Some creatives are business-savvy -- and vice versa -- but that's not always the case. "In my experience, many designers lack the foresight to scale and grow [their businesses]," said Sumeera Rasul, founder of the 3-year-old online retailer Madesmith.
She would know. Not only did Sumeera formerly run her own textile company, Dia Living, but Madesmith's mission is to tell the stories of its makers and designers. The e-tailer collaborates with each partner on exclusive products and includes a feature article about his or her process. "When we interview designers, we learn so much," Sumeera said. "You learn about their struggles and how many of those are similar... It breaks my heart too see some have to go back to a corporate job that they're not happy about. My goal is to keep one more person from [having to shutter their label]. If you have the right tools and resources, you can stay in business."
To that end, Sumeera and her team launched Madesmith Academy in August. The online school offers courses in everything from branding to sewing -- all taught by creatives with successful businesses -- and now it's getting ready to grow in a substantial way. In addition to an expanded overall course catalog set to launch in the next few months, the academy is gearing up to offer a more extensive, comprehensive program that covers every aspect of operating a design-based business. "We will give you all the essentials, from creating a business plan to branding, how to price your product, and when and how to grow," Sumeera said, noting that this class will be part of the academy's "premium" offerings, available only once a year, with limited spots for enrollment.
She added that the academy comes full-circle with Madesmith's overarching community focus. The school will tap some of Madesmith's most successful makers to teach courses or lead panel discussions, while standout students might have the opportunity to be featured in the online store. Sumeera said that creating long-lasting relationships with students will also be a top priority.
"We will continue to tell stories, because the very important part [of what we do] is inspiring people, and really [showing them] first-hand that you can do this."