Wearing green. It’s going to be the latest fad in the green revolution in the country
The idea was put into action by Sunil Mande, founder of Sarga. The start up company is basically involved in creating Eco-friendly fabrics and furnishings. The materials used in the process are organically developed or naturally available fibers like organic cotton, bamboo, lyocell, modal, flax & jute. These fibers are not subjected to pesticides of any kind. Sarga also ensures that its products are completely Eco-friendly and biodegradable by making sure the accessories like prints, dyes, threads involved in the process is harmless to the environment.
Before becoming a green entrepreneur, Mande worked in the IT sector. “In 2006, my interest grew in manufacturing. I did some research and came across Eco-friendly fabrics. I also came across some regenerated fibers which were Eco-friendly and were more like polyester and silk. I thought that they were a great replacement for existing fibers,” says Mande.
In the typical textile market we get cotton, polyester, nylon, synthetic and silk. “In India, almost 50 per cent of the world’s chemicals, no matter in which form they manufacture, goes into cotton. A lots of insecticides, fungicides, germicides and synthetic cotton synthesizers are used which have long term repercussions,” says Mande. In this way, 1 kilogram of cotton uses up 20,000 lts of water. While spinning and ginning do not involve a lot of harmful substances but dyeing uses a lot of chemicals. Similarly, in other fibers like nylon are synthetic fibers are nothing but a byproduct of petroleum, hence not biodegradable. For naturally occurring fibers like Silk, a lot of chemicals are required to make them sustainable. “So what we are trying to do is replace all of these with our fabrics. Right from the farmer/supplier to the spinner to the ginner to the dyeing unit to us, everything is certified by Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) or some other certification. We have a very stringent work process and the authenticity of being Eco-friendly is passed on,” explains Mande. They pick up their yarn from certified units like Raj pal mills and Armstrong mills
They started procuring these fibers in semi finished format and utilize it for their purpose and in 2007, Sarga was created. The next step taken by the company was to benchmark the processes. “There is no point in using fiber that is Eco-friendly but goes through the usual process that is harmful,” explains Mande. They got in touch with a US based company called Resin Silicon and Finishes, in 2007, which benchmark the processes like specialty finish.
|In India, almost 50 per cent of the world’s chemicals, no matter in whatever form they manufacture, go into cotton. Lots of insecticides, fungicides, germicides and synthetic cotton synthesizers are used, which have long term repercussions
- Sunil Mande, Founder of Sarga
|No. of employees - 5
Funding - John Galt Company, Seed funding, Morpheus venture partners, and Sunil himself.
Profits – Will breakeven in a month
Although in the beginning started off as an eco- friendly furnishing company Sarga is now planning to move into the apparel segment. It also sees a huge demand for the industrial application where fibers also known as ‘technical textile’ be used in jets, wind turbines, car bumpers, car panels etc. As of now they are working with General Electric and National Aerospace Laboratories to explore their options with the technical textiles. “We will be providing fabric to them for industrial usage. For example, in wind turbines, they use a lot of glass fibers and polyuric fibers. We try to create something which is equivalent, which has the same tensile strength and modulus”, explains Mande. As of now all they only have customers in the B2B segment namely Pookai creations, Calantha wardrobe, Bafna creations and Indigreen where they supply fabrics and home furnishings. They have started plans to enter into the B2C segment with eco denims, eco friendly formal shirts and pants, but it still in the conception stage.
The price of these Eco-friendly fabrics are generally higher than normal fabrics. For example, organic cotton is higher by 10-20 per cent. “It is different when with in-products, it depends on where you sell it. Like in the UK retail chains organic tee shirts are available for 20-30pounds. Whereas in India, a simple round neck tee shirt will be available at `300-400 which is a dirt cheap rate in comparison,” says Mande. He also says that it ensures better quality at the same price for an ordinary cotton tee shirt. “Weight of the fabric is measured in GSM which is grams per square meter. At that price we ensure that the tee shirts are available at 180 GSM. However, a tee shirt made out of normal fabric at that price will be available at 140-160 GSM,” explains Mande.
As of now Sarga is carrying out it marketing through posters and banners. They are not investing too much on advertising. They plan to build awareness by displaying some collateral like Eco-denim when it comes out to make it interesting for customers.
The biggest challenge for Sarga has been in procuring investments. “Investors look at IT or infrastructure projects. Although many who have come across us like our product and see potential, they do not invest. They somehow they feel they will get better return of their money in a different industry or vertical,” says Mande. He also says another challenge that they have faced is in getting quality people to work with. “In this sector itself, many are interested in polyester or synthetic, something they feel is hot and happening. That becomes an issue,” he adds.
Regarding competition he says that even though there are players in the market who are just starting to create Eco-friendly fabrics, people are still not aware. “Van Heusen are coming up with organic cotton only, they launched last October, but no one knows about it yet,” he says. In the future, Sarga plans to focus on the health and hospitality sector.
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