Double-digit increases in the number of participating companies, as well as a record number of countries represented, marked the summer edition of Artisan Resource®, a first-of-its-kind market offering U.S.-based volume importers, direct import retailers, designers and wholesalers the opportunity to meet with international artisanal producers. The fifth semi-annual edition of Artisan Resource ran concurrently with NY NOW®, the Market for Home + Lifestyle, August 16-19, at New York City’s Pier 94.
“We were pleased to see the number of participating companies increase by 50% over the winter 2014 edition, and 30% over last summer’s market,” said Allison Garafalo, Artisan Resource sales manager. “With 30 countries represented, this resulted in a broader, more diverse range of global resources for buyers.”
A record 115 companies, representing 30 countries, exhibited in the summer edition. Countries represented included: Afghanistan, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Tajikistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
Among the 7,000 attendees were representatives from major U.S. retailers such as ABC Carpet & Home, Anthropologie, Arhaus, Barneys New York, Canvas, Charity USA, Macy’s, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Geogrpahic, Noonday Collection, Target, TJ Maxx, Uncommon Goods, Viva Terra, West Elm and Worldstock. A growing number of U.S. designers looking to work with artisans for product development purposes also attended the summer market. In connection with this, the Design Council, presented a standing-room only panel discussion addressing designer/artisan partnerships and ways to successfully blend cultural traditions and commercial priorities.
New exhibitor, Mark Sloneker of Orijyn, who brought traditional silver jewelry and silk scarves from village artisans in Laos to Artisan Resource, valued the market for its business connections, saying “We found a lot of new potential customers. In particular, there are a couple of big opportunities that could change our business and go a long way to impact what we’re doing in Laos. The market was very worthwhile.” He also appreciated the sense of community the opportunity afforded, adding, “We also enjoyed meeting other artisans because artisans, and the people who represent them, tend to look at the world in the same way. We share the same challenges and hopes. It’s like a family.”
Returning exhibitors also cited this sense of community, and shared experiences, among the market’s attributes. “I was in Artisan Resource a year ago, and since then I’ve felt a growing energy,” said Megan McDonald, Director of Global Enterprise for Sasa Designs by the Deaf. “We love the community here, and appreciate the buyers that seek out products that tell a story about the people behind the product, and still expect quality and excellence.”
In addition to market activities, Artisan Resource offered an expanded and well-attended series of seminars and events. Schedule highlights included a new session, titled “Vision, Value and Veracity: Telling Handmade Stories in the Age of Transparency,” which addressed communicating the value of handmade product, telling culture-based artisan stories to consumers and getting credit for social enterprise commitments. Greta Schettler, a representative of the State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Affairs, moderated the discussion among top-level speakers from West Elm, Nest, the Fair Trade Federation and Artisan Business Network.
Other Artisan Resource programming included daily “Importing 101” seminars, which provided an overview of international business relationships for attendees, along with an expanded slate of new sessions for exhibitors and attendees covering design and color trends and pricing and distribution for the U.S. market. According to Garafalo, “All of the educational sessions exceeded capacity, and based on our success this summer, we are planning to expand the program again for the winter market.”
The winter 2015 edition of Artisan Resource will take place Saturday, January 31, through Tuesday, February 3, 2015, at New York City’s Pier 94, alongside NY NOW. Artisan Resource is managed by Emerald Expositions and organized with the assistance of ByHand Consulting. Participants are selected based on their products and production capabilities, experience in meeting export demands, and commitment to design innovation, cultural preservation, social enterprise and sustainability. Additional information and registration is available online at www.artisanresourceny.com.Continue Reading »