It’s a strange colored mess, a heap of wooden framework, tools of all kinds, tarpaulins and planks, bright fabrics and machines, gutted cardboard boxes. Here we are in L’Île-Saint-Denis, in Seine-Saint-Denis, in the offices of La Tête Dans Les Nuages, which manufactures poufs from balloon canvas and recycled polystyrene. A responsible brand, which uses employees in reintegration.
It is there, on the second floor of his studio, in offices under the roofs, that Louis Lefevre, 30, the founder dreams. Between tests for a photo novel and different logo models, the young entrepreneur from Picardy tells us about his adventure, which began four years ago. After an agricultural engineering school specializing in waste management and an internship at the start-up Phénix where he had tried to reuse polystyrene, Louis Lefevre returned to his parents’ farm and bought a shredder.
A friend tells him about hot air balloons at the end of their life, whose owners do not know what to do, and here it is: what if the 40,000 tonnes of polystyrene produced per year in France were ultimately used to fill large cushions? “It’s reverse design: we imagine a product from the material we recover,” explains Louis Lefevre. “From a hot air balloon, we can make 400 bean bags,” he calculates.
40 poufs sold per week
The entrepreneur launches a crowdfunding campaign that brings him 40,000 euros, guaranteeing the production of the first 450 poufs. It is difficult to find a workshop that is willing to sew recycled material, stored in bulk, but Mode Estime, a rehabilitation company in Seine-Saint-Denis, takes up the challenge, and Louis Lefevre sets up his office-workshops next door.
Together, they sell 40 bean bags a week, the star product of which, the “plouf”, adapts perfectly to swimming pools, because it floats and is in memory of shape. La Tête Dans Les Nuages now has ten employees (including trainees), including two couturiers, Lancine and Bamoussa, met in the neighborhood. Here they are just a few meters from us, at work, on sewing machines placed on wooden planks. In a nearby room, Julien, in charge of logistics, a motto with Yonathal, a student at the Ecole des Mines on a worker’s internship, around a new product that a client has asked them to concoct.
Because the company does not stop at pouffes, and likes to imagine everything that can not spoil. For example, they made reusable flower wrappers made with Chanel catwalk tent tarpaulins, for the Fleur d’halage brand. And designed, in the midst of a health crisis, masks from scraps of tissue from a Champions League press conference. This is called the circular economy: reuse waste to no longer extract raw materials.
Louis Lefevre continues his story installed on a Formica chair, in the kitchen of his company, where many glass jars are loaded with seeds, cereals and lentils. We discover that he also lives there, his head really in the clouds, his room on the top floor of this old warehouse. In a “Do It Yourself” spirit and without fuss. “It’s always under construction here,” he says, each year improving the comfort of his Spartan home a little. In fact, it was his friends who built the entire framework of his workshop.
A sofa bed in preparation
The founders of BlaBlaCar and Meetic were able to recognize in him the mark of creative entrepreneurs, because they selected him, on the occasion of the program on M6 “who wants to be my partner”. And they probably weren’t wrong, because LTDLN has sold 4,000 poufs since its inception.
Next step in September, a participatory fundraising. With the aim of competing with the pioneer of recycled poufs, the Fatboy brand, in its territory, the Netherlands. And to finance the development of a sofa bed, made with recycled mattresses. Until the next idea.