The pandemic currently sweeping the globe has had repercussions for all of us, and it’s clear that we will still be experiencing those for years to come. The impact here in Australia has been felt on both personal and professional levels regardless of how we make our livings, and as a result many people have found that their passion and motivation have suffered immensely. For the local artistic community, the ramifications of the pandemic have been widespread and serious, but from all of the chaos something innovative and helpful was born.
Sydney Artisan Collective was first launched as a Facebook Group in April 2020 as a solution to the fact that the markets in Sydney had been forced to close due to COVID-19. This was a huge blow to many artists and it caused numerous issues, including a loss of a primary source of income for some, and in the aftermath many people found that they did not qualify for government support. Local artisan Sophie Parry (Scribble & Sew) saw that many of her market friends were sharing that same sense of desperation from being unable to sell their wares. Some were forced to give up their homes and others to move back in with their parents, grim circumstances led to a loss of drive and creativity.
As a possible solution to these problems, Sophie decided to open a Facebook selling group, providing a virtual space for Sydney artisans to join and market their wares. The first event was held on the weekend of April 4th, and on their busiest weekend they had forty sellers. The group was an anchor point for the makers as every week it gave them something to look forward to and work towards. Over the course of eight weeks the group amassed 2,600 members and that momentum brought with it increased awareness and coverage. Many SAC sellers remarked that the group was helping them learn about how to sell and market themselves online. As things continued to grow and fill a virtual niche that was previously undiscovered, the demand for a website from both sellers and customers began to skyrocket. The pandemic has made traditional brick and mortar retail risky and online retail far safer, and to that end Sophie made the choice to develop things even further by creating a website.
Sydney Artisan Collective has been online and thriving since July, a platform where makers can display and sell their wares. It’s more than that, however; it’s also a community of like-minded makers who offer support and encouragement to each other in these trying times. It allows makers to advertise their products to an audience outside Sydney and market themselves in a way they were previously unable to. With over forty artisans and more than 900 products, SAC strives to offer an unparalleled level of service to all its vendors while providing customers with access to incredible, hand-crafted wares from local artisans.
The evolution of a business to tackle the problems presented by the pandemic is known as the COVID-19 Pivot. It’s something that is being seen more and more frequently in these trying times, as established business operations and protocols are unable to keep up with the restrictions presented by the pandemic. In many cases it is easier for smaller businesses to acclimate than it is for bigger ones, and a prime example of this is the birth of SAC. The website arose from a need due to the circumstances of the pandemic, because when traditional, regular business methods began to fail, Sophie took the initiative to change and focus on the new directions trends were taking. Being able to adapt while being receptive to new things is a hallmark of artists and designers and, as the creation and success of SAC shows, it serves them well.