Bringing the family design business into the digital age

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trolala by laflore

There is no prize for the girl of the year, but if there was, Natacha Seroussi de Laflore would undoubtedly be in the running. After taking the lead in the family business by helping Parisian atelier and leather goods boutique CECILE & JEANNE, now Laflore, launch its first Kickstarter in 2019, Seroussi transformed a once struggling fashion house into a multi-million dollar global brand. She’s responsible for the launches of bobobark and bebebark, two alternative leather bags with signature matte black cork exteriors, which have racked up nearly $3 million from nearly 13,000 backers.

With these two launches, Seroussi has proven that there is an appetite for handmade products and vegan leather. Now she and her father, Elie, a veteran of the fashion world, have introduced trolala, a high-end rolling luggage cart inspired by the golden age of travel, sustainably handcrafted from of Portuguese cork skin and 100% recycled cotton – available on Kickstarter until Friday April 22.

Laflore’s success is part of a new wave of projects to be launched on Kickstarter using innovative materials, from cactus and apple leather to knitwear made from seaweed and shoes created from coffee grounds. reused. “Cork leather is eco-friendly,” says Seroussi, “and will only grow in popularity as people move towards vegan and sustainable materials. It’s the future.” And, given the runaway success of Laflore’s offerings, it’s also hugely popular.

trolala by laflore

Sons of something new

According to the brand’s campaign page, Laflore is a family affair. Inspired by her father’s 30+ years in fashion, Natacha studied art in school while becoming an accomplished horse trainer. Later, while working in a barn in upstate New York, she received a call to represent the family brand at trade shows. An animal lover, she hesitated to promote leather. “I said to my dad, ‘If I do this, I have to bring a bit of myself to it. And that meant he had to be vegan.”

This achievement inspired Natacha to spend evenings conceptualizing and designing alternative leather bags that are both high-end and functional while contributing to positive change in the fashion industry. “What pushed me was the idea of ​​more sustainable fashion. If I had to be a designer, I had to be responsible.” Surprisingly, getting her dad on board with her vision wasn’t too difficult. “He saw that I was working hard and not giving up. He is also an intuitive person and he felt that retail was changing. Seeing that online is how people brands exist today, it felt right to try something new.”

The company also realized that it needed to evolve. Rather than continuing to pour resources into distant trade shows that often yielded limited results, they decided to go big with a Kickstarter campaign. This decision was partially influenced by Kickstarter’s PBC status, as well as how the platform promotes sustainability by encouraging creators to produce only the amount of stock needed for a campaign. Also, it seemed to work for smaller brands. “It was like, ‘ok, the last thing we’re going to try is Kickstarter. And if that doesn’t work, that’s it. We’re shutting down.’

bebebark by laflore

Going online and expanding

Like most Kickstarter creators, Natacha was both excited and terrified ahead of her first launch, throwing a little party with her family and friends to see the pledges come to fruition in real time. What she wasn’t prepared for was how quickly success would come. “We had a screen that projected the launch. But when the numbers started to climb, we didn’t understand. We thought it was a system bug!”

Grateful for her luck, Natacha is also quick to add that the success of the campaign required a lot of groundwork. “First, we reached out to our communities and our friends,” she says. From there, it was about getting others to share online, talk about the project, and keep the momentum going. By the end of their first campaign, thousands of donors from around the world had come together to make the project a success.

Natacha and Ellie at the Atelier

Designing for sustainability

According to Natacha, the design process around new products often begins in the family’s Parisian workshop, where they imagine and develop new samples, the process taking six months to a few years. The bags are then handcrafted from premium cork skin harvested in Portugal and polished until the texture is “as soft and supple as leather” (but three times lighter).

With trolala, aesthetic innovation was just as essential as material durability. She started looking for inspiration in old travel trunks, but found that they were often impractical for jet set travel. “I felt like there was room to do something new. That’s when I started working from scratch.” She began reaching out to former backers, often via Instagram and social media, for information on what she should design next and what they were looking for in a travel accessory. The result is a lightweight travel cart with multiple pockets, a wheel system, collapsible bars and a bright orange recycled cotton interior. The trolala, by using sustainable materials, also reduces its carbon footprint to a fraction of traditional rollers.

trolala by laflore

The next big adventure

“In any business, whether it’s a fashion brand or something else, what matters are the values. What you’ll add to the world,” says Seroussi, who notes that for others who seek to follow a similar path, she would say, “Don’t give up if you believe in your product. And if you work hard, it will happen.” For now, she and her team have started experimenting with materials, including bamboo and coffee beans, and look forward to continuing to innovate and refine Laflore. “It’s amazing what people create when they put their minds into something.”

Trolala is available to return on Kickstarter until Friday, April 22.


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