Their names aren’t in the tech blog pages, and they’re not being showcased at the big events, but Toronto’s eshop for fine artisanal fashion and home decor, Brika, is quietly about to do $1 million in sales this year.
Cofounders Kena Paranjape and Jen Lee Koss launched the business in November 2012 as a unique online shopping destination, offering a curated selection of special pieces that are destined to become heirlooms and celebrates the makers behind them. “Weaving a sense of community and creativity into the fabric of the brand, BRIKA is a place shoppers can come to find inspiration as easily as beautiful, modern crafts.”
It sells products like jewelry, art and print, gift ideas, apparel, toys and accessories for children, and tons of house and home items.
It all started when Paranjape was working for Indigo, running a high-end, eco-friendly online shop, reporting directly to the CEO. “I was sourcing, marketing and managing this concept and as part of it I met with artisans and designers who were showing me their product lines,” she told BetaKit. “I was amazed at the talent and the fact that they had so little distribution. Their talents really lay in creating a beautiful product and not getting it out there. We were doing that in a really small way with our store.”
So, the cofounders thought, how could they do this on a much larger scale?
Enter Brika, which is poised to hit $1 million in revenue by the end of 2014. Paranjape said it focuses on high-end products from quality North American artisans and designers, offering a curated experience for the customer, from the online purchasing experience to the packaging
Brika has even experimented with pop-up shops, having reached a partnership with the Bay. Brika unveiled shops in both the Bay’s Queen street store as well as its Bloor street store, and the cofounder hinted that we could see more of this in the future.
About three-quarters of Brika’s business comes from the US, while the rest comes from Canadian shoppers, but recently the startup hooked up with another Toronto business called Far + Wide. Led by Hedvig Alexander, that business is similar to Brika except for the fact that it sources much of its product from foreign countries- like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Kenya, Kazakstan and more.
“Hedvig also understood something many socially based businesses don’t – the end product has to be beautiful and marketable. Far + Wide Collections’ products are that perfect intersection of modern crafts that are authentic and exceptionally made while also providing real opportunities for communities in emerging economies,” said Paranjape.
It seems like it has been a good run thus far for Brika, no doubt from many long days at the office and persistence. Their Facebook page has over 11,000 likes and much of their traffic currently comes from Pinterest. Essentially, a lot of their customers came organically, over just under two years. Paranjape credited it to building strong relationships with both the artisans and bloggers early on.
Watch out for Brika products online, but as the cofounder hinted at, maybe soon offline in your neighbourhood.