Editor’s Note: Here’s a story from our archives we feel is relevant even today and deserves your attention
Nowadays, a couple of clicks on your laptop or smartphone gets you the latest and trendiest designs for clothes, bags, shoes, and even furniture in less time that it takes you to say ” a plethora of e-Commerce platforms”. This isn’t case however, when it comes to markets for handmade and locally-crafted products which still face a lack of exposure and online presence.
Currently, online marketplaces like Etsy provide a specialised platform in the buying and selling of vintage and handmade items. Not all countries have a strong Etsy presence, according to Founder and CEO of Blisby, Phuvadol Thongthavorn.
With Thailand-based e-commerce platform Blisby, Thongthavorn wants to not only tackle this issue by establishing an online marketplace for local handicrafts, but to also build and bring attention to the local arts community.
“Etsy doesn’t have a big presence here and prior to our launch, Thailand didn’t have this kind of platform. We have artisans all around us and I want Blisby to be the online community where they can showcase their craft. I want them to tell their story and inspire others to create, so I built Blisby to service these artisans. We received thousands of user comments and messages that this type of marketplace has been long needed,” shares Thongthavorn.
Thongthavorn shares with e27 that his appreciation for art from a young age contributed to the creation of the site.
“It was in the third grade when I won a contest with a poster that I drew for the school book fair. In high school, I won a physics award for building a truss bridge using thin pieces of wood and epoxy glue. I’ve always been pretty good with my hands and always loved building and creating,” says Thongthavorn.
Blisby operates similar to Etsy, where users can sign up to create, sell and purchase handicrafts, ranging from handmade fashion accessories and clothing to home decor. The site is localized, operating in Thai, and monetizes via monthly service payments, which vary according to package sizes.
Aside from its marketplace feature, Blisby explores its unique proposition of building the art community through its blog. The blog showcases DIY tutorials, interviews with local artists, and curated content for buyers, as well as information on workshops available and art events. Blisby also boasts a strong social media presence, with over 58,000 likes on its Facebook page, where each post, usually originating from their blog, receives hundreds of likes and shares per post.
Since launching its beta site three months ago, the site has reported 10,000 member signups and over 1,300 seller signups, surpassing 300,000 monthly unique visits with just under one million monthly page views. On a monthly basis, Blisby registers 1200 purchase orders and 300 to 400 new sellers. Per session, users spent an average of seven minutes on the site, with the largest demographic consisting primarily 20-44 year old women.
“In countries that have experienced recent changes to a less strict political system, you see that contemporary art and artists come up like blades of grass sprouting out from the sidewalk. Throughout history, there has always been a strong connection between art and politics. Art, music and crafts are the ultimate expression of self and free speech,” explains Thongthavorn.
Blisby is presently researching the arts and crafts markets and producers in the entire region for both contemporary and traditional art, with Indonesia and Malaysia at the top of the list. The team is also working with local groups like HUBBA and craft studios to create a series of craft and DIY workshops, and is open to setting popup shops in the near future.
Presently, Blisby is only web-optimised, but native apps for iOS and Android are in development, as is an English version of the site.
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