I rarely engage in product endorsement, but I’d like to tell you about a company I’m just crazy about. (They aren’t giving me any money or discounts to write this review.)
Upside-Down is a Romanian company which recycles urban materials, such as truck tarpaulins and street banners, into beautiful products like wallets, folders and courier bags. I first encountered Upside-Down when I received a freebie folder branded with Figshare at a Digital Science event. It was a lovely object, visually and texture-wise, and as someone who is a bit of a stationery nut, it soon became one of my most prized possessions — where I would keep, for example, chapters of novel I was currently editing, or anything else intellectually precious.
It took me a few years to get around to finding out where the folder had actually come from. Digital Science kindly put me in touch with Figshare, and Figshare put me in touch with Andreea from Upside-Down. Yes, the “upcycled” products were for sale internationally, so I went to the website to find a wonderful assortment of objects in ravishing colours and with surprisingly low price tags.
The website is only in Romanian, but Google Translate did a pretty good job and I managed to order. Unfortunately you can’t use a card to pay, but I negotiated with Andreea to make an electronic transfer, as their preferred mode (cash on delivery) wasn’t practical for me. The bank wanted to fleece me for the BACS, so I used Transferwise for efficient service, good exchange rate and only about £1.50 in fees instead. Delivery is via DPD to the UK, fully trackable. The unit prices may be low, but the shipping is expensive, so I’d recommend clubbing in with your mates and buying in bulk.
So if you need a folder, bag, wallet or iPad case and want something environmentally friendly, beautiful and very different from the high street, this is the place for you.