We are in an age of transition at the moment. Multiple trends, narratives and patterns seem to make themselves heard everyday. However, it is prudent to remember that humans expect the same things on a day to day basis. What will change are the ways in which we spend our time day to day. For example, ten years back it was common to see people take out time to visit clothing stores. Today, many millions would simply whip out a smartphone while also having the choice whether the brand is sustainable in its material usage or not.
Likewise, the way in which we spend time has changed depending on where one lives and has access to what kind of socio-economic opportunities. For instance, the fashion industry is relevant across the world since clothing is ubiquitous. It represents a way in which people express themselves. Changing lifestyles demand change in clothing. When people change in terms of their thinking towards their life, its quite possible that one’s wardrobe is one of the first things to be changed.
Today, at Bangalore Insider we spoke to Pooja Monga, the Founder & CEO of Saltpetre. Sustainability and circular economy are large, macro trends towards which society finds itself shifting gradually towards. Saltpetre is right in the intersection of this twin narrative. Below are the excerpts from our interaction.
Give a brief info about your brand?
Saltpetre is a sustainable lifestyle brand of modern, functional fashion, beauty and home goods. Among the top 8 finalists at the first circular design challenge organised by United Nations India & Lakme India Fashion Week, Saltpetre has been recognised for its cradle to cradle design thinking and production process. With its direct to consumer (D2C), digital-first approach, Saltpetre aims to make sustainable accessible in everyday lives of cosmopolites across the globe.
What made you start your brand and what problem does it solve?
The last project with my ex-corporate employer was about galvanizing support for adoption of sustainable products with internal-external stakeholders and consumers. This project made me acutely aware of the dearth of sustainably made everyday products, especially accessible lifestyle products like work wear, fitness gear, footwear etc. which in fact contribute to the bulk of our disposable income spends. I started my research on this sector and slowly yet steadily Saltpetre was launched.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures?
I have 7 plus years of brand building experience, with companies such as Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), Hero MotoCorp, among others.
Where is your company based? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
Saltpetre is based out of Bangalore, however we ship our products worldwide. We chose this place due to its convenience, which includes procurement of raw materials and finding skilled human resources. Being based in Bangalore also helps us to minimize overall cost of operations.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
As we know, scaling up is a key component of any start-up/ small scale business. Similarly, at Saltpetre, we have to rapidly scale up our products, operations and overall business, to stay up to date. Sometimes that can get you paranoid!
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
Sustainability is such a small ecosystem at present that all the brands operating in this domain are more like syndicate partners to me than competition. What puts us apart is the fact that we try to keep our complete supply chain measurably low on Eco impact – data backed materials.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
In order to deal with work-life balance, I try to set up a priority list and work towards achieving the targets one-by-one. On some days, the balance between personal and professional life is great while on other days it’s not. But that’s what life is all about!
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If not then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
We haven’t raised funding yet. However, we are looking for equity from like minded investors who buy into the values as much as the business potential.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
I don’t generally think about how others perceive me. I just try to be as open and honest as I can in my communication.
What gets you excited about your brand?
At Saltpetre, we create unobstructive products that unburden the earth. The positive impact it creates for the planet and society is what gets me excited!
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
Honesty, every day is a different day for me. At work, I am juggling between ideation, production, operations and overall management. As a woman, I also have other roles to play, such as I am a mother to a 3.5 year old, who accompanies me to work on some days. Right from the time I wake till I go to the bed, I like to make the most of the time I have in hand.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Our core team consists of 5 members and we also have an extended team. We onboarded some of our teammates through personal references while others on networking platforms.