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Julie Rais Ellis and Christine Devitt Stolikder, co-founders of REFUSION®, have developed a way to turn plastic bags into a fabric. Courtesy photo
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Turning used plastic bags into a beautiful and durable material

With their entrepreneurial drive and a commitment to better their community, Julie Rais Ellis & Christine Devitt Stoliker have created a new kind of fabric that takes used plastic and turns it into beautiful, durable material.

It is called REFUSION®, a new brand of fabric developed using their revolutionary patent-pending process.

Of the 78 million tons of plastic packing produced annually, 32% of it ends up on the oceans, which is the equivalent of pouring one garbage truck of plastic into the oceans every minute.  And unfortunately plastic production is growing each year.

“We all know we have a problem with plastic, but we just don’t have many solutions at this point,” Ellis said.  Plastic bags are often used once and thrown away, and they aren’t recycled often because of how difficult sorting and processing the material is compared to hard plastics.

Ellis, left, and Stoliker sort plastic bags collected from community members and plastic packaging from local retailers. Courtesy photo

That exact issue is what originally motivated Ellis to come up with a solution for this plastic problem in 2018 and to join forces with Christine in the effort in 2019. With REFUSION®, they have developed a way to sort and process plastic bags into a fabric. Then using their design and manufacturing skills they and their team have turned the material into a stylish, eco-friendly new handbag collection.

Early in 2019 as Ellis was developing this  process, she felt it was unique and at that point she filed a utility patent, and in 2020 Ellis and Stoliker added their new findings to the patent and extended their patent protections internationally.

This year, Ellis & Stoliker have been collecting plastic bags from fellow passionate community members and plastic packaging from Bing Surfboards in Leucadia, Seea in San Clemente,  and Lululemon. Ellis & Stoliker feel there is huge potential for REFUSION® to scale and actively get communities involved in recycling.

REFUSION® is the sister brand to RAIS CASE.  RAIS CASE is a premium conscious collection of bags & accessories designed by Ellis founded in 2010, “it’s been a slow and steady road to get RAIS CASE to the place it is today,  I have learned a lot through countless hours of design, production and marketing. I am excited to pour these findings into REFUSION®.

RAIS CASE can be found on the shelves at The Rising Co., a cooperative retail store that Ellis co-founded with her husband, Grant Ellis, Jaime & Rob Riese & Cindy & Steve Blumkin  in Oceanside in late 2019. The shop features local designers, Seaborne Coffee, events and a co-work space for artists and other creators. “We feel that cooperative retail should really represent the community,” Ellis said.

With REFUSION®, RAIS CASE and the Rising Co., Ellis and her fellow partners aim to make the highest quality products right in their local community.

“Rais Case’s mission to create products and places that value quality, community and wellbeing,” Ellis said.

To celebrate Earth Day there will be a launch of the RAIS CASE x REFUSION® collection at The Rising Co. on April 22.  Also on April 24, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. there will be an array of eco-friendly events including a clothing swap by The Good Loop, a discussion and book signing by the Zero Waste Family, demos by The Nada Shop and locally made planter boxes for sale by OuterSpaces. Everything will take place alongside local designer brands like Wild Habit, Adobe, Ornamental Plant Boutique, Feather 4 Arrow, Petal & Joy, Golden Child Co. and Éphémère who are merchants of The Rising Co. 

The new, eco-friendly bag brand is also looking to work with other like-minded brands that want to bring the process to their communities.  “Ideally we would love to work with brands like Patagonia & Reformation,” Ellis said.

To stay in the loop about REFUSION® as its launch date approaches, follow along on Instagram @refusion__ or visit www.refusion.world and sign up to receive email updates.

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