Turning Trash into Gold
By Alyssa Schoeneman, AEL Intern
Done with that juice box or candy bar? Make like 1984 Illinois alumna Peggy Wainscott and turn it into a stylish fashion accessory!
Wainscott, a mom of two who graduated with a degree in Computer Science Engineering, founded Peg’s Purses in 2006. As the company’s sole employee, Wainscott makes a variety of bags, wallets, ID pouches and checkbook covers out of recycled materials to be sold locally and overseas; juice drink pouches, candy wrappers and blue jeans are her supplies of choice.
Wainscott began making purses for her daughters and their friends as a hobby, but was quickly overwhelmed by outside requests for purchase.
“The best part about my job is knowing that my customers love the products that I make,” Wainscott said.
In an effort to expand and grow her consumer base, Wainscott recently made Twitter and Facebook pages for Peg’s Purses.
“My background in computer science from the University of Illinois helped me a lot when it came to creating web design and executing online marketing [for my company],” Wainscott said. “[Owning and operating my own business] has opened my eyes to the advantages of running an online business versus selling items in stores.”
Wainscott believes that the best new product ideas come from her own customers, and tries to cater to their needs as much as possible. She urges young business owners to be open to new ideas, and to be willing to make mistakes and subsequently willing to learn from them.
“Also, be prepared not to have a salary for a long time,” Wainscott said.
On a lighter note, she added, “Find your passion and pursue it. You can turn a hobby into a business if you are dedicated.”
And if you are smart, you can find a way to turn a candy bar addiction into a profitable business venture.
Want one of Peg’s purses for your own? Check out her website at http://www.pegspurses.com.