It is now, while writing these lines, that I realise how much of the initial idea for the Dorian House Marketplace has grown and evolved, over the past couple of years.
It can all be pretty much dated back to a trip I did over the Christmas period to Singapore.
I was taking a long walk down the historical Orchard Road, and I remember to feel overwhelmed by the amount of shopping centres they have built there, all lined up one after another, with barely any space left between them.
Like any good tourist, I spent countless hours visiting their interiors, impressed with the perfectly balanced mix of shops and restaurants, excited to find new brands and products.
It was then I have noticed the large amount of European products they had in stock. Corridors and corridors, packed to the top.
But there I was, with one question stuck in my mind, growing in me an uncomfortable feeling.
Where is all the good stuff?
Surely those were not the best European products that could be offered abroad, specially looking at the retail price they were being sold for.
We can argue as much as you want about shipping costs, import taxes, customs regulations, and so on, but something was just not adding up.
I found myself surrounded in most cases by a collection of synthetic and low quality materials, overinflated prices and misleading interior labels.
A bit of background
I have dedicated my life to technology and digital marketing, but I have always been fascinated by traditional craftsmanship and its many forms and applications.
I can spend countless hours admiring the simplicity yet functionality of a 20th century Danish chair, or trying to imagine the story behind a rough pair of hands which have worked the leather for years and have perfected the technique close enough to be considered an art.
I grew up in Llucmajor (Spain), surrounded by local businesses, where knowledge, passion and skills, were passed from father to son.
In my little Majorquin town, there was not a single person who didn’t know or wasn’t related to someone working in the leather shoe making industry.
Back to work
After my trip to Singapore, back in London, I found myself tangled in a personal quest. To understand the reasons behind the overwhelming low quality of some of the European products being sold abroad, or the distant and detached price of those same products, when taken from the maker to the retailer.
Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe one of the main goals of any private business is the pursue and creation of wealth, but when done in a sustainable way and above all, when the interests of the business are kept closely aligned with the interests of its customers.
After months of research on the topic, I arrived to the conclusion that independent makers were the ones offering the perfect balance between quality and price.
Independent designers and makers
When you first hear the stories behind some of our designers’ and makers’ work-life, you start to understand the hidden drives and motivations making this group of professionals so particular and special.
They are businesses, but often they don’t behave as such, as they are driven by a continuous self-improvement, legacy making spirit. Sales and profits are an essential part to the business, but the pride and passion they put in what they do, is what keeps the business growing.
They are mainly local, often family-run. They source the quality fabrics and materials they use on their products from their regional surroundings, at an adapted price, due to the long-lasting relationship built up through the years with their providers.
The manufacturing, in most cases, is done above or behind their storefront, by a small but highly skilled team of workers.
The next generation of European designers and makers are taking over their parents’ workshops, knowing well, in order to succeed, they need to preserve the traditional skills and values, but keep an eye on the modern world, dominated by online sales and social media.
The problem is, luxury brands and fast retailers are currently dominating the international retail landscape and have strongly pushed back the independent sector.
Independent often means you don’t have access to large amounts of capital to constantly invest in logistics and advertisement.
Nowadays, it is rare to find a business without a website or a social media profile, but more than often, the message put out there is missed or ignored by the general public. This is mainly due to the lack of time and expertise required to get across the right message to the customers, at the right time, every time, through the right channels.
In January 2018, the Dorian House Marketplace was officially registered, after two extend years of hard work and preparations, for two main reasons:
First, to give the opportunity to customers around the world to experience the European lifestyle through our products, without paying extraordinary prices and with the absolute guarantee that only the best quality materials and manufacturing skills have been used to make those products.
Second, to create an online place where independent European designers and makers can have a strong unified voice to compete with other producers.
At Dorian House, we look after all the challenges independents designers and makers face on a daily basis, specially in regards online marketing, sales and international logistics, so they can focus on doing what they are exceptionally good at, producing high quality, long-lasting enjoyable products.
By removing these layers of complexity between the maker and the customer, we are able to deliver European products to the customer’ doorstep, at a competitive price, while maintaining high quality standards on both, the product and the service.
How are we able to achieve this?
At Dorian House we are developing a marketplace using the latest technologies and advancements available in the market today, especially in the fields of data analysis and artificial intelligence.
We are automating most of the tasks involved in promoting, selling and sending goods abroad, with Alfie, our Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered engine, so our team can focus instead on finding new independent talents, engage with customers in better ways and keep improving the technologies running the marketplace.
We are crowdfunding
The marketplace is currently in its final stage of development and will be available, to the public of certain markets (United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom and European Union countries), from the 1st of November 2018.
In the meantime, we are running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to ask for your support to raise funds to open up to more customers, makers and markets.
We are offering a large range of gift cards and subscription boxes, at a discounted price and with additional benefits, in order to raise the desired capital.
For any questions you may have, do not hesitate to contact us.