Founder Lawrence Parnis created Craftbay Marketplace in December 2012. Craftbay Marketplace is an online community that sells handmade Irish arts, crafts and fashionable goods. People can log on to find all things Irish to buy and sell, as well as chat with each other, all of which promotes Irish craft sellers which in turn promotes Irish crafts all around the world. I sat down with founder Lawrence to discuss his great Irish creation.
Killer Fashion: Congratulations on launching Craftbay Marketplace! What exactly inspired you to launch it?
Lawrence: I regularly work at various outdoor events like farmers markets, outdoor festivals and also exhibitions. I immediately recognized a gap in the market for exhibiting craftspeople to replicate this trading experience online. Our surveys revealed Irish craft producers and designers were screaming out for an umbrella portal like Craftbay Marketplace, so I set up this e-commerce platform for crafts businesses to sell their products collectively whilst creating a global online audience of buyers for the Irish craft community. We extensively researched that over 90% of Irish consumers buy online from sites that are based outside of Ireland. We really need to take note of this and start getting people to buy more Irish products online.
KF: With similar websites like Etsy, ASOS Marketplace and the Irish Hub Marketplace, what makes Craftbay different?
Lawrence: Craftbay is like an Etsy craft community from Ireland. To the average craftsperson, showcasing on Etsy means having a high degree of competition. (There are over 880,000 active shops worldwide!) So this is how Craftbay differs… Craftbay is growing every day with a great supply of unique Irish-only handmade products, which will be attractive to the Irish diaspora. We believe just a few thousand Irish craft producers on our Irish platform makes for viable content and a decent seller base. For Craftbay it’s not the quantity of sellers but the quality and authenticity of goods driven by the desire from buyers globally to purchase a handmade Irish gift.
Some of our competitors have been running for over two years and only have 30-50 sellers registered. Whereas since our launch in November, we’ve had an amazing 250+ registered sellers, with an average of 10 new ones coming on per week. We hope to pass any online site for Irish crafts and be on page one of Google for craft products in Ireland!
KF: Does Craftbay focus more on the arts & crafts of the fashion world, rather than clothing?
Lawrence: No, not necessarily. Craftbay Marketplace has a variety of categories that suit a wide range of buyers & sellers from Art, Household & Living, Clothing and even Craft Supplies. We are a one-stop shop for handmade products from Ireland, from the large established handmade producers to the small cottage industry home designer.
KF: How would you describe your own fashion style?
Lawrence: I’m trendy and modern; I tend to wear jeans & a shirt, and sometimes with a nice blazer.
KF: On Facebook, your page has 750+ Likes and your Twitter has over 2,200 Followers. Do you think these social platforms have helped you boost traffic & popularity the Craftbay?
Lawrence: When we started contacting sellers in May, we simply called them and explained what Craftbay was about. Soon we realized there had to be a better way of getting sellers on board. So we joined in on the social platforms! This change has been of great benefit to Craftbay in driving sellers to join us. To be honest, every business needs to develop a social media strategy for their business to help them target their potential clients. Since we have implemented this social & marketing plan, sellers are coming to us!
KF: What has been the highlight of the past year for you & Craftbay?
Lawrence: This has been a great roller coaster ride! I’m a very positive thinking person and believe in Craftbay; that it can help drive sales in the Irish craft industry. There have been many times in the development process when I thought ‘can we actually do this?’ but with the great team that I have around me, we all found the strength to push forward. It is only the start, and we have Stages Two and Stage Three already planned. But we now need to start driving traffic to the website and start showing sellers that Craftbay Marketplace is the best e-commerce site to showcase their handmade craft & designer products in Ireland.
KF: What exciting plans have you in store for the next few months?
Lawrence: We will soon be announcing our online affiliate partners, that combined have approximately 6 million visitors per month. We are also in the process of developing iOS, Android and iPad apps, as well as the implementation of Stage Two and of course driving sales for our buyers & making Craftbay a household name for Irish crafts & design.
KF: What would you like to be doing in 5 years’ time?
Lawrence: To be honest I’m a very active guy and like getting my teeth into businesses and watching them grow. I would like to create a top end site; where small producers from home can generate a steady income, where they can make a living from their passion of arts, crafts and design and help support the growing cottage industry in Ireland.