PROTO PROTO – CREATIVE COLLABORATIONS IN THE NAME OF HUMAN EQUALITY
In dreaming of a range of ethically produced homewares and fashion accessories from all around the world, born from creative collaborations and powered by influencer marketing, Proto Proto has founded its business concept. Using eXpression Umeå as a base, they travel the world, working with traditional artisans and are preparing to launch their first collections.
Anna Parry and Jeff Parry are both product designers and they met at a design school in Australia. They’ve always been interested in the way products connect with people and have a passion for human equality. That together with that fact Anna grew up in Tanzania, was the beginning of Proto Proto.
A design brand revolutionizing the artisan product market
– The artisan economy is actually the second biggest in the developing world. It’s recognized having huge potential for economic development. There are hundreds of non-profits working in the area, trying to unlock that potential. But what we see is they’re quite old fashion. They’re based on an outdated charity model, so we think it’s really urgent that someone comes in and modernizes those efforts. There needs to be a real business approach with excellent design and modern marketing, says Jeff.
– The problem is that ethical and fair-trade products as they are today don’t really have any appeal to young, sophisticated consumers. We’re reinventing fair-trade design.
Collaborating on an equal basis
– We’re designers, but our core purpose is to forward human equality. Of course that means paying people fairly, but we also aim for a design process where two people, a designer and an artisan, from very different cultures and circumstances, can collaborate on an equal basis, say Jeff.
Three collections ready to launch
– We’re launching this year with three collections; a series of bangles we developed with a Maasai cooperative in Kenya, silver jewelry designed with hill tribe artisans in Thailand and a beautiful colorful Moroccan rug, says Jeff.
– That rug came to life through a very cool collaboration between designers from Berlin and a Moroccan weaving cooperative of 20 women. The designers sent their sketches to the women for their input and the women then had a workshop where they redesign the whole thing! We sent their redesign suggestions back to the designers and they loved it, they thought it was fantastic and they in turn redesigned the rug incorporating the weavers’ ideas. So, it’s been a real give and take process and the result is fantastic.
Marketing through influencers
– Our design and marketing model is based on influencer collaborations. We choose designers who have an established social media audience, and we develop a product together with them. We fund the production and sell the products on our webshop and the designer is paid a royalty on sales of the product. That’s the model we are using, says Jeff.
– By using influencer marketing, we can really narrowly target the product to the tastes of a particular audience and I think that’s really important because that’s what today’s design and fashion consumer expects.
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