October 8, 2014
Ecommerce revolves around making a sale and creating products that people love. For entrepreneurs in this space, one of the most difficult challenges is drawing people to their site and standing out from another ecommerce site that is just one click away. The secret? Tie in a good cause, unique content, and cofounders with a passion and you’re on the right track.
Jen Lee Koss is a cofounder of BRIKA, an ecommerce site that is focused on building a community and place where people can express themselves, inspire others, and offer a product visitors can’t get anywhere else.
“We just created something very organic and it’s kind of taken on a life of its own. When you’re doing something that has integrity, that has authenticity, and it’s generated from a really pure place, it does hold weight with the audience,” says Koss. “And people really do see that you are trying to do something to make a difference.”
BRIKA is “a unique online shopping destination that offers a curated selection of special pieces that are destined to become heirlooms and celebrates the makers behind them,” reads an excerpt on their site.
BRIKA: Creativity and awareness through partnerships
One of the company’s latest campaign’s is #SaveElephants. According to a press release, BRIKA has partnered with the Bill, Hillary, & Chelsea Clinton Foundation to help raise awareness and prevent the international poaching crisis. While this topic is related to a world issue, the company has also worked with large retailers and brands such as Made Well – their reach and list of partners come from all industries.
“I think all of the partnerships we’ve had since we launched have brought those opportunities to our community,” says Koss of the Toronto-based startup. “We started talking about how they will be highlighting this cause particularly in and around Fashion Week.”
Here’s what you should know about the recent #SaveElephants campaign:
- It’s a “limited-edition lifestyle line of over 20 elephant-inspired items via a selection of its community of over 400 makers,” according to a press release.
- Support from the sales will be provided to the Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, and Conservation International.
- There is a range of items from elephant-inspired bracelets and hand-stitched pillows to mini elephants, one of their most popular items.
- The #SavetheElephant campaign is live and will run through the holidays.
While BRIKA has seen success, Koss says there are a few challenges that come with an ecommerce site.
“We are definitely in one of the hardest industries,” says Koss. “At the end of the day, ecommerce is about driving eyeballs, and how do you drive eyeballs without paying for those eyeballs?”
More about Koss and BRIKA
Similar to most entrepreneurs, Koss says her goals for the future are continued growth, but more importantly to maintain and expand their group of artists.
“It’s about building our community of artists and designers,” says Koss. “I feel like we have an incredible amount of loyalty and excitement around the family we have built.”
Koss, along with her cofounder, Kena Paranjape, is extremely passionate about “building a beautiful life through well-crafted, everyday objects,” according to their site.
They actually met after Koss read Paranjape’s blog In Life and In Fashion. Not only have their creative sides helped them grow an ecommerce site, but their education has contributed as well: Koss attended Harvard College, Oxford University, and Harvard Business School, and Paranjape attended McGill University and received her MBA at the University of Toronto.
Koss’s biggest piece of advice for young entrepreneurs is to keep up the hustle. “I think you go into it with a very big vision, and that’s what helps you get it off the ground. In order to really execute on it day in and day out, it’s all about managing the little things.”
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