A rose lip balm created by a former pastry chef, a handmade leather clutch fashioned by the son of a carpenter, and knives with blades repurposed from horseshoe rasps: these are just some of the products featured on a newly-launched website called Madesmith—a platform and online community of makers selling handmade goods. The site has the feel of a virtual flea market where buyers can browse products or click on the profiles of the makers and get to know them through interviews and photographs that reveal both who the artists are and the process by which they create.
For Sumeera Rasul and Sheila Iverson, longtime friends and former colleagues from the advertising world, the business idea evolved from their love for old-fashioned crafts and a natural curiosity to know the story behind what they buy. The partners work in tandem, searching for unique craftsmanship, both in their own communities of Brooklyn, which is according to this NYTimes article “a mythical place where unicorns can fly," as well as Los Angeles, and other parts of America. They take it a step further by working with the artisans to create special versions of the goods available exclusively through their website.
“A lot of them have left their jobs and taken this risk to just focus on doing a craft they are so skilled at and they are so passionate about”, said Iverson, referring to the artisans, “and the fact that we get to be a part of that is such a honor. “They are making things by hand, which a lot of people behind desks dream of doing,” added Rasul. “We get to see that.” Both business partners know the stakes very well. They left their high-powered jobs to work fulltime on launching what they refer to as their passion project.
“We do want to make sure we can sustain it as a business and grow so we can help many makers. But at the end of the day, we love every minute of it,” said Sumeera, “and things made by hand have so much soul in them.” Every week new makers and designers join the community of featured artisans to the virtual marketplace, and with every new product comes another story.
Photo via Madesmith