Meet the maker, Mandy Renee Stos; the crafter and upcycling diva behind iamthemandy.
Not only an artist and entrepreneur, Mandy is also an inventive environmentalist, combining craft with recycling, producing items that are unique, functional, and the ultimate in eco-chic. Mandy believes that upcycling a single item can help reduce waste and create a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
Upcycling is defined as: the process of converting unwanted materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. Her product line is designed entirely of 85-90% reused or re-purposed materials and she strives to help promote and encourage other citizens to upcycle or simply donate any unwanted items to local organizations rather than tossing them into the trash. Doing so keeps reduces landfill waste, promotes green efficiency and makes you feel all giddy inside.
Mandy got her start crafting while attending college. She didn’t have much money to be spending on gifts, so started making them instead. She took unwanted clothing and started creating, designing her first upcycled material cuff.
After making a handful for friends and family, they started telling Mandy that people asked where they bought them and suggested she started selling them. She started on a small scale by setting up a booth on Thursday nights at “Top City Thursdays.” Since then, Mandy has upgraded her set up and created a better display to showcase her items.
During this time, Mandy decided to start expanding her product line from just cuffs, to earrings and necklaces. She started using magazines, t-shirts, fabric scraps, and any other items she could get my hands on. She went to garage and estate sales, and might have even jumped in a dumpster or two to salvage materials for her products.
People noticed her style and loved her mission, and throughout the past few years, iamthemandy has claimed several green/eco awards. In 2011, iamthemandy was voted the BEST Place to Shop Green in KC by The Pitch. iamthemandy took third place this year, but also snagged third in the best local accessories designer.
Since the beginning of 2014, iamthemandy has taken a new direction with products and has expanded into the upcycled furniture market. Mandy currently offer upcycled pallet coolers in several stains. They can be found at four locations in Kansas and Missouri. Mandy says next on her agenda are outdoor tables and chairs. Be on the lookout, but she plans to continue to take custom orders for almost anything!