His story doesn’t start in the back of a garage in California, but with his college roommate in northern France, in Roubaix. Hubert Motte is working on a first collection of belts made from recycled bicycle tires. The sale of some 150 pieces made, earns him almost 4,000 euros, which he invests in 2017 in the creation of his box, la Vie est Belt, an ethical fashion company. The young Icam engineer, now 28, developed his taste for product creation by working on a ski clothing line at Decathlon, in Haute-Savoie, during a three-year work-study program.
In Bogota, Colombia, where he completed his studies, he took part in a solidarity initiative with young people from poor neighborhoods. An experience that fueled his search for meaning and gave him the desire to breathe ecologically and in solidarity in the business world. So instead of returning to Decathlon, which lent him a hand with a permanent contract, a good salary and a nice living environment in the mountains, Ch’ti dares to take up entrepreneurship.
If he sets his sights on bicycle tires, it is primarily because as a fan of the little queen he uses them a lot. And then here’s a waste whose deposit isn’t about to run out. Difficult to recycle, it mainly ends up in incinerators. “I wanted to start with a simple and universal product, which I could prototype and produce myself without heavy investment.” Finally, the belt, worn by one in two Frenchmen, has settled in dressing rooms.
Hubert Motte plans to employ people with disabilities. La Vie est Belt is hosted by AlterEos, an integration company based in Roubaix. It has created 7 solidarity jobs there. Winner of the La Fabrique Aviva competition, which promotes innovative and impactful projects, the entrepreneur has won a financial support of 10,000 euros. In addition, the Ticket for Change incubator offers him his mentorship.
“I am proud to show that we can do things differently, by participating in a virtuous model of society,” he confides. And it works. The box has been expanded with 5 full-time employees. After bow ties and key rings made from old rubber, it launched a new product family, boxer shorts, made from discarded sheets and duvet covers. They are made in another solidarity workshop, Résilience.
Since its inception five years ago, La Vie est Belt has sold more than 35,000 belts, 75% of which on its website, the rest in stores and through works councils. It recycled 11 tons of rubber and 2 tons of cotton. Hubert Motte has set itself two priorities: to do better, in particular by guarding against interruptions in supply, and to expand the product range by focusing on other reclaimable materials, such as car tires, fire hoses or climbing ropes.
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Registered in the show Who wants to be my partner? on M6, the young man rejected the proposal of three investors who were willing to inject 60,000 euros into his capital. “I want to remain independent and authentic in the values and missions that I defend,” explains the man who is paid today 2,500 euros per month against 1,000 euros at the start of his adventure. “I manage my time the way I want and I give myself more than five weeks of vacation a year, rejoices this free spirit who “kiffet” his job. This life enriches me enormously. I learn a lot of things and meet great people. And I feel aligned me.”
The eye of management
When sincerity pushes the boundaries, Hubert Motte disrupts the mountains. We extend the palm of the entrepreneur to this gifted man, driven by his green and solidarity beliefs. Proof that business can rhyme with ethics and zest for life.
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