Abby Gregory, NBCDFW
Bags from Banner Theory; styles shown are (in background) The Market and (in foreground) The Messenger.
An Arlington native, Walter got her degree at Texas A&M in computer engineering, then jumped ship from the corporate world to become an oil painter in Alaska. Returning to Dallas, she's been one of the most eco-friendly screen printer -- the cute tees at Crooked Tree are an example -- and an accomplished graphic designer. But her newest project, a label specializing in using recycled vinyl from billboards to make a cool collection of uber-ethical handbags, tops off the impressive list of accomplishments.
"It's been a crazy four months," Walter said of launching Banner Theory. "One day this was just an idea I'd had after realizing that a billboard company I'd done graphic design for was landfilling their vinyl after use, and the next thing I knew Julie McCullough Kim -- an awesome friend and mentor -- had told the organizers of the bigBang! conference in Dallas that she had someone to produce the gift bags for their event. So then I had to do it!"
Fast forward since bigBang! in June, and Walter's line is now thriving on shelves at local shops Make and Trinity River Audubon Center. Not to mention a high-profile project in the works with the popular band, Bowling For Soup.
"We've been asked to recycle their concert backdrops into a line of bags and pencil cases to sell online in support of their favorite cause, breast cancer awareness," Walter said of what she's working on with the Denton founders of the band.
An ethical supply and production chain are the hallmarks of Banner Theory's process. Walter's materials are all recycled goods, her sewers and cutters are all local, and she pays them all fair wage. In addition, a portion of her sales goes to support 2,000 Roses -- a women's facility in Oak Cliff serving convicts re-entering the work force.
"They really, really need a new website, and the donations from Banner Theory are earmarked for that," she said of why she chose them as her current recipient.
On what drives her creativity these days, Walter was very clear, "I've just fallen deeply in love with this city. When I was younger, I wanted to leave, be somewhere else. But I can't imagine it now." In rediscovering Dallas, she also developed some style haunts including Buffalo Exchange, Anthropologie, and Forever 21 -- "I love anything that's a bargain, and I'm great at resale shops," she said of her fav finds.
And pretty soon, she'll be doing a lot of shopping -- for Thanksgiving dinner.The pescatarian is hosting her family for the holiday. We're jealous.
When asked what motivated her unusual, others-focused approach to entrepreneurship and life, Walter definitely had the last word - "Why wouldn't you do what good you can every day?" We couldn't have said it better.
Want to buy a bag? Contact Walter directly through her website or shop them at Make or Trinity River Audubon Center. She'll also have a booth in the soon-to-open IndieGenius showrooms in Oak Cliff. Prices on the bags range from $18 to $65 depending on size.