Sadie Frances, owner and founder of local upcycled greeting card company Re-Up Designs Co., shares how she is creating handmade cards from trash, personal style advice and why she fell in love with Detroit in 20 questions.
By Chelsie Dzbanski
1. Tell us a little bit about your background and where you’re from? I was born and raised in Ithaca, a small college town in upstate New York. Academically, I have a background in sociology from the University of Michigan.
2. Why did you move to Detroit? What attracted you to the city? I became familiar with the area though my four years in Ann Arbor, but I didn’t move to Detroit until a few years after I graduated. In 2016 I quit all of my jobs and spent the year traveling. In between trips I made a weekend stop in Detroit to visit one of my best friends from college who was living downtown. I had such a great time that weekend that I packed up and moved here literally weeks later without a job. There was/is something about the vibe here that drew me in immediately, and after my trip, that feeling stuck with me and I couldn’t shake it! I felt like I stumbled upon something here that not a lot of other people knew about yet, and I wanted to be apart of it.
3. What was your motive or reason behind creating Re-Up Designs Co., and how did your company come about? Typical 9-to-5’s have never really done it for me, and I realized that very early on in my working life. So when I moved to Detroit, I saw an opportunity to try something new. At the time I thought that meant something along the lines of working for a cool startup that allows you to wear slippers to the office. I had no idea that I would end up starting my own business.
Crafting was always just a hobby of mine — I never really considered or thought about doing anything professional with it. But when I moved to Detroit and was completely broke during the holidays, I came up with the idea for this business. As I was struggling with what I was going to bring to my family Christmas celebration, I read an article about the lack of infrastructural recycling in the downtown area where I live, and it just clicked! Holidays, tons of paper waste, it’s all free, make something with it! And that’s exactly what I did. People loved what I made so much that I took a leap of faith and turned my creations into a company, Re-Up Designs Co.
Everything in my business, from the card materials and designs, to my marketing strategies and business plans, has been a constant cycle of trial and error. I haven’t had the resources to devote to outsourcing certain parts of the business yet, so everything so far has been built and created by myself. Without a background in business or the arts, there have been many times when I question whether I know what I’m doing or not. But after seeing the positive response that I receive from my customers, I know that there’s nothing that I can’t spend hours on Google researching and studying to figure out how to make this work.
4. What is your favorite thing about your job? A few things. First, that everyday is up to me. I get to decide every morning how my day will look, and that is the most exciting and the most challenging thing I have ever had to manage. Second, I absolutely love the constant boundless creativity that I get to play with everyday. I mess around with weird materials, make up these ridiculous phrases and sayings, put them on cards and people love them. Not many people can say that that is how they pay the bills! Lastly, that I am doing something that not many, if anyone else at all, is doing already. The greeting card market and the upcycling market have separately grown in popularity over the last few years, but combining the two markets is brand new territory. I love that I am bringing a new perspective to something as basic as a greeting card, and at the same time possibly changing the way that people look at their own household paper waste.
5. How do you plan on evolving your company over time? Any new product ideas that you can share with us? Re-Up Designs Co. is still a young business with a ton of growth potential, and I have a million ideas of where it could go. The repurposing and upcycling market is virtually untouched, and I see a lot of opportunities inside and outside of greeting cards. But those ideas will develop some time in the near future. Right now I’m focused on keeping my products and content unique, fresh, funny and relevant. Stay tuned for some really great Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards!
6. Owning your own company is a big commitment and very time consuming. Can you explain how you find balance between work and your personal life? It’s definitely difficult. I love what I do and I work out of my apartment, so the line between work and personal life is often blurred. The key is to make a concerted effort to hang out with friends a few times a week. Otherwise it’s really easy to get totally lost in working.
Now on to some fashion…
7. One word to describe your personal style? Versatile.
8. Accessory or possession you can’t leave home without? A Tide to Go pen.
9. Where do you find style and fashion inspiration? Pinterest or Instagram.
10. Best style advice ever received? On a day-to-day basis, among all of the components of style (clothing, makeup, hair) less is more. That way you just look like “you.”
11. Who inspires your style? Do you have a style icon? My style is really intuitive. I buy what I know looks good on me and fits me well, and I try not to subscribe to trends. I like neutral colors and timeless style. A lot of what I wear today I’ve had for years — I just choose to boost my look with accessories or accents of color like a bold lip color.
12. You’re never fully dressed without? Hoop earrings and lipstick.
13. If you could raid one person’s closet, who’s would it be and why? My sister’s closet in 20 years — we have a lot of the same taste in style and she likes to shop a lot more then I do, so in 20 years when she has built an amazing wardrobe, that will be my ideal closet.
Now on to some local love…
15. Favorite thing to do on the weekend in Detroit? My friends and I like to eat, so my weekends usually revolve around eating at different restaurants and exploring. I live in downtown Detroit and don’t own a car, so when it’s warm out I love to bike around the city with my friends. There is never a lack of new and exciting things to do and places to go.
16. Favorite local restaurant? Takoi.
17. Your go-to coffee spot? Dessert Oasis is great for coffee and also has an awesome workspace vibe for when I need to get out of the apartment and studio to do some computer work.
18. One place you think everyone must check out when visiting Detroit? The Dequindre Cut Greenway.
19. What do you love about Detroit? So many things, but I think what I love most about Detroit is the life that I have been able to build for myself here in just over a year. I honestly don’t think I would have been able to achieve what I’m achieving in most other cities around the country. I moved here with no job, very little savings, and one friend, and now I find myself with my own business, I have tons of great friends and I get to be part of a pretty unique community that I love. Detroit breathes creativity and growth, and it’s so exciting to be apart of that.
20. Favorite quote or words to live by? “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” — Dr. Seuss