MM Blog

ALLÉGORIE CO-FOUNDER: HEATHER JIANG

ALLÉGORIE CO-FOUNDER: HEATHER JIANG

Tell us about yourself.

Dog mom; LOTR nerd; travel enthusiast; bean soup lover.

What inspired you to start the brand and where did the name Allégorie originate from?

The focus from the beginning is about food waste, not the bags. The bag is just a vehicle to spark conversations and innovation. The name “Allégorie” seemed quite fitting for this purpose.

How did you land on using food waste as materials for your bags?

We started knowing that we wanted to create everyday items using food waste. It took a long time to research, diligence and test materials that would work on a commercial level and are, if not better, at least as durable as traditional materials. Then it took forever to prototype and come up with a business model.

Since we are working with fruits and plants, seasonality actually matters a lot.  We also work in small batches, which means each batch may come out a bit different in terms of thickness, durability and colors. So consistency was a major challenge. In addition, plant fibers perform differently from animal fiber ( i.e. traditional leather) so lots of techniques in traditional bag making had to be adapted. We had to find different adhesives, coatings and other inputs that would work and meet our sustainability standards.

Tell us about your mission and values.

Our mission is to reduce food waste. It’s a mundane problem to have on the surface but reveals so many deeply rooted issues in the modern economy where convenience always comes first.

By transforming the food waste into something useful, beautiful and luxurious, we’d like to create a model of a circular economy and spark thoughtful conversations on how our everyday life can become more mindful and sustainable.

How did your find your supply chain partners and how important are those relationships, especially with the very specific materials used for your bags.

From day one, we wanted to be as local as possible to reduce carbon footprint and support local communities. It’s not an easy task as one major challenge for the fashion industry nowadays is that the majority of the supply chain has moved overseas and the whole operation model in the industry has adapted to function around the steps that are overseas. 

Today, we still have certain inputs that are from overseas, mostly there is no local option available. Sourcing responsibly is a critical part of our sustainable practice so we always look at the impact to the environment when we make choices. As we grow and as the industry evolves, we will continue to reduce the carbon footprint in our supply chain.

What is the biggest challenge you've faced since starting the business?

COVID was challenging to many businesses. To us, one unique challenge from COVID was the shutdown of retail spaces. It’s very difficult to convince potential customers, as a new brand, about the good quality of our products without being able to let customers touch the materials in person. 

What has been your proudest moment as a founder?

This is a tie: 1) Whenever customers approached me at popup events, showing me their wallets or bags with big big smiles on their faces. 2) Whenever customers brought their family or friends to my popup booth and asked them “guess what’s this made of?”

Favorite piece from your brand?

I love our Gala Cruiser. I have traveled with it a lot over the past few years. It’s a perfect size for a quick business trip or weekend getaway. Very practical and stylish. 

Can you give us an example of the impact of one handbag (how much food waste is saved)?

One puzzle cardholder upcycles about 25 apples and 3 plastic bottles.

What other sustainable brands inspire you?

NAOMI NOMI and Lot28 are two of my favorites.

What can we expect to see from Allégorie this year?

We have so many new designs and products to introduce this year, all following our philosophy of reducing waste and minimizing the environmental impact. Can’t wait to share the news. Stay tuned. 

Words of advice that have been most valuable to you as a founder?

Everyday is day one.

Share with us something we should know about THE WAIGHT.

Sustainability is a journey not the destination. We will always keep upgrading our approaches as technology advances and new research surfaces. 

Shop Allégorie handbags on MenoMieux and keep up with the brand's projects and new drops by following @allegorieofficial on IG!