As a sustainable brand, transparency is one of our top priorities. Obviously, you want to know where your products come from, and we are here to provide the answers. To give you an idea of how much love and hard work goes into each FabRap™ product, we put together this small Q&A with FabRap’s founder and owner Hema Kumar. Our aim for this blog post is to take you on a journey from the first product idea to the finished product arriving at your doorstep.
Before we get more specific about the design and production process at FabRap™, let us start at the very core. Hema, how did you get into touch with the art of gift-giving and why did you decide to start your own brand?
I’ve always felt that there’s so much power in a gift. The power to make people feel appreciated, confident, enthusiastic… countless feelings can be ignited with a wonderful gift. Showing people how much you care, listen and respect them through the art of giving is such a beautiful experience. In India, giving is an act of gratitude with no expectations in return. In fact, like in many other Asian cultures, you should be the one to feed your friends, colleagues and family cake for your birthday! This small act of kindness shows the people around you just how much you appreciate them and how grateful you are to have them in your life with all the small contributions they make to it.
I decided to start FabRap when I realised that the wrapping paper industry was causing such huge amounts of waste. In addition to that, single-use wrapping paper as we know it contains so much plastic which can never be fully recycled. Since I’ve been wrapping with fabric since I was very young (I have always been passionate about fabric textures and prints), the thought occurred to me that this could be something that a wider population might also appreciate. Through my background in working with GOTS-certified organic cotton manufacturers, I knew that we could find the perfect weave for reusable fabric gift wrapping using this medium.
And it turns out you did find the perfect weave! It is so important that you mentioned the negative influence of conventional wrapping paper on the environment, as I’m sure a lot of people don’t even realize the amount of waste it can produce, since its environmental impacts are often overshadowed by the beautiful art of giving. It’s just great to see how you have taken your passion for gift wrapping and turned it into something that others can benefit from as well, but I’m sure it wasn’t always easy. What were the biggest challenges when you founded FabRap™?
Finding the right supplier, and costing the product so that we were able to supply it to a wider audience and still turn a profit without compromising on our company values: Sustainability, Fair Trade/Labour, and 100% organic fabric and dyes PLUS recycled packaging. Getting the mix right was definitely the hardest part here. It took a few years to find the right supplier who is not only reliable in quality, but also in their own factory practices and work ethics.
Making a product sustainable and affordable obviously is a difficult challenge, but we can really see the effort you have put into this brand and its products to make them an affordable luxury. FabRap™ aims to make gift-giving more sustainable, but what other areas do you want to apply more eco-friendly approaches to?
FabRap stands for sustainability in people, planet, and profit. Sustainability in people for us means that we are committed to using suppliers who use fair labour practices, so not a single person will be harmed or treated unfairly in the process of making our products. Consequently, it also means that we are passionate about matters of equality, education and mental health. Sustainability for our planet is very self-explanatory, as we think that we should not be wasting our beautiful planet’s precious resources for products that we throw away after a single use. And lastly, we aim to make profit both sustainable and ethical by creating responsible supply chains that are good to workers and the environment.
Now that you have told us about the idea and values of FabRap™, can you walk us through the steps that go into the design process? What inspires you and how do create all of these beautiful designs?
Inspiration for our designs come from a multitude of sources. Architecture, traditional attire, nature - you name it. Having lived in the Middle East, South East Asia, Australia, and the UK, the varied experiences and cultural influences are wide, to say the least. However, once an initial inspiration point is decided upon (1920’s Art Deco for example), I then go about creating motifs and patterns which I think can stand the test of time. This along with the colours need to be contemporary and timeless since our product is one that literally does last a lifetime.
Our latest collection of Maroon Ogives, Blush Whales, Indigo Fans, and Sky Elephants was inspired mainly by the textures and traditions of Southeast Asian culture. The delicate ogives and fans were inspired by the many arches featured in architecture and textiles, the whales and elephants were inspired by traditional motifs used on clothing and other textile-rich products.
The initial designs are sent to our GOTS-certified supplier in India who then creates an initial ‘strike-off’ of the fabric print. From there we tweak and edit until we feel that the design is perfect and ready to go. The fabric is being created in the background while the design process is taking place, and once ready, we go into printing.
Printing can take anywhere from one week to three weeks (depending on the timeline required for the difficulty of the prints and also on the schedule that fits our GOTS-certified printer).
Everything is done with sustainability in mind and as a result nothing is rushed through. Once the fabric is printed and finished, we go into production of the actual pieces. This takes place at our GOTS-certified manufacturer in India. The supplier has a small team of around 36 staff members who carefully and meticulously prepare each piece for packaging.
FabRap™ produces in India under ethical working conditions. Why did you choose to produce there and how does the production process look?
India’s government has a long tradition of subsidising organic farmers to encourage a switch from conventional to organic agriculture. Through my previous business, I learned about the GOTS-certified cotton industry in India and I was impressed with the dedication and commitment to sustainability. I wanted to support organic farmers and encourage more people to switch to organic production in India, which is why I decided to base our production there.
What happens after a product is finished. What are the most important steps that happen before the FabRaps are distributed to consumers all over the world?
After a product is finished, images need to be taken so that we are able to communicate the product to customers. Both plain product images and professional product images are important. On top of this, we also try to create videos for each style so that people can see how our products perform ‘in action’.
Did you set any goals for yourself when you started FabRap™, and if yes, did you reach them?
Yes! One of the main goals we set was to gain some recognition through some of our valued award-giving organisations, like the Global Good Awards. We were thrilled and honoured to receive the award this year and hope to continue to inspire and encourage other people to commit to sustainability in people, planet, and profit. As far as we're concerned, there’s really no point in this business unless we’re making a difference. A difference in the way we approach everything from production to the way we work with people and profits. We are committed, for example, to planting one tree for every piece sold to begin with, and we hope to increase this as time goes forward. Giving back to our planet, our communities and our suppliers is very important.
We hope that this short interview with our founder Hema was able to give you a better insight into FabRap™ - its wonderful designs, its production, and the values that lie at the very core of the brand. If you want to know more about FabRap™, you can always contact us via e-mail or on social media - whatever you prefer!