by Erik Levin, AP, EFPD
PHILADELPHIA PA November 23, 2009 — Navigating through a windy, stormy rush hour in any city is probably at the top of most of our pet peeve lists, but not for Philadelphia entrepreneur and broken umbrella connoisseur, Taryn Zychal who says that those are the days that have provided her with the inventory she needed to turn trash into treasure with her successful upcycled umbrella fashion accessory company, Recycling Zychal.
Recycling Zychal officially launched in April of this year, but Zychal says that she’s been ‘rescuing’ broken umbrellas for several years before she knew exactly what to do with them. What started off as a bit of an obsession has now blossomed into something we don’t often hear about these days, a successful and sustainable business.
Recycling Zychal came up on my radar about 3 months ago when she was named one of the Top 25 Recycling Twitterers. I started following her and the exceptionally interesting stories of dumpster diving, product development, fashion shows, television shows and photo shoots she would share with the world. Here at EFPD, we were wow’ed by her activism and involvement in promoting stylish and functional upcycling, (something that she refers to as “Sexy Upcycling”) which is the complete opposite of the over-branded, impractical upcycling that most of us are turned off by.
I had the chance to sit down with the broken umbrella bombshell this past Friday at Recess Lounge where she been invited as a VIP guest among many of Philadelphia’s fashion elite to the Sonia Rykiel Fashion Show presented by Philadelphia’s new ‘go-to’ marketing agency, The Nouveau Image. We were among many familiar faces that included Steven Ward, host of VH1’s Tough Love and Philadelphia’s own Arthur Kade, which barely seemed to faze Zychal who mentioned to me early on that if it had been raining that night, she probably would have been able to score a broken Burberry umbrella.
“I am always thinking about my company, it’s my baby, it’s my life, it’s my full timer, and it’s working”
said the 25 year old as she sipped a special Sonia Rykiel cocktail designed especially for the event,
“do you really think I’d be here right now if I didn’t work hard to meet the right people?”
The transition from a drinking PBR from a straw in bar a dive to sipping a swanky cocktail among celebrities at a fashion show has been quick for Zychal and is just one indication that Recycling Zychal is starting to branch off into bigger and better things. With the recent success of her Winter HOODs, which are modern day babushkas made from salvaged umbrella fabric and the highly anticipated launch of her newly expanded upcycled umbrella line, Recycling Zychal has won over the media with her dedication to animals, the environment and her couture sense of design. Chloe Jo Berman, founder of Girly Girl Army, celebrity green consultant and cruelty free advocate recently gave recommendation and praise to the company in an article entitled,“The Girl Who Loves Broken Umbrellas”, while one of Philadelphia’s most talked about internet sensations, Karina Bradley, sent out a shout out to Recycling Zychal to all of her fans on her YouTube channel.
Zychal said that she has a lot going on in the next few months including collaboration with Alexander Ciambriello for her Spring ’10 Collection, raising money to expand and collect broken umbrellas around the country through Indiegogo.com, a photo caption contest and HOOD giveaway through Better Off Soaked that is running right now, and of course preparing for the upcoming holiday season where she is offering buy one get one free HOODs and her infamous Upcycled Umbrella Dog Coat and matching HOOD special for $55 on her etsy shop from 12:01 am Black Friday until 11:59 pm Cyber Monday.
As we took our seats for the fashion show, I asked her what the next step for Recycling Zychal was and with a little hesitation and a laugh she said, “This right now was the end goal about 7 months ago; being here, in my element, among a good crowd, being interviewed by someone, this is everything I’ve ever wanted, the next step is to sustain it. It’s not about the fame or fortune, it’s about people rethinking the way they see a broken umbrella and once they know about my business and how I can recycle them into something beautiful, there’s really nothing stopping them from sending it my way”.
To learn more about Taryn Zychal and her broken umbrella business, or to donate your broken umbrella to her, please visit http://www.recyclingzychal.etsy.com or call the Recycling Zychal Headquarters in Philadelphia at: 1 (888) 472-2912