Interview with the founder of Artisan & Fox
In Today’s Interview we speak to Jason Soh, founder of Artisan & Fox. Join us as we explore their journey to empower artisans all over the world and redesign the way global retail works.
Thank you for wanting to be part our exclusive network. What were your reasons for joining us and investing in the Ethical Brand Directory / Academy and community?
We are excited to join a platform like EBD that works to promote and invest in sustainable brands! As we seek to grow our London base, we look forward to collaborating with brands and meeting new people in London to spread the wonder of artisanal jewellery and homewares.
Can you give me a brief overview of your brand and the type of products you sell?
Artisan & Fox is an ethical artisan marketplace connecting you to extraordinary craftsmanship by artisans across the Majority World. Our curated marketplaces offers unique homewares, jewellery and accessories for women.
Ethics, Transparency and Sustainability at our core.
We’re on a mission to empower local artisans every day. We seek to redefine the way global retail works, by investing in local makers and helping them expand their micro-enterprises.
What was your WHY? What inspired you to set up your business?
We’ve built Artisan & Fox on a human-centred approach with 200+ artisans across 9 countries, providing artisans access to international markets through our online marketplace. We also seek to preserve artisan heritage, by co-creating designs with our artisan partners, informed by the duality of contemporary design and traditional craftsmanship techniques.
What challenges do independent brands like yourself face?
As a small business owner, we have the power to re-imagine our vision of how a conventional business should operate; with ethics, transparency, and sustainability in mind. But the challenge of running a small business is real and we face obstacles in bringing our vision to life.
Why is it important to be ethical in business?
Artisan craftsmanship remains the second largest employer in developing countries.
It is one of the main sources of income for both men and women craftspeople who seek a sustainable livelihood.
However, these artisans are also some of the most marginalized around the world, lacking independent access to the global market: socially immobile, and often exploited by unscrupulous middlemen.
We saw that a different approach was needed.
What is the link to your page on ethics on your website?
What steps are you taking to ensure your brand operates as ethically as possible?
Our needs-based approach evolves with each artisan community we partner with, starting with a needs assessment. This helps us identify traditional techniques, and tells us whether we need to co-create new products to improve product quality, or help artisans boost production capacity. Our operations are mindful and aim to sustainably increase artisans’ incomes and quality of life.
How important is sustainability for businesses? What are you doing in your business to reduce your environmental impact?
We believe in a new type of sustainable business: working towards sustainable incomes for each artisan we collaborate with, in a way that is kind to the environment. We think outside of the shipping box. We broke up with plastic, and are committed to 100% recyclable and reusable packaging.
That’s why we keep our packaging fully unbranded, so you can regift and reuse, and share the love.
What are you not doing in your business but want to improve on?
We encourage our artisans to utilise eco-friendly and sustainable materials whenever possible. This includes byproduct leather, organic cotton, upcycled metals and fully organic plant-based weaves. We are working to improve on our materials.
What is the link to your page on sustainability on your website?
What is your supplier and sourcing policy?
We only collaborate with independent artisans, small artisan groups, non-profits and local social enterprises.
We do not partner with large enterprises that can already scale independently, but rather, seek to find artisans with valuable techniques, but have tremendous difficulty selling their products internationally.
In 10 years from now where would you like to see the fashion/beauty/travel world? From a business and a consumer perspective
We would love to see more transparency and sustainability policies becoming the norm with bigger / large scale brands. It’s already happening but there is far more work to be done.
Do you have any favourite ethical and sustainable quotes, or any key influencers that inspire you?
We love how influencers are using their star power to promote conscious and sustainable brands.
Why should the general public care about supporting ethical and environmentally responsible brands?
Most of us would know about the poor working conditions and exceedingly low wages that handworkers in the fast fashion industry often have to endure. Under pressure to cut costs and improve profit margins, However many shoppers are not aware of how we can make a positive change and break out of this global status quo. Shoppers should demand transparency from their brands – big or small – and demand to know where their items were made, who made them, and how they were made.