Putting waste to work

Putting waste to work

Entrepreneur Annabelle Hutter's handmade eco-friendly tote bags are raising awareness about how trash can become a valuable resource


Annabelle Hutter's competitive and goal-oriented personality, coupled with her desire to share her belief that waste can and must be used as a resource for a better future has played a pivotal role in making her the proud founder and owner of Born On Saturday, a high-quality, circular canvas tote bag for daily use. The bag is made from 100% recycled fabric and production waste and certified by standards such as GRS, RCS, and Oeko-Tex.

Born On Saturday is a unique brand put together by the owner herself. Photos: Rui Rodrigues

At just 25, Hutter -- a Thai and Swiss mix -- established her recycled cotton bag brand in March last year, single-handedly overseeing each step of the process.

While the recycled cotton fabrics are woven in Turkey, the totes are made in Thailand.

Her attention to the smallest details seen in her creations speaks volumes about her dedication to making each tote bag a personalised item her clients can carry with pride. Moreover, it raises awareness about how waste can be viewed as a resource since each bag is an example of the use of natural plant-based recycled cotton. The bag also shines a light on the recycling production process, which is completely mechanical and avoids the use of chemicals or bleaching to regenerate the fibres.

It is interesting to note that Hutter left her job in fashion and marketing last year to help her family business, Säntis Textiles, which expanded into recycling textiles in 2004. Five years ago, the brand began recycling industrial cotton waste and production waste into new apparel for global brands such as Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger.

These 100% recycled cotton fabrics are called RCO100.

"I wanted to design products that not only look or feel good but also do good. Besides the design, it was my desire to send a message to the world about recycling for a greener future. It all started when I was not able to find high-quality fabric items that were sustainable, uniquely designed, and perfect for daily use, so I decided to make my own products instead."

Annabelle Hutter oversees her brand's entire supply chain. She approves all the fabrics and printing. Rui Rodrigues

Having worked in fashion and marketing, the visionary entrepreneur's brand can best be described as a reflection of her high-spirited and frequently unorthodox analysis of life and its delicate nature. Each of her creative pieces is influenced by a family culture of textile innovation, exotic travels to all corners of the globe, as well as ample studies in the history of art.

Hutter named her brand Born On Saturday because "it comes from the Romansch literal translation of Säntis 'Sambatinus', the mountain my family and ancestors grew up around (Romansch is one of the official languages of Switzerland and is a descendant of Latin). I don't personally speak it but I found it to be a cool aspect".

"Moreover, when I was thinking about Born On Saturday, it made me think of rebirth, especially how I give a new life (rebirth) to waste that I recycle into these totes.''

The visionary entrepreneur's brand is looking to also contribute to the circular Thai economy. Furthermore, the design and manufacturing process used in her products has the capability to reduce total yearly greenhouse gas emissions by 2% to 4%. The brand reuses waste that would otherwise be thrown out to be burned or dumped in landfills.

Moreover, in comparison to virgin cotton, recycled cotton can decrease climate impact by over 75%, she said.

Part of the quality control process includes examining the print resolution and appreciating the special feel of her 100%. Rui Rodrigues

"The 100% recycled cotton that we use for each tote minimises water use and reduces environmental pollution. It also plays an important role in the circular economy as we utilise resources already available rather than tearing down the planet to build new items.''

Hutter said that with her brand, she hopes to shine a spotlight on products "Made In Thailand" and the craft and care that goes into this.

"Each bag is handmade in a small factory owned by a family company off Yaowarat Road in Nakhon Pathom. By controlling my manufacturing supply chain and being here every step of the way, I wanted to highlight and amplify Thai-made both at home and abroad.

"I realised during my design process that my work emulates the ritualistic cycles of nature. During my journey as a female entrepreneur so far, I have realised that I'm not just a woman but that I'm someone who does have the power to change things. That's what motivates me every day."

Hutter, who also shoulders the responsibility of fabric director of RCO100 (100% recycled cotton), said the following about her challenges: "One main issue I face is that it's a challenge to juggle two hats daily but I am grateful to be working closely with global brands to optimise their supply chains by becoming more open and transparent, familial, and organic. This same ethos is something I convey in my bags as well which makes things less challenging at the end of the day.

"I have come to accept that my work as a brand owner, designer, and fabric director means that I will have to show the world -- for the rest of my life -- that waste is a valuable resource and that our misconceptions around it are built off of a colonial construct (cultural hierarchy and supremacy).

"It's my job to carry this notion forward in the work that I do and the messages that I communicate through my work."

Online purchases can be made via Instagram @bornonsaturdaybrand or online bornonsaturday.com.


Her current collection is made up of two patterns; Bluemen and Recyclé-à-porter. Each pattern comes in two sizes and are GRS, RCS and Oeko-Tex certified. Rui Rodrigues

Having a transparent care label was a top priority for Hutter as she was adamant to encourage customers to understand the origins of each bag. Rui Rodrigues

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