Pioneer of upcycled leather goods

Virginie NANTAS - Founder of Entre 2 Rétros

By: Aurélie ROUTHIER

We met fleetingly, in our Parisian coworking space. In between cups of coffee, we discovered that we shared much more than a workspace. We share real convictions. Virginie is the head of Entre 2 Rétros (or E2R), a brand of leather goods made from recycled automotive fabric.

Meet the person who did not wait for the upcycling trend to embark on this adventure at full speed… 10 years ago already!

How does one decide to become an entrepreneur?

First of all, the desire to leave employment behind and embark on a more personal adventure, one that made sense to me. Then, the conviction that the future lies in sustainable development. Finally, these things often happen by chance! I met an automotive equipment supplier who opened my eyes to this quality raw material that often goes to waste.

Ces tissus, cuirs et ceintures, au lieu de bruler ou d'être enfouis sous terre en tant que déchets, deviennent des sacs, des housses d’ordinateurs, des trousses de toilette.

We don’t come across Parisian women who are passionate about cars very often?!

I fell in love with it when I was little! Every year, I would go to auto shows with my father and grandfather who both worked in the field. I like this environment and the industry in general.

From spare to recycled parts is only a step?

There are several, actually! We don’t suspect the incredible quality of automotive fabrics. Before production, there is a lot of R&D to innovate. Fabric yardages are produced to respond to invitations to tender. Therefore, not everything is used. Same goes for seat belts: meters of bands are discarded because they do not conform. These are the materials we collect.

This is how these fabrics, leathers and belts become bags, computer sleeves and toiletry bags instead of waste that we burn or bury underground.

Upcycling is an opportunity, but does it have its own constraints?

Yes, it is clearly easier to create and design products from scratch. First, because our creative process is reversed: we start from constraints and existing stocks. Because fabrics are in limited quantities, we must innovate constantly.

Then, despite car fabrics and leather having many qualities (sturdy, light, hypoallergenic and even fire-resistant), they are also dark, stiff and therefore need to be worked in a creative way.

"Entre 2 Rétros" and "Saudade" are two names that describe what is behind us. How do you relate to the past?

I love everything retro and vintage. Above all, I believe in family, culture, roots and values. All of it comes from the past and solidifies both who we are in the present and who we become in the future.

We are all in search of sense and meaning, are you more sensitive to sensoriality or sensations?

Just meaning. Family is the meaning of my life. Sensoriality comes next. After all, the stress of being an entrepreneur is still a reality, so I need to take care of my body and remain connected to my senses! I go to the swimming pool every week because water is a soothing element to me.

To finish, a brand that you would like to introduce to us?

Hoopal is a clothing brand made from 100% recycled materials that was founded in Toulouse. We can certainly feel that their approach is truly authentic and ethical. This year, they even went as far as to launch a recycled T-Shirt, which they sell at cost without making a profit. Incredible!

Crédit © Entre2Rétros
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