In March 2015, on a cold night in London, I realised that I don't want to stay in UK anymore. I have a friend who invited me to help his business in Africa and on that famous and windy night I decided to leave. I wanted to refresh my life and forget my daily routine.
Only 3 weeks later I was living in Tanzania.
I am nature lover, I can spend days and hours just being alone in a forest, mountains, I am happier there than anywhere else. But I hate when I find rubbish left behind, I am so so disappointed that people throw tires in wild nature.
So one day, when I was walking on the local Maasai market I found some brightly painted car tire sandals. And I fell in love with this idea and decided that I want to create upcycled tire fashion accessories and footwear.
I immediately started to contact tire recycling companies and get help for shoe sole making. I was browsing the internet almost 24hrs to see other brands, ideas, technologies. I've become totally "tireaholic".
I moved back to Europe, I started to collect bike tires from the local bicycle shop and the journey has started.
Only after a couple of weeks my friends started to order and buy the first belts, I visited local markets, art shows, and I just wanted to dedicate my whole life to my upcycling hobby.
In 2014 I sent emails to the big brands and asked them for factory rejected tires. And Schwalbe very kindly gave me THOUSANDS of tires and inner tubes. For the first sight, it was totally shocking and unexpected quantity, I have never seen so many bicycle tyres together. That was just the beginning of a very very hard period. Stocking, cutting and preparing tonnes of scrap tires :)
For almost 3 years I had enough tires. I visited vegan markets, art shows, bicycle events. I sold online and shared many many complementary pieces with bloggers and journalists.
The process is simple: You take a tire, you cut the sides with a scissor and brush, disinfect and clean it properly. When it gets dry you must check again, if it's totally clean, and there is no any remained sharp glass in the rubber.
You need some tools to add the buckles, like hole punch, rivets, buckles and hand skills too.
If the belt or tire is very curly, roll it backwards and leave in that position for 3-4 days. After it should be totally flat.
And voila, you have a new sustainable upcycled belt :)
Laura Zabo is Peta-approved vegan brand.
Visit my homepage and see the miracle :) I make every piece with my heart and passion.
Feel free to contact me if you have any customised or wholesale request.