The Age article

Jack+Jules bags-to-riches strategy

Duncan Hughes, Reporter
Published: February 25, 2016

Jack+Jules, South Melbourne Market, reusable shopping bags, sustainable bagsJulie McMahon, left, and Jackie Hegarty plan to grow their bag business in Australia and the US. Photo: Craig Sillitoe

Two American mothers from the Melbourne bayside suburb of Sandringham have started an international company they hope will change the way people shop and protect the environment.

Jack+Jules has launched its first collection of recyclable shopping bags. It plans to develop its household and fashion range as it builds its online distribution in Australia and the United States.

“It is a global problem that needs a global response. We hope our products help.”  Julie McMahon

"The nylon design looks great, can easily carry nine litres and when not being used, can be easily kept in a handbag or car glovebox," said Julie McMahon, a former US lawyer, who met her Australian husband while backpacking in far north Queensland.

The launch coincides with an Australian Senate inquiry on the threat of marine plastic pollution to the world's oceans and wildlife.

The CSIRO, Total Environment Centre, Boomerang Alliance, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Clean UP Australia and local councils are among those that have made submissions to the inquiry, which include banning plastic bags.

Australia is estimated to recycle about 40 per cent of plastic waste, which means 7 billion plastic bottles and millions of tonnes in plastic are littered or put in landfill each year.

"Australia is still working on developing strategies to what is a growing environmental menace, particularly to sea life," said McMahon, a mother of three whose husband is a teacher.

"It is a global problem that needs a global response. We hope our products help," she said.

Jackie Hegarty, a mother of two who was born in Kentucky and emigrated with her Australian husband, a real estate agent, said bag colours were inspired by the natural beauty of Australia.

 The range will expand to beach bags and accessories, which can rotate through the seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres.

"When you start a new business, you are in the trenches every day," McMahon said of her bags-to-riches strategy.

"The initial response has been terrific and we are developing our expansion strategy for both Australia and the US."

The pair are manufacturing in Shanghai, selling online and using Hegarty's garage as an office and storeroom.

Bags are a big global business and status symbol with top-end products from Chanel selling for more than $200,000 and handcrafted masterpieces by Mouawad selling for millions. 

Jack+Jules offer heavyweight lifting for lightweight prices starting from $32 for a three-piece set.

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