RAPID CITY, S.D. — It happens to all of us – our favorite pair of jeans just have to be retired. Whether they just don’t fit anymore or they were part of a makeup-mishap, Home Grown Goods Company can make them into something new.
“Everything we make is made from upcycled, blue jeans, khakis, t-shirts. Other than the scrunchies. We had a lot of demand. People wanted scrunchies to match their dogs or their babies. So that’s the only thing that’s not upcycled from something. And we also do dog toys, cat toys, Bert Claus, tote bags, stockings, potholder oven mitts. And as I said, everything is made from upcycled blue jeans or khakis or t-shirts,” says Home Grown Goods owner Stef Lee.
She and her husband have been recycling and upcycling for a while, but the idea for pet products came to Stef while she was walking her dog.
“Well, when you walk a dog, you have your keys, you have your I.D., you have a poop bag, you have treats. And I’m like, ‘You just walk around with all this stuff and she should be carrying this. I shouldn’t be carrying this!’ So I just sat up in the middle of the night, I’m like, ‘I can make a bandanna with a pocket in it, because I had never seen one before,'” Lee explains.
“I made a zipper pocket like this one,” Lee says, showing her creation. “And I made it bigger, of course, because she was Pyrenees and yeah, that’s how I came up with the idea. And it worked great, actually, and it was just one of the things. The more people saw it, I had people asking me for it.”
Stef uses loved items and repurposed them, which keeps her materials cost low.
“So everything I have has been donated to me,” she says. “I haven’t bought anything. Friends, family members, when I go to craft shows, I even have people that see what I do and they will come back the next day and bring me jeans. It’s kind of cool. Way better than putting them in a landfill. I mean, that’s just the short answer of it, truthfully, because the jeans I get- it doesn’t matter if they’re stained or they have holes in it, I can work around it, and I utilize almost every part of the jean.”
This also means her business is very environmentally friendly. That’s why Home Grown Goods Company received a 2022 Sustainability Award from the Rapid City Sustainability Committee.
“I did receive the Sustainability Award, and that was for the fact that we are almost at 14,00 pairs of jeans and pants we’ve kept out of the landfill,” Lee says.
“It meant a lot because, like I said, I didn’t know we were on anybody’s radar, really. So it was a real big honor, actually, to know that somebody out there recognized us for what we were doing, and it is very important to my husband. We have chickens, we compost, we have three huge gardens, we recycle.”
Stef says we can each do something small to make a big difference together.