Nelly and Jens Heyduck hold samples of their Ahoy Bags made from discarded sails. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Nelly and Jens Heyduck hold samples of their Ahoy Bags made from discarded sails. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Ucluelet’s Ahoy Bags up for two Small Business BC Awards

German-Canadian wife and husband team transform old sails into one-of-a-kind beach bags

Vintage sail upcycle company Ahoy Bags has been nominated for Small Business BC Awards in two categories: Best Immigrant Entrepreneur and Best Innovation.

Ahoy Bags by Ucluelet-based Nelly and Jens Heyduck made the cut alongside three Tofino businesses this year: Tofino Kombucha, Blue Crush Concierge and Surf Sister. West Coasters are encouraged to head to to vote them into the next round by March 8.

“This is the first time we are part of these awards. It’s great to be recognized after having done this since 2012. I think everybody deserves an award this year. We have all been making it through COVID and everybody hanging in there and doing their best in these crazy times,” said Jens.

Read: Three Tofino companies up for Small Business BC Awards

The Heyduck’s immigrated to Canada from Germany in 2009. They both have art backgrounds; Nelly has a Masters in Product Design and Jens has a lifetime of formal education in art restoration and conservation.

“We’ve been around the block a little bit. At this point I don’t see us as an immigrant anymore, but more part of this community,” Jens notes. “I think it’s just nice to have this recognition for the product that we create rather than the fact that we are immigrants.”

Ahoy Bags was created out of love for the environment and the place the husband and wife business team both call home.

“Every other year, Ucluelet is a leg in the Van Isle 360 Yacht race and the harbour fills up with a floating forest of masts and colorful racing sails. But what happens to these sails when they get retired? We started building connections within the sailor/sail maker community and discovered that old sails are either confined to the basements or getting discharged into the landfill, whenever a sail is beyond repair through a sailmaker,” Jens said.

He went on to say that key industry partners in the south-island region reported their landfill waste reduced by 70 per cent.

“It’s not necessarily the easy thing to do, the easy thing to do would be to buy new material and send it to an overseas plant and have it produced there. To us, sustainability is really about leaving as little of an environmental impact as possible, but also sustainability means to employ the community by having local partners and freelancers that are also involved in the production,” he continued.

Nelly said one of the key goals with Ahoy Bags was to develop a timeless design.

“What I really love on the Ahoy Bags is as each sail is really one-of-a-kind, we really have to look at each sail and decide what to do. Our goal is always to upcycle as much as we can on the sail, this means every bag is one-of-a-kind,” she said.

Jens hopes Ahoy Bag customers will walk away with not only a unique piece of the Pacific, but with an elevated level of environmental consciousness as well.

“By them taking these home, they take a part of environmental sensitivity with them. It’s instilling a little bit of a mindset to be conscious of what you buy,” he said, adding that he is excited to see big companies like Patagonia embracing this mentality.

“I really nod my head towards this movement. It’s not the easy thing to do. It’s not profitable in the immediate sense in terms of a business model, but it’s the right thing to do,” Jens said.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ: Ready, set, sail! Van Isle 360 International Yacht Race sprints out of Ucluelet en route to Victoria

READ: Why this Canadian company wants your used chopsticks

Small Businessucluelet

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As part of Earth Week, Ucluelet Rotary Club member Ryan Wackett will be handing out free Clean Up Packages with grabber picker up tools at his shop Westcoast Connect from April 10 to 23. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet Rotary honours Earth Day with week long community clean up

“Let’s spring into action and clean up our beautiful communities!”

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour closures coming to Hwy. 4 between Port Alberni and Tofino-Ucluelet

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control maps showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 4-10. (BCCDC image)
Parksville-Qualicum passes Nanaimo in new COVID-19 cases

Greater Victoria had more new cases than any other Island area: B.C. Centre for Disease Control

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
WATCH: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song and performance

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Ucluelet locals Rachael, Caroline and Tom enjoy refreshments on a sunny Monday afternoon at a picnic table dining area set up by the District of Ucluelet to help residents and visitors support local businesses while staying outside. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Ucluelet chamber launches bingo contest to support local restaurants

Four Ucluelet Co-op shopping sprees are up for grabs in #Ukee2go competition.

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read