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Pine & Plastic Designer Totes Started with Edgewater Man's Dream

 Launching a business was literally a dream come true for Edgewater couple Brett Marlow and Andrew Wayne, co-owners of  Pine & Plastic , an upscale brand of artsy handmade totes.
Pine & Plastic
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EDGEWATER — Launching a business was literally a dream come true for Edgewater couple Brett Marlow and Andrew Wayne, co-owners of Pine & Plastic, an upscale brand of handmade totes.

Last summer, Wayne dreamed of walking through a pine forest, passing through "beams of light" and discovering stacks of plexiglass plastic boxes on the forest floor.

"And when I opened them," said the 25-year-old Minnesota native, "there were hand-painted tote bags."

By November, Pine & Plastic was open for business with a fall collection of handmade bags and a website to sell them. Just one year into their relationship, Wayne and Marlow share an apartment and have started a business.

Marlow, who studied journalism at Columbia College Chicago, said he handled the "nitty gritty, logistical" stuff, including dealing with the press and managing the brand's social media presence.

Wayne designs and makes each bag.

Wayne, a painter who studied fashion at the Illinois Institute of Art, said his mission was joining "the two worlds of art and fashion into one product that would be good for city goers."

His designs are minimalist and geometric with art-deco influences.

The totes cost $95-$125, smaller pouches cost about $37, and the bags can be bought online or at various Chicago stores, including Milk Handmade in Andersonville. Completing each tote takes Wayne between one and a half to two hours, and finishing the smaller pouches takes around 45 minutes.

That includes, according to the designer, "cutting the canvas, painting, sewing it and the lining, and riveting on handles and our metal name plates."

"And you would never guess something handmade is done that well so fast," explained Marlow, a 26-year-old freelance writer and public relations specialist from Florida. "People often think we buy the totes and then paint on them, but it's not the case. It's a lot of technical work [Wayne] makes seem easy — or he's a robot!"

The couple said they were working toward establishing Pine and Plastic as a lifestyle brand that included backpacks and other accessories as well as skin care and cosmetic products — and eventually opening a store.

For now, Wayne is working on Pine and Plastic's fall collection, slated to introduce "a lot of different leather elements" said the designer, who was reluctant to elaborate and blow the lid entirely off.