Meet Indré Rockefeller, whose sustainable, luxurious luggage company Paravel is paving the way for thoughtful, meaningful innovation and redefining what is possible in terms of traveling sustainably IN FASHION. Indré spoke with SBJCT about the intersection of travel and sustainability, and connecting with each other in smarter ways. Read on below…
BY ERIN WALSH
BRA TOP AND SKIRT Khaite SANDALS Alohas NECKLACES Brinker and Eliza
Erin Walsh Hello Indré! Thank you so much for joining us here at SBJCT Journal. I am so excited to help spread the word about how you are using your platform to better our world! Tell our readers about Paravel. What is Paravel’s mission?
Indré Rockefeller Paravel is a sustainable travel goods brand on a mission to reimagine what life at the intersection of travel and sustainability can look like.
EW Let’s start with the luggage.Can you describe how your luggage is made and how you arrived at this design?
IVR My Co-Founder Andy and I have always considered ourselves environmentalists in our personal lives. When launching Paravel in 2016, we were conscious of the environmental impact of each design and were focused on natural materials, but our sustainability program was still one of several priorities for the business. By early 2018, it became THE PRIORITY. Design and development work on our wheeled luggage – a major new category for us – coincided with a life-changing polar expedition to Antarctica that I was lucky enough to take part in. This trip made me rethink my role as a business owner, as a designer, and as a global citizen. I came back from the trip refocused and reenergized about minimizing our environmental impact as a company. With Andy’s support, we were able to build our first suitcase -The Aviator – from the ground up as sustainably as possible, down to the recycled zipper. As soon as we were done developing the Aviator, we relaunched our best-selling Fold-Up Bags in Negative Nylon, made from post-consumer recycled plastic water bottles and reworked the classic canvas collection using recycled and eco-certified materials. Our carbon offsetting program followed. The suitcase was the first big hurdle and the big catalyst for our commitment to pushing the bounds of sustainability at Paravel.
EW From a cost perspective, is it more expensive to produce this way?
IVR It takes more time, it takes more energy, it takes more thoughtfulness to produce sustainable products but we have not raised any of our prices because at the core of our mission is the desire to push ourselves to work more sustainability without asking our customer to sacrifice any of our other brand values – design, functionality, and price.
EW You are a self described wanderlust, you love to travel. In terms of design in general, where does the process usually start with each piece or category?
IVR I love travel in a deep, almost spiritual sense. It has shaped how I connect with the world. When it comes to design, the process can begin in many places. Sometimes it starts with not being able to find something that checks all of the boxes of a great travel product, sometimes it happens after falling in love with a sustainable material I want to work with, and sometimes it’s listening to the requests of our customers, which is my favorite way!
JUMPSUIT Atelier Delphine SANDALS Alohas BAG Paravel EARRINGS Agmes Jewelry Ring Erinness BRACELETS Tohum (shells), Marlo Laz (balls) BATHING SUIT Anemone (worn underneath)
EW Let’s talk evolution in sustainable terms. I am becoming more and more familiar with the idea that sustainability and becoming say, 100 percent sustainable, is a more challenging way of production, to say the least. But certainly worthwhile. Who guides you to make sure you are checking the necessary boxes that make products ethical and sustainable? And is there a checklist you keep in mind?
IVR It’s a combination of internal and external checkpoints. Our whole team is very dedicated to maintaining the highest sustainability standards across every vertical – product, shipping, packaging, even partners. Each team knows it’s always a work in progress and gets excited about pushing the boundaries. Externally, we work with sustainability certification and carbon offsetting programs like OEKO-Tex, Global Recycle Standard, Gold Standard, and Leather Working Group.
Upcycling is core to our approach when thinking through sustainable raw materials.
EW Can you tell us a bit about Upcycling and its role in your production process?
IVR Upcycling is core to our approach when thinking through sustainable raw materials. It’s the concept of using what is already out in the universe and repurposing it. To date we have upcycled almost 1.6 Million post-consumer plastic water bottles! The plastic bottles are turned into fibers that are woven into our Negative Nylon bags, the lining of our suitcases, and into the canvas of our classic styles. We also recently launched a limited-edition tote I’m so proud of that is made from upcycled jute coffee bags, which are hand cleaned and hand crafted in Italy at a 100-year-old family factory outside of Milan.
DRESS Tove SANDALS Alohas BAG Paravel EARRINGS Agmes RINGS Erinness and Retrouvai BRACELETS LEFT Tohum BRACELETS RIGHT Alighieri, Marlo Laz BEAD NECKLACE Marlo Laz
SHELL NECKLACE Tohum BATHING SUIT AND WRAP SKIRT Anemone BLOUSE J. Crew
EW In addition to product, where else do you think about sustainability?
IVR Rethinking the raw materials that go into our product was the first step we took towards sustainability and one we’re always working on but then we started looking at where else we left a carbon footprint as a business. We now transport our product by boat and pay to offset our carbon emissions on every customer shipment. We redesigned our packaging to be recycled and recyclable and offset the carbon emissions from our team travel. We are also actively working on educating ourselves about Climate Justice and Intersectional Environmentalism so we can expand our approach to sustainability.
EW What has been most rewarding thus far about choosing to work this way?
IVR Being in a position to offer customers the ability to make better choices without asking them to make sacrifices.
EW I love the range of categories that Paravel offers- it ranges from not-so-standard luggage to fanny packs and backpacks and luxe totes and more fashion-centric options. How big do you see Paravel growing? Are there any styles and categories you see it expanding into?
IVR I wouldn’t write off exploring anything that touches travel and travel takes on so many forms! That’s what excites me about this business, there are so many possibilities.
LUGGAGE Paravel SUNGLASSES Le Specs
DRESS Ulla Johnson SHOES Alohas BAG Paravel
EW Let’s talk sustainability. Now that you are at the forefront of a company, do you feel pressure to walk the walk in other aspects of your life? Including in your family life?
IVR When it comes to living an eco-conscious lifestyle I have long felt compelled to walk the walk at home because it’s something that has always been important to my husband and me. The transition was taking those personal values and making sure I was walking the walk every day at work and inspiring my team to do so as well.
EW How has this Covid pandemic affected business and your business plan?
IVR Covid has obviously impacted the travel industry in an outsized way but as a company we have been very fortunate that our community has continued to be excited about using our product for summer getaways, picnics, road trips, and errand runs. Our customers are sending us photos of themselves using our totes for grocery shopping, our backpacks for hands-free bike commuting, and our fanny packs for quick access hand sanitizer and mask storage.
EW Who is the Paravel customer? And who would you like to see BECOME the Paravel customer?
IVR We think of Pravel customers as explorers and adventurers in mindset. They have a sense of curiosity about the world and a desire to minimize their impact on the planet they love exploring.
EW How else does Paravel pay it forward in these troubling times?
IVR We have been and will continue donating 10% of our best-selling Cabana Totes to Direct Relief, which supports healthcare workers on the front lines of COVID-19 and 10% of our new Fold-Up Belt Bags to the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, which defends lives in communities of color by treating environmental rights as civil rights.
DRESS Maygel Coronel SANDALS Ancient Greek BAG Paravel RING Erinness EARRINGS Agmes NECKLACES Tohum and Marlo Laz BRACELETS LEFT Tohum and Vita Fede BRACELETS RIGHT Marlo Laz and Vita Fede
EW What do you think is your social responsibility as a creative and catalyst for systemic change given your role? As they say, with great power comes great responsibility. What is yours?
IVR Always stay in learning and sharing mode because this is a group effort.
EW What’s THE starter piece when someone is just getting to know Paravel?
IVR The Cabana Tote!
EW What is your favorite piece in the collection?
IVR The answer to that question changes daily, but I’m most proud of the work we put into the Aviator suitcase. There’s no other suitcase like it – was built from ground up to be as sustainable as possible and it was our first big sustainability hurdle.
A great tequila on the rocks.
TOP Magyel Coronel FANNY PACK AND TOTE Paravel SNEAKERS Superga BRACELETS LEFT Vita Fede and Tohum BRACELETS RIGHT Alighieri and Marlo Laz
EW What are you most excited about Paravel going forward?
IVR I’m so excited that we’re on track to be the first 100% sustainable travel brand by 2021.
EW What’s the most important change we all can make to live more sustainable lives?
IVR Keep our sustainability goals permanently in the “work in progress” section vs looking for boxes to check.
EW We will design an action button to go with your feature- what causes would you like us to bring attention to?
IVR NAACP Environment and Climate Justice Program
EW What keeps you centered in general? I know you wear many hats, besides the business, including being a mother. How do you keep the peace?
IVR Embrace the chaos!
EW Go to unwinding routine?
IVR Walking in new places keeps my mind engaged with my surroundings vs letting my mind go into autopilot.
EW Go to sustainable designer faves?
IVR I’m always looking out for new sustainable brands but right now I’m living in Veja sneakers, Anemone linen shirts, and a few Gabriela Hearst classics.
EW Go to MEAL?
IVR I really miss Maialino’s Cacio e Pepe in NYC.
EW I also must know your go-to cocktail…
IVR A great tequila on the rocks.
EARRINGS Agmes TOTE Paravel
DRESS Tove TOTE Paravel
EW Indre Rockefeller, what’s your SBJCT? What really moves and drives you?
IVR The intersection of travel and sustainability. It’s about connecting to each other in smarter ways.