Lovingly tucked inside each package of Ann's Honor produce bags sit not only the Huntington Beach-based company's eco-friendly goods, but also a mission to eradicate Parkinson's disease. The mother of Ann's Honor Founder Kirsten Knorr was diagnosed with the neurological disorder in 1998, making two of her biggest talents—cooking and drawing—extra challenging. Just recently Kirsten landed on the perfect platform to honor her inspirational mother in a truly eco-chic way.
Both before and after her diagnosis, Ann Clark busied her hands with a host of hobbies, refining her gardening, sewing, quilting, embroidering, stained glass, drawing, and French cooking skills. The latter two greatly influenced her daughter's newly launched venture. Back in the early 1980s, Ann lent her drawing skills to a cookbook that her college French class crafted and gifted to their professor, where she meticulously drew—dot-by-dot—beautiful, original, intricate images of food. Even "The French Chef" herself, Julia Child, acknowledged Ann's work after receiving a copy of the cookbook.
Admittedly less artistically inclined than her mother, Kirsten has worked in marketing communications for more than 16 years. For the past year and a half the Sebastopol native and mother of two spent her free time dreaming up a project honoring the environment and her mother. This past August she launched Ann's Honor via a collection of three earth-friendly produce bags, each featuring one of her mother's original pointillism creations. Every year 10-percent of profits will be donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research "with Mom in mind."
Ann was diagnosed with Parkinson's a year after Kirsten's daughter was born, and at that point in her life, Kirsten decided to make a change. "I became very conscious of my own health," says Kirsten, who exhaustively researched health and wellness topics. Says the HB resident of more than 25 years, "In that research, I discovered how unhealthy it can be to store food in plastic." Kirsten explains that as fruits and vegetables decompose, they emit ethylene gas, which, when stored in plastic, becomes trapped and accelerates the process. The results are slimy greens and bruised apples.
She started wrapping her produce in damp towels and eventually sewed her own produce bag. To boost its appeal, she ironed on one of her mother's illustrations. The result proved attractive, so she had a few made as Christmas presents. The positive feedback from friends and family motivated her to go bigger with her bags.
"The lightbulb came on," Kirsten says. She created a product that remarkably extends the shelf life of produce, revives her mother's artwork, is kind to Mother Earth, and gives back to Parkinson's research. Says Kirsten, "Everyone wins!" The rustic drawstring sacks are made in Los Angeles from breathable unbleached natural cotton, printed in Santa Ana, and come complete with a charming thank you/recipe card. The small bag features Ann's peas in a pod design, the medium bag showcases her artichoke illustration, and the large bag displays a bundle of radishes. Kirsten notes that the timeframe for prolonged produce life differs for various fruits and veggies. As a bonus, the pouches also revive sad produce, like wilted leafy greens and floppy broccoli.
Sure, the green market-fresh bags make the interiors of refrigerators sing, but they need not stay indoors. Kirsten takes hers to the Tuesday night Surf City Nights farmers market, the Friday HB Pier farmers market, and the good ol' grocery store. Given HB's single-use plastic bag ban and California's possible statewide ban, the local community might need a few more reusable bags.
So far, the produce totes have been very well received, and the proof is in the purchases. Only a month in, Kirsten has already sold her first batch of bags. She's ordered more, and she's also partnered up with yours truly. Ann's Honor produce bags just hit our Main & PCH Marketplace shelves, and we're honored to be featuring an exclusive discounted bundle.
"The wheels are always turning," says Kirsten of the project, a culmination of everything she's passionate about in life. She hopes her honorable journey leads her to future partnerships with popular markets like Whole Foods and and Bristol Farms, a spot at Surf City Nights, as well as an expansion of the original bag trio. Ann's mixed body of work inspires numerous opportunities for exhibition, and the "complete francophile," as Kirsten describes her mother, continues to paint and draw to this day.