Being an entrepreneur and small business owner, I love to hear success stories of talented people who started companies, with the goal to make a difference and to to bring something new to the market; people driven by a vision, a passion, a curiosity, and a determination; people with a mission.
Today I would like to introduce you Tracey George, a New Zealander now living in Dallas, Texas. She is the founder of Koromiko, lovely design and lifestyle shop filled with handmade goods from American and international artisans. She selects beautiful and interesting products; creations that have that something special. She also donates 1% of her sales to an organization that supports arts in the community. Before you head over to browse her shop, learn more about Tracey and her enthusiasm for handcrafted design with this little Q&A.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself:
A: I’m the founder of Dallas-based online design store Koromiko. I grew up in Auckland, New Zealand and have been in the States for 12 years now. Koromiko opened just over a year ago and offers a range of handcrafted design goods from American and international artisans. I didn’t have a background in retail or design when I started Koromiko, so there was definitely a learning curve! But I do have this unending enthusiasm to learn, am constantly looking to improve what we offer and am always looking for new discoveries I can share with people.
Q: What inspired you to start your shop?
A: I knew I wanted to start my own business once my daughter was a little older (she’s 10 now) and definitely something creative. Shopping online for gifts a few years ago, I found it hard to find an edited collection of well-designed goods that were handcrafted and told the story of where they came from. Goods that were more design-based rather than ethnic craft. That’s when the idea for Koromiko was planted. I love being a business owner and feel like I’ve finally found what I was meant to do. I’ve met some of the kindest, most encouraging people who have supported me in this endeavor for which I’m eternally grateful.
Q: What sets your shop aside from its competitors?
A: Koromiko represents a range of artisans from across the United States and around the world. I try to choose goods that are timeless, objects that can be passed on to the next generation and loved for years to come. Goods that tell a story and create meaning for you in your home. I focus on items that are produced in small-batch runs, in the most environmentally friendly way possible. I’ve always believed good design and the desire for beautiful objects should not be at the expense of people or the environment. An important part of Koromiko for me is that we support ethical fair trade practices with transparency in origin, maker and materials used, especially in our international goods. Since we opened it was very important to me that each purchase from Koromiko gives back to the artist community and we continue to support Aid to Artisans by donating 1% of sales to their mission.
Q: Who or what influences your style? To what do you attribute your wonderful aesthetic?
A: I’m influenced by the slow-living movement. By taking the time to purposefully create meaningful connections in your life. I appreciate simplicity, quality and a less-is-more philosophy. I like goods that have a practical purpose and at the same time a beautiful aesthetic. There’s a tendency to fill our lives with busy-ness and endless running from one thing to another and life becomes an unconscious sprint to always be doing something, buying something – constant movement. I know this more than anyone as a single parent with two jobs! But my daily focus is on how to strive for balance, how to purposefully make time for silent moments of gratitude, how to live more simply and how to slow down. I think my aesthetic reflects this.
Q: How do you find the pieces/products for your store?
A: Many different places – most come from searching different artists’ websites and following their links to different artists and so on. Some from blogs and magazines, some from submissions and then some from just having an idea of what I’m looking for and looking to see where I can source that.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face with running your own store?
A: The biggest challenge is definitely time. I think that’s true for most people! I have a million ideas running around in my head and wish there were a few more hours in each day! As a single parent with an additional full time day-job, the time I do have on nights and weekends needs to be really focused. Making the most of those few hours is how I’ve built Koromiko over the last few years, from idea to online shop.
Q: What do you love most about having your own store?
A: This is my first time starting a business from scratch, on a small budget and doing nearly everything myself – and I realized I love every moment of it! The idea of building something from nothing that brings beauty and convenience to people’s lives. The idea of one day possibly building the company to become a full-time job. More than anything I love our customers! Each time I pack an order to ship, I feel so grateful for that person’s support. I know there are many choices out there when it comes to buying goods online. So I really appreciate every single person who chooses to buy something for themselves or a loved one from Koromiko.
Q: What are you proud of?
A: I’m honestly proud of myself that I’ve stayed so focused on this for several years now – through the planning stage, to implementation to running the shop. It’s a project I’ve taken on completely alone, with no experience and grown by myself from nothing. If anything I hope I can inspire other women – especially single mothers to start small and build something day by day. I always try to remember that a successful business is like running a marathon – not a sprint. And I focus on taking small steps each day to grow Koromiko. Some days it’s less, some days more but always something.
Q: Do you have any special projects in the pipeline or exciting future plans?
A: The goal for now is to grow the product range and reach more people. Long term, I have so many ideas in mind that I’m not sure yet which will come first! I’d definitely like to design and develop my own brand of goods. I’d also like to travel more, forming direct relationships with artisans and helping to foster long-term sustainable growth and income for artisans in developing countries.
Q: What are your favorite pieces/products at the moment?
A: I’d have to say that I’m loving the revival of the ceramics movement right now. Work from artists Suzanne Sullivan, Shino Takeda, Australian based Takewei, Jen E, Workaday Handmade, and Suite One Studio would be some of my favorites.”
See my favorite picks from Koromiko here!
All photos are from Tracey’s Instagram: @shopkoromiko