Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Sword & Plough's plans: Fabric "repurposed for a purpose."

To say that the founders of bag and accessories maker Sword & Plough were influenced by their military upbringing would be an understatement. They were born into it.

Sisters Emily Núñez Cavness and Betsy Núñez are what you might call “military brats.” They had a full military upbringing; they were always on the move, and celebrated plenty of holiday dinners in mess halls with hundreds of soldiers. So it was no surprise when Emily enlisted as an officer in the U.S. Army.

But Emily is also an entrepreneur, and that lead her to work alongside her sister to launch Sword & Plough.

While at enrolled at Middlebury College, Emily began to realize that there could be a use for military surplus. While nearly everything these days can be recycled, there really wasn’t a use for old military supplies.

That’s when Emily came up with the idea to turn that old military fabric into fashionable handbags, and in 2013 she and Betsy joined forces to start Sword & Plough. Today, the company sells a wide range of handbags, messenger bags, backpacks, hats, and other accessories, all made from repurposed military fabrics.

By manufacturing in the United States, we are able to do our part to help condition consumers to buy domestic made goods and support their local economy. Haik Kavookjian

Sword & Plough already has made an environmental impact — since 2013, the company has reused more than 25,000 pounds of military surplus that would otherwise have gone to waste.

But the company also is helping bridge the gap between the military and civilian world. The company’s business plan revolves around three simple goals: empower, reduce, and strengthen. The sisters advocate for veteran empowerment, involving veterans in nearly every step of the process, from operations to printers to designers and even models.

Sword & Plough also donates 10 percent of the company’s proceeds to veteran charities such as Got Your 6; Team Red, White & Blue; Green Vets Los Angeles; and Brat Pack 11.

And while the company’s products serve as a reminder to the challenges and sacrifices that veterans make, the sisters are also passionate about making and assembling their products right here in the good ol’ United States.

“By manufacturing in the United States, we are able to do our part to help condition consumers to buy domestic made goods and support their local economy,” said creative director Haik Kavookjian.

Despite being only a few years old, the company already has a foothold in the industry. Currently based out of Vermont and Colorado, Sword & Plough maintains manufacturing partners in California, Oklahoma, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

The company’s products have reached international markets as Sword & Plough has received orders from the United Kingdom, China, Japan, and India. Now the company is looking to expand its product line, according to Kavookjian.

“We will be participating in more pop-up events and you can expect to see our products in brick and mortar shops across the country,” he said.

Bridging the military-civil divide while remaining passionate about Made in America. Who can’t get behind that?