This autodidact entrepreneur went from cycling Budapest to converting the bicycle tires into belts, wallets and coin holders, pencil cases, trousers strips and toiletry bags. Today Felvarrom has become kind of the “bicycle tires recycler” in the city, as they say, “one man’s trash is another’s treasure”. So far they this brand has saved from landfill over 25,000 inner tubes, 19,500 tires and 18 tons of metal. Get to know the whole story of this unique brand and the man that tire by tire has made an incredible impact!
Hi Laszlo, please tell us a bit about yourself and what got you inspired to start Felvarrom?
Hello! About me? I’m an autodidact entrepreneur and product developer, who cycled 8 years in Budapest through winter and summer. I worked for 10 years in public advertising, in the end as a senior manager, but afterwards, I wanted to develop my own business and focus on my son. I’m a very proud dad!
The brand name, Felvarrom, was inherited from my brother and his friend business 10 years ago, in which they used to design patches and t-shirts. Eventually, I joined the team taking care of the recycling line until I then became the only person in the business. My inspiration was simple: I didn’t have the heart to throw out the bicycle tires that can only run a couple of thousands of kilometres, so these were sitting in the corner of my room. Why couldn’t I get rid of them? I just felt the tires took care of me during so many years, winter or summer! What I came up with, is that rather than storing them, I could give the bicycle tires a second life by creating belts. Today we have sold over 18000 products and have 14 product lines.
Why did you choose to launch products that were upcycled instead of new materials? Where this did this passion come from?
What I like from the upcycling process is to see how a no longer valuable product turns into a new object. It’s like bringing alive things. As a child, we always knew where the tools were stored, and because there weren’t many and we couldn’t easily replace if something broke we fixed it. For me, a used bicycle tire, a fixed sewing machine is worth more than new things – if you spend time on your things, you learn to respect, get to know and love them.Click To Tweet
Do you design all the products yourself? How does the upcycled material help you to sketch the idea that will later become a product?
Back in the day, the whole planning process was done by myself and I would sit at the sewing machine all day long. Today, it’s more of a team effort, however, I am still the creator of those ideas and concepts – which makes my colleagues hate me at times since most often I come across with crazy ideas! Because of the base commodity, we mainly create everyday products for cyclists and vegans.
Could you give us a general overview of how the creative and production process look like?
I have developed a vision in the past few years if I look at a product: “Wow, could this work from rubber?” Yes, this is a type of addiction ☺ If it works, we talk about it with my seamstress, we create a few samples, we optimize, fight a bit about the crazy idea, then test it. If everything is okay, then we send it to a photo shoot and then to sell.
The production is a bit different. The raw material arrives from friends, shops, then we go through them, clean them, cut and store them. From then we only touch the ones that are going to become a product, if they aren’t good enough for us, then it goes to the local recycling centre.
What kind of upcycled materials can we find within the range of products at Felvarrom? And what is all the range of products we can find?
We have belts, wallets, coin holders, pencil cases, trousers strips, toiletry bags, all this from the insides of a bicycle tire. Soon there will be makeup bags and document holders. From the outer part of the bicycle tire, we make the belts.
We assume each product at your shop is unique due to the nature of the sourcing materials. Is there any favourite product or material, or a combination of both?
Yes, all of them are unique as the fixing patches and the place of the manufacturer’s text is always changing. My favourite is the belt, I sewed over a thousand of these. It’s a colourful, strong and mature product.
Could you give us some data on how many kilos worth of material you have upcycled since Felvarrom started?
Well, until 2016 (not including these past two years!) we used approximately 25,000 inner tubes, 19,500 tires and recycled or took to a recycling centre 18 tons of metal. Without us, all of this would have been dumped to the landfill!
And what about the social impact you are creating, do you have any data worth sharing?
People are paying more attention to their rubbish, they realize that one man’s trash is another’s treasure. We always get the phone calls: “Hi, can we give you tires? I don’t want to dump them, I see that you use these…”.
What is the packaging used at Felvarrom?
Only paper – or nothing at all. What I mean by this, is that for example, the holder of the belt is the package, but people tend to use these as tissue paper holder, eyeglasses holder, cable storer – so the package itself is a useful item as well.
Is there any advice you’d like to give to other businesses trying to make a difference for good?
Just because others don’t believe that it can work, it could actually work – so just do it!
If you could write a message on a big wall that the entire world could read, what would it say?
Don’t expect someone else to solve your problem – invest in your self-development.
Finally, where can we find you? Shops, online, worldwide…?
Of course, our main international website is felvarrom.com, but we are on Amazon, Etsy and eBay. We get campaigns on sportpursuit.com (UK), in Australia I recommend the Flora and Fauna, and if you are in Hungary, the Lollipop Factory has the widest range.
But if you would like to sell or if you have a unique question, you can reach me at [email protected] or message me at +36-306-001-443