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Essay: Everything has a story

Since the 2nd edition, Sabine Rogge-Volk, co-founder of the upcycling label Friends That Rhyme, is part of the GREENSTYLE family. All editions in Munich, a pop-up in Amsterdam, #biolife in Bolzano and the Streetlife Festival in Munich – Sabine was always showed up with her handmade Obi-Clutches, maximum good mood, her infectious laugh and a seemingly endless pool of right words. Speaking of words: As Obi Belts, the fabrics of the bags have already made history. Now the second chapter begins... by Nadine & Sabine, the friends that rhyme


Sabine & Nadine

By Nadine & Sabine, the friends that rhyme

These days, I find that I take an extra moment to savour simple things…the first sip of a frothy chai latte in a mug bearing the grins of a niece and nephew, the watercolor beauty of a sunset on the horizon, the warm smile and wave of a neighbour across the street, and even, getting dressed in the morning. It’s not about the fun of choosing something just-right for an occasion or in the triumph of a great new wardrobe combo, it’s about the memories.

The things I treasure most in my closet all have stories. Putting them on takes me back to the moment when I unwrapped a gift perfectly chosen, shared laughs with a friend on a shopping outing, or explored a far-flung corner of the globe with loved ones. In our world today – where we must keep our distance from one another – these memories make me feel connected to those I care about.

This sentiment is exactly what Sabine and I were yearning to create when we embarked on Friends That Rhyme (Sabine…Nadine…friends…yup). We both love great experiences and we were on one such adventure together in Japan when we stumbled across a little antique store that was stuffed to the literal rafters with goodies. Tucked away in a corner were the most sumptuous vintage obi sashes – richly coloured silks with intricate embroidery – just begging to come home with us. And, so, without having the first clue what we would do with those ‘kimono belts’, we added a few to our suitcases and headed back to Beijing.

Our husbands were both posted in the mega-city with their jobs for a few years and Sabine and I met through our children’s school and neighbourhood. Pressing pause on our respective careers (in Belgium for Sabine and Canada for me) gave us both the time and energy to say yes to all sorts of amazing things – volunteer efforts, cooking class escapades, new friendships, the twists and turns of city streets and Great Wall hikes, and the creation of a small business.

© Friends That Rhyme

We use vintage textiles because they have a history and still have a future.

In the end, we transformed those incredible obi sashes into clutches and wristlets. Ever since the beginning, we have been steadfast in our desire to make things of quality and to do it in a way that is mindful and with purpose. We use vintage textiles because they have a history and still have a future. With the obi, you can practically imagine them elaborately knotted, adorning the back of an elegant Japanese woman delicately picking her way through cherry blossom-lined streets. Pre-loved, yes, but we’re able to cut around any marks that time has bestowed on these wonderful pieces.

We’ve always worked with independent tailors and tailoresses and are incredibly proud that our primary production partner is a social enterprise in Germany (where Sabine now lives) that not only employs refugees but also provides much-needed camaraderie. The laughter and chatter in their studio, as the smells of a delicious traditional lunch spread waft through the air, warms the heart. These women have amazing stories and we are honoured to be a part of their community.

These women have amazing stories and we are honoured to be a part of their community.

So those are the memories already embedded in each of our upcycled, handmade accessories. The next chapters of the story are written by those who choose them, gift them, receive them, and treasure them in their closets.

Love, Sabine & Nadine

Friends That Rhyme is based in Germany and offers free worldwide shipping. Explore their offering of clutches and wristlets at and follow on Instagram and Facebook @friendsthatrhyme