Makers & Providers
Q&A WITH ALAN MYERSON – DESIGNER AND BRAND DIRECTOR
Tell us the story of your business – was there a particular moment, person, or need that inspired it?
Taking a year off in 1996 to travel the world to remote places in search of perfect waves I stumbled upon the amazing hand-crafted artisans of Latin America. After having plenty of time to contemplate my work options on returning home to Melbourne, towards the end of my year away, whilst in Hampi in Southern India, I finally came up with an idea to travel back to some of the artisans I'd met in Latin America. My idea was to develop a collection of unique, handcrafted accessories to supply to my contacts in Melbourne's local rag trade. After being back in Melbourne for 6 months I found myself on a flight back to Mexico and the start of my journey into this business began 23 years ago.
What first steps did you take to turn your business idea into a reality?
Luckily, my business idea tied in perfectly with my stage of life at that time. I had no responsibilities back home in Melbourne. I also had a great desire to travel to new and remote places in search of waves and artisans to work with. I had a good network of connections in the Melbourne rag trade which created a great channel to sell my accessories through. So, turning my idea into a reality turned out to be a natural and organic progression that came quite easily at the time.
Tell us three things that make your product stand out.
Our pieces are hand made by expert artisans.
They are made from natural materials.
Describe how you felt when you started to get your first customers. How has your relationship with your customers grown and changed since then?
It felt great when we got our first customers. I realised that there were stores out there that valued what I was doing. We have had many customers stay with us over the years and we value the ongoing relationships we have established with our long-term stockists. We offer exclusivity to our stockists for their geographic area.
Describe the kind of person who buys your products. Why do you think they love your business? How do they benefit from your products?
I think our customer has a discerning eye for quality of make, materials and design. I think they love our business because we provide them with unusual, quality made products from natural materials that stand the test of time in regard to style and wear. We only make limited quantities of any one style and I think our customers value having something that can't be found and seen everywhere.
How do you keep your business fresh and exciting? Do you have any new, upcoming products in the works that you can tell us about?
We usually travel to Latin America and Thailand every year to visit the artisans we work with. We bounce around ideas of new designs and launch 2 new collections every year. We currently focus on Silver jewellery, leather accessories and Panama Hats. We have more than 30 artisans we continue to work with and develop new capsule collections with. Obviously in these times of Coronavirus we won't be visiting our makers this year. However, we shall be having many Zoom meetings with them and we have found that the use of technology has also added to keeping things fresh and exciting.
What kind of role has community and/or the support of retailers played in the success of your business?
Our business success owes a lot to our community. We value the long-standing relationships we have established with many loyal retailers as well as with our suppliers. The information we receive from our retailers and suppliers in regard to our product design is vital and has helped us develop pieces that end users really value.
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