While consumers increasingly embrace the artisan economy and go hunting for hand-made items on Etsy, most wouldn’t consider themselves capable of making their craft a profession. And many don’t know where to start even if they had the DIY bug.
But the options are growing for curious would-be makers including a new box of the month service called For the Makers, a New York City startup founded by two former designers. The company, which just opened to the public in December after a private beta, offers a monthly collection of four craft and design projects that can be purchased for $29 a month. Users can make their own necklaces, accessories and baubles by following clear step-by-step directions, which can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to complete. The service delivers boxes anywhere in the U.S.
The emergence of companies like For the Makers highlights the growing interest in DIY box services, which help empower newbies to try their hand at different projects. Brit + Co., created by Path founder Dave Morin’s wife Brit, also puts out a DIY box and new food services like Blue Apron, Fresh Dish and Plated are getting first-time cooks into the kitchen. These services lower the bar for users by packaging all the materials into a box and letting them learn by following simple directions.
For the Makers came together a little over a year ago when friends and former Fashion Institute of Technology graduates Janet Crowther and Katie Covington looked at hatching a business together. Crowther was a design consultant for brands like Kate Spade, Fossil and Marc Jacobs while Covington designed jewelry collections for brands like Anthropologie and Target. The two, both DIYers themselves, realized that there’s a growing interest in users making their own stuff to express their tastes, but most people didn’t have the tools to get started.
So the pair started creating their own boxes by tapping their design inspirations. They are making thousands of boxes and have consistently sold out, including their latest December box. The pair has also secured retail deals with Anthropologie, which is now offering its own For the Makers box to consumers and Gilt City, which is selling discounted For the Makers subscriptions to its users. The service has also gotten the attention of Foursquare co-founder Naveen Selvadurai, who is advising the company and whose girlfriend Mari Sheibley, former Foursquare lead designer, has also been providing design advice.
While box of the month clubs have become trendy, and garnered some negative coverage, Crowther and Covington believe they have a business that can last. The two are able to keep costs low because of their connections to local suppliers. They’re able to call upon their design experience to create things that people actually want to use and wear. And they’re finding that the service is spreading well by word of mouth, with both first-time crafted and experienced DIY makers.
“We’re taking people who are not necessarily crafters but people interested in curating what they’re wearing and we’re saying there’s no reason why you have to go Anthropologie and buy that. You can make it yourself,” said Covington.
For the Makers will have to prove it can build a sustaining business off its DIY boxes and services, which can be harder when you start to scale up. But I’d like to see this particular trend grow. From 3D printing and coding classes on the techie side to more services like Etsy and Shopify which are encouraging makers to become sellers, there’s more tools to help encourage the overall maker movement. Not everyone wants to make their own stuff, but the barriers are falling for those that do.