Manon Martin and Louis Durocher, the husband and wife team behind Chic & Basta, know a thing or two about curating a great shop. OK, make that a thing or 500, since that’s how many items they currently showcase in their incredible online shop. Bringing together the best makers and handmade good from Quebec is a huge undertaking, but these two do it with style.
I’m hoping that 2017 is the year that more of you discover the fine shopping experience that is Chic & Basta.. I’m showcasing some of their great finds in our shop and on social media. Take a look at some hightlights below and get to know the talented duo behind the virtual counter.
What inspired you to begin Chic & Basta?
Well, we identified the need for the designers and craftsmen of Quebec to have more visibility online. Our background being in web marketing for the last 20 years we decided to start the Chic & Basta project to fill this need. Our goal is really to provide designers, craftsmen and small manufacturers of Quebec an efficient and elegant showcase and marketing support to advertise and sell their products online.
The response from the designers and the makers as so far been extremely positive. Everyone is telling us that there are very excited by our projects and that it fills a gap.
The shop is online since May 2015 and we are very proud of what we have done so far. Sure, they are places like Etsy that sell handmade stuff, but the quality is not always equal, to say the least, so our focus is really to curate a collection of objects we really like, that are authentic, handmade or made in small series, and that are rather contemporary. We want to take the dust out of the perception that handmade objects are either “kitsch” or “hippies” stuff.
“After more than 20 years working in communications and web marketing, we founded Chic & Basta on the simple idea of supporting and promoting the independent Quebec creators who produce handmade design objects (or manufactured in small batch runs), that are authentic, contemporary and of great aesthetic beauty.
Traveling the world of creators, we select a carefully curated collection of beautiful and practical products for your home and your table. Our ambition in this new adventure is for Chic & Basta to become an ambassador for the contemporary creators of Quebec.
We hope to showcase Quebec artists by sharing with you our passion for their work, and their love of beautiful, unique objects, objects made to last.”
Describe your curation process. Where do you start?
We go online a lot and look for inspiration. We look at a lot of curated shops for ideas for our own venture, creative ideas, marketing tips, etc. And of course, we also look around a lot to find news designers and makers in Quebec. A lot of them don’t have websites, or websites that are very difficult to find, so we keep making new discoveries.
How do you maintain your creative drive?
We keep reminding ourselves that we are very fortunate to do what we do, to meet all those very creative people. We also want very much to succeed so that idea keeps up running 😉
What are some of the challenges that you face as a shop owner?
Our main challenge of course is to get Chic & Basta known. The marketing part is not that easy, and we are convinced that we have to get out of Quebec to find a broader audience. I especially believe that being a bilingual site is somewhat problematic. So maybe one day we will have to think about putting the English version up and front. But for now we hesitate, because we feel like it would be like a form of treason regarding the French culture of Quebec.
“We love and look for perfectly imperfect objects, small series, small productions, high-quality objects that combine simplicity of function and aesthetics.
In presenting the products and the portraits of their creators, we want to create a connection between lovers of beautiful objects and those who make them: Quebec designers, artisans and small manufacturers.
We believe that a people’s soul is expressed in their objects and craft, that handmade objects or products of local artisans, design objects made in small series, are more beautiful, last longer, and ultimately provide more satisfaction than goods mass produced by industrial society.
Our selection has a preference for creators and Quebec artists who focus on quality rather than quantity, and who create contemporary objects.”
How do you use social media and blogging to promote Chic & Basta?
We use Facebook a lot, even if it’s frustrating to see that the more your audience grows, the more Facebook is enticing you to use its paid solutions. Our budget is limited. We are also on Twitter and Pinterest and we are starting to explore Instagram. I know it’s important to grow the audience with serendipity, but it is rather time consuming.
As for the blog and the newsletter, for the moment we try to focus on portraits of the artisans we showcase. Our goal is to write at least a portrait every month. We interview the makers; we go to their studio or workplace to take photographs, if it’s possible. That is part of our mission, we don’t want to only sell objects, but we want to show the work, the dedication and the passion that is behind those objects. These are not anonymous objects, manufactured in a faraway country just to be bought, consumed and thrown away. The objects we sell have a soul, they tell a story, a love of the things well done; they are part of what we are as a people.
Where do you see Chic & Basta going?
What we really would like is the shop to grow so we can make a decent living out of it. We are thinking big: we want it to be the reference where people will look to find made by hand objects, furniture and design pieces. As far as projects, we want to be able to present exclusive creations, objects that will be created and available only on our shop.