Entrepreneur Clarisse Merlet (FabBrick) builds her success brick after brick

Clarisse Merlet (FabBrick) builds her success brick after brick

At 30, Clarisse Merlet touches her dream with her finger. Three years after launching FabBrick, which recycles old clothing in ecological and aesthetic bricks, it succeeds in the feat of having its products distributed to the Platform du Bâtiment material library in the 11e district of Paris. “I want this design ecological building material, both thermal and acoustic insulation, to be accessible to everyone,” says the business manager.

Passionate about decoration and holder of a master’s degree in architecture, this native Vendée could have joined an agency, like many of her classmates. However, at the age of 27, she decided to join a new wave of professionals, sensitive to eco-construction and environmental issues.

Bricks made from crushed textile

Faced with the mountains of textile waste generated by the fashion sector, Clarisse Merlet takes the risk of starting out by making her first bricks in an artisanal way, compressing crushed textile and an ecological glue. A “somewhat crazy bet”, recognizes the young woman, who started without a penny in her pocket.

To finance the start of her business, Clarisse Merlet keeps babysitting between September 2018 and June 2019. She pockets the modest sum of 700 euros per month then receives the RSA until January 2020. Enough to pay her rent and to live.

“I have always wondered how entrepreneurs go about financing their beginnings. My parents, who already supported me well during my studies, could not help me more. I managed to put 50 euros in the capital of my structure in December 2018. It was already a lot ”, estimates the entrepreneur.

Contest grants finance the beginnings

In July 2019, Clarisse Merlet spent full time on her project, refining her business plan in her small apartment at 19e district of Paris. She gives herself two years to earn a living. To take off, she goes through competitions. At the start of 2019, this hard worker, who can work up to 90 hours per week, won the Petit Poucet competition and an endowment of 1,500 euros. One first prize leads to another, and so on.

In June 2019, she won 4,000 euros during the Start’in ESS call for projects from the City of Paris, then immediately won the Gabriel prize with its 10,000 euros endowment and the Challenge Innovation Refashion prize of … 180,000 euros, which allow it to cover the installation costs of its 200-meter Parisian workshop and to recruit its first employees. A strategy that pays off.

FabBrick, who succeeded in raising funds from a business angel in February 2021, manages six months later to convince a bank, which is following it in its desire to industrialize its process and increase its production capacities.

Collabs with Aigle, Mini, Levis …

Quickly, his talent as a designer attracted the attention of big brands. The fashion brand Jules spotted its bricks in 2019 during a report broadcast on the morning of France 2. “At the time, I had just the idea, the designs, but I had not filed for a patent. I didn’t have a machine either, ”recalls the entrepreneur, who made the furniture for the presentation of the fashion brand’s items.

Since then, the company of ten employees has chained the missions, to the point of having to refuse contracts. Clarisse Merlet works for about fifteen companies, which show a real ecological commitment: large accounts, big names in fashion, communities and… architectural agencies. At the start of 2021, she worked with Levis, Decathlon, Galeries Lafayette, Aigle, and Vinci, for whom she collected 100 kilograms of outfits and offcuts that she transformed into lamps and designer products.

FabBrick, which has already manufactured 65,000 bricks and recycled more than 20 tonnes of textiles, aims to set up a factory in each region or country that produces textile waste. As if that weren’t enough, she signed contracts with Printemps, Mini and Paris Design Week, for which she created the scenography last September.

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