Saving My Bag

Neal3K Handle With Care via photopin (license)

A series of posts by a Toronto-based novelist who’s trying to reduce her carbon footprint by making more thoughtful choices in her daily life.

 By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist. Please sign up for free updates at ‪http://eepurl.com/ceSobT 

I’ve always loved leopard prints; among other things, I’ve owned a leopard print dress, pants, shirt, blouse, sweater . . . even a belt. So when I spied a large brown leather shoulder bag with a haircalf, leopard print front on Banana Republic’s website in the fall of 2011—the bag was part of the store’s 1960’s-themed Mad Men Collection—I just had to purchase one.

I took very good care of that bag, keeping it clean and treating the leather with a special conditioner several times per year to keep it soft and supple. Unfortunately, I discovered that haircalf is very difficult to take care of. The haircalf front of my bag became more and more bald with each passing year, and by the fall of 2019, it looked awful. I was ready to buy a replacement . . . but I didn’t.

Why? For one thing, haircalf bags cost a fortune. Also, the rest of my bag—the leather—was still in decent shape. It seemed wasteful to toss it out, and I didn’t want to hurt the environment. I knew that nobody would purchase my damaged bag if I donated it to a resale store and that it would end up in a landfill.

So I started hunting for a shop that would either dye the bald spots on the haircalf to conceal them or replace the front of the bag with a new piece of haircalf.

None of the shops I approached were willing to take on the dye job. One shop was willing to replace the haircalf panel . . . at a cost that was far higher than the price of a brand new haircalf bag! I was about to give up and buy a new bag . . . then I had an idea: Maybe I could replace the damaged haircalf front with a piece of plain leather.

The owner of the shoe repair shop in my local mall offered to take on the job for the reasonable price of $120 (versus $500 and up for a new haircalf bag). He replaced the damaged haircalf front with a piece of reddish-brown leather that contrasted beautifully with the rest of the dark brown bag. Two weeks later, my bag looked like new.

I now have a lovely bag that didn’t cost a fortune and is much easier to take care of than the old version of the bag. And my contribution to the world’s landfills was minimal: a panel of damaged haircalf instead of an entire bag.

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/ or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepidas and sign up for free updates at ‪http://eepurl.com/ceSobT  Kathleen’s first novel, Love Is the Punch Line, a midlife romance set in the world of stand-up comedy, is available NOW, in trade paperback and ebook from Amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com/Love-Punch-Line-Kathleen-Jones-ebook/dp/B07BYNX7BM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1525812415&sr=1-1&keywords=love+is+the+punch+line) and Indigo Books and Music (https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/love-is-the-punch-line/9781945181337-item.html?ikwid=love+is+the+punch+line&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0) Visit the Love Is the Punch Line Media Room at https://kathleenjones.org/media-room/

The Green Novelist: Rescuing a Beloved Hat

photo credit: Neal3K Handle With Care via photopin (license)

A series of posts by a Toronto-based novelist who’s trying to reduce her carbon footprint by making more thoughtful choices in her daily life.

Around 2009, I purchased—for the reasonable sum of $70—a gorgeous winter hat from upscale retailer Holt Renfrew (then known for its great assortment of hats) in downtown Toronto. The hat, made in Italy for Holts, was a 1920’s-style cloche that perfectly suited my vintage aesthetic: chocolate brown wool felt adorned in front with a cluster of satin roses in shades of beige, camel, and taupe, mixed with a couple of roses in deep brown velvet.

Every year or two, I dropped off my hat at The Hatter (a Toronto store that sells men’s hats) for a thorough cleaning. But by the spring of 2019, the brim, subjected to years of wear and tear, was badly misshapen. The Hatter cleaned the hat but they were unable to restore its original shape. I considered replacing the hat . . . but I didn’t really want to. I love this unique hat, I know I’ll never find another one to replace it, and above all, I didn’t want to create more waste by throwing it out.

Donating it to a second-hand shop wasn’t an option because—to be frank—who is going to buy a misshapen hat?

So I set out on a quest to rescue my hat. After a brief online search, I found a shop that restores the shape of women’s hats: David Dunkley Fine Millinery at 974 Bathurst St., just north of Bloor (https://daviddunkley.me). This charming shop, which sells its own exquisite women’s hats, replaced the worn-out wire from the brim of my cloche and magically restored its shape! I wound up with a hat that looks just as beautiful as it did on the day I purchased it, at a price (approximately $45) that was much lower than the cost of a comparable new hat.

Best of all, I was able to avoid adding more junk to the planet!

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/ or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepidas and sign up for free updates at ‪http://eepurl.com/ceSobT  Kathleen’s first novel, Love Is the Punch Line, a midlife romance set in the world of stand-up comedy, is available NOW, in trade paperback and ebook from Amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com/Love-Punch-Line-Kathleen-Jones-ebook/dp/B07BYNX7BM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1525812415&sr=1-1&keywords=love+is+the+punch+line) and Indigo Books and Music (https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/love-is-the-punch-line/9781945181337-item.html?ikwid=love+is+the+punch+line&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0) Visit the Love Is the Punch Line Media Room at https://kathleenjones.org/media-room/