Traci French is going from pinning to selling.
The popular Bliss blogger, who has 4 million followers on Pinterest, this week launched The Mavenhaus Collective with her sister, Tara Schlosser, an alumnus of Target’s public relations department.
The number of designers Mavenhaus features will vary each month. In some ways, Mavenhaus is an extension of French’s Web site, Bliss, a stream of consciousness exploration of things she loves, except there’s a shopping component.
On Mavenhaus, items are presented to the public and crowdsourced. If enough people commit to an item, it will go into production, eliminating waste by creating goods only for those who want them. If there’s not enough demand for an item, the sale will be canceled. Schlosser said items have different minimums, ranging from one piece to 50, depending on the product. “From the beginning, we focused on putting all of our energy into producing in smaller batches,” she said.
For its first sale this month, Mavenhaus is offering a Claire Vivier leather clutch for $225; Dream Collective brass bracelets, $165 and $145; Ariana Bohling’s leather booties, $397; Dace’s silk dress, $280, and a wax-coated cotton raincoat, $380, and String Theory’s merino wool scarf, $145, and shawl, $240. Beginning this week, Mavenhaus will launch a new product every Monday, starting with Alexis Russell’s capsule jewelry collection.
“Each sale will be live for two to four weeks,” said Schlosser. “We’re focused on having people change the way they approach [buying] fashion. These designs are crafted using amazing materials. You’re not going to find any of the items anywhere else.”
French said Mavenhaus differs from crowdsourcing Web sites such as Kickstarter because the latter attempts to fund an entire project over a period of several months while Mavenhaus takes orders for items and has them produced in a matter of weeks. “Our end goal doesn’t revolve around raising funds, but exposing consumers to designs and letting them decide if, and how many of the pieces go into production,” French said.
Schlosser declined to give sales projections for Mavenhaus. “Ultimately, we need to make money to stay afloat,” she said. “If it feels right and we’re learning, we’ll be successful.” A financial partner, who wants to remain anonymous, put up the money for the site and has been involved in getting Mavenhaus up and running.
French, who is considered a Pinterest “tastemaker” for her large following, is capitalizing on her notoriety on the site by cross-promoting Mavenhaus to her Pinterest fans. “I’ll put designers on my blog and I’m putting little teasers on Pinterest,” French said. “I already have an audience and they want to see what I put out there.
“It would be amazing to explore the smaller European designers,” French said. “Canada and Australia seem pretty exciting. I’d love to open it up. People love a good story. The message I’m putting out is to appreciate fashion for what it is. It’s not about bulk, it’s about beautiful pieces. I’m tired of mass production and an item that’s beautiful at the beginning of the season getting tossed into a basket at the end.”
Mavenhaus’ principals live far from any fashion capital. Schlosser is based in Minneapolis and French lives “in a mountain town in Oregon. I’m building a little fashion empire here in the mountains,” she said.