This Christmas you do not need a miracle — no flying reindeer or elves — all you need are BRIKA’s Makers.
The Makers — artisans and designers from all corners of North America — together in their cumulative creative efforts, guarantee no duplicate presents at this year’s Secret Santa circle, just lots of envy. While the Makers craft the unique gifts, co-founders of BRIKA.com, Jennifer Lee Koss and Kena Paranjape, curate the content, introducing new makers weekly to fill their online store’s categories including House & Home, Paper Goods, Jewelry, Accessories and Little Ones.
It’s all about original narratives and teamwork at BRIKA’s year-round one-of-a-kind show, as Koss and Paranjape share during our interview, “Our vision for BRIKA is to offer thoughtful, well-crafted gifts that have a story. We aim to create an impactful, high-quality, high-calibre creative community of empowering Makers and conscious consumers.”
BRIKA officially launched in Canada October of this year in partnership with the Hudson’s Bay, who is currently playing host to a BRIKA pop-up at their flagship store in downtown Toronto. A showcase of its Canadian Makers, the pop-up is a virtual treasure trove filled with jewellery, Christmas cards, knit toques, and accessories. For me, it was the Scout and Catalogue Silk Print Scarf that stood out during a recent visit, that and the Bow Tie Dog Collar from Rover Boutique, also available online. Wouldn’t it be cute if your pooch looked like a present under the tree this year?
And, since BRIKA is first and foremost and online store, if you don’t live in the Greater Toronto Area, do not fret! The items can be found on the official site under the Canadian tab. Gifts beyond the Canadian border are also worth a gander. Aside from the gift giving options we already selected for FILLER’s Holiday Gift Guide this year, there are a heap of other items from BRIKA we’d happily add to our shopping list. In my opinion a pillowcase is the perfect gift, especially if it means it is still in your bed. The Sleep Tight Pillowcase Set by Urban Bird & Co is a cute gift for your significant other, the classic catch phrase “sleep tight.” is coupled with the echoing “don’t let the bedbugs bite.” This gift will get you both back into the bedroom come Christmas morning.
For family, BRIKA offers great mother to daughter gifts including these quote pillows by CASA & CO that read, “Let her sleep for when she wakes she will move mountains.” We can only hope CASA & CO’s wise worded throw pillows do actually “magically impart.”
As with all craft emporiums, BRIKA boasts a vast array of candles. One particularly unique candle for the man in your life, the Witch City Wicks Bacon Soy Candle — yes, bacon — is sure to make you and him salivate till Christmas dinner hits the table. Warning: Do not place under the Christmas tree or that pooch you dressed up to sit under it, may start opening presents early.
Avid online shoppers will enjoy the ease with which they are able to navigate the BRIKA site. Tip: For holiday specific gifts, the red tab is a beacon; handmade Christmas cards, ornaments, clutches, necklaces, after-shave, and the list goes on. Designed for your convenience, the sub-tabs will point you to “his” or “her” presents. And, at the bottom of your browser, there is a chat box should you need assistance with your holiday shopping – see, BRIKA truly is Santa’s little helper. Below, we get to know co-founders Koss and Paranjape and glean a little insight into the their Maker-centered vision for BRIKA.
In the BRIKA introduction video Jennifer begins by saying, “We’re curating, we’re finding these people, and then we’re featuring them on our site in a way that really speaks to our customer.” How do you go about finding and sourcing these people?
Kena, our co-founder and Crafter of Brand, worked closely with artisans and designers in her past job, so we were able to begin with pre-established relationships. Also, in the months leading up to our launch, we looked for talented Makers everywhere — from craft markets to magazines to online — but the most effective of all was tapping into the Maker community and getting referrals. Now that we’ve been around for a year (November 20th was our first birthday!), we receive at least 30 applications a week.
Wow…a week, huh? And Happy birthday by the way! I understand you can also apply to be a Maker. What exactly are you looking for in a candidate?
We are looking for both emerging talent and established Makers. We want to celebrate people who are passionate about creating, who are dedicated to their craft, and who are excited to share their story with our community. We look for authenticity in the people behind the products; however, our first filter is always a beautiful, well-crafted product.
By curating the content, that already sets BRIKA apart from Etsy. Because of this, when navigating — in my opinion at least — it is not as overwhelming in terms of the sheer volume of products and Makers. Any new avenues the store is planning on pursing?
In the future, you will see more exclusive collaborations with our Makers, more in our new Maker Match series (where our Makers team up!), category growth (we keep finding adorable accessories for pets), inspiring content pieces for our readers, and more partnerships with like-minded companies.
Etsy takes a percentage on the products sold, how does BRIKA work if you are a Maker?
At BRIKA, we have a revenue-share model with our Makers. Unlike Etsy, we are not an open marketplace. We have a creative community of talented, high-quality Makers, and we invest in our community by getting to know each Maker and sharing their stories through expertly written profiles and editorial content. In terms of imagery, we often take photos of our Makers’ products to make sure every photo is top quality. Plus, we offer awesome offline opportunities and have helped many of our Makers’ products appear in Canadian and American publications.
Ha, like ours! Okay, now for the question on everyone’s mind this time of year: What do you give those who seem to have everything, or more, seem to really want nothing?
A well-crafted, thoughtful gift that tells a story! For men, we love the porcelain cufflinks by Heyday Design (or these stag ones by Cabin+Cub), this perfect-for-cheese serving board by Swaine Street Woodworking, or a cozy “Work Like a Captain, Play Like a Pirate” tee by Monorail. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a whiskey scented candle.
For women, your best bet is to let them choose with a BRIKA gift card! We also love this great-for-the-market tote by Milkhaus, a glam bracelet from Cuchara, royal blue studs for your best buds, and this lucky Horseshoe Planner by Sarah Pinto.
Well, that pretty much cover that question! Lastly, what initially inspired you to start BRIKA online and then open a pop-up at The Bay?
We are all about celebrating beautiful, well-crafted goods, and we were so excited to bring BRIKA to life offline with a pop-up shop at Hudson’s Bay. It gives our community a chance to see these gorgeous goods up close, and talk to our knowledgeable team about each product and Maker.
Why the Bay?
When we were thinking about who we wanted to partner with for our Canadian launch, our dream was to work with Hudson’s Bay, the oldest retailer in North America. They are the epitome of modern with a heritage twist. We could not be more excited to have an offline presence, and we are preparing to “pop up” in a few more cities soon.
Any particular pop-ups in your future that you’re especially excited about?
On November 25, we launched a pop-up in partnership with The Coveteur at the Paramount Hotel in Times Square, New York, and we have cross-country events planned from now through the holidays at Madewell in the US.Published November 30, 2013