An online boutique based in Houston is taking upcycling to the next level. Magpies & Peacocks is a “non-profit that supports other non-profits” by taking donated, upscale fashion accessories and repurposing them into collections that are then sold to raise money for other local organizations. Magpies & Peacocks works with local artists, designers and students to create unique lines and to help carry the “support local” torch forward.
The company is a partnership between friends Sara Jane Smith, a Brit who moved to Houston 15 years ago after her husband got a job in IT here, and Ahshia Berry, a marketing and public relations consultant originally from New Orleans.
Smith has a background in interior design, and after her move to the States she began to see a need for a donation system that allowed people's belongings to take on a special new life.
“Viewing people's closets from the inside out, I could clearly see a need,” she said. “I started by getting a bunch of women together to find out what they could collect. It was obvious that that part of it would be easy — people wanted a better path for their things. We get a lot of things people aren't quite sure what to do with, but they want to see it given a new life. We get unique objects with a history.”
From there, donated objects are turned into handbags, dog leashes, accessories and more. Magpies & Peacocks also just recently launched their first men's collection.
Everything the company does revolves around their four core values: Collaborate, Create, Educate, Invest.
“Everything we do involves a lot of collaboration,” said Berry.
Education-wise, Magpies & Peacocks has worked with students at the Glassell School, HCC and the Art Institute of Houston for a program called Artists in Nesting. Students create and presented upcycling fashion items for an event known as Catwalks and Classrooms. Magpies & Peacocks teach students about deconstruction, reconstruction and recycling.
Berry also lends her PR and marketing expertise to the organizations Magpies & Peacocks works with, from animal rescues to schools.
“Most non-profits don't have the budget for marketing or PR, but they need it,” she said. “If we can sell an upcycled dog collar and share the name of the rescue, we've done good.”