Welcome to Faire’s Community Spotlight. Every month, Faire highlights impressive members of our community. We share the unique stories, inspirations and strategies that led these talented makers and retailers to success.
Growing up in Turkey, Cansu Cansever was surrounded by beautiful textures and unbelievable colors. But once she relocated to Southern California, she found it difficult to find the same artisanal textiles stateside. After ten years of searching, she returned to her roots and started a company offering high-quality Turkish fabrics.
When she first started The Handloom, she used her sewing machine in the laundry room of her shared house. After making a few Turkish towels, she tried her luck at kimonos. As her interest—and business grew—she traveled to and from Turkey to source more handloomers and to design her own fabrics. For the first four years, she kept inventory in her garage office, and did everything herself: placed tags, packed merchandise, built and maintained a website, shot product photography, and so on.
Now, Cansu has a successful business and proudly partners with Faire. She took some time to talk shop, and what’s ahead:
Faire: What gorgeous pieces you have! How do you maintain your cultural roots in your U.S.-based company?
Cansu Cansever: I travel to Turkey a few times a year to design my own fabrics from scratch and make them unique, which has allowed me to create something completely new for the American market. I use simple designs but very unique fabrics to create The Handloom’s collection. Each The Handloom piece from its kaftans, kimonos, cover-ups to towels and throws have their own stories to tell.
Our customers love feeling the handloomed fabrics and they constantly share their feelings about the softness and uniqueness of these fabrics. They sense the calm and tropical essence behind them. What I really love is when they get the ease and leisure feeling we want them to feel with The Handloom.
Faire: It’s amazing you started at your home, and now you’re selling far and wide. How has your team grown? How have you been able to scale and make The Handloom a successful brand?
CC: I started selling on Etsy. Then I joined craft shows in LA and SF to meet with new customers and spread The Handloom in California. I remember in 2016 I did 24 events. I worked a lot—like day and night—packed my car, got ready early in the morning for these shows. By selling The Handlooom collection in person, I learned my customer profile and got tremendous feedback, which has helped me improve the collections and grow my business. The last two years, I started attending one to two trade shows a year and that has been the final step up in the growth of The Handloom.
Though I only have two people on my team, I work with many people for every detail. I work with a woman-owned tailor group in Turkey and her team has 10 female tailors. I work with five different loomer groups to create our fabrics. I also work with freelancers for various short-term projects.
Faire: We’re proud to have you a part of the Faire community! How would you describe Faire to someone you doesn’t know what it is?
CC: I think Faire is the future for small business owners. Faire is a very easy-to-use online platform that connects makers and boutiques. It helps small businesses so much and creates a win-win situation for both sides. Faire has always listened us on the maker side, as well the retailers, to get feedback on the platform over the years. As a result, the platform has done better and better, providing us an amazing experience. I am a huge fan of Faire from the beginning and how it addresses the needs of small to medium size brands.
Faire: Minimalism seems to be one of the latest and greatest trends. How has that affected your business?
CC: I absolutely love minimal designs as you can see on The Handloom collection and that’s my main focus as well. I am inspired by nature, natural elements, and earthy colors. When I’m in nature I find simple pleasures. California definitely seems to me minimalistic, surrounded by nature and I find it very inspiring. Especially in LA, I can find a lot of like-minded people who enjoys minimalism and natural tones. They embrace The Handloom collection because of its simplicity and serenity.
Faire: You still believe in retail, and in having customers see your products up-close-and-personal. Do you think more people are invested in local, as opposed to digital shopping?
CC: I think people still like to see and feel the products and they enjoy going to curated stores and talking with store owners, because they like to connect with people. I also like going to conceptual and curated stores because it inspires me to see new brands and cool products.
Digital shopping is rapidly growing and with technology everything is so easy these days. Offering free shipping and easy returns helps our customers test out new products easily. I also find more deals online and sometimes I don’t have time to shop around and prefer online shopping for myself.
Faire: What’s the hardest part of your job? How has Faire helped?
CC: Working with Faire over the past year and a half helped my business grow by not only adding in new wholesale accounts but also helping me keep my existing accounts with The Handloom. Right now, 80 percent of our business is wholesale.
Faire Direct benefits, trade show benefits, Net 60 payment term, shipping and return benefits and many more offered by Faire has contributed to The Handloom’s growth.
Last year we reached large amount of orders to ship out, so we started working with a fulfillment service. This has been great on my end not having to deal with the operational part. This way, I had more time to focus on designs and improve the business in creative areas. As a small business owner you can imagine that we don’t have enough budget to hire employees for every department. Faire offers us the sales and accounting department. We rely on Faire to get our payments right away and this helps a lot.
Faire: You’ve seen some awesome growth, and you’ve been able to build a small, effective team. What does that feel like as an entrepreneur?
CC: I love being an entrepreneur and it is definitely a great journey. I love having my own strong team and working with different types of people. It’s been five years since I launched The Handloom, but believe it or not l’m still learning something new everyday. Seeing new problems to solve keeps me excited and fits my personality. We release one collection every year after months of work. Seeing my designs come to life and having them connect with people is worth everything!