Sword & Plough

Repurposed for a Purpose

By Rosie Ryan

We live in a world full of waste. Fortunately, there are many savvy people out there who are able to turn something that most people would throw away into something of use and beauty. Then, there are those who go even further and turn it into a meaningful business like the folks at Sword & Plough. Except they don’t use just any old item. Sword & Plough takes surplus military gear that would otherwise be discarded and turns it into fashionable bags and accessories.
Sword & Plough is the brainchild of Emily and Betsy Nuñez, who grew up in a military family. While at college, they found it hard to relate to some of their classmates, many of whom were unfamiliar with military life. That’s why they wanted to find a physical way to bring awareness to everyone about the challenges that those in the military face.

The name Sword & Plough comes from the ancient saying “To turn swords into plough shares.” It means to apply military technology and material to peaceful purposes. To make its products, the company combines military gear with eco-leather accents and other American-made textiles. They take it one step further and employ veteran-run manufacturers to create their products. And they also give 10 percent of their profits to veteran initiatives. It’s safe to say the military is the heart of this operation.

We spoke with Emily Nuñez, co-founder and an active-duty Army officer, to learn more about this inspiring company.

Tastevin Magazine: What was the first piece you ever made?
Emily Nuñez: The first Sword & Plough piece ever made was a beautiful tote bag that was made by my mom, Judy. Our team needed a prototype with one week’s notice for an important pitch at the Dell Social Innovation Lab. I called my mom with this plea and she immediately and enthusiastically rose to the challenge. She designed and sewed the green canvas bag and also worked with a local Amish leather worker to sew on the leather handles. She mailed it to Massachusetts just in time! The bag was a huge hit with the audience as it was passed around during my pitch. This first prototype was so important because it turned the idea of Sword & Plough into a physical reality.

TM: What about runway trends? Do your products echo them?
EN: We keep an eye out for new runway trends, but to be honest, most of our inspiration comes from what we see around us and what we are looking for in a product. We often draw inspiration from old military gear and we try to improve on what we know already works. The end goal is to effortlessly blend functionality and aesthetic.

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