What are the trends and opportunities that you are seeing for the artisan sector right now? How important are tradeshows coming out of the pandemic?
In this mini course, you will get:
- A pre-recorded panel discussions from 2022 with artisan retailers, wholesalers, and buyers in the US Market
- A better understanding of how to communicate with buyers
- Insights on the trends they see in the market today
- Bonus! Free download of the 2021 Handmade Buyer Survey
What are buyers looking for in an artisan partner?
"There are times we are looking to find a better way to produce something to reduce cost and we want our artisan partners not to think of it as we are trying to reduce profit for them, but that we want it to be a collaboration where if a product does well everybody wins. An open dialogue and a feeling that we are in this together goes a long way."
- Panelist Manish Gupta of Matr Boomie
Meet the Buyers
With extensive experience working with artisans globally, our panel of buyers includes US wholesalers, an owner and founder of a social enterprise, a B2B artisan marketplace platform, and the co-founder of Powered by People, a responsible wholesale platform.
Colleen Pendleton, Mercury Marketing
Colleen is an experienced agent and expediter focused on B2B sourcing, sales, and partnership development, working exclusively with artisan producers around the world. She is the founder of Mercury Marketing a sourcing agency working with William Sonoma Inc, the parent company of West Elm, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma Home, Rejuvenation and Mark & Graham. To date, she has been responsible for over $40 million in retail sales of products purchased from artisan businesses.
Adele Hammond is the founder and owner of Abrazo Style, a social enterprise based in Oaxaca, Mexico and Hood River, Oregon. Her company manufactures handcrafted women’s clothing and accessories for export to wholesale markets in the US and other countries. Abrazo Style embraces traditions, native cultures, and sustainability in the lives and communities of the artisans they work with. An unlikely entrepreneur, Adele is a professional artist and traveler whose passion for fine craft and indigenous culture led her to a small village in Oaxaca with her family for an extended stay of five years. Over time she adapted her training as a painter to the world of textiles and soon began to see the possibilities for developing a unique product line designed specifically for the American woman.
Collaborating with artisans, the first Abrazo Style collection was created in 2010. Adele now divides her time between Oregon and Mexico, working with artisans in Oaxaca and Chiapas to expand Abrazo Style’s contemporary line of tradition-based clothing and accessories.
Leslie Mittelberg founded Swahili Imports in 1995 in Eugene, Oregon, after living in Kenya and experiencing the vibrant East African craft scene. During the past 16 years, Leslie has developed sustainable business relationships with African artisans through face-to-face product development missions, and today Swahili Imports represents artisans from 10 African nations. Leslie has lent her experience evaluating African artisans for export readiness to the World Bank and Aid to Artisans' Small Grants Program, held training seminars for Africa-based Peace Corps volunteers and served on the advisory board of the New York International Gift Fair's Handmade Division. Leslie was recently elected to the board of the Fair-Trade Federation and just began her 3-year term.
After completing his undergraduate Engineering degree in India, Manish attended the University of Michigan in 2003 to complete a graduate program in Operations Management. In 2005, he came across the concept of Fair Trade and began to learn more about its business model. When he took some time to travel in India, he began to notice the challenges artisans faced and the impact it created on their social wellbeing and long-term development. Shortly after, Manish founded Matr Boomie from his one-bedroom apartment. He continued his pursuit to build a fair-trade company and learned sales, marketing, and product merchandizing skills along the way. Every following year, Manish would return to India to meet and discover new artisan groups.
What started off as just one man has evolved into a team of experts in both India and the United States. Now, Manish’s main areas of focus are overall business development, building a strong and motivated team that work together to fulfill the Handmade Expressions mission and spreading awareness supporting sustainable practices. Manish has served on the Board of Directors for Fair Trade Federation for 4 years and is actively engaged in discussions all-round the country focused on sustainable products.
Powered by People
Hedvig is a Danish Army Captain and Yale graduate. She founded Far + Wide Collective an online platform with a network of 5,000 artisan producers selling to 400 retailers in 18 countries. She led Building Markets adding 1.6% to Afghan GDP (‘06), was Managing Director of Turquoise Mountain and founded The Pin Project for refugees. She is now working at Powered by People.
Gain a competitive edge by hearing directly from buyers on their experience in the market, and answer questions about how they work with artisans.
"We often make assumptions on what customers might love, however, first getting to understand the market/customer needs is very critical. I should focus more on building quality relationships with buyers." - 2022 eMRP Alumna Agnes Naikazi of Beyond Limitations Africa
What's in the Mini Course?
Take a look at the outline below to get an idea of what you will learn in this mini-course.
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Image Credits: Lauren Barkume, plus images courtesy of Swahili Imports, Abrazo Style, Matr Boomie, Powered by People, and Mercury Marketing.