Welcome to our newest editorial initiative, Who What Wear Spotlight, where we'll be using our editorial platform, social following, and ad inventory to turn the spotlight on small businesses that need our support now more than ever. Each week, we'll be highlighting a new fashion or beauty company. If you own a small brand and would like to be considered for the program, please apply here.
Roop, Courtesy image for Who What Wear
Sustainable brands tend to be more expensive, however, Roop is a label which is "trying to keep things green," while creating beautiful handbags for under £100. Londoner Natasha hand makes everything by herself, using deadstock or vintage fabrics, and the only thing she purchases brand new are the clasps and elastic.
Roop has just been picked up by Selfridges, a big backing considering Natasha only started her label last September. Her bags now sell out almost instantly, as each design is limited edition and so they are becoming one of the hardest items to track down in fashion. Here, Natasha explains how she built her brand and how she is adjusting her business in the current climate.
Introduce our readers to your brand. When did you start it, and why?
I'm Natasha, and I'm the woman behind Roop, which is also my nickname, I started making the bags last September while I was off work with a bad back (it's a glamorous story). I was inspired by a shoe strap I saw on Instagram and the beautiful art of furoshiki. Roop is a beautiful mix of everything I love!
How has social distancing and stay at home orders affected your business? How have your priorities shifted?
I feel guilty saying this, but it kind of made Roop into what it is today. Firstly, it gave me the time to focus on and execute what I wanted to do with the business, and secondly, the rise in support for small businesses put me in front of more people. Lastly, my brand is happy, colourful and for anybody. I think those qualities make it really appealing in a time like this.
Some people are finding joy in getting dressed and doing their beauty routine, even if they have nowhere to go. What do you think fashion and beauty can offer people right now? What has it done for you?
I spend the majority of time in two outfits in one room as you can imagine, but I will always wear fab earrings. They make me feel like the queen of my studio instead of the swamp! Fashion might seem frivolous to some, but I truly think it can be transformative and we've felt that more than ever during the lockdown.
How long did it take you to design the bag? What are your favourite prints for the bags and why?
About two years. I knew I wanted to make my own way again and leave my jobs, but it's not something you can force. I wanted to get back into sewing and making, so I began experimenting and making different bags whenever I could. The scrunchie strap found its way on to many different shapes before marrying it to the furoshiki technique. My favourite bag so far is Ceyu—she's made from wavy print baby blue satin and I have the only one. She's very special to me. Other than Ceyu, any checkerboard print or lime green will steal my heart!
Tell us about the sustainable element of your production/business?
All my fabrics are deadstock—remnant or vintage. I'm trying to use what's already here. On top of that, my packaging materials are all sustainable and I don't have stock lying around. I make to order so that there's as little waste as possible.
In your own words, why is it important to support Black-owned brands?
It gives Black people and communities the opportunity to lift themselves up and thrive. We can always benefit from difference, and getting to see and listening to black voices without inference allows them to speak their truth and show their beauty without feeling the need to be watered down or small. There's more than one way to look at or do something and we should celebrate it.
Is there anything else about your brand you really want our readers to know about you?