Crafted Society is ready for takeoff. The initiative wants to involve 1,000 artisans before the end of 2022 and 25,000 by 2027. Crafted Society is a project launched by Martin Johnston (ex-manager of large brands, in photo on the right) and his wife Lise Bonnet in 2015. The company is headquartered in Holland and has the objective of “democratizing” luxury via the online sale of made-in-Italy products: from raw materials to manufactured goods. Here is our interview with Martin Johnson.
Saving Italian artisans
You recently launched a subscription service: why?
Back in November 2020 we asked ourselves: are we doing all we can to support our Italian partners? The answer was that we needed to do more, thinking outside of the box. So 2 subscription-related ideas came (Club and Sole), that after the initial subscription to Crafted Society Club, give our clients the chance to have products for the right price, with nearly no mark-up from the manufacturing cost.
How do they work?
The Club subscription costs 120 euro per year and gives access to a number of benefits, such as a 40% discount on products. The Sole one is 780 euro per year, thanks to which a consumer can choose 4 pairs of shoes and is automatically subscribed to the Crafted Society Club.
What was the feedback from consumers and when they were launched?
About 2 months ago, and the feedback was better than expected. To be the first luxury brand to introduce a subscription service in our business model was welcomed by our community. We have had over 70 clients signing up in the first 2 months.
Ready for takeoff
What was the impact from the pandemic for you and Italian artisans?
Our Fitting Room in Amsterdam remained closed for many years and Italian artisans were put to the test under many viewpoints over the last 18 months. Less orders, price increments and lack of raw material. That being said, our partners and us are surpassing this storm and we know we will get out of these events stronger and more passionately than ever.
Did you update your business plan?
We started with 4 product categories, 4 finished products’ organization, 4 suppliers of raw materials and 8 components’ suppliers, all Italian. We have 10 laboratories making finished products and before the end of 2021 we plan on launching the products and increased the number of labs. Moreover: go beyond 25 suppliers of raw materials and over 30 for components. We expect to surpass the 1.000-artisans-mark by the end of 2022, while the goal is to have 25,000 artisans by 2027.
Are you still thinking of opening physical stores?
Yes, in Holland, UK, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, France and the USA.
Future and forecasts
How do you see your future?
In a very encouraging manner. The pandemic helped us in the end because our clients became even more social aware in their purchases. Many market researches say that luxury consumers are evolving and asking for brand values that respect their personal ones. We are aligned in this sense, and it’s a strength. The additional subscription-based service, strengthened by technology, means that Crafted Society is ready for takeoff.
Generally, what are the forecasts for Italian artisans?
The segment has been deeply hit by the pandemic. But Italy still remains the best in the world at making luxury goods. I believe the sector will survive and will recover, maybe with less brands and artisans, compared to before the pandemic. Personally, I would like to see the Italian government use European funds to protect this cultural identity of craftsmanship. From our end, we will launch the Luxury for GOOD Foundation next year, with which we will help apprentices and artisans to maintain their work alive.
Do you think the solution for small Italian businesses is to merge?
The segment and companies could have more strength in number and by collaborating. It’s a question that has perfect timing, because we are creating a yearly event called “Notte Degli Artigiani” or “Artisans’ Night”. We will celebrate our artisans and partners, to keep our promise of shining a light on them. We hope this event will grow year after year and that Crafted Society will become the catalyst for presentations, sharing of know-how and networking among the best community of Artisans in Italy.
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