Interview with Mary Gervais
Artisans list is a niche directory for traditional home restoration, craftsmanship and farm-to-table sources. Mary and her team currently work with 3600 businesses that practice traditional handcrafted methods of building and making. No matter if you are living in a city, the suburbs or the country, there is an increasing awareness of reusing old materials to bring character and history into old or new homes. Included in this movement is the desire to eat natural food, preferably fresh and/or local. Visit Artisans List online
Hi Mary! Could you please introduce Artisans List and what led to your co-founding the company back in 2017?
I'm Mary Gervais and I'm one of the co-founders of Artisans List. Artisans List is an online resource directory for traditional home restoration, craftsmanship and farm to table sources. Hi, I'm Cindy Bogart, I am the other co-founder of Artisans List. We started Artisans List because when I was a magazine editor for Better Homes and Gardens, I realised that people weren't able to find the sources that they need in the traditional home restoration field. Mary and I got together and we decided to start the site to include a directory and then a whole magazine section and a conversation section so, people could actually share their ideas and bring all these great old ways of doing things back to today.
What separates Artisans List from other online retail directories?
First of all, we're very niche. We focus on three major areas, traditional home restoration, craftsmanship and, farm to table resources. The other thing that makes us very different from the other directories, is that you normally would put in what you're looking for, we put in the vendor or the craftsman first. We want you to discover them, their story and then find their products and what they can do for you because they all have a different story and so do you. By using them or working with them or discovering them, you could help build your own story in your own home. That's what the Artistans List is all about.
What has been the response from the community regarding Artisans List? Who have been some of the biggest proponents of the list?
The response for Artisans List has been phenomenal. Our mission is to help small businesses grow and as an entrepreneur and former director of the Rhode Island Women's Business Centre, I understand clearly what small businesses face. We are dedicated to working in our businesses and we don't always have time to work on them. What we have created at Artisans List is a sense of community. The community allows the consumer and the vendor, which is our artisan and our craftspeople, to come together, to build trust and relationships and to carry on traditions that have come down from generations. This is the new way of passing down those traditions. Like your grandfather would tell you a story and, you would tell your children that story and so on. Now you could actually tell those stories and share those things that you've done and your projects on Artisans List. Let's keep this all alive. That's the whole idea of our community.
What are some of the main challenges for smaller, artisan retailers looking to expand their online reach and client base?
There are a few challenges that our small businesses have. First of all, a lot of them don't even want to be online, they don't want to have a phone, they don't want to have an email address. Then, we have the second group of people who are people who have their website, they put it up and it's about ten or twelve years old, antiquated and it breaks all the time but, they don't really care because they're online. Then, we have the third group of people who want to get into the social media conversation but they either can't figure it out, it is an enigma to them or it is just too much trouble. But, we also have a fourth group of people and those are the businesses who really know all this stuff. They're online, they're savvy, they've got it all made. They know how to sell but they don't know how to talk to the people about what they are doing not why they're selling a product. They have to get into the conversation and those are the people that we need to help as well.
What's next for your work at Artisans List? What are the main products, markets, and partnerships you'll be focusing on in 2019?
Artisans List in 2019. We have a lot of things in store but, we're going to roll them out slowly, so we want you to stay tuned.