The first time I ever spoke to Mari Jasmine and Tini Dahl, they were actually interviewing me. “We have some really exciting things lined up for SORA,” I recall Mari mentioning. The two began their journey in 2018 when they sought to create the perfect towel that didn’t weigh them down. Whether it was for recreation, sport, or anything in between, Jasmine and Dahl were determined to create something stylish and functional, leading them to take matters into their own hands and launch their own brand: SORA (now FLOWE).
At that point, I had been following them for a little over a year and saw that they were looking for a new copywriter. I gave it a shot and sent in my CV. I remember being transfixed by the brand upon my first encounter with them. From their sleek visuals to their tone of voice that felt like a warm hug from an older cousin you’ve always looked up to, their style equally came with substance. A brand built with intention and mindfulness, Mari Jasmine and Tini Dahl have made it their mission to create not only beautiful products, but hard-working ones as well. Made to stand the test of time and to see their user through the many milestones of life, these values have remained constant in all the work that they do.
Fast forward to now, the exciting things Mari previously mentioned have finally come to light in the form of “FLOWE” – a new brand of multi-purpose performance towels, and the official rebrand of SORA. From their creative process to their relationship as business partners, and the challenges of building their brand, we discuss with Mari Jasmine and Tini Dahl everything you need to know about FLOWE.
Let’s start off with the very beginning. Could you share with us how you both met, and how long you’ve been friends?
In 2014, we were both living in Manila. We ended up being introduced through mutual friends, and immediately realised that we had shared interests in travel, wellness, and design. Even after moving to different countries, we stayed in touch and have remained great friends for years now.
It was in late 2017 when we were having a casual conversation about not finding the perfect towel for hikes and yoga practices. Coincidentally, we were both looking for a new challenge in our careers, so we decided to take the plunge and create a product we couldn’t find anywhere else: a do-it-all towel that was beautifully designed, multi-functional, and lightweight for all our travels and activities.
Oftentimes, people tell you to avoid doing business with friends or loved ones. What makes your work relationship unique, and how does your friendship come into play with your process as creative entrepreneurs?
We often say that our business partnership is like a marriage, or at least as serious as one! You’re making big decisions together, share finances, enter binding contracts, resolve problems, share many highs and lows, and spend a lot of time together. In our case, we were so lucky because we happened to have shared values, but also complementary skill sets. We also respect and trust each other implicitly – which is really important to having a successful partnership.
Over the past 4 years, you have built such an incredible community. Could you explain to us the thought process behind SORA’s growth and how it evolved into FLOWE? What’s different and what has remained?
Since starting SORA in 2018, we’ve learned and grown immensely as people and entrepreneurs. It has always been about our love for movement and adventure, but we wanted to transform the brand into something that felt more aligned with our current identity to be one that felt distinctly us. So instead of doing seasonal collections and trendier prints, Flowe focuses on timeless designs and slow, intentional production. From the start, sustainability has also been one of our core values, which is why we’ve always used recycled fabrics for our towels. With Flowe, we explore sustainability even further with our 1 Percent for the Planet partnership. We really want our towels to be loved for a lifetime, all while uplifting communities and causes we care about.
Sustainability and conscious practices have always been at the forefront of the work you guys do. What does FLOWE’s partnership with 1% For The Planet mean for your brand and your customers?
As a business, we felt it was our responsibility to address sustainability and be part of the global movement where we can all learn from each other to do better. Being part of 1 Percent of the Planet is one way for us to do this, as it allows us to make a tangible, direct impact on communities and causes. We know that it’s virtually impossible to be 100% sustainable, but we’d like to do our part in building a more equitable future for everyone. Hopefully, our brand and the community we’re building can reflect that.
What’s been the most challenging part about building a sustainable brand like FLOWE?
For starters, we built the brand in the midst of a global pandemic, with a small team that operates almost virtually. As founders, we haven’t seen each other for more than 2 years now! However, we’ve learned so much through the whole process and it’s almost like we’ve gone back to business school.
In an ideal world, everyone would purchase consciously and be more responsible with their waste. However, some have argued that purchasing sustainable is a privilege. What has your approach been like in terms of relaying your message to the everyday consumer?
There’s no direct path to being 100% sustainable – this doesn’t just apply to us as a business, but on a consumer level too. While we’re here to provide conscious, timeless choices for our community, it isn’t our intention to get customers to buy out of pressure or fear of climate issues. We want to show people that good design, functionality, and mindful production can all co-exist — through messaging that feels human and honest.
What advice would you have for our readers who are in the early days of their journey to a more mindful lifestyle?
You don’t have to have it all figured out. Many consumers feel intimidated to start their mindfulness or sustainability journey, simply because they feel they need to do everything or don’t know where to start. But small, imperfect steps are always better than nothing. You could start by being more mindful of your purchasing habits, and investing in quality goods that will last for years. This way, you create less waste in the long run. Of course, shopping sustainably is a privilege for some, so just do what you can with the resources you have. There are other ways to live mindfully that don’t involve spending at all, such as repairing old items instead of buying new or swapping unused products with friends. Sustainability isn’t a one-size-fits-all.