Piece & Co.

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Piece & Co.

Chicago, United StatesIndia
Year Founded:
2011
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Scaling
Budget: 
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Piece & Co. creates sustainable employment for women artisans around the world by connecting their unique product to brands and retailers like Nike, J.Crew, and Nordstrom.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if the artisan industry, the 2nd largest employer in the developing world that's drastically underemployed leaving millions at the poverty line, was connected to a market that not only offered large volume orders but also resources required for scale
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

While artisan craftsmanship offers authentic product and high consumer demand, the industry remains stuck in the informal sector. Current solutions in the market miss the mark: for consumers the products lack fashionable aesthetic, accessible price, & consistent quality; for artisans there is no access to large orders, high quality resources, nor sufficient training.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Piece & Co has developed a methodology that takes artisan cooperatives into our model at varying levels of business sophistication and enables them to scale via a mix of custom technology, training, and best-in-class resources.When artisan groups enter the supply chain we identify if they meet our compliance standards and onboard them onto our custom technology. Once onboarded, our artisan groups receive the necessary tools, and trainings to fill large-scale orders. In addition, the artisan groups become part of our global network and are able to access resources, such as volume raw material discounts, design innovations, and logistics solutions. Alongside this framework, artisan businesses receive orders to support their business.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Piece & Co’s collaboration with Nordstrom to create the “She Makes It” 32-piece collection of apparel and handbags by Tory Burch, DVF, Alice + Olivia, The Honest Co., Rebecca Minkoff, Current/Elliott, and Theory is an excellent example of how Piece & Co’s unique supply chain approach makes a difference in the lives of female artisans. Each brand worked with Piece & Co to source handmade fabrics. Within the artisan partnerships, Piece & Co.’s on the ground staff works to manage and train groups on the expectations of the western marketplace, ensuring that orders are not only delivered on time but also that each group is growing throughout the process.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Piece & Co provides market access and sustainable employment for female artisans in 45 artisan groups operating in 15 developing countries. In just four short years, Piece & Co has provided over 400 bulk orders to artisan groups, from more than 45 brands and retailers, resulting in sustainable jobs for female artisans. We estimate that an average order from a brand can employ between 75 and 100 artisans for two to three months. This, in turn, impacts the lives of 300 to 400 people, from children to community members. We estimate of our impact to date as employing 40,000 artisans in 15 countries. These artisans are the primary earners for their families, and they invest 90% of their income into their families by putting healthy food on the table, financing their children’s education, and providing necessary preventative health care. When you invest in a woman, you invest in her family.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Piece & Co. continues to innovate in how we maximize our impact with the artisan groups and the artisans we work with. The main strategies to maximize and scale our impact moving forward are as follows: (1) continuing to grow the marketplace for our artisan partners; (2) grow our model in new countries and regions; (3) spearhead industry collaboration on social and environmental compliance standards to continue moving artisan manufacturing out of the niche and into the mainstream marketplace.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Piece & Co. is a for-profit business-to-business model that earns revenue from customers to sustainably support our work. Piece & Co. raises investments for key growth.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are NGOs, member organizations, online retailers, and other businesses addressing the problem of lack of market access for artisans in the developing world. Piece & Co’s supply chain methodology is unique as it uses a market-based approach by satisfying both the needs of the artisan groups and the global fashion brands and retailers. There are many players in the space, many of whom we see as more indirect competitors and collaborators.
Team

Founding Story

"What's one thing that would make your life better?" It’s this simple question that encouraged Kathleen Wright to launch Piece & Co. in 2011 while working for an artisan-focused nonprofit. The more she spoke with female artisans, the more Kathleen realized sustainable employment was the only way to pull these women out of poverty. No amount of business training or microloans could satisfy artisans' need for secure jobs without a bigger marketplace. Once Kathleen made it her mission to build a business that enabled for artisan products to scale, she quickly discovered brands that were looking for authentic alternatives to factory-produced fabrics and accessories.

Team

Piece & Co.'s team is broken down into a sales and marketing team who serve the brand customers and consumer engagement, a product team that elevates our product design, and a global supply chain team that works directly with our artisan partners around the work to build capacity, manage production orders, and create impact. In total, Piece & Co. has 20 employees.
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]

Raw Materials, Manufacturing, Consumption.

Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]

Sourcing Manager / Supply Chain Manager, Supplier - contractor, Supplier - subcontractor, Trading Company Representative.

Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]

Auditors, Brands, Consumers, Corporations, Designers, Retailers - Department Store, Retailers - Specialty Store, Retailers - Mass-merchandise Chain, Retailers - Discount Chain, Sourcing Manager / Supply Chain Manager, Supplier - contractor, Supplier - subcontractor, Trading Companies, Women.

● Intervention Focus: What are you trying to achieve / influence? [check all that apply]

Access to Finance, Conscious Consumerism, Transparency, Other, [please specify].

Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.

Capacity Building, Standards, Training.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Consumers Aren't Motivated to Care: Neither Compelling Reasons Nor Easy Means to Change Consumption Habits.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Disrupt Business as Usual: Target Key Players Who Can Influence the Bottom Line.

Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?

yes

If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?

● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?
Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?

Yes, we aim to inspire our artisan partners to be growing, job-creating businesses and our artisan women to be community leaders

● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?

Key partners in elevating artisan practice and product, including mills, testing houses, audit partners, and like minded brands.

Comments

Sonia Agarwal's picture

Hello, I really respect the cause that you are working with. Its great that consumers can enjoy the brands & the designers design sustainably. Please help me answer how much more expensive is it to have the products manufactured by these artisans? This is critical for long term sustainability. Also each of these designers usually have very specific designs, how do you ensure that the artisans have these skill sets? What about the sourcing of the materials and machinery/tools for the processing? Again, Wonderful cause, will certainly like to keep in touch.

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