Creators' portraits: third episode
After a few months' break, we are very excited to resume our series of designer portraits. The variety of aesthetic styles and commitments that our T-Partners represent makes us proud to have embarked on the Print On Demand adventure. Without wishing to be melodramatic, there is clearly nothing more beautiful than to realise that so many talented designers have been given the opportunity to express themselves.
More than ever, we want to pamper you and thank you. So what better way to put you in the (well-deserved) spotlight than with an interview?
Today, we're getting back on track by giving the floor to a shop with strong ethical and ecological values, run by long-time T-Partners: without further ado, meet Olivier from Artecita.
First of all, can you tell us about yourself? Who makes up the ArteCita team?
My name is Olivier, I am 54 years old and I manage ArteCita.com with Ludivine who supports me but is not involved in the operational side.
Before creating and managing e-commerce websites, I was a sales manager in an American company that designed electronic components. So I went from Silicon Valley to an ultra-local business: at home!
We took this turn after our kids left the family nest. I then went back to school (HEC) to learn about entrepreneurship and launch my own small business. My standard of living has obviously changed but also my quality of life. 6 years after the creation of ArteCita, I do not regret this choice; on the contrary, I measure every day the chance I had to make this change.
Tell us about the history of ArteCita. When was your brand born? Why did it happen?
ArteCita was created in 2014. The idea came to me during an internship in the United States during my studies at HEC.
The concept was to propose competitions between artists and have the community vote for their favourite creation. Then this creation (graphic design or photo) was printed on organic cotton clothes or other eco-responsible supports.
I soon realised that creating this community and animating it was too big a challenge for me. So I decided to change the model and buy designs from artists or create them myself.
At that time, I invested in a digital printer with which I printed every day in my garage and sent my parcels every day. That was before I discovered POD and more specifically TPOP.
Who imagines your designs? Explain us the creative stage of your work.
Ludivine and I draw our inspiration from our virtual wanderings on the net but also in "real life" and particularly in the climate demonstrations which is one of our "struggles".
It is indeed a matter of absolute urgency that we address climate change before it is too late.
Why did you choose the Print on Demand model and more specifically TPOP?
As mentioned earlier, we had our own workshop in our garage and we printed almost all of our own orders. This obviously gave us a better business model, but as the quantities increased, we spent more and more time in the garage, which was not our favourite part of the business. This was of course to the detriment of communication but above all of creation, one of our common passions.
That's when I discovered POD and particularly TPOP. It's a way of outsourcing this part of the job that was taking up too much of our time, while remaining true to our values. What we particularly liked about TPOP, beyond the simplicity of the interface, the truly incredible customer service and the "made in France" nature of the company, was their ecological values. Almost all the materials are eco-responsible as well as the packaging; I think they are even in the process of obtaining GOTS certification. Beautiful people, with beautiful values!
Besides the POD, can you describe the other types of products you sell?
At ArteCita, we sell exclusively POD items. As said before, we used to have our own print shop and shipped directly to orders . We have stopped this activity to switch everything to POD and focus more on marketing and our other activities.
How do you communicate your brand?
Communication is clearly an area where we need to improve. This is now easier thanks to the time freed up by the move to POD. We communicate on social networks (Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest) and send regular newsletters to our customers. We don't advertise on Facebook, Google or any other media but it is probably a communication channel we can't avoid even if we would prefer to gain awareness without it.
Communication is a real profession and we are considering being accompanied by an agency whose job it is. But even then, the agency's values will be part of our selection criteria.
You describe ArteCita as a committed brand: what does that mean?
Indeed, the values of the ArteCita website are also ours: Protection of the environment and defence of the animal cause. The #GreenRevolution also summarizes this commitment. True to these values, we only offer eco-responsible items (organic cotton or recycled materials), most of which also benefit from the PETA label, which ensures that no tests on animals have been carried out.
In addition to this, we create eco-friendly and funny slogans (or at least ones that make us laugh) that we often print on our articles. It is a way for us to carry our values in the original sense and to "spread" them among the population.
We are aware that some slogans can be shocking: for example "Stop Fucking Your Sea" has caused us some problems but sometimes you have to shock (a little) to raise awareness... We have created a page on the site with all our favourite slogans and we create new ones every week. It is even possible to download the posters to use them during the demonstrations (or you can simply use them as inspiration). The more people who carry the message, the more the cause will progress. We also try to write in-depth articles on our blog to raise awareness of the climate emergency.
Finally, we are thinking about how to support associations by giving back part of our turnover. This obviously has an economic impact that can be "destabilising" for our small structure. On a personal level, we are committed environmental activists and would also like to do more through our company, once it has developed.
In parallel, are you working on other e-commerce sites?
We also launched another POD site in partnership with TPOP.
This is Cadeaux-Positifs.com, which offers personalised printed items that can be customised with positive messages. Finally, we have just created Mets ta Capuche, still in partnership with TPOP (you don't change a winning team), which offers hoodies and dresses with messages (and even coded sometimes...). The site is very new but we hope it will develop quickly and the new features announced by TPOP should help us.
Today, are you satisfied with these first years of existence? What is your assessment of your experience?
So it's been a little over 6 years since ArteCita was founded and we are very happy with the choice we made. Our life has changed and we can finally give meaning to our work, which is essential for us. Unfortunately, our challenge remains economic. We need to become better known in order to carry out all our projects and also to ensure the sustainability of the company, which remains fragile.
So we're really counting on YOU to subscribe to our Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest accounts and share the posts that "speak" to you.
It's a small gesture for everyone but it's important for us. SO WE ARE COUNTING ON YOU and you can count on us and our commitment.
This concludes the third episode of our Success Story category. We hope that this interview has given you a nice dose of inspiration and motivation to pursue and support the causes you care about.
A big thank you to Olivier for taking the time to answer our questions so seriously and for his loyalty during these beautiful years of collaboration!