Kim Karotki

Tur­ning old into new – with upcy­cled pro­mo­tio­nal materials

The staff at Lan­gen­horst shel­te­red work­shops make gym bags out of flags

What can you do with pro­mo­tio­nal mate­ri­als that are no lon­ger nee­ded and gathe­ring dust in the stock­room, but too good to throw away? Klasmann-Deilmann deci­ded to upcy­cle them and sup­plied tex­ti­les to the sewing room of the shel­te­red work­shops run by Cari­tas in Langenhorst.

The staff in the sewing room are busy mea­su­ring, cut­ting and tacking, threa­ding need­les, hem­ming and stit­ching. In the sewing room of the shel­te­red work­shops run by Cari­tas in Lan­gen­horst, peop­le with disa­bi­li­ties ope­ra­te the indus­tri­al sewing machi­nes and work hand in hand to pro­vi­de cus­to­mi­sed pro­ducts. They sup­ply Klasmann-Deilmann with uten­sil hol­ders, cot­ton bags, pen­cil cases, make-up bags and gym bags, made of mate­ri­als that come from softs­hell vests, aprons and flags.

The­re were some pro­mo­tio­nal mate­ri­als in our wareh­ouse that we sim­ply could not get rid of, such as size XXXL vests,” exp­lai­ned Mela­nie Hüt­zen, who works in the Klasmann-Deilmann Cor­po­ra­te Iden­ti­ty & Design depart­ment. “But it see­med a shame just to throw them away. We came up with the idea of upcy­cling them becau­se they are not only made of top qua­li­ty tex­ti­les, but are also very large.”

They prompt­ly dis­cus­sed the pro­ject with the shel­te­red work­shops in Lan­gen­horst. The staff at the sewing shop at the Stein­furt branch immedia­te­ly came up with crea­ti­ve ide­as, con­ju­ring up attrac­ti­ve gym bags from flags, tur­ning aprons into cot­ton bags and making simp­le pen­cil cases from the pockets of the vests.

We are abso­lute­ly deligh­ted with the results,” said Mela­nie Hüt­zen. “The qua­li­ty is per­fect and we think the idea of tur­ning one flag into several gym bags, so that each gym bag loo­ks dif­fe­rent, is sim­ply inge­nious. The­se items are sure to be a popu­lar give-away for trai­nees at job fairs.”

A total of nine seam­stres­ses work at the sewing shop in Stein­furt. Their jobs are like tho­se of most ordi­na­ry employees: they have an employ­ment con­tract, fixed working hours, are enti­t­led to holi­day lea­ve and pay. And yet the­se are spe­cial jobs, as they are desi­gned for peop­le with a disa­bi­li­ty. A nor­mal working day, for instance, does not mean eight hours sit­ting at a sewing machi­ne. Ins­tead, the employees have breaks for other acti­vi­ties, such as sin­ging or play­ing a musi­cal instru­ment, rea­ding the news­pa­per or taking part in what is known as “trai­ning for life”, in which the group prac­ti­ses situa­tions from day-to-day life, such as how to behave cor­rect­ly at traf­fic lights.

The work per­for­med by the employees depends on their indi­vi­du­al pre­fe­ren­ces and manu­al skills. “During the two-year voca­tio­nal trai­ning cour­se, they have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to try out the dif­fe­rent work are­as and see how they cope,” exp­lains Paul Dan­kel, head of the pro­duc­tion depart­ment at the Stein­furt branch.

The seam­stres­ses in the sewing shop enjoy ple­nty of scope for crea­ti­vi­ty. “The seam­stres­ses love to con­tri­bu­te their own ide­as,” says Moni­ka Pott­hoff, Group Mana­ger at the sewing shop. “To begin with, I show them what to do and cut out the mate­ri­als, but they are abso­lute­ly free to choo­se which fab­rics they wish to use – and that is pro­bab­ly what makes this work so spe­cial, becau­se the out­co­me are high­ly indi­vi­du­al pro­ducts ins­tead of mass-pro­du­ced goods from an assem­bly line.”

That was what we found so inte­res­ting,” adds Mela­nie Hüt­zen. “We wan­ted crea­ti­ve sup­port and spe­cial pro­mo­tio­nal mate­ri­als that are not avail­ab­le any­whe­re else.” The coope­ra­ti­ve pro­ject has mean­while saved 490 softs­hell vests, 64 flags and 253 aprons from being bin­ned and recy­cled them ins­tead. We will alrea­dy be able to pre­sent our uni­que pro­mo­tio­nal gifts at the Inter­na­tio­nal Plant Fair in Essen.