ReWeave L.A. was founded by interior designers Debbie Ouyang and Julie Benniardi, grounded by their unifying belief that “sustainable luxury is possible.” The idea was sparked when — after years of borrowing and returning fabric samples for various projects — Debbie and Julie decided to research exactly what becomes of the returned swatches at the end of each season. To their dismay, they learned that the showrooms discarded the materials to make room for the incoming collection. Debbie and Julie recognized the detrimental environmental effects of textile waste. They saw this as an opportunity to launch a social enterprise that would upcycle these materials into unique luxury home goods. And thus, ReWeave L.A. was born.
Shop the latest ReWeave L.A. finds on Sotheby’s Home.
You both have business backgrounds. How did you land on the idea of upcycling high-end textile samples as a business?
We founded ReWeave L.A. in 2018. Julie is an interior designer by profession, while Debbie developed an interest in the field during her own home remodeling projects. One day, Debbie asked Julie the fate of all the returned fabric samples. Julie wasn’t sure, so she reached out to her contacts. To her surprise, most showrooms simply discard their old samples to make room for the incoming collections. They had tried to donate the fabric to design schools in the past, but were told the schools didn’t have the capacity to take in the excess inventory either.
That’s when the wheels started turning. We knew there had to be a way to salvage these swatches. Unlike many discarded textiles which are already damaged with wear and tear, these fabrics have only been used as samples and are pretty much brand new. However, the small dimensions of most samples make them difficult to use. It dawned on us that they could be sewn together like a patchwork quilt. Thus, ReWeave L.A. was born.
Business partners often have twist-of-fate tales about how they met. How did the two of you cross paths and begin ReWeave L.A.?
We are actually neighbors, and our friendship began through our overlapping interest in our schools, our community, and of course, in design.
Read more about the founding of ReWeave L.A., on Net Impact Los Angeles.
Sustainability is a buzzword but it clearly has great meaning to you. How do you think the interior design community is embracing this idea?
ReWeave L.A. would not be possible without the support of our textile showroom partners and their commitment to reducing waste from the interior design industry. Their willingness to provide us with their samples keeps thousands of pounds of textiles out of our landfills. In the U.S., 11 million tons of fabric enter landfills each year, and this figure continues to rise. This issue is particularly relevant in Los Angeles, which is the home to the largest landfill in the county.
Most fabrics are not biodegradable and can sit in the dumps for years. During this time, they release harmful gases that contribute to global warming. The chemicals used on the materials can also seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater. Because we are upcycling fabrics that would otherwise end up in our landfills, our products are eco-conscious.
We have an advisory council of leading members in the industry who give us tremendous support through their constant flow of ideas, introductions, and advocacy of our mission.
Ready to make the switch to green design? Catch up with four more of our favorite female interior designers, on how to how to create a sustainable home.
Your throws and pillows are designed and produced locally. What is it about Los Angeles that inspires you?
Los Angeles is a city of creative and forward thinkers in design, entertainment, and science. In addition, our artisans are skilled at transitioning designs into beautiful and well-made products.
10% of your sales are donated to job training for people in Los Angeles facing barriers to employment. Why is it important to you to support local Angelenos?
We have both been very fortunate to settle in Greater Los Angeles and to call it our home. We believe being able to earn a living through employment or a business is very important to personal stability, and we support organizations that provide job training to men and women who have been previously incarcerated or are experiencing homelessness.
The one-of-a-kind pillows and throws you design are gorgeous. Do you handpick the right mix of recycled fabrics from thousands of pounds of textiles?
Yes! Imagine boxes and boxes of samples that we first sort by color, texture, and weight, and then clean of staples or glue. We handpick the fabrics in terms of colors, design, and size to create that one-of-a-kind design. A lot of heart and soul goes into each one.
Patchwork quilts have a long history as a textile craft. Is the handmade component of your business an important differentiator for you?
The handmade component is integral to our products since each item we make is one of a kind. It not only differentiates us as a business, but it is also important to our customers who appreciate high artisanship and uniqueness.
How do you partner with textile companies to recycle their samples? Before you came along, did manufacturers just throw them away?
We partner with textile showrooms (not the manufacturers) in Los Angeles, so collecting the samples is not an issue.
As textile lovers, do you have any specific types of fabrics or patterns that you are always drawn to? Brocades? Linen? A good old-fashioned stripe?
We know this might be a diplomatic and boring answer, but the truth is we are just textile and design enthusiasts! We have so much appreciation for the creativity, passion, and thought process behind the development of all types of fabrics, and are appalled at the thought of these beautiful fabrics ending up in the landfill. We find ourselves always in awe looking at the amazing fabrics, from mohairs, boucle, wool sateen, silks, linens, and outdoor fabrics, too! Our jaws drop at the sight of brocades and embroideries.
What advice do you have for female founders in the interior design industry?
Run the other way! 😉
We are just coming to our first anniversary and continue to learn every day, so we’re looking for advice, too. Our goal is to follow our mission and stay true to creating beautiful things.