These beautiful leather tablet and phone sleeves do more than protect your electronics, they also reduce factory waste. Mansi Gupta and Cassandra Michel created the idea behind Trmtab in a class at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and are using to Kickstarter to turn their designs into a business.
Gupta grew up in Kanpur, India where her father runs a leather manufacturing facility. At school, she became interested in how social entrepreneurship can be a sustainable business model. “I was very interested in thinking about how the factories that my dad is running back home can serve as a space of social innovation,” she said.
Prachi Leathers, the factory where the Trmtab products will be created, currently produces shoes and bags. These processes result in many small cutoff pieces. Gupta and Michel came up with a way of weaving these scraps together to make a product that’s both functional and appealing. Upcycling the waste at one factory can prevent 4,000 pounds of waste from ending up in the landfill per manufacturing cycle.
Gupta’s father is also interested in social entrepreneurship, and was enthusiastic about Trmtab. “He was very excited to have me come in and work with the craftsmen in the factories and see if we could do something new,” she said.
The artisans at the factory also contributed to the design of the final products. Although it took some explaining to introduce the concept of upcycling, the factory craftsmen, who have many years of experience working with leather, came up with the chevron stitch pattern.
In addition to providing the materials for the project, Prachi Leathers has also been inspired to make their own social impact by creating a girls' educational fund. For every Trmtab item sold, they’ll donate $5.00. If the Kickstarter is successful, the fund will be able to send 42 daughters of the craftsmen to school.
The name Trmtab is inspired by Buckminster Fuller, who used the term “trimtab” to describe the small surface at the end of a rudder. With a little pressure, this small piece can turn the whole ship. This became Gupta and Michel’s guiding principle: that small changes can have a big impact.