TheShareStory.in is an initiative to build a community of Entrepreneurs, Founders, Startups & Industry Stalwarts to celebrate success & to learn from shortfalls, and to Contribute, Inspire & Embellish Entrepreneurship by sharing their exciting Stories!
As a part of our initiative, we invited yet another passionate Professional Ms. Harshita Chandra for an interview with us to understand more about her corporate journey. She is the founder of Upcycleluxe. Let’s learn more about her exciting journey, her background and her advice for our growing community! Dynamic, daring and a go-getter—these words are floating around the lady herself.
‘There is no finite world with infinite material consumption’.
Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey so far.
My journey started while I was working for huge labels in the fashion industry, I found out that a huge amount of waste which the industry was relatively not mindful of is being dumped into the landfills annually. I also realized besides factory waste there were other problems too in the supply chain. I have spoken to many designers, brand managers, suppliers, retailers, and consumers, there is often a lot of finger-pointing that goes on, consumers blames brands for paying such low wages to outsource workers, brands say that the price of their fast fashion garment is so cheap that over people want to pay, activists organization blames the brands to follow a business model that prioritize profits at low cost and govt watches from the side-lines. This made me curious to know what was next. After extensive research on the disposal of clothing every year. I came across that the fashion industry is the second most polluting in the world and around 82% of the people do not consider fashion a contributor.
That’s when I found an upcycled homegrown label where we used factory waste to manufacture bags and accessories. Since the concept was new and a lack of awareness for the idea of sustainability, the brand manufactured a capsule collection for a few designers back then. While constantly working for the revolution, I figured out that the industry was unorganized and the chapter of sustainability can’t be heard alone. So, I came up with the idea of bringing together all sustainable brands on a single platform with the belief that sustainability is just not a trend but a lifestyle where indulgence in intricacies brings in each product a luxury makeover. As I always say, ‘There is no finite world with infinite material consumption’.
My technological skills came into use when besides creating a sustainable fashion platform, I also integrated science-based sustainable target solutions into it. Upcycleluxe’s co-founder Shubham Jain was one constant support throughout the journey. He has a vision of execution which helped our journey to pace faster and both our ideologies came into existence through Upcycleluxe.
What three words describe you best?
Perseverance, Self-discipline, Decisiveness, and action oriented.
What products/services do you offer?
It is a one-stop fashion-tech sustainable platform for clothing, accessories & home décor items that pushes one to live a low-impact lifestyle. Luxe curates products for someone who is committed to eliminating greenwashing & practicing transparency in the supply chain by reducing their waste.
- It Connects consumers with homegrown brands that create innovative products using organic fabrics & industrial waste.
- On-boards brands that are certified organic and practice transparent supply chain.
- Enable science-based sustainability target solutions on the platform making the platform the only one of its kind.
What problem does your start-up solve?
- High Purchasing Intent, Low awareness- Consumers in India have a high purchasing affinity (87%)* but lack awareness of sustainable brands (83%)*.
- Scattered sustainable designer community- Sustainable fashion in India is in its nascent stage and vastly comprises the unorganized sector.
- Greenwashing- The products are not truly what the brands claim to be.
- No Impact Calculations- The sustainable products don’t mention the impact contribution.
Who are some of your major clients?
Our major Clients are sustainable brands that are certified and transparent in their supply chain.
Where do you envision UpcycleLUXE five years hence?
Through Upcycleluxe, by 2025 we aim to cater to 1 billion consumers to convert their buying decision to greener choices.
Why do you think sustainability is important in the Fashion Industry?
The fashion industry is the 2nd most polluting industry in the world and the water that gets wasted is enough to meet the needs of 5 million people and the microfibre dumped into the ocean is equivalent to 3 million barrels of oil annually. As for carbon emissions, the industry is responsible for more than all the international flights and maritime shipping combined. The melancholy is – around 82% of the people in India do not consider fashion a contributor. Sustainable fashion brands create fashion in a way that is most considerate of humanity and the environment, reducing the environmental impact wherever possible. The ultimate goal is to have a system that works without leaving a negative footprint. Through fair trade clothing companies are able to make a difference in the lives of the people who grow and make the things we love. By choosing good quality sustainably made clothing is meant to last, or by mending and upcycling the clothes that we already own, we can prolong the lifespan of clothing, preventing it from becoming waste.
Being ethical and providing luxury at the same time sounds a bit difficult. How do you manage to maintain equilibrium?
Luxury has had a complex relationship with sustainability. The term luxury was originally associated with “a lifestyle of excess, indulgence, and waste,” while sustainability focuses on moderate consumption of resources to ensure that our future generation would be able to meet their needs. However, luxury is also associated with setting trends. As the world is in the midst of a paradigm shift, the apparel industry is also reorganizing for the next normal, consumers have become ever more interested in sustainability topics and expect fashion players to maintain their social and environmental duties. This gives the luxury fashion industry an opportunity to affirm its commitment to sustainability. Upcycleluxe is redefining the views on luxury fashion by calling ‘Green is a new Luxury’. We believe in excellent craftsmanship, organic or upcycled fabrics, skin-friendly dyes, animal-friendly materials, transparent network, ethical working conditions, biodegradable ingredients & 100% honest customer service. This is a luxury to us in the era of the new textile economy.
“We have the specific responsibility to lead by example and really to move and have a strong journey on sustainability.”
Any words of wisdom for our aspiring entrepreneurs?
The biggest motivation is to keep challenging yourself, treat your life like one long university education, where you can learn more every day. Businesses are built for more reasons than selling at the first opportunity. Keep your vision clear at all times. The world is full of great ideas, but success only comes through action. Walt Disney once said that the easiest way to get started is to quit talking and start doing. That’s true for your success as well.