Cindy De Pecol is a life coach, yoga instructor and the founder and president of Artisan Bags, the eco-friendly, hand-painted, custom tote bag business we had the pleasure of branding. Cindy’s decisive input, openness and interest in the process made our work with Artisan Bags a branding and design dream.
I interviewed Cindy as part of our 6 Questions feature—a series of one-on-one interviews with people we work with who amaze and inspire us. Read on to learn more about Cindy’s business inspiration and her advice for others going through the branding process.
1. The origin of Artisan Bags is a really interesting and beautiful story involving your mother. Can you tell readers the inspiration behind Artisan Bags and how you took that early idea and transformed it into a full-fledged business?
The inspiration behind Artisan Bags is from a vivid, visceral dream almost a year after she passed over. My sweet Mum came and spoke of my love for all things natural, my awareness of our Earth and that it was time for a simple, fun, beautiful business to emerge. She spoke of a business to bring beauty and originality, eco-consciousness and multi-functionality to many who appreciate these things. It would come in the form of a simple canvas tote bag.
There was a strong sense of urgency to do it professionally, right from the start. I researched and discovered the perfect tote bag. Then began painting the bags myself. I hired a family member who loves to paint. I set a plan in place for sales. Almost immediately artists began approaching me in interesting ways. I gave them bags to paint, and created a few legal forms to protect us both.
People were purchasing the bags off my shoulders, literally. They loved them. I sold hundreds of bags this way. I intuited farmer’s markets to be a good beginning, so I prepared and spent months selling at one. After having celebrated my first year in April, it’s taken on a new life of heightened sophistication, a tighter, more buttoned-up business with a new business plan and gorgeous branding to complement this second year.
2. So, Artisan Bags started as a farmer’s market product and grew to find a wider audience. How do you see the business growing even more?
I see the business growing even more in a few key ways. The first is by expanding the bag offerings to include different styles that appeal to more people. Ideas such as black bags that tend to be carried in cities, evening bags and clutch styles. We also plan to align with high-end companies where the customer appreciates beauty, eco-conscious ways of living and one-of-a-kind items. I’d like to do bulk orders as well, with high-end silk screening. Another focus of ours is to hire specific people to assist with targeted marketing, advertising, website and social-media campaigns to increase sales.
3. One aspect of the business is getting artists involved to paint bags. How do you find artists and pitch them this concept of custom painted bags? How do you manage those relationships?
Actually, artists find me. I’ve not had to go out looking for or advertising for artists at all. They hear of me, they see the bags, they see my Instagram or website and reach out to me, wanting to be a part of Artisan Bags. I manage the relationships through initial conversations of getting to know the artist, then contractual agreements where expectations, timelines, quality control and remuneration are set forth. There is a process that involves an initial trial bag and then if accepted, we move forward.
4. You chose BatesMeron to brand Artisan Bags and give an identity to your business. How was BatesMeron able to help you achieve your vision?
BatesMeron was able to help me achieve my vision in several ways. It started with a clear process of discovery, execution and an outline of deliverables over a period of time that allowed for refinement of my mission statement and business plan. During this time, BatesMeron was open minded, accommodating and very much able to flow in the direction that I needed. BatesMeron also helped clarify what would be best for the company based on their expertise, offering suggestions in a way that had me change my mind, shift my focus, be expansive and curious to the new. For me, the experience provided extraordinarily classy, absolutely beautiful, strong, polished branding that perfectly represents my company, so I feel proud to be honoring the gift of the company that my sweet Mum brought forth.
5. You also have another business as a life coach and yoga instructor. Do you find aspects or philosophies from that work bleeding over into what you do at Artisan Bags?
My other businesses definitely have a positive influence on Artisan Bags. The overarching way in which I live is with simplicity, within the rhythm of the seasons, inside the moment, with a peaceful mind, open heart and an active body. The ability to hold myself to very high standards and expectations, living intuitively and being an example of all of the above, naturally creates a sense of trust, safety, humility, confidence and belief in myself and it is felt by others. Being certified in three different types of yoga and having spent time in India, and living Ayurvedically, I am able to hold space for others in a way that comfortably facilitates growth and acceptance. So, all people feel “heard”, “seen” and “acknowledged”, which fosters greater fulfillment of one’s potential, in every circumstance.
6. With your clarity and decisive input, branding Artisan Bags was a wonderful, creative experience for us. What advice or insight would you provide to other small businesses on the value of the BatesMeron branding process?
Thank you for the compliment. The insights and advice I can offer other small businesses on the value of the BatesMeron branding process are many. It is important to be an active part of the process by setting aside time to reflect, review and do your homework, because the more you honor the process and work with the team in a participatory way, the more exquisite will be your results.
It’s also important to be patient. It was quite a lesson for me because I wanted to jump over and beyond the process to the next steps. Until it became apparent that through their diplomacy in conversation, it would thwart the true process that’s been carefully set up. Not having had any experience like this before, it was the biggest challenge for me in the whole process. Once I acquiesced and relaxed about the timing and progression of events, it became even more fun!
Be as clear and simple as you are able to be about what you want, what your company stands for, what you are offering and what your dream is for your business. It helps the team to formulate in one way, go down one path versus being so broad in scope that the team spends precious time and creative juices helping you figure these basics out.
Finally, enjoy the process fully and completely. It’s an honor to not just choose them to work for you, also, to have them choose to work with you. It’s a game changer for your business!