| Jun 9, 2014 |
New website connects makers to consumers
Boh staff
By Staff

Holly Becker of Decor8 and Kate Watson-Smyth of Mad About the House are among the 70 tastemakers curating handmade goods at GREAT.LY, a new social shopping platform. The site went live last month with 60 boutiques and 300 makers selling $1.1 million in merchandise.

Sarah Bryden-Brown

Founder and CEO of GREAT.LY Sarah Bryden-Brown, whose background is in journalism (she was a Donna Hay editor), wanted to introduce a targeted sales channel for the rapid growth of small manufacturing, niche, artisan and handmade goods.

GREAT.LY has raised more than $500K from private investors with the goal to grow to 1,000 tastemakers selected from across the globe, reaching combined page views of 200 million within the next year. Its current network garners over 30 million page views per month.

GREAT.LY tastemakers part of the initial launch

Who selects the tastemakers, how are the products sourced and how does this all come to fruition? This reporter talked with Bryden-Brown to get the scoop.

What is the idea behind the site?

Solving the problem for creatives to be able to use the Internet to control their revenue flow. Makers are great at making, and tastemakers (bloggers or existing sites) are best at discovering, connecting and sharing. If the two can be combined, and share in the revenue that comes from their connections, then both can be in charge of how often and how much revenue is made via their talents and hard work. The beauty of the GREAT.LY model is that neither needs to compromise on authenticity, quality or integrity to make a healthy income.

Why the name GREAT.LY?

I wanted a site that was global from the start. The word great contains a sense of something bigger than you and me, something impressive, done better. And to underline that, rather than obtaining a .com I purchased the .ly address, which adds a bespoke touch, creating a memorable URL. It’s clever, short and sweet, and it’s what we’re all about. No www—just GREAT.LY.

Sage half crossed walnut bowl made by Araya Jensen, $45

What was missing from the market that you think this site now fills?

Tastemakers are a powerful force online, motivating the purchasing habits of millions of people worldwide daily, yet no one has made them central to an online shopping site where makers go to sell their fabulous products.

How do you go about choosing the tastemakers? What are you looking for?

All of our tastemakers are personally approved based on their experience, aesthetic, influence and commitment to updating their GREAT.LY boutique regularly.

What type of product are you looking for? Is that up to the tastemaker?

Tastemakers are encouraged to invite the makers they would like to stock, be that as an exclusive or site wide placement, as well as work on collaborative partnerships to create something new. We are talking with a number of brands about partnering with our tastemakers and makers, too, to design product lines to their specifications.

Beach gang print (11x11") made by Lisa Golightly, $35

What's the price point range of products on GREAT.LY?

Pricing varies across makers. Small leather accessories made by Son of A Sailor out of Austin start at $20. Ceramic vases by Jill Rosenwald in Boston range from $40-185. Then at the top end of the price range, bespoke Australian wool throws, hand-knitted by Little Dandelion in Sydney, are available for $2,000.

What is the breakdown of revenue from sales on the site?

With a transparent revenue model, GREAT.LY shoppers see just where their money is going. Tastemakers, who already spend their days searching the world for beautiful things to write about, can finally setup shop to share those finds and make a profit, earning 30% of every purchase made through their boutique, plus an additional 5% for sales across the site from shoppers they bring to the platform. Makers receive 50% of sales, and a built-in global sales channel. GREAT.LY receives between 15-20% of the sale.

Who are the team members behind GREAT.LY?

GREAT.LY has global roots with diverse backgrounds, replanted in New York City. I’m an Australian expat living in New York for the past five years. Flora Lels, Chief Revenue Officer, is an accomplished digital marketing executive with over 12 years experience; Griff Fairbairn, Head of Operations, began her career as a financial journalist in London; Danielle Krysa, Creative Director, was born in Vancouver and has lived all over Canada, she has been working as a designer/creative director for over 16 years; and Paul Burger, Chief Product Officer, dedicated much of his career to the film industry and started two e-commerce sites which he later sold.

Extreme handknitted woolen cabled throw made by Jacqui Fink, $2,000

Where do you see the site in say, 10 years?

I would like to see us having created a global phenomenon that connects makers and tastemakers to allow each to grow and be more successful as a result of working together on the GREAT.LY platform. We hope GREAT.LY becomes a place where shoppers from around the world know they can find beautiful and unique goods; a place where makers around the world know their beautiful products will be appreciated and find a market, and a place that rewards influencers for what they have always done so well, being a constant source of discovery and delight.

Interested in becoming a GREAT.LY tastemaker? Interior designers, design bloggers and other lifestyle professionals are welcome to apply online.

GREAT.LY also invites makers to join the site based on being one of the following: hand-made, artisanal, small batch manufacturing and/or owner operated. All makers need to be set up to ship, and the site offers “Shipping Easy” as a partner to help make shipping seamless.

Want to stay informed? Sign up for our newsletter, which recaps the week’s stories, and get in-depth industry news and analysis each quarter by subscribing to our print magazine. Join BOH Insider for discounts, workshops and access to special events such as the Future of Home conference.