SAN FRANCISCO; Calif. -- A furniture company in San Francisco is all about second chances.
Formr transforms construction debris into stylish geometric pieces of furniture by empowering and employing formerly incarcerated people.
"Formr connects to the word formerly incarcerated and the material that is being used," said Sasha Plotitsa, CEO and Founder of Formr. "We take that material and repurpose it into furniture."
Since the opening of Formr in March of 2020, Plotitsa has diverted approximately 10,000 pounds of construction waste from the landfill.
"When I was started Formr, I thought about who can I provide an opportunity to, a population that is underserved that needs more opportunities," said Plotitsa. "I thought why not provide people who are coming out of prison an opportunity. They are having a hard time finding employment and empower them with a job, a sense of pride, building things, and accomplishing things."
Plotitsa studied industrial design in college and pursued multiple career paths. In 2005, he worked with his father in construction and was shocked to see the amount of construction and demolition debris that was being transported to the landfill.
In 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 600 million tons of construction debris is generated within the United States.
"When I talked to my dad about construction debris he said that you are always going to have cutoff material," said Plotitsa. "It bothered me that there was so much waste that occurred in construction."
The images of debris stuck with Plotitsa for over a decade. Now, he has built relationships with local contractors and collects massive piles of debris and repurposes the wood into unique and functional pieces of furniture.
During the COVID-19 shutdown, Plotitsa had to close his doors and furlough his employees. Shortly after he was able to reopen and designed the overLAP, an alternative desk that could be used from the comfort of your sofa and/or bed. The overlap desk quickly became Formr's number one seller as many Americans were working from home amid the on-going pandemic.
"I always felt that there was a way to reincarnate the material into something else," said Plotitsa. "It is rewarding to think that were saving some of that material from the landfill."
Cris Wolf, a dedicated woodworker at Formr, was incarcerated for nineteen years. He recalls re-entering society as a "terrifying" experience and remembers feeling like he was catapulted into the future.
"Its the first job that matters to me," said Cris Wolf, Woodworker at Formr. "My boss is great and he has a really big heart. I just appreciate his patience and willingness to take on people like me."
Wolf enjoys working with his hands and working for a company that believes in helping the environment.
"Here, it is important for me to take care of the planet. Anytime that we can repurposed product that is already there is a benefit," said Wolf. "It has been a great joy to be here, creating something new is really important to me. I try very hard every day to be here and do everything that I can."
"It has definitely been a good experience to give them an opportunity," said Plotitsa. "And give people a sense of hope in their new life."
For more information, visit the Formr website.