It’s amazing how some people can see new potential in the items around them.
Take Lindsay Lawrence, founder of Metamorphic in Seattle. He was working for a boat builder headquartered in Rhode Island as their West Coast sales and repair representative when he got his hands on a cast-off sail and decided to craft a large messenger-style bag and a tool bag from it.
And it just so happened that people loved it. So he made more, and he began incorporating other materials—seatbelts, truck tarps, climbing rope. How often do you look at a seatbelt and imagine it as part of a tote bag?
By the time Lindsay was laid off in 2010, his business had taken off, and today he travels the West Coast seeking and educating suppliers. “They look at the raw material as a waste stream,” Lindsay says. “We work with them to help them understand what we can still use.”
Sometimes it’s new material originally created for a contract but no longer needed, as in the case of the camouflage fabric. Other times it’s material that’s been on the road or water or mountain and as a whole is no longer usable, but can be salvaged in part. In most cases, it all ends up in a landfill, where it sits for years and years.
With Metamorphic, this tough, durable material is upcycled into new life. It gets a thorough cleaning first, of course. After an initial pressure-washing in Lindsay’s back yard, it all goes through industrial washing machines. He works with a U.S.-based minority/women-owned company who provides the cleaning materials, all derived from citrus.
Lindsay and his new hire, Adam, do all of the cutting and much of the sewing in their workshop in north Seattle. They can find copious usable pieces working around tears and discoloration. They do smaller sewing jobs on the spot; they send larger orders to two Seattle-based manufacturers for assembly.
Local Universe gives back: We donate $1 from every sale of Metamorphic goods to the Puget Soundkeeper's Alliance.
Thanks to the intrinsic strength of the materials, originally designed to withstand extreme outdoor conditions, the dopp kits, bags and dog leashes that Metamorphic produces are rough and ready. The bigger models can serve as diaper bags, beach bags, gym bags and of course boat bags. (The totes even have a red pocket zipper on one side and a green pocket zipper on the other, much like a boat’s port and starboard lights.)
The dopp kits are perfect for more than toiletries. Legos, magnets, rubber bands, dominoes and other little sundries are easily sorted and stored. And if there’s a leak or spill, it’s easy to wipe down the bag inside and out—the fabric is designed for rainstorms, after all.
“My wife loves and uses the Marble Deluxe Tote for work. She travels a lot for work and loves the security of the bag and the rugged nature of the materials,” Lindsay says. “The bag stands up to the wear and tear of travel while still looking good.”
In fact, it’s a family affair: “My mother-in-law has a Marble Boat Tote. My brother-in-law uses his Slate Duffle Bag for the gym and swimming/snorkeling gear. My dad has a boat tote that he shops with and travels with a lot because it folds up so easily,” Lindsay says.
Metamorphic continues to grow—Lindsay and Adam hope to move into a larger space next year. They’re also working on developing a backpack.
When he’s not working on bags and totes, Lindsay is spending time with his two young sons. “I love to hike, bike and sail with my family whenever we have the chance,” he says.
Sounds like that new backpack will come in handy.