It takes more than recycled vinyl billboards to make Relan products. It’s the passionate and dedicated people behind the scenes that you don’t see which make it possible for us to create a more sustainable future for generations to come.
As Relan’s Director of Operations, it’s Amanda Stolle’s job to ensure that the day-to-day process run smoothly. From thinking quickly on her feet to lugging around vinyl billboards, Amanda has made an enormous impact at Relan, for our clients, and ultimately on the environment.
We asked Amanda to share with us her passions, what she's learned about sustainability, and what’s next on her personal bucket list. We hope you enjoy getting to know her as much we love having her on our team!
Kari Brizius – What are you passionate about?
Amanda Stolle – One of my top passions has to be bikes. I commute by bike (and train) to Relan whenever I can. I ride 5 miles, pick up the light rail for about 20 minutes, and then ride another 3-4 miles. It may take a little longer, but it's so much more pleasant than sitting in traffic. Plus, I get my workout in and get some emails or part of a book read, all on my way to work! I guess you could say that bike commuting hits two of my passions: being active and efficient.
KB – How did you find Relan?
AS – For many years I worked at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts coordinating the Design Department. Our department created banners for each art exhibition. We found out about what Relan was doing, repurposing the old vinyl material and creating products to sell, and thought it would be a great project for us. I worked with the retail manager for our museum store and Relan created some fun and functional products from our old vinyl.
KB – What drew you to work with the company?
AS – I had left the museum a few years ago to go back to school for apparel design and further my small business creating accessories for women who commute by bike. I was looking for a part-time opportunity where I could contribute my experience and education, and also gain more on-the-job knowledge from a business that was further along than mine. I heard through the former retail manager from the museum that Relan was growing and looking for an operations manager. It seemed like a great fit!
KB – How do you make an impact, daily and overall, at Relan?
AS – It's easy to make an impact when you share the same principles as the company you work with. Relan really takes sustainability into every aspect of the business, and I like to do that in my own way. I feel that helping things to run efficiently is a sustainably sound practice. Each project we receive is different, so each takes some creative problem solving -- something I love. As far as daily impact, I'm usually up for anything from tossing around heavy banners (we joke that it's our own version of CrossFit), to helping plan out the best way to set up the warehouse space.
KB – Which project are you most proud to be part of?
AS – The Cleveland Museum of Art sent us these gorgeous billboards from a Monet exhibition. The bags turned out absolutely beautifully! Not all companies can start out with colorful paintings as their billboards, so I'm equally proud of when we take something with say only 2 colors and a lot of text, and create something fantastic out of it. The problem-solving, and using an artful eye is the fun part there!
KB – What are some of your bucket list goals in life?
AS – I've traveled to Europe but never been to Copenhagen or Amsterdam. I would love to see people biking everywhere and see the aesthetic there. I love their minimalistic modern design. I've also started working on my own line of commuter-friendly, stylish clothing. You can wear clothes that fit your style, and still be comfortable on your bike. This removes some of the barriers to bike commuting and gets more people out there riding, which is a big goal of mine.
KB – What have you learned so far about sustainability from your time at Relan?
AS – Sustainability isn't just about upcycling or keeping what people see as "trash" out of the landfills. It's about supporting the local workforce, and paying a livable wage. It's about finding the Bubble Wrap that the manufacturer cut to the wrong size and using that instead of new. It's about using natural cleaning products instead of toxic chemicals. But more than all of these day-to-day practices, it's about a conversation with a company and learning what they have to gain by being sustainable rather than what they think they may have to give up. Such things as unique, one-of-a-kind items to sell or promotional products that no one else has. Using their marketing materials (billboards, banners, etc.) to extend the life of their campaign indefinitely. The opportunity to share the story of their company's values and what is important to them.