Grad is Co-Founder of Upcycled Label The Bountiful Bag
Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Fiorella Rossel Borkert (pictured at right) studied Apparel Industry Management at FIDM, graduating with honors in 2011. She dove right into the industry working for the bebe Design Studio as a Production Assistant for the 2BE division and worked as an Associate Production Manager for Topson Downs where she worked on 200-plus styles per season. After moving back to San Diego and getting involved in the craft beer scene, Fiorella became an entrepreneur, founding Rossel & Company, a custom apron line for high-end hospitality professionals, and The Bountiful Bag, a collection of upcycled goods made out of plastic waste from the craft beer and entertainment industries that just celebrated its fourth anniversary. We caught up with Fiorella to learn more.
What led you to start The Bountiful Bag with your sister? I developed a start-up where I made custom aprons for higher-end hospitality industry professionals, beverage carriers, and small handmade leather accessories. Simultaneously, I also started a small gig beertending for Iron Fist Brewing. By being involved behind the scenes in the craft beverage industry, I found the heavy woven plastic packaging of the beer ingredients used in daily beer production (grain, malt, rice hulls) was really attractive and I felt drawn to create with it. I immediately created a reversible market tote bag reusing these wasted materials and started giving them away to my craft beer peers. The tote bag was well loved and an absolute hit in our beer community and immediately drew my sister Romi Rossel’s attention.
Together, we analyzed the potential of developing a side line made out of recycled materials. Since we are technically receiving these raw materials free of charge, Romi came up with the idea of partnering up with a local environmental nonprofit organization, I Love a Clean San Diego, to give back a percentage of our profits. During our first six months running the program, we were awarded the 2018 Zero Waste Innovation Award of the Year by I Love A Clean San Diego. Romi and I decided to partner up with a handful of our favorite local breweries, and started collecting as many bags as possible, all with different designs. We are also currently upcycling banners, tents, and festival promo materials, as well as other related production industries. Our newest partnerships include organizations like Vans Warped Tour, The Brewbies Festival, The Keep A Breast Foundation, PETA, Room & Board, and BumbleRide.
Tell us why sustainability and upcycling matters to you: I believe that taking care of our home planet is imperative for survival! If we continue with single-use consumerism and using plastic as the main raw material for production in all areas, we will end up contaminating the earth literally to the ground. I have learned that only 9 percent of all plastic has been recycled. All plastic created in the history of mankind since its conception in the 1950s still exists in different shapes or forms in our planet earth. I believe that as designers and creatives, we should think outside of the box and start looking to work with materials that already exist instead of purchasing new materials. Our production is in our hometown of San Marcos, paying above fair wages, maintaining our local economy thriving. We also decided to donate a portion of our profits to nonprofit organizations like Sustainability is Sexy.
Romi and I currently work for Misadventure & Co. Distillery and Cocktail Bar, which is the first distillery in the world to partner up with the local food bank and create an award-winning vodka out of excess baked goods. Their goal is to fight food waste, make the best out existing resources and create awareness about this gigantic worldwide issue! Romi is their Marketing Manager and I work as a Brand Ambassador and occasionally behind the bar as a bar back. Sustainability is a very important factor in our lives and it is extremely important for us to know where our income comes from and how and where it's spent.
How did FIDM help prepare you for entrepreneurship? I learned the basics of sewing and pattern making, which I didn’t think I was going to ever use, but it is something I currently do on a daily basis. I learned about the importance of the breakdown of costing and effective sourcing, about the steps of product development, and how to market myself and our brand. I took Sustainability and The Fashion Industry as an elective, and it changed the way I look at fashion production — the importance of knowing where, who, and how your garments are made created a giant impact on the way I shop, live my life, and the way I am as a creator. And I met many amazing and inspiring educators and peers, who to this day, I call my friends.
Learn more online at thebountifulbag.com and on Instagram @thebountifulbag.