Online retailer Fuchsia helps cottage industry artisans get in front of consumers – GeekWire

Online retailer Fuchsia helps cottage industry artisans get in front of consumers – GeekWire

Online retailer Fuchsia helps cottage industry artisans get in front of consumers – GeekWire

Fuchsia CEO Afshan Abbas wearing the company’s signature shoes. (Fuchsia Photo)

Unlike most online retailers, Seattle-based Fuchsia describes itself as “anti-mass production.”

The one-year-old company uses technology to help artisans in the developing world reach a broader global audience. Fuchsia launched its first product — handmade shoes from artisans in Pakistan — on Kickstarter and reached 700 backers from around the world.

“In addition to providing premium inaccessible crafts to markets around the world, we are providing a sustainable living for the native craftspeople who are otherwise exploited for their art and crafts in the local markets,” said Fuchsia CEO Afshan Abbas.

Before taking the startup plunge, Abbas spent six years as a developer and technical analyst for Microsoft and a little over a year as a data engineer for INRIX. Her co-founder, Rameez Sajwani, brings 10 years of experience working in the cloud computing departments of Microsoft and Amazon.

Entering the online shoe retail business means taking on Sajwani’s former employer, Amazon and its subsidiary Zappos. Amazon is a formidable opponent but Fuchsia’s co-founders believe the niche, artisinal nature of their product will set them apart.

Fuchsia’s shoes retail for $100 and the company is offering free shipping and returns to the U.S.

We caught up with Abbas for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “One stop shop for unique, handmade, premium quality native crafts produced by cottage industry artisans around the world.”

Inspiration hit us when: “When we read Blake Mycoskie’s book Start Something That Matters, which led us to challenge our status quo, risk it all and start something that really mattered.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Bootstrapping so far since we are generating revenue and starting to pitch to Angels.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Coherent Team and perseverance.”

(Fuchsia Photo).

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “We recognized and removed dead weights in our company immediately since its inception.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “When we founded our startup, we were four co-founders. We didn’t invest a lot of time in brainstorming our ideas and vision which, as a result, lead us in all different directions. This situation became toxic for some time when stakes became high but we corrected this mistake eventually.”

Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “All of them as need be. Zuckerberg when it comes to compassion, Bezos when it comes to frugality, and Gates when it comes to balancing business and philanthropy.”

Our favorite team-building activity is: “Hiking and always focused on reaching the summit while enjoying the journey.”

The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “The energy they bring to the team and whether they are results-oriented or not.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “There is no right or wrong path to entrepreneurship. If you feel inspired, then trust your gut, believe in yourself, and start something that matters. And remember every minute counts.”

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