Launching a new business can never be described as ‘plain sailing’, particularly when the first thing you do is cut up the sails and turn them into something else entirely! Surprisingly enough, Mike Schlebach has built his company, Hooley/Re-Sails, out of doing exactly that. With Re-Sails, what we do, he says, is to take old or discarded yacht sails and turn these into quality bags, jackets and accessories. Hooley operates in a similar manner, turning old advertising banners into bags and accessories. Mike adds that while each product is a one off, the real benefit of the operation is the fact that he is able to do his bit for the environment, by keeping materials that would otherwise be thrown away out of the landfills. The company delivers a high-end brand whose clientele are mostly older and fairly wealthy, generally those that have a taste for all things nautical and demand quality. In addition, he says, the other longstanding brand, Hooley, has shifted away from making products from new material, instead utilising recycled vinyl. The nature of vinyl – its colour and texture in particular – mean it will likely appeal more to the younger market. Mike explains that like any small business, cash flow is always problematic, while finding recyclable materials in the long term is also a challenge. Nonetheless, he is confident in his aims and his products, indicating that these have great export qualities and he is in the process of tying up deals with the right distribution partners internationally. Ultimately, he suggests, his business philosophy is a simple one: do as little harm to the environment as possible, employ as many people as possible, have fun and make quality products – if you do this, says Mike, you will no doubt be onto a good thing.