By Joseph Ditzler • The Bulletin

What: Sara Bella Upcycled

What it does: Makes and sells accessories from recycled plastic

Pictured: Founder Sara Wiener

Where: 909 SW Armour Road

Employees: 2

Phone: 541-420-4961


Sara Bella Upcycled, the two-woman enterprise that turns plastic trash into functional art, is moving again.

The business that Sara Wiener and her seamstress and manager, Karlin Hedin, have called home for a year is relocating to a new space on Bend’s east side. Increasing rent, Wiener said, is the reason behind Sara Bella Upcycled’s move to 909 SE Armour Road, part of an artists collective being assembled by Stuart Breidenstein, the jewelry maker behind Stuart’s of Bend. Breidenstein said the project includes nine artists, with some retail, work and common areas, similar to the Workhouse he co-founded five years on Scott Street.

Wiener said she’ll be at work again on Armour Road in March.

“We’re shrinking,” she said Wednesday. “We’re downsizing our work space to become more efficient and more specialized.”

It’s the sixth location for Sara Bella Upcycled since 2008 and the fourth since 2014, when it moved from NorthWest Crossing to NE First Street. In 2016, the shop, including a small workshop and retail space, moved to 830 NW Wall St., where Sara Bella Upcycled occupied a corner of Wabi Sabi, a Japanese-themed shop for gifts and accessories. At its new home at 909 SW Armour Road, Wiener and Hedin will make the recycled merchandise but continue to sell it at Wabi Sabi and Lotus Moon, another Wall Street retailer, as well online.

Sara Bella products range from a haute-couture-style dress made of recycled trash to women’s handbags and grocery bags made of recycled plastic bags.

The move may signal an eventual switch for Wiener from business owner to manager of a private nonprofit aimed at reducing waste and helping women in developing countries start their own recycling enterprises.

“My original goal when I started this in 2008 was to make us a nonprofit, so I could get grant money to travel and teach this process in developing countries that have a lot of plastic bag trash,” she said. “I haven’t made a decision yet, but this might be the time. It’s a model that we know works.”

Sara Bella Upcycled is inspired by Wiener’s grandmother, Bella Michel, a Russian-born Jew who fled Germany for France in 1938.

“She was a Holocaust survivor, and she sewed while in hiding and made all of her clothes and all of her children’s clothes,” Wiener said. “She taught me to sew when I was a little girl.”

Wiener said she was a poor student who wanted to finish quickly rather than sew correctly. But her grandmother’s experience lives on in Sara Bella Upcycled, not in the sewing craft alone but in the purpose behind the business. Bella Michel saved and reused materials out of necessity, Wiener said.

“She would save every button and every plastic bag, and she would walk to every store that she needed to go to in New York City,” Wiener said. “She would walk blocks to save a couple pennies.”

Conversely, Wiener said she doesn’t need to travel very far to gather the raw materials she turns into merchandise. People drop off plenty of plastic bags at her shop. Most of the bags she uses are yellow plastic bags used by The Bulletin for newspaper delivery. She has no need for plain white grocery bags.

Part of her message is that the newspaper uses too many plastic bags in a desert environment, Wiener said.

She and Hedin use a press of the kind that transfers designs onto T-shirts to fuse up to 16 layers of plastic together. Atop that, they layer a collage of another four to six layers of designs in colored plastic or other materials, such as bubble wrap and plastic mesh of the sort for packaging fruit in grocery stores. A length of discarded tube from a medical oxygen supply system makes for a strap or carrying handle.

Large or small, Upcycled bags are durable, artistic and functional, she said.

“They’re crazy strong,” Wiener said. “You can carry your bricks or rock collection in them. They’re great for the grocery store or the beach. People in Portland love our purses because they’re waterproof.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7815,

Q: Where are your products available?

A: Sara Wiener: We sell retail, which is what you see here (at Wabi Sabi). We do a little bit of wholesale, so we sell to some other stores in Bend, as well as at the Portland Airport, in Albuquerque and Delaware and at art shows.

Q: How many art shows do you attend?

A: Karlin Hedin: Seven or eight a year, mostly in the spring and summer.

A: Sara Wiener: Mostly in the Northwest, but we did get to the Southwest this year.

Q: Is recycling material this way still a strong trend?

A: Sara Wiener: I think it gets stronger all the time. I think someday (Bend) has got to become a plastic-free zone.