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Putting a Chic Spin on Old Tires

Style and sustainability don’t always go hand in hand, but Cassandra Ciarallo of Chic Made Consciously is making it work. Inspired by a trip to Indonesia, she’s building a business by turning recycled tires into must-have accessories. We caught up with the fashion-conscious Toronto entrepreneur to find out how she makes doing good look so good.

How did Chic Made Consciously start?

Last summer I was backpacking through Southeast Asia. During my last stop in Bali, I stumbled upon this shop where Pat and Blanka were making bracelets, handbags and wallets out of recycled tires. I loved the pieces so much that they invited me to make a few with them. I couldn’t help but think how much people in Toronto would love these products. After keeping in touch with them over the next year, I began importing their products.

What attracted you to this product?

I grew up surrounded by creative people and even while working in industries including banking and teaching, I knew I wanted to start my own business. I loved the fact that these two guys were creating an artistic, recycled product that benefited the environment. Around 13.5 million tons of scrap tires are disposed of worldwide every year, and I really wanted to be a part of a movement to help save the environment.

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What’s the most rewarding thing about running your business?

If I can change a consumer’s mentality from shopping for traditionally manufactured merchandise to something that’s sustainable — that just makes me so happy.

Any advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs?

Just go for it. Don’t think too much about it. If it feels right, it will all work out.

What kind of role does Square play for you and your business?

It just makes my life easier. It wouldn’t be possible for me to accept credit cards otherwise. In our society not everyone carries cash; people like paying with credit cards. Square also tracks my inventory, and I recently started using Invoices as well. I love being able to send one to a customer’s email address or phone number. It’s great no longer having to write up physical invoices. This saves me lots of time doing admin stuff and it reduces all the hassle. It’s also better for the environment!