“Our mission is to uncover the provenance of the things we wear and love: Where does it come from? Who made it? Where do the materials come from?”
These are the questions that Jaron Soh, founder of Artisan & Fox ethical marketplace, strives to answer for customers who come to his website. Artisan & Fox sells clothing, jewellery and homewares, designed and made collaboratively with artisans from the Middle East, South East Asia and Central Africa.
“We work with artisans across the world to connect them to international customers and preserve culture,” says Jaron, 26 (pictured above, right). “We have a collaborative, bespoke approach and we do a lot of co-designing together. We try to add some of our contemporary design flavours while respecting the artisans’ autonomy.” The products are sold on the Artisan & Fox website and Jaron uses Starling to manage the finances of the business.
A global marketplace
Jaron works in London with one other team member. A further three team members work a second office in Singapore, where they have their warehouse.
The team uses their Starling bank account to pay artisan invoices and process wholesale orders from British retailers. It will also be using the account for its upcoming online festive shop, created in association with the UN, and its 2020 pop-up store in London. The pop-up store is called #ForHumanity.
Artisan & Fox was founded in 2015, while Jaron was still at the London School of Economics (LSE) doing an undergraduate degree in management. Initially, he set up the business as a marketplace to source and sell products directly through the website. “But we quickly realised it didn’t work. A lot of the crafts, though beautiful, weren’t made of great materials and so they didn’t last. That’s why we came up with collaborative designs to create better products that are a fusion of cultures.” The result? Beautiful objects that last.
Knowing your sources
An example of a collaborative design is the Amal tee-shirt, made by Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Artisan & Fox source organic cotton tee-shirts with a UK partner and the artisans, trained by local nonprofit named TKS, embroider the word ’Amal’ in gold thread. “Amal means hope. So the artisans are literally embroidering hope as they work,” he says.