It all started when Ken Kobrick, an ex-welder, and Angela Greene, an inventor who doesn't even carry a handbag, decided to dive headfirst into the incredibly competitive world of the accessories market.
The idea was born when, in 1999, Angela purchased a backpack made from inner tubes. Inspired to create their own collection, they decided to take on the creative challenge of using discarded tractor tire inner tubes and converting them into high-end, luxury accessories. Deciding to make a "green" impact on the accessories market was logical, because Kobrick and Greene are both committed to recycling, and they were passionate about creating products that were functional as well as unique and classic in design. Neither had any formal design background, but soon the couple was experimenting with hand sewn designs.
"We started making the bags in our 900-sq.-ft house, and had to throw away our old couch to make room for the industrial sewing machines that we purchased with our 401K,” explains Kobrick about the brand’s modest beginnings. “The only room that didn't have inner tubes or a sewing machine was the bathroom."
Passchal incorporates leather trim and sides to their rubber bags, keeping them lightweight and enabling the introduction of new colors and textures. In keeping with their eco-friendly beliefs, all leathers used are by-products, vegetable dyed and chrome free, and all bags are handcrafted using the highest quality hardware and materials available. The inner tubes are collected in VA, Ohio and GA, and undergo a rigorous but environmentally friendly, multi-day cleaning process. To date, Passchal has recycled approximately 20 tons of inner tubes!
The line launched in May of 2004, and through word of mouth, instantly caught the attention of both media and celebrities.
Passchal bags have been featured on The Today Show, and in Entrepreneur and Rolling Stone magazines, to name a few. They have also been featured at the Billboard Music Awards and at Olympus Fashion Week.
In early 2008, Angie and Ken rented the property next door, and converted the 1500-sq-ft house into a design studio. All of the inner tubes are still stored and processed on their property. But – for the record – they got a new couch.