my name is Yvonne and I have a problem. I buy little bags and pouches like there is no tomorrow. When I travel, my carry on luggage often consists of small bags. I use them for my chargers, make up, a little note pad, women's stuff, you get the drift. You can imagine my excitement when I found the bags of Scenery on Instagram a few weeks ago.
Scenery takes retired theatre backdrops and makes bags out of them. Naturally, every series of bags is limited and each one has a label inside telling you the show and what number bag you have out of how many the drop made.
Are you already reaching for your credit card? You will when you hear, that you will also do good with your purchase!
A portion of the proceeds of the bags is donated to TDF's Stage Doors program. The Theatre Development Fund is commited to identify and provide support, including financial assistance, to theatrical works of artistic merit and to encourage and enable diverse audiences to attend live theatre and dance in all their venues.
Scenery was launched in July 2017 and the first series of bags are already sold out. We caught up with the founder of Scenery, Jennifer Khan, how the idea for scenery came about. Jennifer has been a stage manager for 17 years and is based in New York.
Spectacle: How did you come up with the idea for Scenery?
Jennifer Khan: For the last 5 years I have run a Giveback and Ethical style blog, so this type of thing has always been a part of what I'm passionate about. I knew if I ever started my own company it would have to have a social initiative. I never thought my blogging side, and my theatre side would come together, but this project has been a marriage of two things a care deeply about. It's truly been a gift.
I chose theatre backdrops because so many of them get thrown away and they are beautiful, handprinted, works of art. I hate seeing anything get thrown away, but something like that just shouldn't end up in the trash. They are also part of theatre history.
Spectacle: The backdrops are donated to you. Is it difficult to get them? Do you have a lot of convincing?
Jennifer Khan: Well, I thought we had more than we'd need in a year, but we went through all of it in 3 months! It's been amazing to see the reaction people are having to what we are doing. We've also been very fortunate to have some great press pieces and features (like this one, thank you guys) that have let people know about us, and drops have come to us from all over America. I feel like I fall in love with a new one every week. We have some amazing treasures. Some I love because of the colors, some I love because of the show it came from. Each one is special to me.
Spectacle: You support the tdf - the Theatre Development Fund - with a portion of the proceeds. How did you get involved with them?
Jennifer Khan: I chose my mission, before I chose the non-profit. I knew I wanted to help make theatre more accessible for a younger audience. So with that in mind I took to the internet and just searched for a program that did just that. Finding the Stage Doors program at TDF was a dream come true! Not only do they take kids to see a Broadway or Off-Broadway show, they give them in class workshops, AND they offer extremely discounted tickets to alumni, so that they can continue to afford to see theatre after the program has ended. It's everything I was looking for and more.
Spectacle: What is the process from picking up the backdrop to sending out the bags? You mentioned the backdrops are also cleaned.
Jennifer Khan: Yes, the basic process is: a theatre, designer, producing house, storage company, you name it, emails us and says they have drops for us. Depending on how many drops they are sending they can either drop them at their nearest UPS and we ship them, or box them up and we schedule a truck pick up. We cover all shipping costs. Then once they arrive at our manufacturers in Florida they lay them all out, photograph them, measure them to see how many bags they can make, and then we start production. Each drop is hand cleaned twice. Once before they are sewn and once after. They are cut, we choose if it needs a lining or not, what color zipper to use. We are basically designing a new bag every week. Currently we only have our pouches, but we are planning some new styles for next year!
Take a good idea and an even better cause, add sustainability and creativity and you have wonderful products. That applies to the bags from Scenery. If you want to get your hands on the next batch of bags, head over to the website of Scenery. There is a preorder system right now. Preordering saves your place in line and when it is time for your order number you receive an email with your choice of 2 drops or an option to defer. Each bag is 30$ and please remember that a portion of the proceeds goes to a very good cause.
Follow Scenery on Instagram and on Facebook to see when the new bags are online.