Amidst the wave of the same JanSport and Herschel backpacks, a new kind of bag has surfaced on UF’s campus. With a button-down shirt and a pair of jeans hanging on your shoulder, suddenly you can wear two outfits at once.
A new student-run company, “Redefined Goods,” repurposes old clothing into fashionable accessories. The key products include tote bags and matching scrunchies.
Mia Crisostomo, 20-year-old UF marketing and sustainability studies junior, started the business in September of 2018. She sews the bags and then uses the scraps to make scrunchies as a way to reduce waste.
Crisostomo participated Sunday in the Gainesville Indie Flea Pop Up market, a multi-city event that aims to showcase “indie” products, ranging from jewelry to plants. It was her second in-person vending experience.
Crisostomo said she wanted to participate in the Indie Flea market to expand her impact beyond word of mouth and her Instagram presence.
“It’s cool that it [Indie Flea] is a market that people kind of know, so I thought that it would be a really good idea,” she said. “It has a following and it’s more up my alley in terms of handmade goods.”
At the market, she was able to sell 18 bags and approximately 40 scrunchies— much more than her average sales.
Crisostomo said each bag takes her about 45 minutes to create and she makes an average of 10 bags each week. Each bag costs $25 and bags with pockets cost $30.
“They go really fast,” she said. “All the bags that I post [on Instagram] will sell out in like 10 minutes. Now that I post at a single time, everyone that wants one is on there at that time.”
People often stop her on campus and at parties because they recognize her from her business, she said.
“It’s cool now that it’s getting bigger,” Crisostomo said. “People who go here to UF that see my bags on other people will take pictures of them and send them to me.”
Crisostomo’s impact stretches beyond Gainesville’s campus life as her business grows. Her bags and other products have made their way out of Florida and onto the campus of LSU, specifically.
Students are crushed every time Anjelina Gonzalez, a 20-year-old junior at LSU, explains that her handmade clothing set is entirely unique and not in stores for purchase.
“Every time I wear it everyone loves it and people want to know where I got it from, but it’s a one-of-a-kind because Mia made it,” Gonzalez said.
She said she has been supporting Crisostomo since her early years of creativity.
Gonzalez owns two clothing sets, a T-shirt, a pair of shorts, two scrunchies and a bag, all made by Crisostomo. Gonzalez said she uses her bag throughout the day as a purse and to buy goods at local farmers markets. The durability of the straps prevent strain on her shoulders.
Crisostomo and Gonzales met each other through mutual friends because they both went to nearby high schools in Orlando. Gonzalez eagerly supported Crisostomo through her various entrepreneurial endeavors.
Some of Crisostomo’s future ideas for growth include hiring people to help with the workload and starting a website. She said she already hired her 16-year-old brother in Orlando to help sew some of the straps for the bags.
Her mother, Victoria Crisostomo, 53, traveled from Orlando with their dog, Sasha, to support her for her first Indie Flea. She has been closely involved with Crisostomo’s endeavors and even participates in the bag construction when possible.
Victoria taught Crisostomo how to sew when she was about 8 years old and she is happy to see both of her kids utilizing the skill.
“It’s like a sweatshop when we’re all home with all of the sewing machines,” Victoria said. “When she’s home for a few days, the house blows up.”
Moving forward, Crisostomo said she is excited to continue sharing a product that encourages people to practice more sustainable lifestyles.
Crisostomo releases new bags every Friday at 5 p.m. on the Redefined Goods Instagram account, @redefinedgoods. Customers can claim their favorite bag by being the first to comment in each post.