Like all of us, Jenny Lockton is in love with something that is slowly disappearing.
The difference is that Lockton is actually helping ensure the survival of what she loves: “The survival of these crafts is being seriously threatened.”
Lockton says the skills required of traditional crafts like basket weaving, jewelry making, and fast-growing garments simply aren’t being passed down to the next generation as they have been for centuries in lesser developed parts of the world.
Rather than pass down these skills, Lockton says parents in places like Morocco, Turkey, and India would rather send their children to school. Combine that trend with modern factories capable of mass producing similar items with a consuming public that may not always be able to discern or appreciate authentic original craftsmanship, and the future for artisans can appear rather bleak.
“If these crafts and professions aren’t valued they will die,” Lockton says sadly. “If that happens the world will be a less beautiful place.”
His father died early…
That made Rachid, a 7-year-old Moroccan boy, the sole breadwinner for his family. Skilled in creating beautiful and functional home goods items out of palm leaf, Rachid went to work full time as a child but struggled to put more than one meal a day on the table like so many other impoverished artisans.
“They don’t have a lot but these are the most generous people I’ve ever met,” Lockton says of artisans.
It’s artisans just like Rachid who inspired Lockton to launch Bohemia, a Scotland based lifestyle brand that works in partnership with artisan producers to create contemporary, design-led collections, handcrafted using age-old techniques. Bohemia offers artisans sustainable employment that ensures the survival of their traditional crafts.
As Lockton says:
I love these artisans dearly. The thing I like most is the friendships we’ve made and the trust we’ve built. These people are often very poor and struggle to feed their families.
The bigger Bohemia grows, the more they can do to support the continuation of artisanal skills.
So besides helping artisans make a living from their traditional skills and building a marketplace connecting buyers with sellers, Lockton’s mission includes a second key component; better educating consumers about craftsmanship.
In a world where popular selling items can be quickly copied and mass produced almost instantly, Lockton’s aim is to equip consumers with the story behind the products she sells as well as a better eye for the often subtle differences between handcrafted items and those that are mass produced.
“Each piece made by these artisans is slightly different,” she says. “That’s the beauty though but not every customer gets that yet. But we are finding more and more customers appreciate something that’s not produced exactly like thousands of others in a factory. There’s beauty in imperfection.”
Eco-friendly, beautiful, and functional. Sounds like a product trifecta guaranteed to make Bohemia a global success. So, what nearly caused her to lose everything?
Disillusioned & Disappointed
Demand for popular baskets often exceeds Bohemia’s supply…
It’s a feat that’s even more impressive when you consider that Bohemia’s site, according to Lockton, often crashed or was unable to accept payments. In fact, Lockton says the moment her Magento site went live it crashed.
It was the first of many costly technical problems Lockton says distracted her from Bohemia’s mission:
Magento as a platform didn’t work for us. Based on our own experiences we wouldn’t recommend it to others.
Feeling as if she had been fleeced by the platform and Bohemia’s agency partners, Lockton migrated all three of Bohemia’s digital storefronts to Shopify Plus by the summer of 2016.
Lockton desired an easy-to-use out-of-the-box solution on which she could rely and position her to focus more of her time on what she and her team do best: working directly with artisans to create new products to sell.
Shopify has been our savior. I no longer worry about our sites crashing or not accepting payments. Shopify is our dream come true.
Importantly, Bohemia partnered with RyanFosterDesign (RFD), a Shopify Plus Partner that helps brands accelerate growth. RFD built Bohemia’s sites on Plus, analyzed customer behavior for several months, and identified opportunities to significantly increase Bohemia’s sales.
Recently, RFD integrated JustUno, a conversion optimization platform, to increase Bohemia’s sales. Not only does JustUno allow the RFD team to build, track, and analyze CRO campaigns, but it can also be integrated and deployed rapidly on the Plus platform to iterate tests and optimize campaigns.
“JustUno allows us to segment and set very specific rules in terms of onsite audience engagement throughout the sales funnel, targeting specific messaging, prompts and offers dependent on how the customer has reached the site if they have purchased before and their exit intent,” says RFD’s Emma Robinson.
Specifically, RFD used JustUno to seal Bohemia’s sales funnel by implementing exit pop-up campaigns that led to an immediate lift in sales. RDF followed up with new Welcome pop-up campaigns designed to increase and engagement and capture data all while split testing campaign messaging to ensure each point of the customer journey is optimized.
Since launching on Plus and partnering with RFD:
- Bohemia’s sales routinely quadruple month over month
- Sales recently doubled after a key CRO integration
- Sales growth has been sustained in the five months following the integration
- Exit offer conversion rates are as high as 68%
“Ryan is such a nice person and his team is so great to work with,” Lockton says. “The RFD team really wants us to be a success.”
With the freedom to focus on her work with artisans rather than the technology that underpins her business, Lockton now has the time to build Bohemia’s brand the right way. Bohemia now partners with artisans in India, Turkey, Morocco and most recently Kenya.
Lockton has just renovated a building in Morocco that will serve, in part, as a remote production facility. Instead of the often cramped quarters in which she often meets with artisans, the building offers Lockton and artisans additional space and opportunity to increase production to meet the fast growing demand.
There’s little doubt that Bohemia is helping save dying forms of craftsmanship.
But what about the artisans behind the craft like Rachid, the 7-year-old who went to work full time to support his family after his father died? Today, Rachid is in his forties, earning regular income that supports his family, and was thrilled recently when he saw Lockton on a local television news broadcast showing off one of the products he made.
“Rachid is beautifully crazy,” Lockton says with a laugh. “I told you I love the artisans we work with and that’s especially true of Rachid. We’re making a real impact and changing lives.”