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August 27, 2015

Whimsical toy line recycles sweaters into stuffed animals

Philadelphia-based Greenbleez is trying to raise $15,000 on Indiegogo

Start-ups Crowdfunding
Greenbleez Contributed Art/Greenbleez

Greenbleez is a Philadelphia startup that makes soft toys from recycled sweaters.

What’s more comfy than a soft, snuggly sweater?

A soft, snuggly sweater that’s been turned into an adorable stuffed animal.

Philadelphia startup Greenbleez, which creates eco-friendly soft toys from recycled sweaters, has launched a one-month crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise $15,000 for marketing and trademark protection.

Local designer Margee Barth makes each toy by hand, and not one looks alike. The fabric comes from thrift stores and textile manufacturers that would otherwise throw out their materials.

“I wanted the line to be very whimsical,” Barth said.

Barth created her first Greenbleez toy three years ago, when her boyfriend was about to go into surgery for an organ transplant.

“I asked him what he would like while he was in the hospital recovering from the transplant,” said Barth. “He said that he would love a dog. A blue dog. That became Greenbleez.”

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Blue Roo the dog. (Contributed Art/Greenbleez)

Greenbleez sells online and in two Philly-area stores: Villavillekula in Chestnut Hill and Merchant of Menace in West Chester. The line has grown enough to need licensing and copyright protection, which is what most of the money from the crowdfunding campaign will go toward.

“I’m now in the toy industry, which is highly litigious. If I don’t have everything protected, the design will be knocked-off,” said Barth.

Barth has more than 35 years of design experience, working in the fields of costume design, illustration, recycled art and fashion. Her work in the fashion industry, however, left her “disenchanted.”

“During my course of working I saw a lot of waste," she said. "I saw a lot of materials … destined for a landfill, and it really bothered me." 

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Designer Margee Barth. (Contributed Art/Greenbleez)

In addition to Greenbleez, Barth makes baby clothes and teaches recycling workshops for kids. In fact, one of the prizes for Indiegogo contributors is a personalized recycled-art lesson.

Other prizes include, of course, one of the Greenbleez, including Blue Roo the dog, Redd Foxxy and the loveable Ellie~fant. What’s Barth’s favorite?

“The fox reminds me a lot of myself,” she said. She called herself “one part creator, one part magician” and “a fiercely independent Irish girl.”

The toys will be delivered by the end of November, and Barth can take requests for customization. For more information, email margee@greenbleez.com or call (267) 616-0465.

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