It is a common saying that, one has to lose something good so as to gain something better; probably this is the saying all of us have grown up listening to. The founders at FOReT are rebutting this age old maxim by providing you the best of two worlds. FOReT is a Mumbai based start-up creating eco-friendly fashion accessories through a perfect fusion of natural elements and trendy designs. Their products besides giving you an elegant look, keeps you connected to the nature.
StartupTalky interviewed FOReT founder, Supriya Shirsat Satam.
|Founder||Supriya Shirsat Satam|
|Parent Organization||Uniquity Retail Pvt. Ltd.|
About FOReT and How it Works
FOReT was started with a passion to create fashion that embodies the essence of Nature. They provide sustainable fashion accessories and their collection includes handbags, wallets, belts and jewellery. At FOReT, the products are made from genuine cork ensuring the grains and strands of nature are evident. Every design and every project FOReT undertakes reflects the ethos of nature: Simple, Diverse and yet Sophisticated.
FOReT envisions to be a global sustainable fashion and lifestyle brand. At the core of their business is to create sustainable fashion products that does not call for any changes in an users lifestyle. By doing so, they are committed to create global fashion as well as conserving the environment.
The ethos behind FOReT is to embody and articulate the beauty and spirit of Nature and create products that have a positive impact on our environment. We aim to carve a niche for natural fashion without compromising on the latest trends. Style and Elegance is the cornerstone behind all our accessories and we use the finest of materials that resonate with being earth-friendly and responsible
FORet is also doing its part towards conserving nature, as for every purchase, they plant trees and support the livelihood of farmers.
while you worry about what you have to wear for the party tonight, we will take care of how it has a positive impact on our environment.
FOReT - Founder
Supriya Shirsat Satam is the founder of FORet. Supriya is an engineer and an MBA in marketing by qualification. She worked with one of India’s premiere airline and led Mobile Commerce and Mobile Marketing prior to starting her own venture - FOReT.
How was FOReT Started
Supriya is a vivid nature lover. Though she was a workaholic and practically worked 24/7, travelling and exploring new places was something she always managed to do. She often takes out time to run away from the chaos of everyday life into the lap of nature and wander on off-beaten tracks. She also loves to do landscape painting,where very minute observation of the details of nature is required, which further deepened her love for nature. FORet is Supriya's way of giving back to the nature.
Being a conscious nature lover, she always explored for possibility of making eco-friendly fashion accessories.
While we speak of organic clothing, organic food, organic colors and natural cosmetics, I wondered if my handbag could be made from natural material. I wanted something that could look stylish and I searched but was not fully convinced of the style or the fabric - Supriya says
Being convinced that there is no adequate and quality eco-friendly fashion accessories available in the Indian market, Supriya started doing research on natural materials that could be used for making nature friendly yet stylish fashion accessories, and came across the beautiful Cork material, that comes from the bark of the Cork Oak tree, well known as the cap of your Wine bottle
Moreover, making the cork material does not harm the tree but gives it more life. At the spur of a moment, Supriya wrote to a couple of Cork suppliers to send her some swatches, and Supriya was completely bowled over by the material.
What got me attracted was that the Cork material resembles the texture of the natural bark. You can notice every grain and the texture of the bark. And this makes every product unique and exclusive, as no two product will be the same.
Cork is extremely soft, anti-microbial, water resistant and extremely durable. It was a complete and wholesome material just as it is in nature. Supriya soon sketched a bag and got it made, and though getting manufactured just one bag cost her a lot, the bag was incredibly beautiful and way beyond her expectations. This paved the thought for launching products that articulated nature.
I worked on my prototype and the end product was convincing enough. However, I did work on a plan and how I wanted to execute it. I also had several brain storming sessions with my husband, sisters and friend. They are fully supportive and are an indelible part of this journey
Supriya's way of validating the idea was also interesting. She simply used to carry her handbag to parties and public places to see how people react to it.
The idea was never to tell them to see the product but to check if they enquired on their own and they did.
Supriya also showed the product to some senior Corporate executives and they too fully supported the same.
To start production commercially was however was not easy.
Initially Supriya tried to get the handbags produced in India. But, cork is an expensive material and bringing the material to India and working on different cork fabric patterns and style was a lengthy process. As it was a new concept, the learning curve for tailors was steep and the time that the factories were willing to contribute was minimal as the proposition started looking extremely difficult. This led Supriya to focus on working with the experts who have established themselves in manufacturing and designing with Cork.
I wanted all accessories to be as per global design standards and make and I realized that it would need a lot more of resources to create some from the start. Our belief is that a luxurious material such as cork needs to be witnessed by a larger audience and working with established partners helps us bring out a new collection that spans across categories easily.
Today, some of FORet's pieces are designed by Supriya, however, as a collection FOReT works with the best teams of cork fabric suppliers, artists and designers and manufacturers as a private label. Their collection is manufactured in Europe with genuine Cork and makes use of European charms and metal hardware
FOReT - Name, Tagline and Logo
The name FOReT Cork encapsulates the essence and the core beliefs with which the company has been set up and how it envisions to see itself in future.
Some moments cast an indelible mark that manifests itself in some beautiful way, and Supriya's trip to Pench, a forest in Madhya Pradesh a few years ago, was one such impacting moment. It is from this experience she had at Pench, that FOReT's name was conceptualized.
An early morning safari at 5am with dull sleepy eyes soon waking up to the cool breeze and the dark blue sky. As our jeep whirred through the forest, we were trying to capture quick movements of the animals amidst the trees and the grass. In search of the lone tiger, we stopped by a small lake. The first blush of the morning was filling the air. The lake was glistening and the leaves had an irresistible luminance. The dry grass below the trees magically shone in the dazzling sunlight. And in it, the forest majestically came alive. I can’t describe the essence, but it had me there. FOREST was only a word before this, but now it actually had a meaning. And the essence of that experience is what I have tried to capture in my venture, FOReT, French for Forests
FOReT is a word for forest in French. A forest is a place where nature is full of life and plays blissfully with vivid colors and profound sounds. Forests are a true embodiment of Nature and have been a witness to life since the beginning of time. Home to the flora and fauna, forests are an integral part of our ecosystem. As FOReT's products inculcate the concept of drawing from Nature without processing them, Foret was the apt name.
Foret in French is written as Forêt and pronounced as For-hae. The logo is ê (e-circumflex), a Latin alphabet adorned with another accent made to resemble the soul of the forests, the tree. This, invariably reflects the connection to the nature. ê also stands for elegance and essence, the two main pillars of the company.
FOReT's tagline, 'Fashion meets Sustainability' is an epitome of the company's vision to create an viable intersection of fashion, lifestyle and environmental consciousness.
FOReT - User Acquisition
FOReT while in the Beta participated in a pop-up festival for vegan and earth friendly products. As a first primary response, they have garnered huge support from the audience there. This helped them build trust and market for themselves in the real world.
In the current digitized world social media platforms act as the best marketing networks. Similarly, for FOReT Instagram has played a crucial role in promoting their products and showcase their brand and carve a niche for themselves in the fashion space.
FOReT - Startup Challenges
FOReT started with making handbags. As the products are made from exquisite and expensive cork, not so widely used material, only a few limited edition pieces could be created; which also means limited audience. Only mature buyer willing to pay more were likely buy their products.
Hence, in order to overcome small consumer base FOReT expanded into jewellery section. Now, with Jewellery section FOReT products appeals to all women and hence attracts a wide customer base.
FOReT - Future Plans
FOReT's final goal is to distribute its products globally and this strategy helps it in creating products that are acceptable as per global standards and distributing the same. Also, as Cork comes from Southern Europe, working with the teams in Europe who understand the material strengthens its positioning to cater to an International audience. The company also has plans to get some of its designs made in India as a bridge between the two creative forms of design.