At Remake, we love connecting with brands who are working to bridge the gap between makers and consumers. Today we’re featuring Tripty, an up and coming fashion brand who is rethinking the way products are made in developing countries.
Tripty’s products are simple (think straightforward, yet stylish backpacks, jackets and clutches), but the message is loud and clear: makers’ lives matter. In fact, many of the artisans who produce Tripty’s products are former victims of sex trafficking. The products themselves are made with cotton grown near the border of Burma in small quantities without chemicals, naturally dyed with local materials and woven on traditional looms. A pineapple blend fabric (yes, pineapple leaves) on the straps and bottom of the bags make them particularly unique.
We recently got to speak with the founding couple of Tripty, Luke and Brooke, about the story behind the brand, what sparks their passion for sustainability and what’s next now that they’ve hit their Kickstarter goal (congrats guys!).
You were both working in Bangladesh at the time of the Rana Plaza tragedy, can you tell us how that event inspired you to create a sustainable brand?
Luke: We were both pretty new to the country at that point. I was working on the environmental side of things, going out to the rural tribes and villages interviewing people that were being displaced by climate disasters. Brooke was in Dhaka working with a larger factory to help them reduce waste.
We were brainstorming ways we could create more sustainable jobs for the community when Rana Plaza collapsed. It really threw the whole country into upheaval. We would be working and you could hear the people outside rioting. They didn’t have faith in the government and the factory owners to listen to them, so there was a lot of pent up aggression. It was pretty traumatizing to be around it and to understand that a week after the building collapsed there were still people alive and trapped under the rubble.
We weren’t really sure what Tripty would be at that point, but Rana Plaza gave everyone a sense of urgency. Something needed to be done and soon. It really inspired us to build a brand around the idea that we could take local handicrafts and make them into something that benefited people’s lives.
What’s your stance on the relationship between consumer and maker?
Brooke: We really wanted to bridge that gap. That’s why we focus on our transparent supply chain and share lots of videos and pictures on our process. It has gotten to the point where people don’t know anything about what they’re wearing and in turn they don’t take care of their clothing. We wanted to create something people could connect to.
It’s also worth noting our bags are lined with saris from the women who make our products. We take old saris women don’t wear anymore, patch them up and line the inside of our bags with them. We love telling people that because it really gives you a sense of the personality behind each piece. You’ll often see a lining that’s bright pink or purple, next to an exterior that’s really geometric with neutral colors. It’s different and really tells a story about who made each piece.
What do you hope to accomplish with Tripty?
Brooke: We want to create a small presence in the international market with items that are a mix of handicraft with a high-end design touch. We also seek to have a positive social impact and environmental impact in the local Bangladesh communities.
Where does the name ’Tripty’ come from?
Luke: Tripty is a common female name in Bangladesh. It means ‘satisfaction.’ One of the first ladies we collaborated with was named Tripty and she works teaching women how to do embroidery projects to help them get out of sex trafficking. We thought she was so inspiring, and we loved that the word translated to satisfaction. It just clicked with us.
Your pineapple blend fabric sounds amazing! Tell us more about that.
Luke: Pineapple leaves are actually a big waste issue. They don’t compost easily, so farmers either have to hot compost them or pay to get them moved offsite, which many of them can’t afford to do.
We were looking for something more uniform for the straps and bottom of our bags. So we were so excited when we stumbled on the Fiber Resource Center (FRC) project which was making fabric from the excess pineapple fiber. It worked really well, and became a blend that feels similar to canvas. We were so excited that the farmers were able to get additional income from their leaves. That boost in income often pays for their children’s clothing and schools.
You’ll notice our logo is also a pineapple. The whole idea of taking something that was somebody’s problem and turning it into a solution was a really nice concept for us. We thought in the general production realm that’s a good way to approach things. It’s the kind of mindset we want to have.
What have been some of the lessons learned from marketing your products?
Luke: It’s been interesting from a marketing perspective to see what people respond to. When we came back from Bangladesh we were so excited about the positive social impact and the environmental impact these products have. But people actually didn’t respond super well when we started talking about the social issues. I think it can be overwhelming.
What has resonated with people is the sustainability element. People love the pineapple fabric because you’re solving a waste issue. They even like to smell it! It doesn’t smell like anything, but they still try it.
We also know people buy things if they think they look cool. So we’ve put a lot of effort into making our products be something people would want to buy. If people are curious about the social issues we have information on that, but it’s not our main focus when marketing the product.
You want to benefit communities, culture and environment with your products, how can others contribute to the same goal?
Brooke: Unfortunately there’s no obvious way to do this. But I’d say overall it’s important to be curious about where your products are coming from. If you are asking the right questions that will point you in the right direction. Try to stick with the brands you feel are doing a good job, keep with them and spread the word
(Side note: Luke wrote a great list of tips for us on this in a separate post. You can see that list here).
Congrats on reaching your Kickstarter goal! What’s next?
Luke: For the longest time all we wanted to create a small presence and have a small amount of sales that helps the artisans we work with. That was as far as we ever expected to get. Now we feel like the sky is the limit. We’re being approached by different countries and brands who are interested in our products. We hope to continue to grow and find even more ways to help out these communities.
A backpack that’s stylish and sustainable sounds like a perfect fit to us! Tripty’s online shop will be up and running in the next few weeks. In the meantime you can visit their site to check out their beautiful products, or follow them on Twitter and Instagram for updates.