Hope Mills Voelkel, founder of Hem + Haw, grew up in Martinsville, Virginia, a town that’s home to seven textile mills. The factories would donate extra fabric to her 4-H club, and she used the factory scraps to learn to sew. After college, she worked at a creative agency where she learned problem solving and communications skills. It all came together while on a hike when her favorite pair of jeans ripped. She didn’t want to give them up, but they were expired as pants.
So to give the jeans a second life, she used the denim the make a handbag. And when she thought of the mountains of clothing that’s discarded every year, she thought perhaps making lots of cute bags could not only be a great business, but also a way to lessen the amount of trash in the world. And so Hem + Haw denim clutches and cross body bags were born!
Every element of the bags is made in the U.S. The denim comes from all over the South (or it can come from your own old jeans), the lining is made of cotton that’s grown, dyed and woven in the United States, the leather is manufactured in Ohio, and the zippers are made in Georgia.
The bags can be a date-night clutch, or you can add a strap to make a crossbody bag for anything from riding a bike or wrangling children. The leather accents give the bags a sophisticated feel and are a nice counter element to the weathered denim. Buy a bag made with denim Hem + Haw has collected, or send them your own well-loved jeans to create a custom bag—learn more about that here and here!