Versatile, sustainable bags, made here in Cleveland Heights
In a light-filled studio in the Coventry neighborhood, designer Madeline Hoyle crafts versatile and graphically striking bags. An avid bicyclist, Hoyle is inspired by the needs of bike commuters, and is committed to using sustainable materials to produce her durable, practical line of products.
Hoyle established her company, Blicksbags, after graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) in 2009. A native of Miami, Fla., Hoyle moved to Cleveland Heights after graduation, and cites Cleveland’s artistic community as a reason she decided to stay in the area. “I like the community here,” noted Hoyle, “And it’s relatively affordable, which is a huge plus. I lived in Little Italy when I was a student, and always hung out around Coventry.”
Hoyle makes each bag herself, using a mix of old and new materials. Reclaimed materials include vinyl exhibition banners from CIA and the Cleveland International Film Festival, as well as found remnants from Cleveland’s old textile mills, such as colorful accent straps and zippers. Hoyle pairs these recycled materials with new abrasion-resistant fabric.
“I really appreciate organization and simplicity, and I’m passionate about sustainability and the environment, so it made sense to me to pursue that in my work,” Hoyle explained. “If I could use just old materials I would, but for longevity, it’s practical to mix old and new—there is always a balance between the two. If I can make something that lasts longer, that’s also sustainable.”
Blicksbags are sold locally at Cleveland’s Museum of Contemporary Art store, as well as Whole Foods at Cedar Center, and Cain Park Bicycle. The full range of bags—eight styles in all, priced from $40 to $210—are featured on Hoyle’s website, www.blicksbags.com.
Hoyle describes her best-selling bag, the Commuter, as “a good all-around bag, and great for bike commuting.” She points out that its flap makes the bag fully waterproof, and its roomy interior features expandable pockets. Another style, the Tremont, is designed as a multi-use bag, with pivoting straps that are adjustable, for wearing different ways.
Besides bags, Hoyle’s line includes four accessories: a lock holster, which enables one to wear a bike lock on a belt; a wallet, sized to accommodate a checkbook, and to fit inside Hoyle’s bags; bike fenders, made from reclaimed wood shop scraps; and a chain link necklace, made from a bicycle chain link and glass seed beads. The bike fenders are made by Steven Bukowski, another CIA alumnus, and Hoyle produces the necklaces with Megan John, also a CIA graduate.
Hoyle also collaborates with other artists as a member of Aspirium, a group of individuals sharing knowledge of branding and niche marketing, to promote their products and projects.
The newest addition to the Blicksbags line is the DC01, a messenger-style padded laptop bag, created in collaboration with Dan Cuffaro, head of CIA’s industrial design department. An industrial design major, Hoyle will donate 10 percent of the sales of the DC bag to CIA.
“I am interested in applying industrial design to the crafts industry, and making individual pieces for individuals,” Hoyle explained. Her bags are available as ready-to-ship versions, and are also offered with customizable features, enabling the customer to select a color scheme, for example, as well as unique embroidered and appliquéd accents.
For information on Blicksbags, as well as Hoyle’s work and collaborations with other artists, visit www.blicksbags.com.
A former marketing professional, Kim Sergio Inglis moved to Cleveland Heights after 20 years in Brooklyn, NY.