Figure Eight is conceived by Tina Bhojwani and Nicole Marra, two fashion executives with complementary skill sets and decades of combined experience leading international luxury brands. Together, they have set out to re-envision the traditional retail model by channeling the power of community, collaboration and connection.
To celebrate the launch of Figure Eight, let’s hear more from the co-founders about their overall brand vision, the importance of transparency and authenticity in today’s retail landscape, and about the incredible collaborators that have helped bring Figure Eight to life.
1. Tell us more about how you came up with the concept and vision for Figure Eight, and how have your previous work experiences influenced this?
Nicole: Overall, we felt that retail was “broken” in so many ways and that there was a tremendous gap in the retail and luxury landscape for sustainable brands. And specifically, coming out of more than a year in lockdown, we felt that the timing was right for customers to reconnect with brands in a new way and for us to create a space for all members of the retail eco-system to come together. In order to survive and thrive, it is essential for property owners, retailers and brands to collaborate and work together in a new way.
Tina: The past 18 months have taught us the importance of physical connections and experiences. They’ve also reinforced the urgency to rethink traditional systems, including retail, and uncovered an opportunity to redefine the in-store experience for digitally native brands. Founding my own sustainable luxury footwear brand, AERA, has truly been a labor of love and I have seen first-hand how many hurdles there are to bring a business idea to a reality and to keep the momentum going. We felt like there was potential to create a marketplace where brands and consumers could come learn about sustainability and shop luxury at one time in one place.
2. Why is sustainability important to you as individuals and for the fashion community?
Nicole: Accountability and sustainability are concepts that I think about constantly in all aspects of my life – both personally and professionally. Companies as a whole and fashion brands in particular are now being held to a higher standard by consumers and investors alike.
In order to survive – and “sustain” – their existence, brands must be accountable for their actions and the impact they have on the environment and their communities.
We will not survive without a change in the way we produce products, engage with our clients and treat our employees. With Figure Eight, we are constantly experimenting with “new ways of being” in all aspects of what we do – from the way we approach our space, to the brands we carry, to the business structures that we have created.
Tina: Given the acceleration of events like climate change, there is an urgency for individuals, businesses and corporations to take action sooner and faster. The reality is that if we all want this beautiful place called Earth to last, we need to think about how we can individually and collectively make a difference and be more thoughtful about the ways that we consume and take from it. And there’s power in numbers that if enough individuals call for change and hold corporations accountable to change their practices, change is inevitable. The fashion community is filled with creator and innovators, and I believe that if we all come together, we can change the sustainability efforts of the industry for the better.
3. Figure Eight embodies the intersection of art and fashion, tell us more about why you chose to integrate art into the space?
Nicole: In 2019, I co-founded 4 Art Partners with 3 incredible women, with the goal of creating opportunities for artists to reach broader audiences. Together, we explore new ways to create connections between artists and the commercial world. Whether it is in retail, real estate, luxury, and other channels, we believe that art is a fundamental expression that we all need more of. The artwork adds an additional dimension to the space and allows for customers to interact with us on multiple levels at the same time.
Tina: We wanted to create a space that offered a sensorial experience with sustainability at the epicenter. Sustainability transcends so many different mediums and industries, and art & design have always been complimentary in that sense. It was a very natural fit to bring art into the space.
4. Where do you two draw inspiration from?
Nicole: I am most inspired by my conversations with friends, family and colleagues. While too many of them have been by zoom or phone over the past 18 months, the energy and inspiration that I take from connecting with people that I love and respect always helps me to generate positive momentum, creativity and new ideas.
Tina: I draw inspiration from all experiences in life; from spending time with family and friends to exploring new destinations while traveling, to reading books, and enjoying and discovering the outdoors. I find the creative process and seeking to create impact in everything we do as a driving force to discover new and better ways to do things. Lastly, the younger generation and their passion for positive change and activism is both exciting and motivating in helping propel a greater consciousness around social and environmental issues for future generations.