Nikki Duong Koenig, the founder of Cykochik

This vegan handbag from Cykochik, based in Dallas, incorporates recycled material. Photos courtesy of Nikki Duong Koenig.

July 10,  2015

Since launching her custom handbag company in 2003, Nikki Duong Koenig, the founder of Cykochik, wanted to create a brand that was stylish and fun but also compassionate and conscientious. 

"We express ourselves creatively through what we wear and carry, and I believe we can express that without harming others, our planet or animals.”

The Dallas-based company’s handbags stood out from other high fashion lines because all of its products are vegan, made from 100 percent synthetic leather. Now Cykochik is going greener by incorporating recycled material into its bags, totes and clutches.

Right, Nikki Duong Koenig, Cykochik founder.

“We’ve been practicing the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle in every aspect of our business since 2003 and have been experimenting with recycled materials and fibers,” said Koenig. “We’re continually striving to be a more sustainable brand every day.”

With that in mind, the company launched a new collection this spring called the Artist Series 4 Collection: Chiks Rock Collection.  

It was funded with help from a Kickstarter campaign, which raised about $10,000. Koenig says the company incorporated recycled fibers into the bags while at the same time supporting sustainable businesses in the United States with the collection.

Left, the Botanica handbag.

“Right now incorporating recycled materials is challenging for us,” she said. “Because we’re a small business and we’re sourcing recycled materials that have to meet several of our criteria, including U.S. made, quality and price. The recycled materials also have to fit with our aesthetics and be printable.”

Cykochik produces a new collection every other year and for this latest one, Koenig spent a year researching and developing the current series. 

“It’s our first all-female artist collection,” she explains. “We wanted to support fellow female artists and give them exposure in a predominantly male art world. We collaborated again with our favorite Dallas artist Jody Pham from our previous collection and Berkeley artist Michelle White for the third time.”

Right, Love Bunnies tote.

New to the collaboration is Dallas artist Patricia Rodriguez, who is the 2015 winner of the DFW Art Awards for best muralist. Koenig says these women were specifically chosen for their unique styles and their love of nature and animals, which are represented throughout their work.

The collection is a series of three color-customizable and convertible tote/cross body bags. The front panel of the bag features the artists’ fan-voted designs digitally printed in the USA on 100 percent polyester canvas, of which 45 percent is made from recycled plastic bottles and other post-consumer and industrial plastic wastes. The back panel of the bag is made from eco-friendly, plastic-free and animal-free vegan leather, 100 percent polyurethane, available to customize in 10 different colors. 

It was in January 2015, the company also asked their fans from around the world to vote on one of two of each artist’s designs to be produced for the collection. The winning designs were Jody Pham’s “Botanica,” Patricia Rodriguez’s “Kabuki Gravel” and Michelle White’s “Love Bunnies.”

With the collection still only being 45 percent recycled materials, Koenig says they are sourcing 100 percent recycled fibers and materials for the next collection.  

Left, the Kabuka clutch.

“As a small business we have to be creative with our limited resources to create a collection that’s stylish and sustainable,” she said. “Also, the current market supply and demand for recycled fibers/materials is still relatively low compared to virgin fibers/materials, but we’re trying to help grow the market.”  

Koenig was honored for her work last year and was the youngest recipient of the Leader of Excellence Award by the DFW National Association of Asian American Professionals. The award recognizes Asian American leaders in the Dallas-Fort Worth area who exemplify NAAAP's vision and mission to empower leaders and serve the community.

In addition to the current collection, Cykochik’s daily sustainable practices include producing locally since 2003, recycling materials and supplies, reducing waste as an eCommerce business by keeping things digital to reduce the carbon footprint and repurposing or reusing any unused bags and materials to create new bags including the reuse of all shipping materials.

Right, the Botanica wristlet.

“I’m humbled by all the support that Cykochik has received for the past 12 years and I’m proud of the work our team has done so far to help create our vision of a better world,” said Koenig.

See the Artist Series 4 Collection.

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