheels turned in my head and I pulled out my grandfather’s tools and started making a belt and buckle. What emerged was Lucky Buddha. After a good year and a half of people asking where I bought them, I set out to rescue old parts from local bike shops. Within three months of collecting, I had a new type of clutter in my garage, which I don't seem to mind.

ENJOY: Tell us a little about your products.
Jennifer: Our motto is simple: Collect. Clean. Create. I started with belts and buckles, but after working with the old parts I realized there is truly an endless number of products I could make. I wrote a business plan and I asked my two best friends, my brother and mom, if they wanted to help me peddle innovation. Now we make jewelry, key chains, bottle openers, wallets, dopp kits, dog leashes and collars, pet toys and now we are rolling out home decor items. The second meaning of “upcycle” for me is giving people a second chance. My brother struggles with medical issues as a result of an infection from a knee surgery. It takes a toll on the human spirit when you want to work, but your limitations are compromised. I gave my brother, Jeff, the title of Master Collector as a bit of joke, but he turned it into a prideful position and it put a spark back in his life. My mom’s title is “Queen B.” She doesn’t know it, but the B is actually for “beautiful.” At this point in her life, she should be able to retire, but that’s not the case. Now, my mom gets to utilize all of her creative talents and she can do it right out of her own home. All three of us collaborate and have fun working together. It makes my heart smile when someone picks up something my brother collected and cleaned and my mom created. That’s upcycling!

ENJOY: Why is it important to you to upcycle bicycle parts?
Jennifer: There is an overly abundant amount that goes to landfills. People no longer take the time to patch an inner tube. They just buy another one. I think all the parts are memories that need to live on. We do a lot of custom work in which people send in their tube or tire so that their belt is made from their parts. If I did a bike tour in Europe, you can bet I would want to have those memories wrapped around me in the form of a belt. Upcycling takes the footprint we’ve left on the earth and creates something beautiful, something better. Upcycling is productive motion in the right direction.

ENJOY: What do you enjoy about doing this work?
Jennifer: For the first time in my life, I don’t feel like what I’m doing is work. I get to spend time with my family and meet amazing people willing to share their cycling memories with me. Knowing that as Biondi Upcycle Brand builds momentum, we will be able to bring back manufacturing to the United States and create job opportunities for people — well, that’s something to smile about.

ENJOY: What is next for you?
Jennifer: We will be rolling out our home decor line this summer and I hope to raise money through a Kickstarter campaign to purchase some much-needed equipment and proceed with the next phase of our business plan and bring back manufacturing to the United States.
www.upcyclebrand.com
www.facebook.com/upcyclebrand


In Print, Community july 2014 star spangled jennifer biondi biondi upcycle the upcyclist
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