Sisters transform military materials into 'beautiful' bags – and use the profits to help vets

  • 02 Nov - 08 Nov, 2019
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Mag Files

When Emily Nunez Cavness was in college seven years ago in Vermont, she and her sister, Betsy Nunez, launched a plan to start a business that turns excess military gear into handbags. Their company, Sword & Plough, employs veterans and gives a percentage of profits to military charities. The idea germinated when Emily – then a senior at Middlebury College – attended a lecture that prompted her to think about how to use recycling as part of a business model. The daughter of an Army veteran and herself an ROTC student at the time, Emily gravitated toward a theme connected to the armed forces. “What in my life is often discarded and could be turned into something beautiful with a purposeful mission?” she asked herself at the time, according to the company’s website. “I immediately thought about military surplus materials,” Emily tells PEOPLE. “Then I looked around the room and saw that everyone had bags by their side.” That, she says, was her a-ha moment. Betsy soon signed on as chief operating officer, and the two formed Sword and Plough in 2012, when Emily was 22 and Betsy, 24. Now, they run a thriving mail order business selling bags, jewelry, and accessories.