Millie Lottie: Making a Sustainable Future

Our virtual exhibit for San Francisco Design Week, “Bay Area Made: Making a Sustainable Future” features 39 of our member companies sharing the sustainable practices they are implementing in their products and business operations. Millie Lottie is a lifestyle brand by Jan Hammock, San Francisco-based photographer, maker, and entrepreneur, whose taste for smart style and home cooking are reflected in her original, chic and highly functional designs for totes and housewares. In the excerpt below from the exhibit, Jan shares how sustainability informs the design decisions, production process, and the very nature of the reusable products she makes from materials that are consciously sourced in the U.S. – with zero-waste being the goal for every production run. To view the full exhibit on the San Francisco Design Week website, click on the link at the bottom of the page.

SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES

Materials & Ingredients

I use canvas, leather and bamboo for my signature totes. The wraps, napkins and aprons are made out of shirt-weight denim and chambray. The leather is sourced from a 3rd generation leather and saddle making family which gets the leather from the Brazilian meat industry; the canvas is sourced from the East Coast but originates in India; grommets are manufactured in the U.S. by a 3rd generation family business; the bamboo I get from my CNC cutter which most likely comes from Asia. I use mineral oil manufactured in the U.S. to finish the cutting boards. My branding iron heads for my company and for clients are all made in the U.S.

“My brand’s sustainability carries over into the lifestyle we support — local farmers and markets, using the best local ingredients, cooking and sharing good food with others around the table or outside. My products do not stand alone, they are part of a dialogue that builds community.”

Packaging & Delivery

I use white boxes and recycled tissue paper to pack my totes. My MASKS are packaged in plain white envelopes when available. They are currently lined with a bubble wrap layer. All items can be recycled (the bubble wrap in California, Massachusetts, and Texas and a few other states.) The clients choose the shipping method. I offer USPS + UPS. (I am open to suggestions that are more eco-friendly.)

Quality & Value

My totes are built to last. They are made from two layers of 18oz canvas, which provides long lasting durability. The straps are triple sewn to withstand years of use carrying a heavy load. The soft, oiled leather gets more supple and beautiful as it ages. I offer free repairs for any tote that malfunctions due to manufacturing errors. Personally, I have used my Etta Market & Picnic Tote for four years. I grew up in the South with lots of food carriers that were single-purpose and needed to be stored most of the time. Millie Lottie totes were designed to carry food but are stylish enough to be used every day for groceries, farmer’s market hauls, picnics, potluck offerings, sports gear, overnight attire, and items for a plane trip as they fit under the seat. My totes are an investment meant to be a part of your daily life to help simplify and de-clutter. Equally, my Heirloom Wraps are used as produce bags, carrying a dish to picnics, as lunch bags, and even as storage bags for home organization. The idea of moving away from single-use bags inspired my company.

Waste Reduction

I work closely with my cutter located 1.5 miles from my home studio as he lays out my marker for each production. I listen to his advice if a quantity needs to be shifted to get the best yield out of the raw materials. Our relationship is collaborative. Using all my materials informs my design. My most popular tote, The Etta, has a signature decorative side pull element that came about to reduce leather waste. The Branch Tote, with its shorter handles, uses pieces of leather that are not long enough for my Etta straps. My waste is minimal and what is left, I donate to SCRAP, San Francisco’s Reuse Depot supporting teachers, students and artists with affordable supplies. The only product with some production-related waste is my Heirloom Wrap and the leftover material is used for ribbon making and is also donated to schools and after school programs for crafting.

Local Supply Chains

My raw materials are sourced from L.A., the Midwest, and the East Coast. I utilize all local labor (seamstress, die-cutting, leather sewing) except my CNC for cutting boards, which is located in Southern California.

Energy Efficiency

My home studio is full of natural light, not requiring electricity except for computers and an iron when I am pressing totes. I do not have to commute to my job and my seamstress teams are within 1.5 miles.

Lifestyle & Community

My brand’s sustainability carries over into the lifestyle we support — local farmers and markets, using the best local ingredients, cooking and sharing good food with others around the table or outside. My products do not stand alone, they are part of a dialogue that builds community.

I promote social responsibility by giving back. A percentage of profits are shared with organizations that assist those with food insecurity such as Leah’s Pantry, and Dine11SF. I promote volunteering at food pantries, community homeless dinners, and senior centers. Most recently, Millie Lottie donated over 500 MASKS to hospital units, individual nurses, homeless neighbors, farm worker’s families and more. Stay-tuned for the launching of an exciting new project this summer.

 

Goals & Aspirations

I would love to collaborate with large manufacturing companies to receive unused materials. As a company of ONE, my to-do list grows one step at a time. Any suggestions are welcomed.

 
View the Millie Lottie profile.
www.millielottie.com

View the Full SF Design Week Exhibit

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