I still remembered reading articles recalling Chinese people all wearing the same clothes back in the 1940s and 1950s before the reform and opening up. Well, that’s not the case anymore since a long time ago as China gradually turned itself into the world factory.
And then with the staggering economy development Chinese people could hands-down have access to numerous choices of clothes, accessaries among other stuff, well, mostly mass-produced. Now they’re not content with mass production anymore with their eyes more attracted to handmade stuff carefully crafted for a small group of people by indie designers. Also, more and more indie designers are emerging in China and they need a place to connect them with potential buyers.
Founded by media veteran Zhao Jinwen, Wowsai is positioned to be such a platform for indie designers and people who prefer quality products and craftsmanship. Its categories cover clothes, gadgets, stationary, accessories, shoes, bags, home accessories and so forth. Except for buying online, you can also create a “Gallery” to collect all the interesting stuff, just like the “Treasury” feature for Etsy. Yes, be it layout or features, Wowsai looks exactly like Etsy, the e-commerce website focused on handicrafts or vintage items as well as art and craft supplies launched on June 18, 2005 with sales of over US$ 420 million last year.
From ‘Made in China’ to ‘Designed in China’
Located in the 798 Art District of Beijing, a place known for its creative atmosphere, the handicraft marketplace bears a vision of fostering the indie artistry among Chinese designers and spreading the idea of “Designed in China”.
According to Zhao, the company has made profit last year.
He also revealed that vertical B2C focus on handicrafts like Wowsai still faces lots of pitfalls in China. For example, handmade items usually are few in number which leads to the problem of longer replenishment cycle. Also, since some item’s inventory is quite small, they might have been sold out immediately when the promotion starts.
As of now Wowsai claims over 500 indie designers with more than 10,000 items on its website.