Fab Habitat co-founders Kanan and Suchin Gupta have already won multiple awards for their inventive, sustainable and ethically manufactured rugs, but the Guptas are not resting on their laurels. “You have to be constantly improving the rugs and your ethical standards,” says Suchin, one half of this dynamic husband and wife team. Joining GoodWeave® the duo says, gives them just the kind of support they need to maintain their growing company’s principles. “Being part of GoodWeave just makes sense. It’s a way to make sure our product stays true to our values.”
Those values come naturally to the Indian-born, New Jersey-based couple. Suchin’s family has made child-labor-free recycled plastic rugs and mats in India for decades. When he and Kanan (both working in the financial industry at the time) decided to start their own company, they wanted to bring the family’s environmentally friendly product to the U.S. but with a North American twist. “Let’s use fabulous (thus “Fab Habitat”) colors and motifs designed for a U.S. audience,” they decided. And, of course, Suchin adds, they wanted to make sure the production of the colorful recycled plastic rugs would be ethical in every respect. That meant eco-friendly materials and practices, and no child labor. That was how Fab Habitat’s first collection, World, with designs inspired by the couple’s travels, was born.
The Guptas’ route from “Wouldn’t it be great to start a company?” to actually producing and marketing their unique product, had its challenges. Early on, while packing rugs late into the night after a long day at his regular job, Suchin says he sometimes thought, “Maybe we bit off more than we can chew.” Those were fleeting thoughts. The couple was undaunted and continued building what they call a 21st-century company. From the beginning, Fab Habitat was “built for the future,” not only in terms of the environmentally friendly products, explains Suchin (whose background is in technology), but also because of the company’s business model. Fab Habitat would be housed in neither a showroom nor a physical store. From the beginning, the company sold solely off the Internet. And sell they did! The colorful indoor/outdoor recycled plastic rugs from the World Collection were a hit!
The World collection includes the best seller, Cancun, a moss green and turquoise carpet inspired by a trip the couple made to Mexico. Lhasa, vibrant and youthful, is their personal favorite, says Kanan. “It reminds us of Tibet and of India.” They are not alone in their fondness for Lhasa, an indoor/outdoor rug fashioned from multi-colored recycled drinking straws. Award-winning actress Natalie Portman owns one and Dolly Parton was front and center on a Lhasa for the ALS water bucket challenge. Maui (the couple’s honeymoon destination) has a bold floral motif that is a riff on the psychedelic designs of the ’60s.
The company’s other collections make use of an assortment of inventive recycled materials and techniques. The Estate collection features rugs made of everyday recycled soda bottles. The couple’s favorite rug from that line, the texture-rich Kismet is made of recycled rubber tire tubes woven into polypropylene. Fab Habitat’s Metro and Zen collections use recycled cotton. and the Heartland collection uses renewable resources such as fast-growing jute.
Fab Habitat recently branched out and now makes other household goods such as totes from palm leaves and cotton rugs from recycled cotton. The popularity of all the products and the resulting pace of change in their business have been both a blessing and a challenge. With their success comes an even greater commitment to their mission to keep their products ethical, says Suchin. The Guptas are relieved and pleased that the GoodWeave team will help shepherd them through this stage of growth. “GoodWeave helps us achieve our purpose to help end child labor.”
To learn more about Fab Habitat, visit www.fabhabitat.com.