Innovator Series: Svatura by Gigi Manapat

photo credit: Jason Leiva  

photo credit: Jason Leiva

 

For busy hair stylists in New York City, having a good case for your tools is essential. Unfortunately, when it comes to containers for prized scissors, razors, and combs, stylists are too often forced to choose between form and function. Longing for a toolkit that was both durable and fashionable, Gigi Manapat created Svatura, a multi-functional scissor case that is hardy enough to keep beauty tools protected while chic enough to function as an evening clutch. We caught up with Gigi to hear all about the story behind her product, her style inspirations, and what she wants to see next in the world of fashion.

Becoming an entrepreneur is one of the biggest leaps of faith someone can take. What was the hardest part about deciding to follow your passion at the cost of the stability of a 9 to 5 job?

I have never had a traditional 9 to 5 job, which has been both a blessing and a curse. I have more freedom and flexibility for side projects, but I don't have the stability of a consistent weekly salary and paid vacation. The hardest part of diving into entrepreneurship was putting my savings into a project with no investors or partners to help with decisions. It has been an exciting journey, and I am learning so much every day.

Tell us a little bit about the production process. Once you finally decided to pursue your product, how many prototype evolutions did you go through? 

Like many stylists in the city, I am on location for a lot of my jobs – at a private client’s home, on a photoshoot, styling for weddings, etc. I needed something that I could take to all these places, something that looked cool and also protected my tools without being bulky. 

I made the first prototype myself. During Hurricane Sandy, I was one of the lucky New Yorkers who still had power and took advantage of the time I was stuck indoors to make my first sample. It wasn’t great, but it was definitely a start. There were four more prototypes after the first one. It took several times to get the pocket sizes right and to find a material that was aged well and easy to keep clean without hair sticking to it. I had several hairdressers trying them out for feedback as well.

In terms of the aesthetics, what was your greatest design inspiration for Svatura?

I love the simplicity of Kate Spade's designs. They are classic and chic. Why does a tool case have to look like a tool case? You can be functional and look cute at the same time.

photo credit: Jason Leiva

photo credit: Jason Leiva

One of the things we love most about Svatura is its cross-functional design – great for the day or the evening, at the salon or a cocktail party. What aspects of the design contribute to that?

The zipper pouch holds a surprising amount of things – money, extra razor blades, business cards, etc. There are plenty of times when I run out to grab a coffee with my scissor clutch in hand instead of my wallet or bag. People always comment on how cute it is!

As an experienced stylist who has been around the world, how has your perception of beauty changed over time and with your travels?

I think about beauty a lot. My ideas of what beauty means has morphed tremendously since the time I was in middle school and high school. Back then, I thought that I could not be seen without makeup and that 30-year-olds looked old. Yet later in life, I was living on a farm with no makeup and walking around barefoot with no pedicure and feeling more gorgeous than ever. It was then that I finally realized that the way people look when they age is beautiful. 

Perspective on beauty seems so vastly different everywhere but in many ways the same. When I was in Asia, I saw a lot of women bleaching their skin or covering themselves head-to-toe in 100 degree weather to avoid a tan. In a funny way, it reminded me of women in the US who are just as obsessed with tanning.

Do you think that beauty and design provide a window into other cultures? In what ways?

Sure. It's so great to check out things that look clean and take up very little space in a Scandinavian style shop and then go into a Middle Eastern store and explore items that have a lot of color and complex design. We are very lucky to be in such an international city and have all of this at our disposal. I take advantage of it as much as I can.

                                     photo credit: Nousha Salimi

                                     photo credit: Nousha Salimi

Where would you like to travel to next?

Either Sri Lanka or Peru is next on my list!

Fashion week just passed. What’s your craziest story from your experiences with the event?

I was once at a show where models didn’t come because they were running late from another show. They ended up using a (very beautiful) makeup artist to model at the very last minute. I thought that was a pretty cool and crazy moment amidst the usual chaos that is fashion week.

You’ve cited one of the reasons for launching Svatura as “something missing” from the vanguard of current fashion. What are some of the biggest holes in the industry that you still see? 

Just speaking from the professional beauty industry (makeup artists included), there is definitely room to improve in the arena of tools and how we organize them in general. I am always trying different bags and suitcases to transport my things, constantly trying to find something better. I am frequently changing my kit around as well, wanting to keep everything compact and easy to carry while also having easy access to things once you are working.

To purchase one of these chic scissor clutches visit: SVATURA