Hey, Spike! spools up thread bobbin with Paul Schiff’s story
September 14, 2018
It may not be as glamorous as teaching skiing at Breckenridge or being a commercial airline pilot and flight instructor, but Paul Schiff has taken up sewing — for world good.
Born in Newport, California, one of the Golden Bear state's hoity-toity coastal cities, Paul got an education in political science at the University of California-Irvine, then moved to Denver in 1992 where he learned how to fly while working as a product marketing manager for Jeppesen, a Boeing company.
Flying runs in the Schiff family; his dad and brother are also commercial airline pilots.
In 2000, he bought a condo in Breckenridge while commuting to work as an airline pilot.
After the events of 9/11, he retired from flying, moved to Breck full time, eventually becoming a ski/snowboard instructor.
"I taught in Breck for three years," he said. "I am also a licensed flight instructor, but I don't have time to teach — skiing or flying — any more."
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Today, a single guy, Paul's main passion is sewing recyclable items for your dog and is moving up to humans.
Paul is launching his start-up, Circular Threads, this fall in Frisco.
"I started the business to fix a problem," Paul said. "I couldn't find a dog collar that you could recycle. After visiting fabric mills throughout the USA and recyclers, I learned that virtually no textiles actually get recycled in the USA. Some textiles are turned into rags. The American way is to throw it away or donate it to a thrift store.
"Nationwide, only a small fraction of what you donate, gets sold," he added. "Unfortunately, most textiles end up either in a landfill, where they don't biodegrade, or dumped in countries like Africa. I thought, 'there has to be a better way.'"
You may have seen Paul's products locally this summer.
"I did a soft launch to test the market at the Dillon and Breck farmers markets and at Animal Lovers Pet in Breck," he notes.
His plan is to launch his product lines at his Frisco location and then nationally in 2019 at various industry trade shows.
Paul's concept started with our four-legged friends and has now evolved to us two-leggers.
"While learning how to sew, I had to learn how to make many products that I never intended on selling — like pillows and tote bags. The exciting thing about doing your own manufacturing in our own facility is that you can rapidly prototype anything.
"In our Frisco micro-factory, we create our own digital patterns, print our own fabric, cut and sew all of our products, " he added. "We test them locally, receiving feedback before going into production."
Some of that important feedback comes from his own pet: a 12-year-old Tibetan terrier named Kirra.
Paul plans on adding to the staff this fall, hiring an experienced graphic designer and seamstress.
"I am working on three different collections of products for our launch," Paul said.
1. Recycled Water Bottle Collection — 100 percent of these products are made from post-consumer waste water bottles.
2. Recycled Denim Collection — all of these products are made from recycled blue jeans. You can drop by used blue jeans at the Frisco location at Sixth and Granite.
3. Recycled Sailcloth Collection — 100 percent of these products are made from recycled sailboat sails. This will be a limited edition collection, as there aren't a lot of sails in Summit County to work with.
The collections will comprise these products: dog collars and leashes, water and wine bottle bags, yoga mat slings and bags, and belts.
"You can recycle — and should — everything we make," Paul stressed.
"Each collection we make is uniquely recyclable," he noted. "I design all of our products with their next life in mind. If a product comes back, it will be repurposed in-house into a new product. Only after we can't use it anymore will it be sent off to be mechanically or chemically recycled at a textile recycler."
Paul says denim is a bit trickier, since most denim includes hardware and other blends, like spandex for stretch, making it difficult to recycle.
"We partner with a company that recycles our denim scraps into insulation that will be used in Habitat for Humanity homes," he explained. "Our sailcloth collection can be recycled as well; Dacron is made from polyester."
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed "Spike," a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former hardrock miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to firstname.lastname@example.org
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