Despite the fact that they have an e-commerce site dedicated to sustainable products, they strongly believe that these consumer products are timeless and not meant to be bought ‘for the season’, says Kiran Nambiar, co-founder of ‘Rooted Objects’, along with his wife Kinnari. The portal currently sells home decor, fashion and beauty-related products.
“A lot of our products are fairly timeless, we want them to last so people would be able to use them or years to come,” says the couple who moved to India, after a long stint in the US, to work on their digital portal.
“Though we started with a digital agency that provided services for digital product design, we were passionate about the principles of sustainability. In India, sustainability is everywhere, there are so many amazing people who are working on products that relate to sustainability. Being sustainable is about responsibility to the planet in terms of how you make a product, what materials you use to make it. India has so many such products that we asked ourselves, being digital designers, what can we do to help promote these brands to tell their stories.”
That means, wallets made out of tree bark, instead of leather, for instance. “In terms of production process, especially since leather is considered premium, it takes the same effort to make,” the couple explains.
In addition to selling the products, they also tell the brand’s story, in an integrated manner on the platform. “We write about them. We visit them, interview the founder, see how they are making the products and where they are making them. When you tell their stories, maybe a consumer who wants to purchase a leather wallet might think this brand offers just as premium a product.”
Kinnar adds: “The digital medium in general, is accessible to and inclusive of everyone, that’s what makes it powerful and beautiful. That’s why we decided this would be the way to do what we want.” Starting with four brands in late-August, the portal now has over 10 brands on board, with more in the process of coming on board. “One of the challenges while starting out on a platform like this is that getting a good set of vendors takes time,” says Kiran. “However, the response has been a lot more positive than we expected. E-commerce is popular at the moment, everyone wants to get into it. There are big players and there are smaller players with a lot of funding. It can be challenging to compete with that, being self-funded.”
One of their biggest objectives in beginning a site like Rooted Objects, is to marry content and commerce. “We want to talk about the products, the people behind them. We have a long way to go in terms of how we can integrate that better with our website. How people read that information is definitely one aspect of it, the other is also curation,” says the couple. “Curation brings out the importance of design and good design process. We believe that these products should be timeless, not just about what is hot this season. We want brands to look at design in a timeless way, on a unique personality or body type, or a changing state of mind.”
They will also focus more on user experience and quality of design, something they believe their website already reflects. “That’s our expertise, we will continue to evolve on this, on how to improve the user experience. We do not want to compromise on attention to detail. The photography for every single product is done by us, we add additional pictures apart from those the vendor sends us. We want consistency in product viewing so it makes it easier for the viewer to look for things. That also means that all brands are equalized, whether they can afford good photography or not and it makes it easier for the consumer not to pick a brand just because they have better photos.”
Kinnari adds that Rooted Objects also hopes to bring in a transformation in the standards of the design industry through their portal.
“With more competition in the design industry, people will automatically start making better products, then people will start looking at the design, the story, and the process of design in a more detailed way,” she explains. “People will start thinking about quality and how the product is going to age and that will lift the brands up. That’s what I mean by lifting the standards of the design industry.” For details, visit rootedobjects.com .