Saturday, April 17, 2010

Reloop Designs Ruth Yoffe Flagstaff Article 5.March 2010

The following text was extracted with

Trash to treasure helps Cambodia's poor
Former local Ruth Yoffe is back in Devonport on a whirlwind visit to promote
her overseas atd project. Thedaughter. of Itangitoto baches saviour. Sit,an
Yoffe and artist Michael Yoffe is the I. donor Reloop Designs. She designs
beautiful home and fashion accessori. which axe handcrafted from recy-

MARCH 5 2010
Helping hands...Susan Yoffe (left) with sore of her daughter's designs and
Ruth Yoffe above with some of the women she is helping

recycled plastic bags collected from polluted land New York-based Ruth sells
the colourful and waterways of Kampot in Cambodta. handicrafts, that are as
beautiful as they are Susan Yoffe said Ruth developed the practical, through
markets in the US. project over two years ago to raise the Next weekend a
selection of Reloop de. standard of livIng and esteem for ;Ismail and signs
wig be on sale at Susan Yoffe's home expanding group of Cambodian women. at
2124 Henn St, Narrow Neck. "Every level of Me design production These will
include bags, baskets and generates fair wage income and develops' belts
artisan skills in the lowest economic sectors The sale takes place on
Friday. March of the community," she said. 12. between 4pm - 7pm. and on
Saturday. between lhant - 4pm. Further delude from Susan on 445 1894 or


APRIL 16 2010
Yoffe turns plastic bags into New York fashion
In Ruth Yoffe's world one man's rubbish is another man's treasure. The
former Devonport schoolgirl is changing lives for some of the world's most
disadvantaged by recycling plastic bags. She talks to Angela Kemp. Despite a
big hue and cry from our su-permarket chasm when they abandoned free plastic
shopping bags, they arc once again being handed out gratis without an much a
a rustle of protest, Perhaps if they could be .ned into beautifid and
practical handicrafts instead of clogging up Landfillo we could all breathe
an environmen-tally conscious sigh of relief That is what Ruth Yotle is
doing with a gimp of disabled people in Kann., Cambodia. A one-woman aid
programme is the hero way desnibe her project Hum waste plastic into belts
bags and other accessories. The daughter of Susan (Rangitoto baches sallow-)
and Michael (portrart painter) Yolk. Ruth started Rcloop Designs a couple of
years ago to help poor and disabled Cambodians. It's a far cry from the
international lifestyle she enjoyed both in childhood and as a success, thl
product designer in New York. Now 42 redo long term msident of the Big
Apple.she was back in Devonport last month to promote the colourful, stylish
Reloop &sips, each one signed by an anisan. The dpigns begin their life as
used plastic bags on the stre. of Cambodia. They arc col-lected, washed.
tinned into yam and crocheted before being sold in mark. around New York and
beyond. For that, dozens of disabled Cambodians go paid a her wage and Yoffe
gains some satisfac. Roth mend', ldeo hoe ry.oed poor c.w.o.o non that she
is helping a few out of poverty. By comparison Yoffe had a privileged
background. She came to Devonport logo an education when she was II. Her
family was living in Antigua in the Car-ribean where her American father had
a Unitird Nations posting. She waa-sent to boarding school at Epsom Girls
Grammar, an experience she found 'truly
awful". "Can you imagine leaving the bputithl Car-ribean to be with a bunch
of fann girls. !thought I was in the Gulag." After her parenu divorced, her
mother and adopted Indonesian brother Ethan, moved to Devonport to be near
to Susan's family. They reeled in Albert Road and she switched to Takapuna
Grammar and then Westlake Gins month form. Because oiler father's job,Yoffe
expenerthed growing up in some far flung comers of the world including
Botswana and Indonesia. "Education wise, they were very similar. The main
difference was that school in Antigua ended at I pm when you went to the
bpch. "Dad's work tended to be shoe 000 10 three year contracts, an it felt
that you were acnolly moving a or "We lived with the local people, not in m
ex-pat compound. He was responsible for handicnifi develop-ment which is
whorl on doing now. So it's very much in my father's footsteps except I
don't have a Whole UN staff and funding
behind me". At school, Yoffe loved an, for which she got a scholarship. She
studied fine an at Sydney College before reMming H Devonport where she had a
fortui-tous meeting at die beach. was two years out of my degree and them
was no employment on the horizon. 1 wanted to earn money roger overseas to
go to graduate school. "I met Naomi Cassrells who was swimming at Torpedo
Bay. She on studyingjewellery with Douglas Sibbald To an a long story shon,1
said there's going to be an noes "You do your jewellery and I'm going to
make ham I'd also done some jewellery with him and thought I'd do some hat
pins. We did this weekend thing and set up titan Turbans. "We sold out in
the fitst thw hour; and had orders for about $3,000 worth by the end of the
weekend. "We just did it for thn, for some quick money because we were both
unemployed, and were both creative We literally got sewing inachines

APRII 16 2010
ono began making thew things nom home." However Yoffe still wanted to follow
her dream of going to graduate school overseas so she waved goodbye or Naomi
and headed for her fasces homeland_ "As loon as I gusto the Sthtes I
realised I re-ally needed meant money and I could waitress, as Hthd American
citizenship. "I was coming USS1.500 a week, tax fire. I made it thy mission
just to waitress six days a week and I ilVfli with a relative for free. I
had no life but I saved money. "You are very motivated when you realise how
much that's worth in NZ dollars. Yoffe wern to the Pran bsstitute in
Brooklyn and studied for a masters degme in industrial design. She graduated
in 1995 and had onginally thought she would return to Sydney. However writhe
large student loan to repay,she felt she hod no option but to stay and wore
in the States. "I've hood there nearly I 13 years and now consider myself a
New Yorker" Her first job was designing sunglasses followed by top positions
for cosmetic com-panies. "To he honest I found myself in an area of product
design that I never wanted to be in. But you don't have many options when
you come out "There are nvo tracks. If you are wealthy one is and can go and
work in internships for very exclusive conmanies where they don't get paid a
living wage and somebody is paying their rent. "I didn't have that option. I
had to go into the conmremial dmign field which paid a liv-ing .1.0, "Sort
.66 in the fashion and cosmetic in-dustry, fashion retad. But that's New
York the cosmetic capital of the world." Yoffe beeline an in-store &Non
director for international brtinds such as Bobbi Brown and Botajois. "fi was
a lot of hand work and I was thor-oughly bored. You may be canting a lot of
money but it's 80 hour weeks and two weeks holiday a year. "The higher up
the chain I got the less dispel, sable I ....and I could only visit New
Zealand when I quit a job. "I finally decided that was it I wanted to go
freelance and I did this when the economy was boommg so it was quite an my
transition. "In 2091 after 9111. all duo came crashing down and it's not
recovered since. Yoffe lived about a mile from Ground Zero. "I was a
freelance design dinretor earning a lot because I was actually being paid
for 80 hours and that was okay because I knew that when I finished for this
client. I could have three weeks off end takes holiday. "I was doing work
for other clients as well, it NUS booming. After 9,11, four of my clients
went bankrupt and never paid their invoices. "When you are freelance there
is re-, safety nth, there is no unemployment (benefit). I had about two to
three months savings in the bank and I'd never been unemployed for more thth
three week_s.
"The advertising agency laid off all non-pemianent designers overnight. "Six
months without employment is enough .... you're living off credit cads. Is
wasn't just me, people start to crumble. A lot of my Of ends moved out of
the cny as a resultYoffe came back to New Zealand in 2004 to see her family
and one if she could settle down here. "I found it difficult because! wasn't
aniving back with .chilthen or manied ... I found it Ford to fit in. I had
never worked here profes-sionally." lust over a year later she MOVed back to
New Ymic and realised dtht 9/11 had demonstrated how everything about her
life was liable to crash and change. wasn't really happy with the work twos
doing and it was time for onto reassess. to a way when you bse everything
it's die best titne to re-think because it wasn't like I was destroying a
career, the career had collapsed
"I was so touched at how hard everyone worked, how enthusiastic they were,
how tenacious," Ruth Yoffe on the Cambodian people who embraced her plastic
bags design project
'That's where the taming point came so when I got back to New York the first
thing was just surviving. Then I decided !couldn't keep doing this I was
designing platm and textiles and deal-ing with very uptight people on the
phone. l'So thought I would volunteer my services and staned nreaarching. I
had enough money to go somewhere for two nthnths. "My mother had been to
Cambodia on an coo tour and I decided to contact them because a lot of eco
tours take people to view projects. She thought that would be a good sotace
to help me find someone who could really use my expertise. "They got back
tome and to my surpnse said that they had a project for which they had just
won an cc° award. 'Would you come out and do some design and marketing? For
one year we have been making things out of plastic bags and we have a group
of disabled artisens'." But on anival in Cambodialloffe rea/ised she had
been not been told the entire truth She was told that 26 disabled people
would be aniving the next day to loam to crochet, "I knew I had been screwed
but I still thought there must be a reason - maybe they don't comprehend
what a project means. "I Imew how to do one on one, I knew how to knit, but
it wasn't something you fly halfway round the world to teach someone." Her
Kiwi can-do kicked in and slw set off Pot the local market to find anyone
who could crochet. "lion Khmer Rouge had destroyed an entire generation of
skills and knowledge. "Cambodia is like a computer whose hard drive has been
wiped out but luckily I found one woman who remembered a bit of crocheting."
Reloop Designs was bum, and while 0 wdl never mocha mass market, a recent
deal with an American cathlogue is set to send sales soarthg as much as
they- are able. Yoffe can't hold back he tears when she talks about the
handicraft workers. "I was an touched at how hard everyone worked, how
enthusiastic they were, how renames.. "At Hoot the results wereff t that
good Hut after three weeks they were amazing." With her first batch of
designs completed to her exacting standanis, Yolk flew back to New York and
set about selling thetn through evo boutiques. Every piece comes with the
anisan's name, and as she says. "every piece comes with a Shortly before she
anived back at her moth-er's Narrow Neck home, she had responded to a
rogrest to supply Hilary Clinton with a bag. That coupled with the catalogue
order gives her hope that one day, she'll he able to set up similar projects
in other parts of the country, or her example will be copied by others in
other disadvantaged parts of the world. In the meantime she is happy to have
len the pressuns of an executive career for something much dearer to her
heart. For information on Reloop Designs visit the website

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Blogger riya said...

Here, we have given a short write-up on the judges for you to know more about them. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our judges for taking the time to make the Singapore Design Awards a success.

Industrial Design Sydney

April 21, 2010 at 6:33 PM  

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