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Artisans Make Good by using recyclables for shop’s wares

Posted: August 6th, 2010 | Communities, South Park | 1 Comment

By Jessica Hudgins
SDUN Reporter

Discarded Stone Brewery bottles become drinking glasses, vases and candle holders at Make Good. (Courtesy Bottlehood)

Old and forgotten items are getting another chance at life thanks to some local artists. Make Good, a new store at 2207 Fern St. in South Park, is turning trash into treasure.

The shop, which held its grand opening in May, offers distinctive recycled products.

“There’s nothing like it,” said owner Sophia Hall.

Make Good sells everything from clothing to jewelry to glassware to handbags to iPod covers to local artwork. And everything is handmade, recycled and eco-friendly.

“We’re a store that’s embracing sustainability. We use what you already have to make new stuff,” Hall said. “Every single item in the store has a story.”

Featuring 18 artists and designers—all locals either from San Diego or Tijuana—the Make Good family takes unwanted items and turns them into something fresh and new. Hall described the concept as “up-cycling.”

“[The artists] take something that was intended for one purpose and give it new life by taking it into a whole different direction,” she said.

For instance, one of the artists starts by collecting empty beer and wine bottles from restaurants and bars in the neighborhood. These bottles aren’t accepted at recycling plants, so instead of letting the glass sit in a landfill for years and years, Make Good’s designer, Bottlehood, simply cuts off the tops of the bottles and reworks them to make glassware. A few of Bottlehood’s pieces feature the original labeling of Stone’s IPA, Absolut Vodka and even some of the early 7-Up designs. The re-invented glasses can be used as water cups, candleholders, flower vases or even spoon rests.

Empty coffee bags become colorful purses and totes in Make Good’s South Park shop. (Courtesy Make Good)

In addition to owning and operating the business, Hall is also one of the highlighted artists. She describes herself as having “creative ADD,” and takes up-cycling to a whole new level, creating handbags and wallets out of used Starbucks coffee bags.

“I also crochet, knit, sew and work with old silk ties,” she said. “I use [ties] to make necklaces and other articles of clothing. One of the other artists uses them to make iPod covers. It’s just a tie, but we’ve turned it into so much more.”

Hall’s creative ingenuity has long served her well, but she didn’t always plan to run Make Good.

“It was never a part of my plan to own my own business. It just happened,” she said.

It all started at an ice cream shop down the street. When Hall first moved to San Diego from Orange County a few years ago, she and a few friends put their artwork and designs on display in the extra side space of the Daily Scoop on the corner of Juniper and 30th streets. That’s when she became friends with the owner of what was then Citizen Video. At the time, Citizen Video was struggling to stay afloat, so the owner approached Hall with an idea. Hall agreed to use 20 percent of the floor space at the film store to show and sell her pieces to help the shop keep its doors open. Six months later, the owner decided to close Citizen Video.

At that point, Hall was about to give it all up.

“We were going to quit,” she said. “But we were really welcomed in the neighborhood, so I talked to my husband and ultimately decided that I really wanted to do this.”

They came up with a name, and what was once Citizen Video quickly morphed into Make Good.

Even though it could be risky to open a small business in the middle of a recession, Hall is confident Make Good will survive.

“We’re in a unique time where people have a new appreciation for things that are handmade and sustainable. People just have a high awareness now for what’s happening on our planet,” she said. “And despite the fact that we are in this type of economy, people are embracing the idea of purchasing items with more character and personality.”

In just a few months, she said, Make Good has built a strong following in the neighborhood.

“The store really brings out the creative community of South Park,” said jewelry artist Colleen Townend.

Townend has been making jewelry since she was a teenager, and her designs are sold at the store. Her specialty is finding antique pieces and adding to them to make new and unique designs.

Townend doesn’t just sell her jewelry at Make Good, she can often be found behind the desk or helping customers throughout the shop. She has gotten to know the customers and believes the store builds a sense of community.

“We have customers coming in that we’ve known for a couple of years,” she said. “We’ve also noticed that there are so many artists in the neighborhood.”

According to Townend, some of these artists come in the store and want to sell their own artwork there.

Hall met some of the current artists featured at Make Good through an organization called Handmade Revolution. Before Make Good existed, the artists and designers of Handmade Revolution were showing and selling their work at trunk shows out of their own homes. Brooke Evans is one of those artists.

“Make Good is significant for the local artist, like myself, because it gives us a great forum to display our artwork,” Evans said.

She and her husband form the artistic team Fire & Flowers. Using scrap wood as a canvas and whatever else they have around the house, their creative collaboration combines the pretty with the edgy. Evans said selling her work on etsy.com and in trunk shows doesn’t compare to having it on display in a tangible brick-and-mortar store.

“It’s really great to see that [Make Good] has been built into something more. I have high hopes for it,” she said.

One Comments

  1. Mike says:

    Make Good sounds like an awesome store! I’ve known about Bottlehood for a few months now but didn’t know that they sold their wares to stores. I’ll definitely check out this place next time I’m in South Park, look like there’s going to be a lot of awesome things.

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