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Honoring Independent Retailer Month With the Faire Community

July 26, 2022 | Published by Faire

Shoppers at Rare Device in San Francisco, CA

July is Independent Retailer Month—a time when consumers are encouraged to shop local and celebrate the independent shop owners that make their communities unique. In recognition of independent retailers everywhere, we’re highlighting a few of the creative and resilient shop owners from the Faire community.

Bocu

Founded in 2017 by Kristin Fisher, e-commerce gift shop and custom gifting studio Bocu makes it easy and affordable to send gifts without losing the thoughtfulness and intention of a hand-wrapped present. The idea came to Kristin after years of sending gifts to friends and family around the country that were often unwrapped and shipped directly from retailers due to time constraints. She decided to create a company that made it easier to send a thoughtful gift without the hassle of buying it in person, wrapping it, and heading to the post office.

Faire: What is your favorite thing about being part of the independent retailer community?

Kristin Fisher: My favorite part is connection and community with not only our customers but other shop owners. I have 15+ years of experience as a buyer in corporate retail and 4 years as a small business owner. The ability to connect so easily to customers is something I don’t take for granted, and nothing can compare to the community and support between shop owners.

Faire: How can people support independent retailers like yourself?

KF: The simplest act of telling a friend about your favorite shop or tagging them on social media can actually move the needle for an independent retailer. Or better yet, sign up for their email lists and forward one of their emails to someone you know would love the shop as much as you do. We haven’t spent a single dollar on advertising yet and it’s because we have an amazing community of customers that help us grow.

Faire: What have been some of your favorite finds on Faire?

We’ve been a Faire retailer since we launched in 2018, and it has been so fun to watch the brands evolve on the platform. For me, the hunt for women-owned products that will resonate with our customers and custom-gifting clients is what lights me up! We source primarily from women-owned makers and Faire makes that so easy. A few of our favorites are Thulisa Naturals, Tea With Tae, Confetti Riot, Idlewild Co, and Moglea.

Faire: What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self? 

KF: For the love of God, get out of your own way. You have a dream or a great idea that you’ve been sitting on, but you wait and think and wait some more…just do it! Owning a small business is all about trial and error. Testing is key and that’s the beauty of being an independent retailer—we have the ability to think up an idea on a Monday and launch it on a Tuesday. By standing in your own way and waiting for perfection to come, you could be sitting on a gold mine that could transform your business. 

Faire: What advice would you give entrepreneurs who are thinking about opening their own shop? 

KF: First of all–do it! But start with your research. I also offer retail strategy coaching and always tell my pre-launch clients to start with a business plan framework, like the free SBA Business Plan template, that forces you to dig deep and set your business up for long-term success. Before you launch into the sexy side of launching a shop, you need to create a solid foundation that will ultimately be your brand guide as you grow.

Visit Bocu online and follow them on Instagram.

Rare Device

Rare Device is a woman and POC-owned artist-focused gift store and gallery in San Francisco, California. The company was founded in 2005 by Rena Tom and purchased by the current owner, Giselle Gyalzen, in 2011. Every object in the store has its own story and was chosen because it’s either handmade, well-designed, useful, beautiful, or all of the above. The gallery within the storefront also hosts rotating art shows and community events.

Faire: What is your favorite thing about being part of the independent retailer community?

Giselle Gyalzen: We love building relationships not only with our customers but also with the artists and makers who make the things we sell. We are proud to be a part of supporting the livelihood of up-and-coming and established talent alike. We also love being able to give them another platform to show and sell their work.

Faire: How can people support independent retailers like yourself?

GG: The easiest and most direct way is buying from us! Supporting us with your dollars goes a long way, from being able to employ creative people in the community to being able to keep buying more products from artists and makers. It’s a proven fact that small businesses reinvest their money back into the community, so it’s really a win-win for everyone. Another way to support us is to tell your friends about us, either through word of mouth or social media.

Faire: What have been some of your favorite finds on Faire?

GG
: We found Mo&Co Home’s beautiful, simple, modern taper candles on Faire and were even more excited to find out she’s based nearby in Pacific Grove, CA. We have also really enjoyed discovering new card and stationery vendors like Someday Studio and MELLOWWORKS.

Faire: What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

GG: You don’t have to know all the answers right at the beginning of the business. Show up, do your best, learn from your mistakes, and keep putting one foot in front of the other with intention.

Faire: What advice would you give entrepreneurs who are thinking about opening their own shop?

GG
: Location is key in the brick-and-mortar retail world. You may save some money on rent for that location that’s off the beaten path, but if you can find a space with good foot traffic in a neighborhood within your target demographic, the higher rent is almost always worth it.

Visit Rare Device online and follow them on Instagram.

Hiraeth Cynefin

Hiraeth Cynefin—founded in 2021 by Catriona Harris—is an independent retail business focused on zero-waste products. The idea for the company came when Catriona grew concerned about the amount of packaging that came with the products she sold through her other business, Chestnut Ridge. As she started to move toward a zero-waste lifestyle she struggled to find many zero-waste items, and thus Hiraeth Cynefin was born. The company has found success selling zero-waste products ranging from cleaning supplies and hair care to jewelry and candles.

Faire: What is your favorite thing about being part of the independent retailer community?

Catriona Harris: I love the support you get from other small businesses. Everyone is always willing to help and offer tips and tricks. If you need someone to mind your stall for a few minutes, someone is always willing to do it. Everyone is extremely supportive as they all have the same struggles. I also love being able to see everyone else’s products. Every time I go to an event I come back with something new!

Faire: What have been some of your favorite finds on Faire? 

CH: Faire is an amazing resource that allows me to quickly and easily access brands all over the world, and I love all the brands we stock, but some firm favorites include Axol & Friends, The Natural Spa Cosmetics, SustanimalsSafari Ltd., and Legler.

Faire: What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

CH: Have more confidence in what you are doing and just go for it. There is no benefit to being timid in business. If 17-year-old-me could see 31-year-old-me, they would be incredibly impressed.

Faire: What advice would you give entrepreneurs who are thinking about opening their own shop?

CH: Don’t ignore the boring stuff. Ideas, creativity, buying products—that’s all fun but the other bits are really important as well. Research your market and find out what will sell, understand how the tax system works, and keep quality accounts from day one. Most importantly, have a work-life balance. It’s so easy when you’re self-employed to let it take over your life. Running a business is fun, so let it stay that way by giving yourself boundaries and appreciating things outside of work, even if it’s just taking the dogs for a walk in the afternoon. 

Visit Hiraeth Cynefin online and follow them on Instagram.

Learn more about Catriona’s other business, Chestnut Ridge.


Join us on Instagram @faire_europe at 12 PM GMT on Wednesday, July 27 for a live conversation with independent retail expert and CEO of the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), Andrew Goodacre.

Shop from featured retailers’ favorite brands and more on Faire.

New to Faire? Click here to learn more.

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