Patrick Robinson
Becky Harper, left, and Karen Whorton are the creators of ReUsies, resuable cotton bags for snacks and sandwiches. The pair have sold over 700 of the colorful bags and are on the verge of taking the product to wider distribution.

Two West Seattle women launch reusable bag product

Two West Seattle women have joined together, with the help of many friends to launch a unique product with a decidedly "green" bent.

Called "ReUsies," the reusable cloth bags for snacks and sandwiches are the brainchild and product of Becky Harper and Karen Whorton. So far they have sold more than 700 of them and now have their Web site set up and are on the verge of choosing a manufacturer.

Up to now they've all been made by hand by Harper in her basement using a sewing machine and serger.

"I approached Becky because she knows how to sew," said Whorton.

Both women came up with parts of the design and evolved the concept over a three month period.

Harper and Whorton are part of the "Green Team" at Lafayette Elementary School in the Admiral District and made the bags initialy as part of that effort.

"We sold everything we made," said Harper.

The pair plan to give back 20 percent of all sales to the Green Team.

The bags come in two sizes, snack and sandwich, and while they all share similar construction, they use different fabric prints for different people. Men and boys ReUsies look very different from those favored by the girls.

"My youngest daughter considers hers a fashion statement," said Whorton.

Harper, who has been sewing since was 10, realized the bags needed to be extra sturdy.

"I use a four-thread serger stitch," she said, "We estimate this gives them a one to three year lifespan,"

ReUsies are 100 percent cotton, and won't really shrink, but their real benefit is the fact that they replace disposable plastic bags.

"We figure they would pay for themselves in a just a few months depending on how many bags you use. The snack size is priced at $6.50 and the sandwich size goes for $8.50," said Harper. "We haven't approached a retailer yet and we are still writing our business plan, but we've had so much help from all our friends at Lafayette and elsewhere it's just been great."

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