Innovation That Matters

Kazbah: curated online market


Karmaloop, an online retailer of cutting edge streetwear (“founded in 1999 to battle the evil forces of McFashion”), has just announced that it will launch an online marketplace for up and coming designers and artists. Pitching itself as the new, global bazaar for all things cool, unique and beautiful, Karmaloop’s Kazbah will sell t-shirts, clothes, accessories, jewellery and art created by selected artists and designers. These merchants will be able to show and sell their creations to Karmaloop’s one million monthly website visitors. Each gets an own Karmaloop Kazbah brand page, with order processing and site maintenance handled by Karmaloop’s staff, in exchange for a stall rental fee. Sellers are responsible for shipping and customer care. Karmaloop is currently taking submissions, to be vetted by the Kazbah Genie, and Kazbah’s first shops will appear online in June 2006. The selection process is key. It positions Karmaloop as a curator, setting Kazbah apart from many other online selling platforms for minipreneurs, and makes it an online version of boutiques such as EDGE*nyNOHO (featured in our ‘shelfspace for minipreneurs’ article last year), which offer rack space to a chosen few fashion designers. Considering how difficult it is for consumers to find gems among the clutter on many online marketplaces, there is definitely room for more curators, especially those who also offer access to existing audiences. A few other minipreneur selling platforms to watch: Etsy, the “place to buy and sell all things hand-made.” With a sophisticated folksonomy tagging system to categorize merchandise, and good use of photography, Etsy is more proficient than most uncurated platforms at helping consumers navigate through a wealth of goods. Lulu, for uncomplicated book, cd, dvd, image or calendar publishing and selling; recently announced expansion to Europe. Blurb, which we featured earlier, offers high-quality, user-friendly printing on demand, including blog-to-book, and is planning to build out its marketplace element. BoundLess Gallery focuses on art. Fotolia and iStockPhoto: stock photography, anyone can upload photos, and earn money each time an image is sold.


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