Independent people, places and organisations in Sheffield

Artists, Entrepreneurs

Bag It Don’t Bin It: Sheffield bags keep the world cool

Julia Gash, the founder of BIDBI.

Julia Gash, the founder and Managing director of Bag It Don’t Bin It, has seen great success in directing her local bag-printing business to compete on the global market.

In an eco-factory in Sheffield, Julia Gash prints bags as marketing tools or low value fashion accessories for a diverse range of clients.

Launched in January 2008, Bag It Don’t Bin It (BIDBI) is now selling its bags in the UK, the USA, Japan and some Middle Eastern countries.

Windfall

Sheffield Unchained readers will get a 10% discount when you purchase on BIDBI’s personal design website Doodle.

Like us on Facebook and send us a message. We will send you back the discount code!

The business is based in Sheffield, but it is now targeting the International market. Julia said:

“We have printed more than a million bags to date with over 2,000 a day and 10,000 a week. We design bags for people and clients also design them by themselves.”

BIDBI is also making bags in India and Portland which need some complicated printing procedures, but 75% are made in Sheffield.

Julia defined herself as a person with a printed history:

 “I love printing. My father was a printer and I grew up in a printing factory. I’ve never been happier than when I am up to my arms in ink and I’m printing.”

BIDBI rising

BIDBI's eco-factory in Sheffield.

As a local business, BIDBI is an impressive commercial success.

This week Julia welcomed her 16th member of staff at BIDBI, even though she was the only employee just four years ago.

Julia can still remember how excited she was when she got her first customer who wanted her to print some royal member related bags.

The secret to her success? Julia said it is down to trade fayres, the website and word of mouth.

Julia is involved in six exhibitions at trade fayres every year in London and Birmingham, such as the Pure London Fashion Show.

She said buyers would come to the trade fayres to find products to meet supplier demand. This is where she found some of her current customers, such as the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery and St. Pauls Cathedral.

“But the main way people find us is through our website, for example, Liberty of London, Lush and University of Leeds. Our potential customers from New York also found us by our website.”

Speaking of the business trip to New York next week, Julia looked excited. BIDBI’s bags have been sold in arts fayres in New York, but it will be the first time Julia has worked with an American client directly.

Julie added: “We have word of mouth as well and we often get recommended by our customers.”

Bags made by BIDBI.

Freeing the world of plastic bags

After running a fashion business printing clothes for nearly ten years, Julia discovered the potential market of bag printing and realised it was what she wanted to do.

“In many shops I could see people with plastic bags all the time. It is ridiculous because the bags will then go straight into the bin. It’s not attractive and really bad for environment. Julia said:

“So I thought if we can all use cotton, canvas or jute bags, then it will make a big difference to the environment. It is our mission to change the nation’s habit of using plastic bags, which harm the environment, to using re-usable cloth bags.”

BIDBI realised that many industrial processes and practices can be harmful to the environment, but they are committed to a good Environmental Management System and are working towards a zero waste company.

Not T-shirts, these are bags.

Community impact

“We value community impact and we do our best to help communities,” said Julia, whose team won the Sheffield Business Community Impact Award in 2010.

The young men in her team were all unemployed before they came to BIDBI. She said; “I trained them how to print, how to design and even how to cook. I hope they are able to look after themselves better.”

BIDNI often teams up with local schools in the community. On 24th May, eight local pupils with learning disabilities will come to visit BIDBI’s factory and see how to print bags.

They also donate bags to schools, such as Woodseats Primary School. Julia said that they were happy to see children turning the bags inside out and drawing their own designs.

Recently BIDBI created a new online service called Doodle Bags where people are able to design and sell their own bags or buy the bags designed by others. Julie said:

“We are willing to provide this platform for local artists, designers and the whole of Sheffield, people who like designing, printing and eco-bags.”

The National Portrait Gallery said of BIDBI:

“Fantastic, reliable and great quality, we love working with them!”

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