Supporting Local Talent: Chic & Basta
Chic & Basta is a Quebec-based brand run by husband and wife duo Manon Martin and Louis Durocher. Their aim is simple: to gather the work of artisans and designers in their local area and showcase them to consumers around the world.
In a past life the brand's founders spent over 20 years working in marketing and communications. Despite holding a degree in Fine Arts from Concordia University in Montreal, Louis found himself in a job which felt increasingly detached from his personal values and creative background. To save his sanity he and Manon - who were both associates at the same company - decided to find something more fulfilling to do with their time.
[above: Set of two espresso cups, $49]
[Papier mâché lamp, $190]
And thus, Chic & Basta was born. Louis and Manon's first idea was to offer a curated selection of kitchen products, not limited to homeware but also including food products. But with their international vision for the company this idea didn't really float, so they decided to focus on home accessories and kitchenware instead. By exclusively stocking the products of small-scale designers they are feeding back into their local industry, giving a platform to people who would otherwise struggle to find an audience for their work, and offering greater diversity to consumers at the same time. It's win-win-win.
"We felt the world was missing a showcase for quality handmade products, or design objects made in small runs. Of course there is Etsy, but Etsy is a mess and doesn't offer a curated experience."
Carefully selecting the products they add to the site means that Chic & Basta can support local designer/makers and put them on a world stage, whilst still offering a coherent experience to their customers. Rather than sifting through tens or hundreds of product listings to seek out that hidden gem, visitors to the site will find only a couple of pages of well-made, beautiful products which are all handmade in Quebec.
[Small pink ocher bowls, $22 each]
In today's society we rarely know who has actually made the objects that we buy. Your coffee mugs or lampshade may well have been made by someone on the other side of the world, or perhaps it came out of a machine in China or India. Louis and Manon believe that if you know where your possessions come from, you can appreciate and enjoy them in a way that you cannot with mass-produced, catalogue furnishings.
"If you know were an object comes from, it has a story. Maybe it's imperfect, but it is made with the hands and the heart, not by a machine in a far away country."
Of course Louis and Manon are looking to make sales and earn a living, but more important to them is that they share their love for these local makers and the objects they're creating - both in Canada and all over the world. UK customers will be pleased to hear that delivery to Europe is pretty affordable: only around $10-20 depending on weight and how many items you order. If you're in the US or Canada you can get free shipping if you order over $100.
The shop opened five months ago (May 2015), so is still relatively new. Neither had any experience of commerce prior to launching the brand, so they've had to learn almost everything on the job. Managing the entire business between the two of them means learning juggling storage, packaging, shipping, PR, marketing, social media, sourcing, photography and managing their website without any additional hands on deck.
"The greatest challenge is to get people to know about us. The internet is quite a crowded place nowadays. We realise that it's going to be a never-ending challenge to be on people's minds."
But Louis and Manon are excited for the future. When I asked what's next for the brand, Louis jokingly replied "to get through Christmas and our first year!" Further down the line they are looking into developing their own exclusive collection for the brand, made in collaboration with their community of designers.
All images courtesy of Chic & Basta.