upcycling backstage at salut beauté

brenda <3 - 15/07/2021

upcycling hi beauty

Beauties, let's take a quick jump back into 2019 if you don't mind. The covid did not exist, the birds were singing and the salut beauté adventure was just seeing the light of day, with two Brendas full of good will at the helm, not super solid on their support but determined to move forward, convinced of the potential of their duet.

Ah, this beautiful year 2019. You should know that at that distant time, upcycling was a concept that was certainly fascinating, but still a little vague. So much so that, to be completely honest with you beauties, we didn't immediately consider it when creating hi beauty. We knew that it was essential for us that our project be aligned with the social and environmental issues of our time, but quite frankly we did not know how and to what extent.

upcycling hi beauty

The Première Vision show in Paris.

We therefore actively searched for “eco-responsible” fabrics, whatever that means. We painfully remember our first visit to Première Vision*, “to see”, without any knowledge of the profession and the environment. Even if we came out of it empty-handed (ie deliberately ignored and/or sent to hell by the exhibitors), this day was nevertheless revealing concerning the extent of our ignorance. The road still to be traveled seemed dizzying to us. And he was.


At first, let it be said, the search for contacts and partners can be very complicated, even discouraging. That being said, you have to put yourself in their pumps: an “almost brand” unknown to the battalion contacts them, flower in hand, with ridiculous quantities to produce and a name to sleep outside.

So we contacted, contacted, called, we were ghosted, we faced refusals, doors in our faces.

One day, we contact a promising supplier, at the forefront in terms of eco-responsibility, holder of all possible and imaginable labels, who replies - to our great dismay - that his minimum orders** are set at 1000m. Ultimate disappointment. When suddenly :

Hello Mathilde,

I add in copy my colleague in charge of the sale of end of stock, who will get back to you quickly.


“Ends of what? »

We call him to understand and then discover the pot of roses: it was surplus production from the manufacturer in question, therefore available immediately, in small lengths. A dance of joy was called for. So there was a way to meet our needs, a way that happens to be above all the nec plus ultra of eco-responsibility: ie no material produced, recovery and revaluation of pre-produced surpluses, what is more with full traceability and quality assurance (because these are fabrics that have been produced by the manufacturer in question, French and responsible). upcycling hi beauty

the following

Digging deeper, we discovered that the brands had the same problems and that surpluses were regularly produced and then unused. This is where resellers come in, who recover these surpluses and resell them to other players, like us, for example.

upcycling hi beauty

If we recapitulate, the materials can be recovered from 3 different places: directly from the manufacturers, directly from the brands or from these famous retailers. The challenge, at this stage, was to diversify our sourcing*** to have access to different types of materials and have a wider choice.

Today, we integrated this gymnastics. For each new capsule, with our sketches under the arm, we go in search of the perfect fabrics, which correspond to our creative and qualitative criteria. That said, even today, our preferred suppliers can be counted on the fingers of one hand. We therefore have to deal with our desires, our quality requirements, what is available and the models we have in mind.

“you are the scalable step

Entrepreneurship is also taking doors. We set the scene for you: passage in front of a jury following a pre-selection, man, quarantine, start-up nation vibe, closed gaze, doubtful - annoyed? (we will call him Jean-Michel for the purposes of the narration).

With Brenda, we don't disassemble, we present, do our thing: "The new uniform", the new uniform that allows you to be stylish, effortlessly, all with fabrics from second production circuits.

At the end, Jean-Michel looks simply aghast, holds his face with one hand and says to us: "yeah finally, your model, it is not scalable". That was all. Thank you goodbye.

Only here: we had seen. We had seen these warehouses as far as the eye could see, the diversity, the richness (and the volume!) that existed in this famous second circuit. The circular economy was there, before our eyes, ready for use. So that would have meant that, in the name of “scalability”, we had to ignore this reality, push it away and do like everyone else, continue to produce, again and again?

Nope. Not happening.

And besides, why wouldn't this model be scalable? Because we are not talking about scraps of fabric recovered here and there, but of tens of thousands of meters of fabric lying dormant in warehouses.

So yeah, not scalable yourself.

the model of the limited series

drawing sketch hi beauty upcycling

How does it work, concretely?
Let's go back to Brenda & Brenda, their sketches under their arms, who scour the warehouses, determined to find the fabric of their dreams. It turns out that, stroke of luck, they fall in love in front of a magnificent roll. Naturally, the first question that comes to them is: "how many meters of this one do you have?" ". And there is roulette. There can be 20m as well as 2000m. Brenda is sweating, a drop beading on her forehead. 20 meters is a little over 5 uniforms. Or almost nothing.
upcycling hi beauty
The challenge is therefore to be able to obtain sufficient footage to be able to produce a number of parts that is not absurd (knowing that developing a part to finally manufacture 5 copies of it is still damn frustrating).
If, as a great surprise, it happens that there are 200 meters of this magnificent hypothetical fabric left, we must take action. Indeed, the magnificent roll of fine pale pink wool that catches our eye, it is unique and will potentially not stay around very long. in other words (bis), if we want it, we must buy it immediately, without further delay, otherwise it is very likely that it will pass under our noses.
The piece that we will make using this fabric will then be offered to you for pre-order, in a limited edition (in other words, until the fabric in question is sold out).
Often, the fabric is completely consumed following the pre-order, but sometimes we have a few meters left. In these cases, we have the possibility of offering you a restocking (always on pre-order, of course).

The beauty of it is that the piece you have shopped, that you are shopping or that you will shop at hi beauty is almost unique. It no longer exists and will never exist again. It is the culmination of a long creative process and meticulous research. It is the culmination of the passion of human beings. We, in this case.

So of course, some will argue that passion, upcycling and business, scalability do not mix. But... does it really?

To be continued in the next episode.
*Première Vision: annual Parisian fair where many manufacturers of materials and supplies gather.
**minimum order: this is a minimum length below which the manufacturer does not agree to produce because it is not interesting enough for him. These minimums are partly responsible for the many surpluses, as this pushes brands to manufacture more fabric than necessary.
***sourcing: research and supply of raw materials.