You’re speed walking to work and get a little warm. While waiting for the subway, you (very graciously) start removing items of your oh-so-cute outfit because air is nowhere to be found. When you step onto the train, the AC hits you and at first, it’s lovely. However, after awhile you’re freezing– depending on how long your commute is. Then out of the subway and into the heat you go. As you make it to your desk and plug through your morning emails, you dream of a cashmere sweater and hot chocolate thanks to the indoor freeze.
We’ve all been there and so had Pauline Eveillard who started Fouta Lifestyle (pronounced foot-ah). This beautiful scarf like throw originated in Tunisia where Pauline lived. She fell in love with the prints and the purpose of this material, inspiring her to bring them back to the states and share them with the rest of us! After officially launching on August 4, 2010, Pauline is proof that passion, hard work and good friends can make any dream come true. Also – this is a GREAT gift!
What is the significance behind foutas? They were originally used in a hammam and saunas. Women would wrap themselves in a fouta and although it would get wet, it would stay stylish. It was a fashion statement.
How has that changed today? Now people put them on the back of lounge chairs, wrap them around themselves when walking around the house, use it as a throw, wear it to the beach, etc. It’s incredibly versatile and has transformed into a modern day product. Guys can wear and use them too as a towel.
Something like this seems perfect for New York City! Yes! The subway is freezing, and then you’re boiling when you get outside, and then you get to work and it’s freezing again. A lot of my friends leave their foutas at the office and put them over their legs when they’re at their desks. And airplanes - the temperature fluctuates so much!
How did you even hear about about Foutas? I lived in Tunisia for a Fulbright and researched ancient roman mosaics. I lived with two Tunisians who I remain very close with, and returned there for a wedding. While on vacation, I realized this extremely versatile but fun and colorful product doesn’t exist in the US.
How did you get started with the business? I brought back about 10 different styles and colors when I returned from my trip, did a photoshoot (thanks to my friend who is a professional photographer) and asked other friends to pose as models. We went to a friend’s parents house in Westhampton and created the content! From there, I was put in touch with a web developer and finally had a platform to sell the products on.
How did you start producing more Foutas? You only had 10! That winter, my friend from Tunisia was visiting NYC for the first time, and I told her I couldn’t find a manufacturer. She put me in touch with her friend who had an exporting company – I had to figure out the coding for exporting, etc. So she found the right manufacturer that created quality foutas and had my importer import it and now I have boxes in my apartment.
How did you go about pricing? I researched towel costs, other fouta vendors and met with a few people who had been merchandising for stores in the past. Overall, I went with my gut feeling for what people would spend on this – between $38 and $48.
You offer a few different styles. Can you explain them? I really wanted to stay connected to the country and raise awareness about Tunisia so I paid homage to my friends there by naming a style after them.
- The Senda, Kenza and Ines and Zina have that waffle texture.
- The Mariem and Fatma are more flat with a linen texture.
The Material is beautiful! Thank you! It’s so easy to stuff into your bag, throw over your shoulder without worrying about ruining a $350 shawl or sweater.
Ok, the upkeep…how do we clean this? Wash cold and tumble dry low or hang dry. For New Yorker’s without a washing machine, have it dry cleaned.
Now you seem very well traveled which makes us think your favorite spots in NYC will be delicious. Tell! Favorite…
- Restaurant: Prune – My parents. It’s very earthy, rustic vibe – every night they have a fish special
- Margarita’s: Barrio Chino