Published March 27th, 2012

Looking for a unique Maine-made gift? Try Portland-based Sea Bags, launched in 1999 by founder Hannah Kubiak and incorporated with co-owner Beth Shissler in 2006. Sea Bags recycles used sails – yours, if you like, they accept donations in exchange for bags – and turns them into totes, purses, wine carriers, travel bags, board shorts, and accessories. Sea Bags simple, sleek designs have been featured by fashion heavy-hitters like Vogue and Vanity Fair, but the company remains rooted in Maine with its headquarters on Portland’s Custom House Wharf.

According to local ordinance, to maintain their business on the working waterfront Kubiak and Shissler must work with the fishing industry. So the company repairs all kinds of lobstering and fishing gear – from sails to nets, to overalls. Both women have a history with the sea – Kubiak reportedly lobstered in Cape Porpoise while Shissler is the sister of famed lobsterwoman Linda Greenlaw.

Sea Bags are hand-made, often decorated with nautical icons like the lobster or the anchor, and come in a range of sizes. This season’s staples include the durable Beach Tote for $130 and the Breton Striped bag for $180. Sea Bags operates two company stores, one in Freeport, the other at its headquarters on Custom House Wharf. Stop by to check out these fashionable reinventions of durable sail cloth, or visit the company’s website for more.