While Brian and myself were in New York City in April for the Green Fest we were so excited to meet new, like minded business people. One of those struck a cord with me as something I would never think to change to a reusable item but it makes total sense. The evolution of the handkerchief – The HankyBook.
I learned from many customers at the NYC Green Fest that older generations used glass straws all the time, that is until the invention of plastics! Another item those generations used was the hanky instead of throwing tissues away non stop. I really love how some of our society is going back to simpler times and using reusable items, I hope it spreads to the masses!
The HankyBook I have comes in handy when my kids have runny noses and I inevitably am away from home with no tissues at hand (if you have kids you’ve been there!). I’m working to change my habits and use them at home instead of disposable tissues.
I interviewed *Leslie Uke the inventor of the HankyBook below:
1. How did you get started making HankyBooks? Was there something that inspired the creation of the HankyBook?
I’ve always had a runny nose which for most of my life which meant I had pockets full of tissues, a red nose and a guilty conscience for all the waste I was creating. When I was in college at UC Berkeley I was exposed to several people who used and loved using handkerchiefs. I gave them a try and I LOVED them because I wasn’t wasting as much, they were so convenient to carry around, and eliminated the tissue clutter.
There were still some problems that I and others saw with the handkerchief, such as opening in my bag, and it was always hard to know which parts were already used. I was involved with a student innovation group on campus which had me in the mindset of recognizing problems so we could fix them.
That got me thinking about handkerchiefs and the HankyBook came to me as a solution! The 8 pages give you easy access to a clean surface each use and the cover keeps your bag and hands clean.
2. How do you motivate people who aren’t close to you to see your vision?
We’ve been programmed for so long to be germophobic that it seems counter-intuitive to move back to a reusable but I just explain why the HankyBook is different and why it is sanitary. Some will never be believers but MOST people are looking for ways to tread more lightly on the Earth so it’s just a matter of exposure to this evolution of the handkerchief (which addresses most people’s concerns over a resuable) to get them to give it a try. I can’t tell you how many people end up LOVING them and who are now reusable users for life. Did you know it takes 163,000 trees each year to supply each American household with ONE box of tissues!
3. What type of satisfactions do you get out of your work?
For anyone that knows me they know that my HankyBook company is my passion. I’ve always been an “eco-geek”, the person you go to when you want to learn more about worm composting or geothermal heat pumps. What HankyBooks has provided me is a way to connect with like-minded people and to feel part of the green movement. That is the greatest satisfaction I get.
Aside from that HankyBooks has created an opportunity for me to be creative again since I’ve been designing my own patterns, packaging, website, you name it. That had been missing in my adult life before I started HankyBooks!
4. What do you normally think about right before falling asleep?
Fun question. The most frequent thing I think about before falling asleep is all the special moments that occurred that day. I’m usually pretty awkward getting compliments and my mind races a little faster than I’d like so most nights I replay those special moments that occurred and truly savor them!
5. What is your favorite pastime?
Drawing and inventing. Ever since childhood I’ve always been sketching and making prototypes of my new inventions! Funnily enough when I was in elementary school I invented a tissue box that had a lower compartment to place used Kleenex. This was because, like I said I’ve always been surrounded by tissue clutter!
6. What type of advice would you give other entrepreneurs?
Don’t give up! When I first prototyped the HankyBook most people criticized the idea. I stuck to it, developed the fabrics, designs, and packaging and now most people recognize the potential of the HankyBook and are willing to try it out. What can I say, people are silly and are quick to make judgments, so don’t give up on your ideas!
*Leslie Uke is the inventor of the HankyBook, an evolution of the handkerchief for the germ-phobic generation! Get to know her more through this interview but please also check out her kickstarter page and watch her video at the following link! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/797017959/hankybook-the-evolution-of-the-handkerchief?ref=live
Leslie has generously agreed to giveaway one set of 3 HankyBooks of your choice from their website. Leave a comment below and we’ll choose one random winner on Tuesday, June 4th.