Green Champion: Artfully Enticing

Green Champion: Artfully Enticing

PopCycle offers unique art, created from recycled or refurbished materials

By Carlie Noel

As the age-old saying states, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Over the past 11 years, DeeDee Koenen has worked to fulfill this metaphorical calling through her business, PopCycle. PopCycle is a local Tucson, Ariz., store that promotes art crafted from recycled material and refurbished goods. 

Appreciating the Old

When launching the business, Koenen and her sister, Jennifer Radler, had one goal in mind for the business: “We wanted to produce new things from the beauty of the old,” Koenen recalls. “As kids, our parents taught us the value of appreciating the old.” 

Koenen further explains that during their childhood, she and her sister would tag along on their parents’ antiquing endeavors. “They showed us the life that all items have… and the life that we can pour into each item.”

With this in mind, Koenen and Radler, in partnership with co-owners Shannon Riggs and Libby Tobey, opened the doors of PopCycle in 2008. Between the four co-owners, two brands—DDco Design and Monster Booty—were created and operated by an established management system. 

DDco Design

DDco Design, overseen by Koenen and Riggs, established a presence in Tucson prior to the opening of PopCycle. “We had actually started DDco quite a bit before opening the store… we had always focused on using reclaimed materials, but when we opened, we wanted to focus on making sustainable products,” Koenen explains. 

After being in the store for over a decade, DDco continues to feature different decorative items found and repurposed from junk materials.

Monster Booty, on the other hand, was created to showcase re-purposed vintage clothing. Created by Radler, Monster Booty strives to craft quality T-shirts, hats, and other various clothing items—all of which include art from local artists. 

When asked about the style of her sister’s brand, Koenen explains, “You couldn’t find this stuff anywhere else! I would say Tucson has a lot of pride in its city, so a lot of things that we sell allow shoppers to showcase this in their own lives.”

Supporting Local

In fact, Koenen shares that PopCycle as a whole has begun to stress the importance of supporting local talent throughout the store. 

“When we first started, we were buying from all around the world,” she says. “But a couple of years in, we started to buy more and more materials from Arizona vendors. It is a privilege for us to support our local economy.”

In efforts to continue boosting Tucson’s economy, PopCycle has joined the Tucson 4th Avenue Coalition, a collection of 140 local businesses and boutiques that seek to preserve Tucson’s unique, historical identity while producing sustainable growth in the community. 

“We’ve been working really hard with them [Coalition partners] to retain our local habitat in all that we sell,” explains Koenen. “This is a community with a lot of talent… and we want to show that to our customers.”

Avoiding Overconsumption

Above all, Koenen and the co-owners of PopCycle hope to express the beauty and benefit of sustainability to all shoppers. 

“Unfortunately, I think that as a society we have a concept of constant consumption. We have developed a very disposable concept,” she says. “As a culture, I think it’s important that we start moving away from that disposable mindset.  We need to move more into rethinking and reusing.”

To shop PopCycle, visit the store at 422 N. 4th Ave., Tucson, AZ 85705, or shop online at https://popcycleshop.com/

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Carlie Noel is an intern at Green Living Magazine and studies communications and marketing at Grand Canyon University. She enjoys traveling, especially to places she’s never been before. 

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