We can all help the environment by making small changes to the products we use on a daily basis. Simple things, such as eliminating single-use plastics can result in a huge reduction in your carbon footprint. This week we spoke to Bailey Spencer, founder of Karen Leone Designs, about how she’s creating products to make this switch over easy and fashionable!
What is your business called and what does it do?
Karen Leone Designs is the name and eco friendly products is the game. I make reusable products to swap out those nasty single use items we all use in our daily life. I make every item I sell and love putting my efforts into each product. I’m always looking for new items to add in hopes that one day there will be something for everyone.
What made you want to do this work?
I am very passionate about the earth, striving to reduce our carbon footprint and leave a better planet for our kids. After being a stay at home/homeschooling mother for 11 years I found myself needing to re enter the workforce but wanted to really stand behind something good which just so happened to be me. I’m grateful to be able to do something that I love and fully align with at the same time staying home and being able to continue our homeschooling journey.
What problem does this solve?
All of my products are made to replace a single use item or are created from scraps. I believe that if we all work a little harder on reducing our waste we can make a greater impact and over time help this planet get a little greener.
Who are your clientele/demographics?
My goal is to have everyone as my demographic. I started off with one product (sandwich & snack bags) that would sell really well and would replace single use plastic bags. I now have 5/6 products and am always looking to add more. My goal is to have a little something for everyone. Not everyone can be perfect on this zero waste journey but I’m hoping to have a little something for everyone so that we can all make small changes that add up to a greater impact. I sell sandwich bags to replace the plastic ones, face wipes to replace all the cotton wipes that get tossed in the bin, paper towels and cloth napkins, and they all come in an array of fabric choices to add some fun and colour to your lives as well.
How does your business make money? How does it work?
I hand make all my products and sell them either at markets (pre covid), in a few stores locally and my main focus is now on my Etsy page. I have recently decided to temporarily step out of the stores I was selling in to help focus all my energy into online sales. My hope is that I will one day be able to get back in front of people and attend all the markets I can to spread my products far and wide. Karen Leone Designs is a rather new business so any revenue I make gets put back into my business and the local community. I have recently partnered up with Calgary Community Fridge and 5% of all revenue gets donated in food to help that amazing cause. Every Friday my kids and I drive up to deliver food.
Where in Calgary can we find your profession?
You can follow Karen Leone Designs on my social media platforms for any up and coming in-person markets or online auctions, but mainly due to covid I have moved solely to online through my Etsy page.
What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services?
What’s the first step I can take to a more zero waste lifestyle?
To which I would reply, start small. Start with one product to replace a single use item and work up from there.
What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?
The best part is the creative outlet I have and also being able to raise awareness to social issues I feel strongly about. I have an array of activist fabrics that I love creating new things with and in the meantime also supporting the designers behind the prints. I also love the flexibility and before covid I loved getting in front of new people and being able to showcase my product. The worst part for me is definitely marketing and social media. I find now in the world of social media I have to be a content creator on top of creating the actual products to sell… marketing is definitely not my forte.
What is your favourite joke about your own profession?
My life is no joke, I have 5 children, homeschool most of them and sew till 1 am most nights. How do I get a hold of those dispensary guys and become a part of their joint operation?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Calgary business that you love?
Ahhhh there are way too many to choose from:
@kimis._designs is a local indigineous maker who creates beautiful beaded jewelry, ribbon skirts and has also taken on creating masks during covid.
[Green]ster – another local zero waste maker. She makes the best vegan soaps and puts her own stamp on each one, literally and figuratively.
Gift.ed Scent Co. – makes an array of oil fragrances, candles and so much more.
And my last is not so much a business but an amazing initiative I mentioned above, Calgary Community Fridge. I cannot stress enough what an amazing creation this is. They have built an outdoor fridge, freezer and pantry for anyone in need. If you have food to donate please think about supporting this amazing cause. It is so important and needed in our city. If you cannot physically donate they have an ongoing gofundme page to help keep things stocked. This is run by an amazing group of volunteers!