1000 Markets: A Different Kind of Indie Shopping Community
Today I am thrilled to share an interview with Matt Trifiro with you, my Chic & Green readers. He is the CEO of 1000 Markets, an Indie shopping marketplace I predict will be hugely successful.
C & G: I'd first like to congratulate you on starting a new venue with a different concept for Indie businesses and shoppers. It must have been a huge undertaking.
MT: Thank you! We are very proud of what we have accomplished. And, yes, it was a massive undertaking and one that I am very passionate about! But we can’t take all of the credit. A lot of what we have done is simply model mechanisms that have been honed over thousands of years. I have always been fascinated by marketplaces the real, human-scale marketplaces like the Green Markets in Manhattan and the Medina vendors in Marrakech. These are profound and vibrant human institutions, emerging spontaneously whenever the need arises. These markets are populated by people, not just "things." They are a kaleidoscope of human activity: entertainment, history, art, community, and commerce. They were the first “social networks.”
C & G: What prompted you to start a new marketplace for handmade items?
MT: Well, the world is becoming so mass produced, isn’t it? I think many people are hungry for the experience of owning things that have been lovingly crafted by hand, made by artisans who really care about their work and who take great joy in knowing that their work will be used, worn, or appreciated. Just this week we published a blog from a member describing how she felt when she received a photo of a child wearing one of her creations. It was so moving, and so representative of why this kind of marketplace is so necessary and so valuable.
C & G: Who is the creative force behind 1000 Markets? Is it one person or a team?
MT: The company is all about community. Our management team is diverse in skills and geography, but they share one trait in common—they believe completely in the mission of bringing artists and customers together in appreciation of high quality, handmade goods. We consider ourselves to be on a team with all our member merchants. Corny perhaps, but also true.
C & G: I like the concept of individual markets. Would you please explain a bit about the markets and this concept to my readers?
MT: A Market is a collection of shops whose products are organized around a theme. Think about how retail districts emerge in a large city like Manhattan. You have districts and neighborhoods that are organized around the type of product, such as the Garment District, but you also have districts that organize around stylistic boundaries (SOHO, Greenwich Village) or cultural centers (Chinatown, Little Italy). Markets are self-organized and governed by the merchants themselves. Anybody can create a Market by building support for their idea and then submitting a proposal. Every Market has its own management structure and policies. Some are run by a single dedicated member. Others are entirely cooperative.
C & G: There are established and growing Indie marketplaces on the web right now. What sets 1000Markets apart from the others?
MT: My vision for 1000 Markets is philosophically different from existing Internet marketplaces. We do not seek the “giant shopping mall” model. Bigger is not necessarily better. Our focus is on quality, personality, and uniqueness. Our vision is thousands of small, curated specialty Markets, where the highest-quality artisan goods are made available – along with the opportunity to participate in the lives of the artists themselves through blogs and forums. We encourage and delight in our customers’ participation in our community. One new member wrote to me that she felt she “had found her tribe.” That is what 1000 Markets is able to do—enable true global community.
Because 1000 Markets is not one massive marketplace, we will never get “too big” because we are constantly subdividing into right-sized human scale marketplaces that are fashioned to help buyers discover new products, participate in a community, and learn the story behind the merchants who make these special products come to life. 1000 Markets is interested in providing our customers with a pleasurable shopping experience, not a confusing one.
C & G: I know as a business owner, that I have a specific mission when it comes to my products. What is the mission of 1000 Markets?
MT: 1000 Markets provides opportunities for independent, small scale artisan businesses to pool their resources online and sell goods directly to consumers. We do this by enabling thousands of community-driven “people powered” Markets, organized around themes, like handmade jewelry or farm-fresh food. Our goal is to provide a wide variety of specialty products for shoppers – particularly products made using small-scale, handcrafted production techniques or sourced in extraordinary ways – while providing a means for artisan entrepreneurs to pursue their livelihood. We call this Empowering the New Artisan Economy and you can read about it in our 1000 Markets “Minifesto”: Things We Believe.
C & G: I know as a "window shopper" that 1000 Markets is very appealing. I know I'll be spending a great deal of time there because of the great offerings. Where do you see 1000 Markets in 5 years?
MT: Our goal is to enable thousands of community-driven Markets. In aggregate, these marketplaces will represent a significant portion of the retail economy. Just as the ability for anybody to create a blog has shifted power away from large aggregating media sites to smaller niche media players, we believe the ability for anybody to create a marketplace will do the same for ecommerce. Bringing this experience to the online world is an immense but rewarding undertaking.
MT: When I started 1000 Markets, I had a vision for our site, and a belief that I could carry it out. What I didn’t know was how many wonderful people I would meet over the past year, and how enriching their friendship would be to my life and my work. I certainly consider myself a lucky person to be doing something so rewarding. I can’t wait for the launch this spring!Once again, I would like to wish Matt and the whole 1000 Markets community the best of luck in this exciting endeavor!