Moroccan Star Puzzle serving tray from Maison Bagan
If you want to stay at home this summer or just go on local trips, an online marketplace called. at The nopo maybe just quench your wanderlust a little. While you may not experience the exact same sights, sounds, and tastes when shopping online, consumers can purchase a wide variety of items on this platform, including home decor, carpets, textiles, and fashion accessories made by international artisans.
Founders of The Nopo, Kelly Breakstone Roth and Shanny Harel
The Nopo, short for “The Nomad Pop Up”, was founded in March 2020 by Kelly Breakstone Roth and Shanny Harel and offers a curated selection of handcrafted pieces. This includes everything from Tea sets to Pillow cases and even Pet beds. While the items currently sold on the site are from Morocco and Mexico, Colombia and Israel will hit the market later this year. Additional marketplaces are planned for 2022.
A platform for craftsmen
While the brand pays very close attention to who is featured on the website, they are surprisingly less strict about the products they sell. “The Nopo maintains a careful screening process to ensure a high quality of craftsmanship across the platform through interviews, referrals and a local partner who manages quality assurance. Once a craftsman has been checked for aesthetics, ability, material quality, authenticity and value, we rarely have to intervene in the product selection, ”says Roth.
Albana MX Designs by sisters Maria Andrea and Viviane
“The nice thing about our collection is that it is stylistically diverse and consistently high in quality. We’re tapping into the world’s most creative populations, and they’re the best curators. For this reason, tradespeople select the articles themselves in most cases.
The curation process
While Roth and Harel were planning to travel to Morocco in the year they started, they forced the pandemic closings into a Plan B. “Initially, the trip to Morocco was an important part of our plan. How else are we supposed to find these artisans who are practically invisible to search engines? But when we realized that a trip to Morocco was out of the question, we had to find new ways not only to find craftsmen, but also to validate them. “
During their first month in business, the women spent countless hours browsing Instagram accounts. “It felt like looking for a needle in a haystack, but we stuck further afield and after about two weeks we found our first one – Soufiane Aissouni, a lamp designer from Marrakech who worked with a collective of artisans from Marrakech to create beautiful handwoven Bast lights designs a village nearby. We wrote to him on Instagram and he was immediately enthusiastic about the idea, ”explains Roth.
Hand crocheted hanging lamp by the Moroccan craftsman Hamimi
After connecting with their first artisans, the founders realized they were opening up to a whole community. “Artisans are constantly referring us to new artisans, and these referrals produce the best leads. This is because our artisans, who are all highly skilled, care a lot about who they are associated with and want to maintain the level of quality across the platform. “
A platform for craftsmen
However, as the women dug deeper, they realized there was something very important at play here. “Over 65 percent of the estimated 200 million artisans in the world live in developing countries and do not have access to the same logistical and technological solutions that are available to dealers in the US and the EU and are therefore excluded from the global handicraft market. “Reveals Roth. “We were driven by the opportunity to really democratize e-commerce and create a world where artistic excellence is limitless.”
The artisans The Nopo works with generally lack the resources or expertise to run or promote their own websites, as well as the ability to manage the logistics for international sales, shipping, etc. However, they have smartphones and manage active Instagram accounts. So this platform gives buyers access to foreign artisans that they would likely only encounter at face-to-face meetings.
Traditional handmade Moroccan ceramics by Yassine
The Nopo takes responsibility for all international shipping and payment processing as well as customer support. “We are 100 percent responsible for customer satisfaction. On the rare occasion that an item has been damaged in transit or the customer wishes to return the product, we take full responsibility. This strengthens trust and gives the craftsmen the freedom to concentrate fully on the creative process, ”says Roth.
The nopo also empowers artisans by giving them the recognition they deserve by not only telling their story but also helping them communicate the value of their work in a way that is compelling to American customers. More importantly, when family and friends inevitably ask The Nopo’s customers, “Where did you get this from?”, They can take similar handcrafted items home with them without getting on a plane.
“When we started developing the concept of The Nopo, our motivation was to make this experience more accessible, to bring the joy of discovery into people’s everyday lives. We wanted to create a platform that enables people to virtually travel the world’s markets, meet spectacular craftsmen and decorate their lives with beautiful objects that tell a story and reflect their values, ”says Roth.