Newfoundland Trading Company Seeking Applications From Local Craftspeople

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Newfoundland Trading Company is a new online retailer that ships handcrafted items from Newfoundland all over the world. The company is currently inviting artists, artisans and craftspeople who are interested in being featured on the site to get in touch through the “Become a Maker” form on the site.

“We’re a land of makers. I want to encourage and enable artists, artisans, and craftspeople to stay here in our province and craft their products for sale on the world market,” said Josh Taylor founder and CEO of Newfoundland Trading Company.

The company is interested in high quality, environmentally conscious items that can be produced in large quantities. The guidelines stipulate that submitted items should appeal “…to people outside the province…” however, they go on to say the company does “…not carry traditional Newfoundland nostalgia” or items designed specifically for tourists.

The slightly contradictory submission guidelines imply the company is hoping to export a very tailored image of modern Newfoundland. A Newfoundland that isn’t alienating to people who haven’t visited the island, but stops short of extending a kitschy, over-eager welcome.

“Newfoundland Trading Company will offer people the opportunity to experience this beautiful place,” Taylor said. “I want people who’ve never been to our province to touch and feel and understand a bit more about Newfoundland. I hope we build a company that can make this place proud.”

Taylor believes that one of the major challenges for craftspeople in Newfoundland is not being able to sell enough items to make a living from their craft. He hopes that by giving local craftspeople access to a wider market, Newfoundland Trading Company will make it possible for them to focus on their craft fulltime.

The company is willing to purchase a large number of pieces from selected craftspeople and market their work both with in the province and outside of it.

“When people come to Newfoundland and Labrador, they love this place, yet we don’t currently offer those outside of Newfoundland an opportunity to engage with – and enjoy – our province from afar,” Taylor said.

“We’re aiming to meet that need. We’re also aiming to help makers focus on doing what they love, which is making high-quality products. Our company will take care of the marketing and sales components of doing business.”

Taylor grew up in Grand Falls-Windsor and feels a strong connection to the province. He hopes that Newfoundland Trading Company will make it possible for some craftspeople to stay in Newfoundland in spite of the harsh economic climate.

“For hundreds of years, people have carved out an existence here,” Taylor said. “We’ve survived through sheer grit and determination. We’ve made it work. And we’ve become outstanding craftspeople, artists, artisans, and makers in the process. Now, with our provincial economy in peril once again, and young people considering their futures and thinking about leaving the province, I want to build a company that will help Newfoundlanders stay in Newfoundland.”

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7 Comments

  1. This is cool and all, but I find myself wondering if Mr. taylor has any connection at all to the local craft community? Not being able to sell enough items hasn’t been a problem for myself or most of the craftspeople I know, as places like the craft council and the heritage shop will purchase everything I can make and more, selling it at a 60/40 split, either on consignment or direct purchases. The problem with being a craftsperson is that the perceived value of handmade goods doesn’t equate to the amount of effort that goes into it to justify the price tag that one needs to charge in order to make a living. This website looks to me like another etsy- but reigon-specific, which is a great busines model for hobbyists, but not for professional – full-time – craftspeople.

  2. Heard Taylor on the radio this morning. It seems like their goal is to market and sell NL products globally, which I don’t think the heritage shop and craft council necessarily have the capacity to do well. Sounds like they’re buying products up-front from craftspeople, so I don’t think it’s like Etsy.

  3. Love reading The Overcast and enjoy hearing about what’s going on in our province, but I have a suggestion. I have noticed in this, and other articles, that there are rarely direct links to what you are writing about (unless I’m missing something?), leaving the reader to google the company/event/etc. Perhaps these local websites might get more traffic and clients if direct links were provided in the article. Just my two cents! Keep up the great work!

  4. You’re right, sometimes there’s links, sometimes not. We’ll make sure to include more relevant links, thanks.

  5. You’re probably both right. This does seem to be directed more to the global/away markets. It also does not sound like a solution to the low value we put on handmade goods because it does specify that products must be scalable (ie. able to be produced in large quantities). I imagine it will be populated by pared-down versions of most peoples’ crafts. The fish cutting board, for instance, is well-made but dead simple, a money-maker that could get a fair price for a modest amount of woodworking time. Not a bad approach if he can get a good base of craftspeople – branded T-shirts isn’t going to cut it.

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