We sat down with Elle Kiffer, owner of Foldup, to discuss her collection of movement mats and stylish backpacks that caters to everyone's needs.
Tell us a bit about the story behind Foldup.
I have always wanted to have my own business but I wanted to create a product that provided a solution. There are so many products on the market and I really wanted to ensure that what I created was filling a gap, I taught yoga for many years at various studios in Melbourne and always felt like there had to be an easier way t carry your mat to and from the studio. I had the idea of creating a foldable mat that is not only portable and easy to carry but also provides extra support for your joints. I always had students telling me their knees were sore when in certain poses, and that their mats weren't supportive enough, I started drawing up my dream mat made for all kinds of movements, not just yoga, that could provide that extra support but also lightweight. it took me some time and many samples, but I'm really proud of the finished products.
What were your inspiration and your brand mission?
My mission is to make your movement rituals more comfortable and convenient. as a lover of all kinds of movements, I was frustrated with not being able to take the mat with me to classes, or even on holiday. Especially post covid, I much prefer to use my own mat than the studio-provided mats, not being able to make mine easily was a huge deterrent for me. I feel really inspired when I surround myself with like-minded people and there's no better feeling than a workout class, the energy in the room cannot be replicated in your living room, and we're craving this more than ever.
What sets your brand apart from others in the industry?
There are lots of yoga mats on the market, and I was conscious of just being another one. What sets me apart is the foldable function and the ability to easily carry your mat either in our movement bag ( which is an epic backpack if I may say so), or even just in your tote bag, I've used a more eco-friendly alternative to other mats on the market. The movement mat contains no harsh chemicals, PVC, or heavy metals which were really important to me. I am really big on community and that is one of my brand pillars, connecting through social media and encouraging people to find a movement ritual that works for them. I'll never tell you whats best for you, only you know that, but I am creating products that support your routine, whatever that may look like.
What is your favorite product and why?
I currently only have two products so it's definitely hard to choose. The movement bag was originally made to compliment the mat and most customers purchase them together, however, I've also had lots of customers purchase them separately and these are two very different target markets. I love the function of the mat and the way it supports my movement practice. However, I also love the backpack, it's super high quality, fits everything you need for a day out, and it's so stylish, I'm so proud of how both of these products have turned out. So to answer your question, both products are my favourite.
What were the first steps you took to launch? and what would you say was the scariest part?
I remember when I first had the idea and I was so excited but had no idea where to start. Once I get an idea in my head, I have to execute it, which is both a blessing and a curse. I spoke to people I knew who had been through the process of developing a product and had some really good advice on where to start. it was really scary and overwhelming and doing all of this while working full-time was a lot, however, I wouldn't change a thing. I am learning something about myself and running a business every single day and it's extremely fulfilling. The scariest part for me is that I have invested my own savings into the business, which of course is a risk so that's probably the thing that plays on my mind often. If anything it's more motivating when it's your money at stake.
What do your customers love about your products?
I've been lucky enough to have really positive feedback and over 45 five-star reviews on my website already. Having only launched 8 weeks ago, I am trying to get as much feedback from customers as possible, which is definitely harder with an online business. So far, the weight of the mat and the extra support it provides people has been the biggest feedback, which is so incredible as this was one of my main goals. One thing i didn't anticipate was customers purchasing the backpack without the mat. I recently had a stall at the Finders Keepers Market and most customers just purchased the backpack and were planning to use it in a variety of ways- nappy bag, travel bag, university bag, work bag, etc. Having this feedback in person I invaluable to an online business. People have been loving the quality of the products which is awesome as I spent a lot of time developing and perfecting this.
What path led you to Life Instyle and what about the show makes it a great fit for you?
I came across Life Instyle a few days before the applications for the scholarship were closing. I had been talking with a friend that week about wanting to get into wholesale so it felt like a sign when I saw this opportunity. I loved the experience of the Finders Keepers Market and being able to meet people and talk about my products in person, so I'm excited to attend Life Instyle. I'm proud of the products and would love them to be available to retailers and customers who may not have seen the products online yet.
Can you share your proudest moments in the business so far?
It's funny because I spend way too much time focusing on all the things I feel like I'm not doing, and don't spend enough time focusing n all the great things that have happened in the last 8 weeks. I'll share a couple because I can't choose.
1. I had a broadsheet article written about me and my brand- a very proud moment!
2. Winning this scholarship- So incredibly proud that my brand was chosen.
3. On My launch day - I set this business up on my own and I think that's pretty damn cool.
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given?
Stay in your lane. Be inspired by those around you, but don't compare. There is so much noise and everyone has an opinion on how to get things done, your guy knows what works for you and your business, and it's important to listen to that.
Who are some of the other brands in the industry that you love/admire?
There are so many incredible brands out there! A few of my favorites are:
- Go-to Skin
Quick Fire Questions
1. Where do you see Foldup in 5 years' time?
I have big dreams for Foldup, id love to expand into the USA, have a small team of legends working with me, a variety of coloured mats available, and a bunch of new products.
2. Tell us a fact about yourself that will surprise our readers!
I'm definitely an introvert!
3. Your favorite meal
Oooh, that's a hard one! I love a laksa. It's been so cold in Melbourne so have been craving this daily.
4. Tell us what winning this scholarship means to you?
It's really validating to have other people back my vision for foldup and it opens up so many doors. It's truly an honor and I'm so grateful.
5. How would you use being the recipient of this award and how would it impact your business?
I just can't wait to get going with all the exciting things I have planned for 2023. I'm so new in the game and have lots to earn and I'm eager to see where I can take my business with the help of this wonderful scholarship.
6. What do you look forward to at LISS2023?
Meeting and connecting with people in the industry.