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Trash to Treasure

Products made of unexpected materials showcase creativity.

This story appears in the March 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When Angela Greene, 45, learned that her backpack's pocket was made of truck and tractor inner tubes and that local tire centers offered free discarded inner tubes, she began experimenting. With Ken Kobrick, she created handbag prototypes in 2001. And in 2004, they founded Richmond, Virginia-based Passchal and landed their bags in the Billboard Music Awards goodie bags.

The conversion of inner tubes to luxurious handbags with customizable leather trim and Smartlyte Interior light systems is miraculous, considering the original farm equipment tubes "are dirty and smell like rotten eggs," according to Greene. Kobrick, 47, proudly mentions that, in addition to boutiques, recycling organizations and automotive and tire stores now carry Passchal. The business projects 2006 sales of $200,000 and is creating a line of evening bags with fiber optics, proving they're fearless when it comes to treading into the unfamiliar.

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