Homegirl London’s Interview: Laura Zabo. Laura makes fashion accessories, clothing and more using scrap tyres and inner tubes. Her collection includes clothes, sandals, handbags, belts, jewellery, guitar straps, dog leads and mirrors. Everything is handmade to order by Laura and her products are 100% vegan, eco-friendly and sustainable. She carefully cleans and cuts each tyre individually and sometimes even paints them to achieve the desired effect. I caught up with Laura Zabo to find out more about her eco-friendly fashion business.
Rainbow Bicycle Tyre Handbag
Meet Laura Zabo
Before setting up her business in 2016, Laura had worked in various jobs. She tells me about her background – “I’ve always been interested in learning new things, however, tyre upcycling is an area where I can incorporate all my previous experiences into one business, which is highly rewarding. I quit college after the first year because I’m a rebel and love to learn at my own rhythm and follow my own interests. Richard England, my business partner, works in the music industry, his music label is Cadiz Music. Before officially setting up the business I’d been selling upcycled accessories at craft markets and trade shows for a couple of years which was an invaluable experience.”
Laura tells me how she met Richard – “The moment I started to create upcycled accessories I knew I would need a business partner. I was selling my tyre belts at Greenwich Market and I happened to meet Richard there. Being into punk/rock music, he saw great potential in my cool alternative style belts. We both believe that sustainability is the future so it was destined to be! We work well as a team because I have very precise ideas about the creative process, business strategy and new products, so I mainly manage the company and Richard invests in the business.”
Black and Blue All Over Bicycle Tyre
Being interested in the environment and animals was always a passion for Laura, she elaborates – “I’m always sad to see scrap tyres dumped in nature and admire any inventor who tries to make the world a better place. So, when I discovered some brightly painted car tyre flip-flops at a Maasai market in Tanzania, I knew that this was a deep karmic calling to change my life. I knew that I simply had to share this idea with the world by upcycling as many scrap tyres as I could. This job means a lot to me, it’s not only a business but an enjoyable outlet for creativity and freedom.”
Car Tyre Shoe Soles for DIY Flip Flops or Shoes
Luckily, tyre upcycling doesn’t need very much capital, Lisa reveals – “It was easy to get started and I have Richard’s investment. In terms of helping hands, I get a lot of support from my friends and family plus an assistant. Currently I’m based in a modern prism-shaped glass building in Greenwich, London which is creatively inspirational. In the future, I’d love to open up more workshops so that upcycling tyres can be done locally. Becoming an established fashion house is my dream!”
Pink Panther Bicycle Tyre Belt
Laura tells me why she enjoys owning her own business – “The freedom to try out any ideas I have and to drive the business in the direction I want are important to me. Having this responsibility is a great feeling because real entrepreneurs know that both success and failure help to grow and improve yourself and the business. They never give up! Having my own business is a challenge and never boring, it requires learning a lot of new things – which I love.”
View the Laura Zabo Collection
The fashion accessory collection is constantly evolving, Laura elaborates – “I make anything and everything I can imagine out of scrap tyres and inner tubes! My products range from belts, to jewellery, guitar straps, dog accessories, sandals, handbags and home designs. Tyre is such a tough and durable material, I enjoy creating rock ‘n’ roll styles but also soft and classic designs. Inner tube is known as ‘vegan leather’ and is a really great material. With certain cutting methods can even look like feathers. I love to use this method for skirts, mirrors, handbags and jewellery. I craft everything according to the characteristics of each individual tyre or inner tube as they are all unique. I also have a new collection of car tyre sandals with interchangeable straps, with a design registered in the EU, which I am very excited about.”
Mini Curlywurly Upcycled Inner Tube Necklace
Inspiration for Laura’s business initially came from her trip Tanzania and seeing the brave and innovative idea of using car tyres as shoe soles. She says – “Being a vegan, nature and animals inspire me to clean up this planet and to reuse as many scrap tyres as I can. I also want to highlight every upcycling and recycling process to the public because together we can make a significant change to the world. In the 20th century we caused so much harm to our planet, so my biggest inspiration to live in harmony with the Earth and to decrease the effects of our past.”
Wide Green Lines Bicycle Tyre Belt
Laura tells me about the people and brands she admires – “Adidas created a range of shoes out of plastic fished out of the ocean which is a brilliant idea. TOMS, the shoe company, helps a person in need with every purchase. In business development, I believe that we need to always retain our inner child and treat the business a bit like a playground; keeping down to earth, relaxed and creating a company that people want to work for.”
Buy Laura Zaboo Products
To find out more go to the Laura Zaboo Website. She can ship her product to any place in the world. Prices range from £5-250. All of the products handmade to order, so can be customised to specific requirements. Every customer is treated on an individual basis which means they are happy to deal with any queries or complaints because customer satisfaction is their priority. The zero-waste scheme gives customers a discount if they send back any no-longer-used products which can be upcycled to prevent waste. What are you waiting for? Start wearing tyre attire!
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs and Thanks: Laura.