Vernon’s Edie Jorgenson has been busy turning unsold T-shirts at the Kindale Thrift Store into shoulder bags. She launched her Bags by Edie business despite the challenges of COVID-19, with help from WorkBC employment advisors. (Contributed)

Vernon’s Edie Jorgenson has been busy turning unsold T-shirts at the Kindale Thrift Store into shoulder bags. She launched her Bags by Edie business despite the challenges of COVID-19, with help from WorkBC employment advisors. (Contributed)

Vernon entrepreneur gives second-hand tees a new purpose

Edie Jorgenson’s creative business turns unused T-shirts into eco-friendly shoulder bags

There’s more than one way to sport a T-shirt; just ask Vernon’s Edie Jorgenson.

The volunteer at the Kindale Vernon Thrift Shop sees plenty of shirts come through its doors. Not all of them can be resold, and so with her keen eye for fashion and entrepreneurial spirit, she launched a business that repurposes spare tees into eco-friendly shoulder bags.

Jorgenson started Bags by Edie just before the emergence of COVID-19 — as challenging a time as any to undertake a new business. But with the help she’s received from WorkBC Employment Advisors Celena Sandaker and Jerry Ward, her bags are now the buzz among the thrift store’s customers.

“Everyone asks about it,” Ward said of Jorgenson’s business that sold 50 bags after little over a month at the store on 31st Avenue.

Jorgenson chooses T-shirts provided by Kindale based on their designs before cutting the garments into shape and tying the bottoms in to make a sturdy, stylish receptacle.

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“From the first time we practiced (making the bags) in our office, Edie was right in there doing everything,” Ward said. “She really took ownership of it.”

Jorgenson says she loves the process of transforming tees that may have been destined for the landfill into something new, while also providing an alternative to plastic.

“Before COVID, a lot of B.C. was going towards zero plastic,” Sandaker said. “That push towards it was a reason why we were looking at this opportunity, because it was Edie thinking ahead, and thinking about what’s going to be the new trend.”

For Sandaker and Ward, it’s been inspiring to watch Jorgenson’s business — and her confidence — blossom.

“It’s given her a lot of confidence, and every time she comes into our office she just has a big smile,” Sandaker said. “That makes me feel amazing, that she’s so happy about this opportunity.”

WorkBC offers customized employment opportunities to help people overcome barriers and turn their strengths into success. Those looking for help finding a traditional job or customized work can contact WorkBC by phone, email or online chat, or visit a WorkBC Centre. Visit workbc.ca for more information.

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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