FOLKUS is redefining sustainability by leveraging the practical approaches, inventiveness and design aesthetic of Black folk.

FOLKUS products are a medium to tell a story, to transfer knowledge and to write a new chapter on sustainability. FOLKUS represents the lived experience and contributions of Black folks across an array of domains and aims to expand how we celebrate, cope and connect through Black culture and environmental stewardship. FOLKUS products are designed to challenge the status quo beliefs on consumption, manufacturing and equity. FOLKUS products are also designed to be beautiful cultural assets, which conjure joy-filled moments and memories.

Why Paper – Why Stone

Paper naturally emerged as the starting point for the FOLKUS line of eco-friendly products. Nearly everyone uses traditional paper. The daily consumption of traditional paper is undeniable and so are the negative impacts of deforestation and the toxic, resource-intensive manufacturing process. When thinking of how FOLKUS could reimagine paper consumption and manufacturing, I did not have to dig deep for inspiration, nor look far for the expertise on how to build a circular model – the Black community is the brand muse. Sustainability has always been a way of life and survival in the Black community.

From my lived experience and that of my Black ancestors, paper also holds a powerful, sentimental and symbolic value. A newspaper provided information and doubled as insulation for my grandfather’s childhood home. Books in the home were a status symbol for migrating Black folks entering big cities in pursuit of education, jobs and an entry into the middle class. Those books signaled literacy, leisure, choice and disposable income. When Black folks were denied birth and marriage certificates, the family Bible served as a vault akin to the Department of Vital Records providing personage, a legacy and a cherished family heirloom.

Stone, specifically limestone, is a great alternative to traditional wood pulp and offers many benefits in both the manufacturing process and for consumers. For starters limestone makes FOLKUS Stone Paper naturally bright white, which eliminates the need to use harsh chemicals like bleach. Utilization of stone also makes FOLKUS paper useful for many applications and reusable. It was paramount to create a product that could have ”9 lives” – meaning the capacity to be used as beautiful gift wrap/packaging, but also possibly as a tableloth/runner, drawer liner, frame mat and so many other applications.