Long live sustainable fashion! Interview with Hubert from La Vie Est Belt

Today we are meeting Hubert Motte a young entrepreneur who during a trip to Latin America was faced with the misery in the shantytowns of Bogota and decided to create a business combining recycling and the fight against social exclusion. When he got home he tackled a material that is still little recycled: the tyre.  

A tyre is made of rubber, textile and intertwined steel wires. It is its composite aspect that makes recycling so complicated. In France, the ban on getting rid of tyres in nature dates from 2002. Since the tire manufacturers are working on the issue of recycling. Aliapur, a major tire recycling companies in France, follows the following pattern: The idea is to crush the unusable tires and then extract the steel wires from the rubber with a magnet. These shreds are then used in different forms:

As alternative fuels in cement plants (because they are 5 times cheaper than coal),  They are the key ingredient in new stadiums to cover the tracks and synthetic football field playgrounds. The recipe is simple: it is a mixture composed of 90% powder tires and 10% resin that must be spread.  The next step is in the road sector: studies are underway to see the feasibility of its use as a coating.

However, this kind of initiative is still quite rare in the world and we still have a long way to go on our journey to learn how to recycle tires who have been abandoned on the side of our motorways for decades…  Far from having the budget of Aliapur Hubert Motte has decided on its scale to value bicycle tires.

Hubert, tell us a bit more about you!

I studied engineer in Lille, North of France at the ICAM school of Engineering. I did my internship in Colombia and when I returned, I began working on a belt made of the unwinding tape of a bicycle tire.  I eventually succeeded and I made my very first belt out of an old tire. I started thinking of the ways to turn this idea into a business and I took part in a fundraising contest called the Aviva Fabrique contest, which promotes ideas that are innovative, sustainable and have a positive impact on society. My project was selected and I received a financial support of 4000 €! This fund allowed me to launch.

What did you do once launched?

Many things! First of all, I had to find a place to rent which was not really easy.

I am hosted by Altereos a company employing people suffering from disabilities in Tourcoing. My idea was to create jobs and I now my belts are made by a team of 3 people: Christophe, Gaétan and Anne who are dedicated to making belts which allows me to devote myself to the design of new products and communication. Actually, we are 4 because Romane just joined the team she is going to improve our online shop and take care of the website.

Did you encounter any problems during this first year of activity?

Yes, a few, well they were not exactly problems, challenges are more like it. The thing is before you can start a belt you have to find tires in large quantities which is easier said than done. My stock comes from dumps, sports equipment companies like Decathlon, Cycling teams I contacted during the Tour de France (A huge … tires are quite bulky which does not make it easy for us to transport them. The other challenge is to wash the tires properly. I would like to make the process easier.

Folks, if anyone knows an effective way of washing tires and rubber, contact Hubert he will be eternally grateful!

Where can you find your products?

For now we sell on our website, where I’ve set up an online shop. Our belts are also available in 40 Cyrillus shops in France! We are only getting started so the adventure goes on !I would like to improve our e-shop site and our belts production process. I’ve developed a 4 stages manufacturing of my belts and I’d to perfect it.

I understand that you have a new line coming out this year?

Yes, this year I’ve launched a line of bow ties made of the inner tube and fabric scrap! We also did our first crowdfunding campaign on KissKissBankBank * to allow us to buy a new industrial sewing machine which should improve the bow tie production. I have a few other things cooking but they are not ready yet.

A great success for Hubert and his team who has produced 1000 belts! 

Life is Belt is getting quite a lot of attention from the Medias, he has done 30 appearances in the news and the radio in a year which is doing wonders for his popularity. A great success for such a young company! Don’t you like this type of project? It is definitely the way forward!

As people are growing a more eco-friendly consciousness the fashion industry has started to change and use more recycled fabric to please their customer and reduce its impact on the environment.

One thing is sure: slow fashion has a very bright future ahead and if you feel like doing your part think of La Vie est Belt next time you find yourself in need of a new belt!

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