Three sisters have started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a new e-store that would offer handmade goods at discount prices. Through email blasts, consumers would learn about deals on a carefully curated selection of arts and crafts, from fine-art prints and letterpress stationery to clothes, bags, and jewelry. The Makery would be like Etsy and Fab.com rolled into one.
"We’re hoping to use the online flash sale model as a way for customers to get quick and easy access to handmade products, and for artists to get a big publicity boost," says Krista Anne Nordgren, 22, who launched the campaign with her older sisters Brita, 28, and Sarah Rose, 30.
Initially, the site would focus exclusively on artists and craftspeople from the sisters’ native North Carolina. "North Carolina is what we know best, and we’re really passionate about helping out our local economy and all the hardworking artists here," Krista Anne says. But eventually, the marketplace could stretch beyond NC’s borders: "Our hope is that this is a scalable model that will work in other communities and states."
The idea formed during the winter holidays, over glögg (the Nordgren family always celebrates a traditional Swedish Christmas). Each sister was in the throes of a major life-transition: Krista Anne, who has interned at VCs and startups in California, was about to graduate from college. Sarah Rose, a writer in Durham, had just gotten married. So too had Brita, an artist in Asheville. "We were feeling like we needed something to reconnect us with our family and our hometown," Krista Anne says.
Starting a business that could support local artists was a natural choice. "We’ve been lucky to grow up in a very artistic area," she says. "North Carolina has a very long tradition of handcrafted merchandise. We have had tons of friends who have been painters, T-shirt designers, woodcarvers, and printmakers. The problem was never their ability to make great things and set up a site online, the problem was always getting attention and sales." Brita, for instance, hawks paper art on Etsy and also frequents craft fairs. But like many independent makers, she still struggles to stand out. "It’s hard when you’re one in literally millions of craft sellers online, and even harder to find the time in your day to do the necessary PR when you have another job or other responsibilities," Krista Anne says.
The Makery would solve that problem by giving artists a direct line to customers. And through curated deals, the site would give potential buyers a smaller, better quality pool of products from which to choose. The goal is for items to be "competitively priced with what [consumers] can buy on the shelves of a retail store," Krista Anne says, though ultimately, artists would set the discounts themselves, at whatever price makes them comfortable.
The Nordgren sisters hope to raise $4,450 by Saturday to cover the cost of building and running an online shop and email service, establishing The Makery as an LLC, and buying stationery and shipping supplies for the first year in operation.
As for what it’s like to work with your sisters: "You know, we haven’t always gotten along," Krista Anne says. "But it’s really amazing how working on a project that we are all passionate about is bringing out the best in us! We have had a few tense moments, but we know how to deal with disagreements now, after chasing each other around the house and fighting in the back seat of the car for years."
[Images courtesy of The Makery]