What if someone told you that there are plastic-free, 100 per cent handmade natural fabric bags that are water-resistant, low maintenance, military-grade material and for every bag sold, five trees are planted in India?
Here is a startup that is trying to bring an environmentally friendly alternative. Clan Earth, founded by Kolkata-based duo Priyanka Mandal and Broteen Biswas, are making a range of sustainable products in carry space. The company makes eco-friendly bags that are made with natural fabrics and are devoid of any plastics or animal-based fabrics such as leather.
Priyanka Mandal started as a software engineer, but with strong motivation towards social engineering, she gradually transitioned from developing software to designing handicrafts and bags.
In the process, she has not only empowered underprivileged slum communities but has given the consumers a sustainable and eco-friendly carry choice.
What makes this endeavour even more fascinating is the concept of planting trees. For every product that the company sells, they plant 5 trees to reforest deforested areas. This is done in collaboration with a partner organization and in the last year, Clan Earth has planted more than 1500 trees.
“We started because we wanted to fight poverty and bring better work opportunities to local artisans and people from financially vulnerable backgrounds. We are trying to change the face of business. Businesses typically harm the planet. We are trying to lower that as much as possible by choosing sustainable material, sustainable ways of production and planting trees for each purchase. More than anything, we are trying to inspire the generation to be mindful and make conscious decisions,” shares Priyanka.
“The feedback has been super positive. We have not received a single return or negative reviews and 98% of all reviews are 5 stars. We were hit by the pandemic and being a carry product-centric company, we couldn’t achieve our true potential. We have sold about 1000 products so far,” she further shares.
Clan Earth is bootstrapped. They learnt how to pivot and stay afloat during the worst of times. They handled design, raw material selection, sourcing of sustainable options, building products from scratch, social media marketing, building their website, accounting, taxes & legal, customer service, online & offline presence all by themselves and it has been a huge learning curve. In July 2021, now they have a small team that is helping them in different aspects.
What was the idea behind the name Clan Earth? “It is my co-founder’s Broteen’s idea. Initially, we thought of Cult Earth but finalized Clan Earth because it has a positive zing. In old times when you had tribes and clans, a big group of people having similar thinking who could exist together,” share continues.
What are your future plans?
“In terms of products, we are thinking to expand our sustainable product range and everything in carry space like backpacks, wallets, clutches, purses.
Then we also want to add more products to sustainable living space. We might add clothing and footwear as well in a long horizon.
In 3 to 5 years’ time, we also want to experiment with more sustainable fabrics and might add upcycled & recycled products.”
Any plans to raise money?
“The natural fabrics which we use are not readily available and tend to be expensive, sometimes 3 to 10 times more than polyesters or nylon.
For us to experiment with those natural fabrics and bring sustainable bags to our audience, we would need funds for which we will plan to raise money.”
“Working with natural, sustainable fabrics come with their own issues. They are difficult to source because the plastic alternatives are everywhere but they are less available and they are comparably expensive because we pay for plastic and plastic based things with our environment and even our own lives. The pandemic was also a very difficult period for any new start-up and that applies to us. But we pivoted fast, made some changes and because our quality was good and we are nimble, we could come out stronger and better,” says.
“Building an enterprise is a difficult job, possibly one of the most difficult ones but the satisfaction that you will get by doing something that you are passionate about and brings a positive change to the world is mindblowing. So, keep at it. Never give up,” she ends on this note!