We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Shamese Shular a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Shamese thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. One of the things we most admire about small businesses is their ability to diverge from the corporate/industry standard. Is there something that you or your brand do that differs from the industry standard? We’d love to hear about it as well as any stories you might have that illustrate how or why this difference matters.
Our stationery style celebrates the ancient stab binding method that began in 14th century China, and later adopted by Japan. Today, there are variations to the original four-hole method that add additional strength and style. Our stationery comes with both versions depending on the size. It is not common to see a stab bound journal when visiting mainstream stationery stores today, and we are pleased to bring a unique option for writers and artists to express themselves.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
In 2018, I was searching for a creative path to unwind to my numbers-based job. Not sure what I wanted to do, I was browsing YouTube and stumbled upon tutorials for stab binding and fell in love with the stationery style. Not intending to make a business out of it at the time, it was a fun craft that I started to explore. Since then, Artisaan has been invited to nearly 40 indie shops, retreat centers and museums around the United States, with two stores in Canada.
We have an amazing following for those who enjoy this specialty stationery style, and for fall/winter 2022, we will be releasing a new line of wire-bound stationery for those who enjoy the traditional style. This stationery will focus on water-resistant, eco-friendly covers, with beautiful foil embossing.
Artisaan also offers a limited supply of other desk and organization accessories, primarily designed in Japan.
Have you ever had to pivot?
There have been many pivots since Artisaan began. Name changes, how and where we sell, materials we use, how we utilize social media and managing mental health around this, as well as coming to a new understanding of how we want to focus our efforts. The latest phase of our company has included returning to a classic style. We were experimenting with lots of fabric options in the past but it felt right to turn back to beautiful solid fabrics and bring the focus back to the binding style.
It has made so much sense for our business.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about selling platforms like Amazon/Etsy vs selling on your own site.
Our ecommerce has changed over the years. We started through Instagram DMs, then started a Squarespace, switched to Shopify, then switched back to Squarespace. Though Shopify has so many bells and whistles built in, Squarespace resonated more with not only our look, but our overall flow of how we like to process orders, our blog, and more.
For wholesale, we currently use Faire. Although not a fan of the fees (which can be avoided, but isn’t always possible), we get much more exposure and find that the exposure and order potential helps it make sense. On Faire, we also have different fabric choices for covers vs what is on our “retail” site at Squarespace.
We also have an Etsy shop and get sales occasionally.
In the beginning, it might be a good idea to try a few different ways to sell products, and also decide what will be wholesale vs retail exclusive listings.
- Website: www.artisaan.co